Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Ride on, Pos Peds

Stevie at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center was looking for someone to write a paragraph about Positive Pedalers on Tuesday and came knocking on my door.

Positive Pedalers is a group of cyclists and cycling supporters who are living with HIV/AIDS. I've been a Pos Ped since I started to ride in AIDS/LifeCycle in 2006 but my cancer diagnosis and surgeries sidelined my cycling. I haven't been in the saddle of my bike since last fall.

I guess that makes me a Pause Ped.

The piece that the Center wants will be in the Daily Spin: a newspaper published each of the seven days of AIDS/LifeCycle 8. Now in its eighth year, ALC is a 561-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. But because my chances of riding in ALC 8 later this month are dim –it's more likely that Judge Judy will be nominated to replace Justice Souter on the Supreme Court– I referred Stevie to a few active Pos Peds.

I also received the monthly email from Positive Pedalers on Tuesday.

In the May Brew-Ha-Ha, Pos Ped Ginger Brewlay lists rides taking place all over the nation, recaps a recent AIDS ride in Texas, and passes along last-minute tips for Pos Peds who are participating in ALC 8.

Each edition of the Brew-Ha-Ha closes with the Pos Peds mission: "We are a group of people committed to eliminating the stigma of disease through positive public example."

The phrase "eliminating the stigma of disease" popped out at me when I saw it on Tuesday.

It's not only the stigma of HIV/AIDS that Pos Peds seek to eliminate; we are opposed to stigma of all disease.

I'm wondering if it's such a good idea to sit out AIDS/LifeCycle 8 just because I have a cancer diagnosis, a tracheotomy and a G-tube. I didn't let my AIDS diagnosis get in the way of riding in ALC 5, ALC 6 and ALC 7, but AIDS never complicated my life in the way that cancer has.

The hour is late for me to sweep aside the dust bunnies collecting beneath my bike and prepare to ride in ALC 8. Most Pos Peds are now packing in back-to-back centuries in the saddle in anticipation of the ride. It's hard for me to imagine catching up with them. And I can't fathom managing G-tube feedings on my bike, or staying hydrated in 100-degree weather by pouring water and Powerade down the tube.

I keep telling myself I won't make up my mind about participating in ALC until the last minute.

Best I can promise is that I'll be at the ALC 8 finish line on June 6 to greet my fellow Pos Peds as they complete the ride, slaying stigma with every stroke of their pedals.


As my butt creases from sitting on the fence about AIDS/LifeCycle, why not visit the home pages of some of my friends who are doing the ride? Get to know Beau, Nathan, Shirley, Matt, Eric, David D., Wilfredo, Jim W., Garrison, Bob O., David S., Billy, Bob K., Ginger Brewlay, Mark (hey, Mark's waving at me in the photo on his page!), Brendan, Jim V. (no one looks better than Jim in a red dress), Chris, Brian, Janne and Jerry. They're all gems! And they welcome your support.

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