Wednesday, June 3, 2009

AIDS/LifeCycle: Day 3

There are campsites in six cities along the 561-mile route of AIDS/LifeCycle and I have a mnemonic device to help me remember them:

"Santa Claus Knows Comet, Prancer and Rudolph Secretly Mock Lazy Vixen."

Repeating that sentence in my head as I rode in ALC helped me make sure I rolled into the right campsite on the proper day (the cities are Santa Cruz, King City, Paso Robles, Santa Maria, Lompoc and Ventura).

On Tuesday, the 2,200 cyclists and 500 roadies of AIDS/LifeCycle 8 stayed in campsite 3: the Mid-State Fairgrounds in Paso Robles. Day 3 is one of my favorite days on the ride because that's the day when Positive Pedalers are featured in the evening program in the dining hall at camp.

An award is presented to one Pos Ped, and another Pos Ped delivers a speech about what it means to be living with HIV/AIDS and participating in an event like ALC. At the end of the speech, the speaker asks everyone who is living with HIV/AIDS to stand up and be acknowledged.

The guys and gal of the Pos Ped Board gave me the honor of asking people in the dining hall to stand, even though I knew that I wouldn't be in Paso Robles on Tuesday. Here's what I sent to them:

"This ride is all about helping people with HIV/AIDS and raising awareness about the disease. That is no small task: In California alone, there are more than 184,000 people living with HIV/AIDS.

"I had hoped to ride in ALC 8, for the fourth consecutive year. Unexpectedly, I had to place my health ahead of my desire to ride.

"But I know that many of my brothers and sisters with HIV/AIDS are on this ride, and that gives me great strength.

"At this time, I'd like to ask everyone in this room who is living with HIV/AIDS to rise. Riders and roadies, if you are living with HIV/AIDS, please stand up and be recognized."

Wish I could have been there to deliver those words in person. Of course, I wouldn't have been able to speak myself, but I would have figured out some way of communicating.

Instead, Tuesday night found me curled up on my couch continuing my private Jake Gyllenhaal Film Festival (last night's feature: "Donnie Darko") when a text message arrived from my buddy Nathan, one of the two co-chairs of the Pos Ped Board.

"The Day 3 speech went well, with an amazing amount of people standing," Nathan wrote. He went on to say that he has ridden every mile in ALC 8 with another Pos Ped friend of mine, Beau.

That was great news. In November 2007 Nathan had a serious accident while cycling and he wasn't able to ride in ALC 7. The fact that Nathan is back in the saddle gives me hope that I'll be in good enough shape to ride sometime soon, too.

In just a few days, the riders and roadies will arrive in Los Angeles. I can't wait to see them. And you're invited, too.

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