The AIDS Lifecycle: N’everything I thought it’d be
August 7, 2012 | 12:00 am
(Updated: February 25, 2013 | 10:41 am)
As everyone else made their way towards lunch, I immediately headed towards the porta-potties. It was day five of the AIDS/Lifecycle and I started feeling a bit delirious. I didn’t actually have to go to the bathroom, but I still quickly locked myself inside, pulling down my padded bike shorts to just sit and relax in silence.
In my entire life, I never thought I would seek retreat in a hot, stinky plastic outhouse as a sanctuary. But then again, I also never thought I would be attempting to ride a bike for 545 miles with more than 2,000 other people.
For years, friends had been begging me to join them on the AIDS/Lifecycle. I always wrote off the opportunities since I wasn’t a cyclist. Starting in San Francisco and ending in L.A., the week-long event did at least trigger my passion for HIV and AIDS activism. And though the route doesn’t ever leave the state of California, Colorado had quite the team.
Participants in AIDS/Lifecycle have to raise a minimum of $3,000, which many riders found more daunting than the actual biking. Preparing myself for the grueling ride, I sifted through the pages of Facebook to ask my closest 500 friends for donations. Asking one person at a time, I quickly launched passed the $3k goal. The AIDS/Lifecycle awarded prizes for fast fundraisers, seducing me with incentives I couldn’t resist. I left no stone unturned for money and before I knew it, I’d surpassed $7,000.
I was less successful at training for such an extreme undertaking. Team Colorado set up training schedules so the local riders could prepare as a group. I constantly reviewed their schedule and had an excuse for each time I couldn’t make it. Secretly, I hated waking up early enough to meet with them. Besides riding my bike all around Denver, the longest training ride I completed was 50 miles.
On orientation day in San Francisco, excitement filled the air and camaraderie with friends and strangers fueled the hell out of it. I found out that I had raised a total of $7,250 and was the top 33rd fundraiser outside of the state of California. My aggressive badgering had paid off and I ran over to the incentives station to collect all my prizes.
The next morning, opening ceremonies kicked off with combinations of inspirational speeches from the AIDS/Lifecycle representatives as well as warm ups and stretching. The ceremony ended with an emotional moment – they wheeled in an empty bike to symbolize the rider who couldn’t participate because she or he had died with AIDS. I looked around as most people were crying at this tender moment. I wanted to cry but couldn’t; I was too jazzed from the adrenaline. All I could think about was getting on that bike and getting this adventure on the road.