Why I Ride
You can drive between San Francisco and Los Angeles in less than eight hours. On a bicycle, it takes a week. Not that long ago, if someone told me I’d willingly ride a bike on that 550-mile, seven-day trip, I would have called them crazy. Fact is, though, I’ve done it four times now and I plan to do it again. Here’s why.
I make this trip at the end of May with more than 2,500 other riders to raise money to combat HIV/AIDS. My participation in this wonderful ride, called AIDS/Lifecycle, has been life altering for me. First, the benefit of preparing for the event has given me a new healthy outlook on my life. Second, I am able to contribute to the memory of friends that I have lost over the years to HIV/AIDS while supporting others in receiving the necessary resources needed to prevent or survive HIV infection.
Each year I ride in the AIDS/Lifecycle, I proudly wear a FedEx jersey, as do my fellow FedEx team members. (There were 22 of us in the ride that concluded June 1.) For me, it’s a pleasure to help personify the FedEx commitment to support worthy causes in the communities where we live and work.
As I have cycled along California’s spectacular coast and its beautiful valleys, I’ve had lots of time to reflect on the friends I have lost to this epidemic since 1988. I know many of my fellow FedEx riders do the same.
For example, Johnna Taylor says she rides to support her best friend who was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS more than 20 years ago and has received life-saving services from one of the ride’s beneficiaries that has allowed him to continue living a normal productive life. Steve Seymour says he has made this ride because he lost an uncle to HIV/AIDS and wants to see an end to the epidemic.
While on the ride I get to meet participants from all walks of life and to hear their stories as well. Like the young lady who will be producing a documentary to highlight the devastating affects the epidemic is having on African-American women in the US. And the gentleman whose brother became ill in the early 1990s; the family said he had cancer. Only when his brother died did he find out the cause was AIDS. He has now ridden AIDS/Lifecycle 12 times in his brother’s memory, and at age 60 has already signed up for next year’s ride. I’ve met many parent/child teams, husbands and wives and partners riding together; the level of dedication and commitment to this cause seems never-ending.
At the end of every day of the ride, there’s a camp waiting for us, staffed by volunteer “roadies,” including more FedEx team members. It feels great to see our brightly decorated “Special Delivery” van at those stops, and to hear the thanks of fellow riders when they see my FedEx jersey. (FedEx was a Presenting Sponsor again this year.)
I’m already looking forward to next year, another 550 miles, to raising money and awareness about HIV/AIDS and to helping represent FedEx again.
I ride to see an end to HIV/AIDS in our lifetime!