Last winter, the two of us registered for the Northeast AidsRide from New York to Boston. A four day journey through four states with 3,000 other cyclists. Some were competitive, some were recreational, but we all had one common goal - to pedal 350 miles and raise monies that would be distributed to local New York Clinics where Aids/HIV patients can get the treatment and care they needed to live longer and healthier lives.
We didn't know one another at this time. We were just two New Yorkers who thought this ride would be a way to do something out of the norm and challenge our physical capabilities. Previous riders invited us to become members of a small group dedicated to support Long Island AidsRiders. A message board was created where riders would post where they would ride, as well as express concerns or ideas they had regarding training and fundraising. This small group soon turned out to be a group of over 70 AidsRiders and it was on one of these training rides in May that the two of us met for the first time.
Over the next two and a half months, we joined the group on many training rides, attended meetings and held fundraisers to benefit us all. Our support for one another grew quickly as did our friendship. The AidsRide began to have a more personal meaning to us. As a team, we became stronger riders, reached our fundraising goal of $2,100 per rider and formed friendships that will last a lifetime.
We all took such pride in our dedication to each other as a team that team jerseys were designed and each member proudly wore a jersey that that read NEAR1-Team StrongIsland. With pledges in and our legs strong...we were now ready to begin our journey.
Day Zero (July 18) - Riders arrived to hand in pledges, watch a safety video and receive tent assignments. It was a day of long lines and anxiety. There was a statement repeated over and over - "Human-kind be both". Soon we would understand why.
Day One - After an emotional opening ceremony we rode 89 miles of hills that were the toughest we have ever ridden. This day alone had over 30 major hills. Assuming this was the toughest day...we were relieved when we arrived at camp the first night.
Day Two - After a painful day one, we rode 90 miles of hills, that now became the toughest we've ever ridden. It was on this day that we became aware of the necessity for Butt Balm and felt no shame in begging for it.
Day Three - The route planner finally gave us a break on the hills, but decided to kill us with miles. What was supposed to be 105 turned out to be 112. We now learned that there are regular miles as we know them and Pallotta miles, which are much longer.
Day Four - A hell of a lot less pedaling. Victory was only 59 miles away. Nothing would stop us now.
Some of you may be wondering what motivated us to keep riding each day despite the fatigue and the aches and pains of sore knees and buns. Well that's simple. It was the smiling faces of children, the applause and encouragement of those we passed along the way and the roaring cheers from other riders and crew as we entered pit stops and camp each day. Imagine a world where people stop their everyday lives to take a moment and support others who have taken moments out of their lives to support those that are less fortunate. A world of unselfishness, patience and forgiveness. A world where a person is never judged by their race, religion or sexual preference. A world without greed. For these four days, we lived in this world. We were human, we were kind, we were both.
This Ride and our friendship has changed our lives forever. In fact, it was during training for this Ride that we met a couple of mountain bikers who introduced us to the sport and inspired us to join C.L.I.M.B.
C.L.I.M.B. members welcomed us roadies to ride the trails and now we roadies invite you to experience the journey of a lifetime.If you are interested in becoming an AidsRider, please visit www.bethepeople.com or contact Lisa via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or Allison at email@example.com. We would be more than excited to tell you more. We have registered for the 2002 Ride in June and have begun the countdown to Day Zero.