So this weekend I rode my bicycle around Lake Tahoe. Yes. All the way around. Haha. It is fun to say, especially when people always ask me if I really did go all the way around the lake. It’s 72 miles of fantastic scenery and over 4,000 feet of climbing!
I have been training for a ride called the AIDS Lifecycle, which takes place on June 2nd. It is a 545 mile bicycle ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Yes, all on bicycle. 🙂 I can hardly believe it myself. In January I had practically no experience on a bicycle.
When I joined the South Bay Blaze cycling group, I was scared to even ride 20 miles.
They told me that if I did the weekly training rides, which went up approx. 5 miles each week, I would be ready for the Lifecycle. With each ride, I felt tired at the end of each ride. In fact, I was exhausted. But as the weeks went on I felt more confident in my riding. I began to learn the lingo, how to call out road hazards to my fellow cyclists, and how to properly eat and drink for the rides (I also learned the wonderful recovery benefits of chocolate milk!) Sure I was tired every Saturday, but I was getting stronger, taking on more hills with confidence. I was getting to know the other riders and forming friendships with them. We went through many experiences together – chilly breezes on Winter mornings, blazing heat in mid-afternoons, seemingly impossible climbs up hills, as well as potholes, bumps, zooming cars, flat-tires, glass, wind, odd tan lines, spontaneous rain, achy muscles, funky post-ride hair-do’s, challenges with spandex, bug swarms, long restroom lines, angry storeowners, rude drivers, and overwhelmed eateries across the bay area. But through it all it warms my heart to know that my buddies are there too. That they are going through everything with me, and I with them. This is not something I have ever considered before, and through the camaraderie, I have since forgotten how much I initially feared this whole experience.
I ride because I have HIV and I want to make sure everyone who is living with HIV/AIDS can get the services they need. I was blessed with amazing services in my community and hope others get the services they need wherever they live. For me, this ride is about love and community, about sticking together when we can very easily find ourselves too busy, too scared to continue the struggle to fight HIV/AIDS. The disease is still with us, despite great medical advances, and it is up to us to show up and let people know that there are so many people out there who have been affected by this virus. Even if they themselves are not HIV positive, they know someone who is, and has died of HIV, or is a child, lover, friend, co-worked, relative, acquaintance, neighbor who is still struggling with HIV.
Lake Tahoe is a beautiful place, full of crystal blue waters, fertile land, crisp air and lovely vistas. But this weekend it was more. It was a place where I could let me soul find just a little bit of solace in the fact that the community I came here with was even more beautiful.
Thank you South Bay Blaze, Jamie Pereira and all our new friends for making this a weekend to remember!