The first time I knew about the Boston/New York AIDS ride was in 2008 when I was working as video editor/post production in the Media Department at the LGBT Center on 13th street... when you produce a 5 minutes video clip for a show using more than 2 hours footage you want to make sure you can extrapolate the essence of the event, so I pass through the whole footage for few times... and I found myself in tears all the time, being overwhelmed by this incredible amount of love and emotion... so I got information about how to participate to the ride and when I saw the scary amount of miles - three hundred in three days!! - I chickened out and I passed... but of course I resented right away and I got this feeling of "non-accomplishment" for months, until I edited the following edition in 2009, finding myself AGAIN in tears while editing, like a teenage girl.
"that's it!" I said to myself, and I signed up for the ride.
Just to give a little bit of my bike background: I was 8 when my father bought my first bike, a "Bianchi" in its world famous signature pastel green color, and I bike since then, that means 40 years... when I first moved to New York, I didn't consider the bike as main transportation, both for the crazy traffic and the distances... but then I got inspired and 8 years ago bought an used city bike, a "Free-Spirit" - like myself - elegant, burgundy, 10 gears, the perfect fit.
"She" (I refer to it with a she, since I'm italian and the gender in italian for bicycle is female) is still in use and well maintained as today and still one of my prides... BUT, there is a but, for how much I love this bike I had to buy a new one for the ride, because even with the best of my hope, I didn't think my Free-Spirit was able to take me from Boston to New York safely enough, so I got a new one, also thanks to friends and family who chipped in. The new addition in my household in 2009 has been a Giant Rapid 3, just a training bike for professionals, but the best-in-the-world for me at the time (well... I still feel that), surely in better shape than the other and clearly more "light-and-sprinty"
September 2009 arrived, and I went to Boston, by Acela Train (my bike preceded me the day before on a truck), with a small baggage and a big enthusiasm... everybody was telling me that it would have been a life-changing experience... I was surely believing that, but inside I was thinking "hmm... yeah... whatever" and what I was mainly thinking was the cheering on the day of arrival and the consequent glory and celebrations.
Well, I'm not getting into every single detail of this LIFE-CHANGING EXPERIENCE (yes, indeed it is) but I want to give you a quick overlook about few things about what the spirit of the ride is:
I would consider this ride as a condensate of our life... let me explain: on day one, everybody is super charged, very anxious to run and arrive, not really caring about the others, friends apart of course. Then the second day, you can see people enjoy the company of other riders, old or new friends, awakening a sense of comrade and community (which is the spirit of the ride)... on day three, besides your ass in constant pain, you realize if you don't have a company, it will be difficult to make it, you need to stick to others to go through. On top of that there are the dinners and evenings together, especially the first one when people share their experiences among laugh and tears, which get everybody closer to each other.
In few words, I have now another family which I look forward to see every year, now is the 5th, for those 3 memorable days spent together on the road.
This year will be my fifth, surely not the last... I am excited and proud to be making this ride again (and a little winded from training). What makes the difference is knowing what these funds do for those dealing with the medical, legal, social and financial challenges this condition imposes. I know the reality first hand. Few of my friends are HIV+, and some don't have the medical and financial resources or insurance to support them.