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Why I Ride the AV200
Before participating in the AV200, I didn’t even have a bicycle. In fact, the last one I owned had been in college, but it was a beach cruiser with fat tires and a drink koozie on the handlebars.
Several years ago, a couple of guys began taking the indoor cycling classes I taught at one of the Midtown Atlanta gyms. They told me that they were training for a ride called the AIDS Vaccine 200 (AV200). They even asked me to join them. I thought they were insane. There was no way in the world that I could possibly ride 200 miles in two days! But of course, being a proud cycle instructor, I was not going to tell them that. Besides, I’d been looking for a reason to buy a bicycle, and now I had one. So in February of 2012, I bought my first road bike.
After three months of outdoor training, ride day finally came. Energy was high among the cyclists; excitement was in the air! The roads we traveled were smooth, and the scenery was gorgeous. There were plenty of rest stops with fantastic themes and even better treats to snack on. Biking with my new friends was great! We were certainly fortunate to have been able to participate in such an amazing event. But 200 miles was a real test.
Thinking of them
At times, I found myself riding alone in relentless wind and over countless miles of rolling hills. It seemed the wind would never stop; the hills would never end; and that my bike wanted me off. I began to question why I’d ever committed to such an undertaking. As these negative thoughts filled my head, I wanted to stop…to give up. But, I couldn’t. I wouldn’t. Those thoughts had to be pushed out of my mind! I could not give up. There were far too people who would have gladly taken my place and ridden these miles themselves if they had they had lived to do so. I would not give up because HIV/AIDS researchers would not give up on their search for a vaccine. And I did not give up because there are people who endure much worse than strong wind and saddle sores every day as they fight for their lives because there is no vaccine. There is no cure.
Riding for them
Some people compare HIV/AIDS to a chronic disease like diabetes. This may be true if you can get and pay for the medication. But these same folks seem to have forgotten about the millions of people in this country and around the world who neither have access to nor can afford the necessary treatment. For them, AIDS is not a chronic disease. For them, AIDS is a death sentence.
So for them—the forgotten—I RIDE.
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