It's hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that after so many hundreds of miles, training is over for the AIDS LifeCycle. The 545-mile, 7-day event starts in less than a week and I've got my plane ticket, arrangements for the bicycle to be shipped to San Francisco, my team kit, and all the other stuff pretty much ready to go. Just need to pack...and that's gonna be a challenge. Imagine camping for seven days, but riding your bicycle all day, every day in between. There are some early hours and some stinky clothes to deal with, but there are also a lot of memories in the making and at the end of this, some real help to real people.
The training, the social time lost, the fundraising, the aches and pains, and all the other things that go into a monumental event like this, notwithstanding my own age, is all worth it. My next entry will be after I get back from the event, but you can friend me on Facebook if you want to follow along on my progress...and of course, you can be part of the wonderful group of people pushing me along the way by contributing at www.tofighthiv.org/goto/toddpark
It’s a Wrap, Folks!
It’s official. Training is over and it’s now time to put everything in something the airlines won’t lose and look toward “Day 1” of the AIDS LifeCycle. While I have participated in other long-distance rides that support charitable organizations, the scope of this ride is not only a bit daunting, it’s really amazing. The sheer logistics of getting over 3,000 people from one point to the next every day for a week is an astounding task. And that’s before you factor in things like weather and mechanical breakdowns.
Suffice it to say, I have a lot running through my head. It’s going to be a Herculean physical feat, to be sure, but I’ve found in the past that once you strip away the distractions of daily routine and the multitude of conveniences and electronic entertainment of modern American life, you come to your core – that person who you really are. You also come to the reason you ride in an event like this. You face your own selfishness and petty limitations and you push past them. You find that there’s something in you that truly epitomizes that good and noble part of us that cries in rage at injustice, that sheds a tear at suffering, and despite the many abuses of our social safety nets, still perhaps feel a twinge of guilt in ignoring that homeless guy with the sign at the off-ramp.
I’ll be riding for the many people who have contributed and in memory of those who aren’t riding any longer. That is perhaps a bit sobering, but the fact of the matter is that AIDS is not, by any means, over. We still lose far too many people to something that can be treated, if not outright prevented, but we have to talk about the uncomfortable without blame and we have to reach out in compassion instead of judgment. Our society demands that we do at least that.
Fundraising continues although I will have met the minimum to participate. I have a multitude of thanks and acknowledgements to make but I’m going to save them for after the ride except to say in a general, but heartfelt way that I am appreciative and genuinely humbled by the outpouring of generosity that is allowing me to make a difference for so many others. It’s not too late to become one of the many people who have become heroes in my eyes. Please visit www.tofighthiv.org/goto/toddpark to contribute. Please let me know if there is someone you would like me to ride in honor or memory of. It would be my great privilege to do that for you. If you haven’t already, please include a physical address so I can send greetings from the road.
This posting was originally published May 28, 2012. I've split my writing into different blogs: Opinion, The Leukemia Chronicles, and other Freelance Writing