Today is the 26th World AIDS Day.  This morning I participated in a WAD ride sponsored by Positive Pedalers, an international cycling club that focuses on erasing stigma of HIV/AIDS by being a positive presence in that community (and to those outside that community).  The ride was followed by a ceremony at the National AIDS Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park.

 

2014 World AIDS Day Ride in San Francisco

2014 World AIDS Day Ride in San Francisco

 

I was a young adult in the 1980s.  I worked in theatre during these years, a community especially hard hit in the early years of HIV and AIDS.  I distinctly remember my first friend who shared his positive HIV/AIDS status with me.  His name was Wayne, he bore a striking resemblance to David Bowie, and I had a terrible crush on him.  I haven’t thought about Wayne in many years.  As I feared, a quick google search yields no results.

Wayne and I worked together on a children’s theatre tour in the Washington, DC metro area.  For 10 months, the two of us, along with three other actors, toured schools 5 days a week.  We travelled together, performing at two schools each day, in a van packed tightly with costumes, sets, and sound equipment.  The five of us became very close.

One day, sitting in a Burger King on lunch break, Wayne told us he had tested positive.  I remember thinking it was a death sentence.  I cried openly.  So did everyone else.  I held him close.  I wondered, since we weren’t very educated about transmission in those early days, if I could contract HIV because I had shared sodas and cigarettes with him.  But mostly, I was devastated.  I mourned, because he was symptomatic and I knew he would die.

Over the years, I’ve had countless friends and colleagues who were HIV positive.  I’ve known countless others who have died of AIDS.  It’s been a part of my entire adult life.

More than a decade later, in 1998, I moved to the San Francisco area.  Wanting to find a volunteer opportunity, I registered to participate in the California AIDS Ride, a 7-day, 600-mile bicycle ride that raised funds and awareness for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.  When I registered, I did so because I wanted to improve my health and I wanted to feel a part of my community.  But, like many participants, as I trained and then completed the ride, it became more about HIV/AIDS than about me and my goals.  And what I learned through that experience was that there were many folks who lived with HIV and AIDS and also rode their bicycles in that event.  AIDS was no longer a death sentence.

There’s a prevailing feeling, especially among our youth, that AIDS is not dangerous.  It won’t kill you.  It’s a thing of the past.  There are drugs to treat it.  And that’s the demographic that’s seeing an increased diagnosis of HIV and AIDS.

So, today, I ask you to think about AIDS.  Remember that we’re still fighting this disease.  And, if you have the opportunity to influence a young person about the risks and prevention, please don’t hesitate to take action.

Whoever created my schedule this summer was crazy!  What’s that you say?  I put together my own schedule?  Well that explains everything.  Indeed, I’m crazy.

Since mid-June, I’ve spent more time away from home than at home.  My life has been a constant go-go-go.  And, of course, the bike has been an integral part of that action.

In June, I spent two weeks in beautiful Markleeville, CA, home of the Death Ride.  I held my 5th Annual Alpine Altitude Adventure camp with a great group of riders and also rode the Alta Alpina Challenge on one of the hottest days of the year.  I rode my favorite mountain passes, practiced yoga at studios in Carson City, Truckee, and South Lake Tahoe, visited the farmer’s markets, hiked with my dog, and did some advance work for The Specialized Women Sports Camp where I’d be coaching in August.  I even went stand-up paddleboarding on Lake Tahoe for the 1st (and 2nd) time ever!

 

Lorri and Annie at the Death Ride

 

July was non-stop action, with another week in Markleeville, capped off by my fastest Death Ride ever!  I somehow slipped in a bunch of Savvy Bike clinics, bike fits, and on-the-bike coaching sessions, as well as prep for the 8th Annual Menlo Park Grand Prix presented by Kit Order.

 

Janelle Kellman of Kit Order with Lorri at the Menlo Park Grand Prix

 

The day after the race, I spent my 48th birthday with off-load and then hopped on the redeye for New York to spend an amazing week visiting long-lost family and friends and attending my 30th High School Reunion.  I rode my bike 6 days in 6 different places, including a group ride and a ride with a high school buddy.  I met with cycling and fitness friends to work on plans to bring coaching programs to NY next summer.  This was the first real vacation I’ve taken in a long time, and I even completely ignored work and email for a few days.

 

Lorri and her nieces riding in upstate NY

 

When I returned from NY, I had one day at home before heading up to Truckee to coach the road cycling programs at The Specialized Women Sports Camp.  What a fabulous weekend of clinics, riding, yoga, SUP, and seminars in a stunning setting.

 

Lorri and her athletes climb Donner Pass

 

And now I’m back and ready to settle in for a while, with awesome Bike Skills clinics, AIDS LifeCycle Training Ride Leader Certification clinics, bike fits, on-the-bike clients, and even some road and mountain bike racing to finish off the summer.  I’ve loved every minute of my crazy summer, but I’m thrilled to be back home in Northern CA — the most perfect place on earth to ride a bike!

Life is short.  Live each day fully.  Enjoy summer.  Make memories!