cycling is a journey…

I was asked to write a small sentence or two talk about my thoughts on cycling….especially for the AV200.  I suppose many of us ride for different reasons: philanthropic, challenge, fundraising, togetherness, purpose.  The list could go on…… It occurred to me that riding is more than a just getting dressed in cycling gear and hammering out seemingly thousands of miles to get ready for two days of riding for a cause.  The cause is admittedly a good one, HIV/AIDS vaccine research. However, the real reason most of us ride is to put an end to AIDS!

To me, riding is a journey. I have to wonder about that journey though. Is the journey leading me away from something? Or, is the journey leading me towards something?  Whatever the end result, I find that when I am on the bike, I am participating in escape.  I have found that cycling allows me to leave the cares of my daily life behind… I can get away from the stressors of living and enjoy the open air. I can see parts of the city in ways that I could never see or experience by riding in a car. I can take part in fellowship with other riders who share some common interests. I can process my crazy rambling thoughts and make some sense of all that I am so unwilling to let go of in my head. I can forget, if only for a moment, the very real challenges associated with living that we all experience. So, in essence, my riding is a way to escape…to be free…if only for a few miles.

I suppose that cycling is a journey towards something. I am sure my legs are a bit stronger, my endurance has increased…maybe I am getting healthier?  Maybe I am advancing the cause of the cyclist? Becoming more visible to the Atlanta driver who seemingly loathes the cyclist? Maybe I am doing a part for the environment to cut down on smog…I am unsure of where I am heading, but I must have a goal that I am working towards!

As the journey relates to the AV200, I suppose I am cycling to honor the journey that the men and women who are living with HIV/AIDS are on. I imagine the weight of finding out that I have contracted HIV/AIDS. I can only imagine living with a disease that, for some, changes the appearance of a person, makes a person more susceptible to other illnesses, and challenges a person to think about their longevity. I imagine that some men and women living with HIV/AIDS have to deal with the shame that our society imposes upon them and difficulties of telling potential love interests about their status. I think of all of these things and so much more…no person should have to endure the hardships of living with HIV/AIDS. When I am on my bike, I am attempting to escape, just as a person who has HIV/AIDS may want to escape their disease…even if just for a little while.

My AV200 journey is ultimately for a single purpose. I ride towards putting an end to HIV/AIDS! We all have our own personal reasons for becoming involved in AV200, whether it is because we have lived vicariously through friends and loved ones who have suffered with HIV/AIDS. Or, because we believe that nobody should have to suffer getting HIV/AIDS. Whatever the reason, we are all on this shared journey. A journey towards ending the impact of this disease on all those who have it and the many people whose lives are impacted by knowing and caring about someone who is living with HIV/AIDS. I believe that my journey is a journey shared by all us who are cycling for a purpose, cycling for a cause, cycling to find a cure.

Hope for all,

Paul
cyclist, activist, and the best friend to someone living with AIDS for 25 years

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