Love, sweat and gears….and tears too!

My dear friends and AIDSLIFECYCLE teammates made and bought me this jersey!!! I’m so blown away. I love my friends. I love friendship and working and living and loving together.

What this really means now that we have a team jersey is that the just under 2 months ago, we led/initiated/commenced the inaugural year of Team Break the Cycle. I’m thinking Team BTC has a ALC team every other year? Who’s in? You know you wanna rock this jersey!!

Thank you Bonnie, Emma, Sara and Miriam! I was so honored to ride with 4 womyn who speak truth and love, live in community, and are powerhouses on their bikes. Now we know how to #hack the ALC ride…no more dehydrations, saying “see you at dinner”, or shaky fundraising venues. Yes to singing up hills, wearing tutus, and going to the sports med tent.

Things I did for my 30th birthday:

-BBQ and dance party at my place (see above for post-party pic…I’m still cleaning up from this past weekend)

-biked from abt 300ft above sea level to Mt Diablo summit at 3849 ft!! It was at least 10miles of climbing…

- got a new hair cut!

- my sweetie surprised me with a nighttime gondola ride on Lake Merritt, then set up a tent for us to camp in his backyard and then treated me to breakfast

- had coffee - twice! I know, I know….

- went to an awesome lunch and an outlet mall with a friend (this ended up being not so fun cuz the outlets were depressing and dead and I felt conscious of my consumerism)

- laughed, cried, talked, smiled

- oh and technically, I was also doing the AIDS Lifecycle in honor of my 30th birthday too😊

I think I’m on Bart with Lateefa Simon. I wanna say “I’m sorry for your loss”, “thank you for you”, “hope you have a good day”. Something to acknowledge her…and yet I don’t want to invade her privacy, her personal space, her routine…is this a product of our society? I’m posting in tumblr- I’m another one of “those” people on their phones on Bart and not talking to people. And yet I just told a woman I liked her bag. She said thanks as she grabbed her phone and checked Facebook.

Ms. Simon (or her doppelgänger - yes I finally have an opp to use this word!) has earbuds in and is texting someone. I am glad she can connect with someone in her life with this technology we have. I am glad I can share my thoughts with you now too…

Technology in and of itself is not the problem. Modernization in and of itself is not the problem…so what is it?

Fear of connection? Having not enough time to love everyone in the world and so we create defenses and rationalizations for why we don’t love and talk with strangers….but love is not finite. I can love someone and decide not to become BFF.

Love is on my mind a lot lately. What does it mean to focus in loving instead of being loved? I am really letting in these days that I am so ridiculously loved in my life. I’m grateful and proud and humbled. So if my mission isn’t to be loved, and I want to love, what does that look like? How does love create more love instead of deplete? Again, love isn’t finite in quantity.

Well, today, my love for Ms. Simon is partially expressed in this post. I’m sorry for your loss. Thank you for you. I hope you have a good day.

Birthday bike ride. #mdvsmd #mouthofhellyawningonyou #mtdiablo

I was cleaning up my desk and found a note I wrote:

Principles for talking to high school students: Don’t use scare tactics.

Earlier this year, I spoke at Berkeley High and I remember saying to them in a provocative way “I hate being asked to talk to high school students about human trafficking. Why? Because I am often asked to approach you with scare tactics. I’m supposed to freak you out and make you worried that anyone walking down the street could be abducted and trafficked, or you could be lured online, so watch out!” 

I told them how I don’t like this strategy. I don’t like that it puts the onus on the underage child to protect themselves. 

I also don’t like it when I hear that high school curriculum about human trafficking is basically, “hey boys, don’t be pimps” and “hey girls, be careful not to be victims.” 

What kind of education is that? First of all, what would it be like to boy in that situation? Where the adults are assuming he is going to be a pimp? 

And what is it like to be a girl? Where they are basically being told that they have control whether or not they become a victim? Sure, you can say that one can do things to decrease the likelihood of being victimized…we hear this all the time, “lists” of what to do like, walk with a friend at night, carry mace, etc. But these things don’t address why and how the perpetrator is perpetrating…

Plus, the scare tactic of “this could happen to anyone” skews the fact that there are communities that are targeted specifically. It also skews the fact that most perpetration of sexual violence happens by someone that people already know. 

Alrighty, just my first shot at expanding on my one line note.

[First picture above was at 4:30am on Day 1]

ALC Final Reflections: 

It’s 4 days after the Aids LifeCycle (ALC) ended and I’m still recovering. I can’t seem to get enough sleep and yet I’m itching to get back on my bike. For the first day or so, I was calling out “car right” and “on your left” in my head. I’m surprisingly not as sore as I thought I was, but I’m sure if I got on the foam roller or got a massage, I would say differently! 

I think the ALC is something everyone would benefit from experiencing. It was a remarkable experience. Everyone talks about the “love bubble” that exists on ALC - the loving community that is created, where no one cares about your title at work or who you know, where people say good morning and smile to everyone and anyone, and where people are constantly cheering each other on…but you can’t really know it until you experience it.

This was my first time spending an extended period of time with a large number of gay men. There were 2300 riders and 600 roadies, and a solid proportion of this were gay men. I appreciated that they were able to be free in their love for one another, and that I got to be a part of their community for a week. I am still quite an ignorant ally, and I grew so much as a person by being surrounded by all kinds of lovers. I also appreciated that it didn’t matter if you were gay or straight or neither…we were all there to fight to end HIV/AIDS. Unfortunately, we learned that gay men are still the largest population affected by HIV & AIDS. Luckily, however, with treatment advances and services, people with HIV & AIDS can live long and healthy lives. 

This is amazing to me. I met people who lost almost everyone they knew in the 90’s to AIDS. And now, they are alive to see newly infected friends be able to get the treatment they need and deserve. 

I am SO glad I did the ALC and I want to do it again! It was certainly a challenge to break the mold - to talk about HIV/AIDS affects sexually exploited youth, but I think I got my message out. As always, there is more work to do, as unfortunately, my teammates and I still experienced misogyny and sexism on the ride, there was glorification of pimp culture, and still a lack of sensitivity to race and poverty…but I was reminded by my friends that that is everywhere…and in the ALC space, these conversations about justice and oppression can happen. 

Again, this is what I appreciated about Lorrie Jean, CEO of the LA LGBT Center. She talked about farm worker’s rights on the day we biked through strawberry fields in Salinas. She shared my story and what I’m fighting for. She has a mind for the intersection of oppression and the need to collaborate and work together. 

Gosh, there’s so much more to say about the ALC, I’m not sure how to get it all in here so I’ll go with a list: 

- The Talent Show on Day 6 was fantastic. Two people did a rendition of “I”m Gonna Be” by the Proclaimers and changed the lyrics to “I will ride 500 miles”: an HIV positive rider shared that he came out ot his family and friends for the first time this year at a fundraiser for ALC - we cried together
- Everyone talks about the Quadbuster hill; no one talks about the hill climbs on Red Dress Day - it might not be as short and steep but it’s a long, slow climb and it’s on Day 5 when you are REALLY tired
- No one tells you that you will be waking up at 4:30am all week! 
- And because you are up at 4:30am, you will get used to the weird-ness of saying “good morning” for about 8 hours a day
- Riding along the coast on Day 7 was beautiful, though stressful cuz it gets a bit busy on the PCH
- YOU BELONG HERE! Register for ALC 2015 with the code CELEBRATE and get a huge discount! 

Day 7: 60 miles, final day.

Day 8: no miles!

On my bike that is…this is the burger I had at Victory Burger last night. More on day 7 later…

Sending my love to the family of an ALC training ride leader who passed away while on the ride 😢

Day 6: 84 miles, Santa Maria to Ventura.

Before telling you about Day 6, I gotta tell you about Day 5, camp stage. So every evening during dinner, we get a medical and safety report from Ride Director, hear announcements abt the next day, and the CEO of the LA LGBT Center and the SF AIDS Foundation address the crowd. The CEOs tell stories about people the meet in the ride and it’s pretty sweet and you hear such moving stories.

Last night, Lorrie Jean mentioned me! This is much thanks to Miriam, my teammate, who strongly encouraged her to look me up and sing praises of me. I did intro myself to her earlier in the week cuz she is fantastic. She brings up other related social issues and she’s a hilarious story teller.

Anyway, she shared the story of my team Break the Cycle and the entire dining hall gave me a standing ovation. I still don’t know what to say about it…I’m glad people here are now a little more aware of the realities of sexual exploitation of minors.

Gosh so much more to say abt camp stage…but on to the ride…

It was a great day. Gorgeous views. Started off foggy and misty like east bay hills in the morning. There were some long slow climbs out of Santa Maria. We had lots of ocean view riding. Went through Santa Barbara, Carpenteria, and camped on the beach at Ventura. Right now every little hill and bump is felt. Really gotta apply the anti-chafing butt butter…

There was a candlelight vigil on the beach last night to honor those we have lost to AIDS. It was moving. Camp stage was a tear-jerker. This is a profound event. I want to do it again. I want YOU to do it - as a rider or a roadie (a volunteer).

There is so much to say…more later as it’s now 4am and about time to start getting ready for the last and final day! Day 7, 60 miles left!

Days 4 and 5…

Yesterday was a mixed bag. Had an awesome time climbing what are named “the evil twins”, two back to back long uphill climbs. Sara, Bonnie, Emma and I were singing up the entire way, providing entertainment (or distraction) for the other riders.

Then we rode through beautiful town of Cayucos. I started feeling lightheaded and had a sudden onset headache. Checked in with the med team and they had me drink Gatorade, eat fruit and rest a little and told me to bike on and if I felt bad at lunch to get checked again. I biked to lunch and felt like I was going to involuntary fall asleep. Went to the medical tent again and they took my vital signs…my blood pressure was unsafely low that they put an iv in me and pulled my bike for the day. 😕

I somehow got dehydrated by drinking too much water and was not getting enough electrolytes…but I followed doctors orders over night and got cleared to ride today.

Those are pictures from red dress day! Everyone wears red outfits and it’s the shortest day of the ride. Red is the color that is used to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS. There were some major hill climbs today, and again, some early morning tears…this experience is quite emotional in so many ways. I wanna do it again if I can!!

Okay that’s all for now, nightly community news starts soon.