We’ve been following Nick Vivion’s journey with the AIDS LifeCycle fundraiser with bikers riding from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Here’s his latest dispatch:
It’s going to be quite a shock to return home to Seattle next week: There are over a thousand men in tight spandex, all around me, all day long. Naive as it sounds, I was not prepared for this sensory overload. There are literally butts, calves and bulges all over the place, with rippling muscles peppered liberally amongst the riders.
For those just joining us, I’m Nick Vivion from Unicorn Booty, and I’m an embedded journalist on the AIDS LifeCycle ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. This is the 10th year of the HIV/AIDS services fundraising event, with over $170 million raised in those ten years. This year was a record-breaking year, raising over $13 million to fight the resurgence of the AIDS epidemic.
Yesterday the riders celebrated the Halfway to LA mark by hoisting their bikes up in the air and snapping pictures. It was quite the sight, and somewhat overwhelming for some riders.
“It affects everyone,” says Thomas Gay, who was diagnosed with HIV over 7 years ago. “Whether you know it or not, not everyone is forthcoming and able to let the world know about their status. So just because you don’t know somebody’s positive, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t.”
Thomas had his family from Colorado along for the ride, and they were in tears while talking about how proud they are of him. It’s touching to see such support for the riders, coming from family, friends and complete strangers along the way. The experience is overwhelming, and reminds me that together, we will overcome. We have so many challenges in the gay community, and the only way we grow stronger is by supporting each other with love, smiles and lots of tight fighting spandex.