My name is Clark Harding (pictured, above right) and I’ll be reporting live from the ride.
Saturday, 3:38 p.m. Day Zero: Orientation
Pop Quiz: Where in the world can you bump into all of your exes at once? Answer: AIDS/LifeCycle Orientation Day. Strangely though, there weren’t any frigid air-kisses or passive-aggressive, compliment-stabs like I expected. Instead the love appeared to flow (in long lines) today, at the Cow Palace in San Francisco as over 2,200 cyclists greeted each other and checked in for tomorrow’s kickoff of ALC 2013.
As if raising more than $14 million for the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center and San Francisco AIDS Foundation wasn’t enough; these pedalers will be biking the 545 mile journey from San Francisco to Los Angeles, to bring further awareness to the cause. “And play Count the Porn Stars,” assured my buddy Andy from Los Angeles. “I’ve counted, like, six already.” Neither of us knew the other was riding this year, which caused a scene when we ran in to each other and squealed like school girls.
This year not only marks the 20th anniversary of the San Francisco-to-L.A. ride but 32 years since the first cases of AIDS were reported. Seeing as I’m 33, it’s a sobering thought that the virus and I are basically the same age (and in L.A. years I’m, like, way old). “But that’s why I keep on riding,” says Jeanne McArthur, whom I met because our bikes are parked next to each other “This is my 10th year, and I can’t stop until AIDS ends…and it must end.”
Jeanne’s conviction got me a little emotional, so obviously I stalked her online. According to her ALC page, she raised $4,000. If she averaged that every year, Jeanne has collectively raised $40,000 in her ten years of riding.
“That means that Jeanne single handedly helped fund rapid HIV tests for more than 1,500 people,” says Jim Key, Chief Public Affairs officer for the LAGLC. “And testing services are the most integral part of what The Center does, because people who know their HIV status are much less likely to infect someone else.” As Jeanne wrote on her ALC page “I take comfort in knowing that we are making progress.”
Photos: Chris Stewart/Georg Lester
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