AIDS Ride 5, 2000

The 2000 AIDS ride was an amazing experience in my life that I will always remember.  At 6:30am on July 10th, 1471 riders cycled away from Concordia University, St. Paul Minnesota, headed for Chicago.  Each rider had raised a minimum of $2,300 in order to participate.  In addition to the riders, there were another 425 volunteer crew members.  This was no small undertaking.  Many thousands of people were involved.

The "sea of bikes" at one of the nightly campsites in McHenry IL.

I had very few expectations about the ride going in to it (read as I didn't know what I was doing), but I did have several hopes about it.  I hoped somehow I could help others and make a positive impact, however tiny, by doing the ride.  I also hoped that, somehow, I could actually complete the ride!  Never having ridden more that 60 miles at a time during my handful of training rides, I had absolutely no idea if I could actually ride 500 miles.  I hoped that I could "be like Mike" and "Just do it"; what the hell was I thinking?

I also hoped that somehow I would be able to raise the mandatory minimum of $2,300 in pledges a couple of months before the ride without a fund raising plan; what the #$%! was I thinking?  Despite being ill prepared, I was able to ride the entire distance with the exception of 8 miles lost due to a blown tire; my thanks go to God and the makers of Advil.  IN 2001 I WILL RIDE ALL 500 MILES!

The ride turned out to be an "adventure" in more ways than one.  Continuing my recurring theme of "ill-preparedness", I waited until that last two weeks before the ride to figure out how I was actually going to get to St. Paul with my bike for the start of the ride.  As fate would have it, no planning was "perfect planning" on my part.  Through the Internet, I found a guy named Bill who had chartered an air-conditioned motor coach for the trip to St. Paul.  Bill had a few seats left to fill, and as long as I could get him a check in the next few days, he would save me a spot on the bus.

Disassembling and loading the bikes on the bus for the trip.

Bill is a great guy who has been involved with the AIDS ride for a number of years.  Bill inspired his family to get involved in the ride as well.  Both his son Billy, and his father Bob participated in 1999 and 2000.  Bill's father, Bob, was the oldest rider participating in 2000.  At age 72, Bob is a real character, and an amazing and inspiring guy.  Bob had a t-shirt made which he wore on the ride.  It had the number 72 in the front, and the words "Oldest Rider, be gentle" on the back.  I believe Bob used the t-shirt to his advantage to start conversations with the women on the ride (it worked well).  Bob's goal was to ride every single mile all the way back to Chicago, no matter how long it took him each day.  

Billy (bike crew), Bill (rider) and Bob (oldest rider).

Our driver Monroe, Adventure Charters.
  On the bus with Bill and his family were a number of riders who had trained with Bill over the spring and summer.  The night before the bus ride, most of group stayed up late preparing their bodies for the long bike ride ahead by "carbo-loading" at Bill's place.  Carbo-loading is the process of consuming additional carbohydrates before strenuous activities.  That night, the carbohydrates of choice were beer, pizza, and beer.  When I met them in the morning, the group appeared to be in good spirits (although, possibly mildly hung over).
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