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Meet the Women of AIDS Lifecycle 12!

Meet the Women of AIDS Lifecycle 12!

Meet a few of the women of AIDS Lifecycle 12. On June 2, 2,200-plus cyclists and some 500 roadies will depart from San Francisco’s Cow Palace to the VA in Los Angeles, riding 545 miles over seven days to raise money for people living with HIV/AIDS. Lifecycle is a community of like-minded people who are all moved to do something to help make life a little easier for people with HIV/AIDS and to help erase the stigma that surrounds it through visibility. Riders will average about 85 miles a day on their bikes for seven days for the cause. Funds raised go to programs supported by the LA Gay and Lesbian Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.

Meet a few of the women of AIDS Lifecycle 12. On June 2, 2,200-plus cyclists and some 500 roadies will depart from San Francisco’s Cow Palace to the VA in Los Angeles, riding 545 miles over seven days to raise money for people living with HIV/AIDS. Lifecycle is a community of like-minded people who are all moved to do something to help make life a little easier for people with HIV/AIDS and to help erase the stigma that surrounds it through visibility. Riders will average about 85 miles a day on their bikes for seven days for the cause and funds raised go to programs supported by the LA Gay and Lesbian Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.

Check out the Women of AIDS Lifecycle 12 and hear what moves them to ride or roadie. This year's riders include SheWired’s editor Tracy E. Gilchrist, photo editor Boo Jarchow and Elena Undone actress and top fundraiser Traci Dinwiddie. 

Audrey Dwyer

Age: 21

From: Muscatine, IA, currently in Iowa City, IA

Roadie

Why roadie?

Reading and hearing truly heartfelt stories about why people participate in this ride has been reason enough for me to join. I cannot provide the time/funds/biking expertise to be a rider this year, but I wanted to help out in anyway I could. My brother was able to volunteer last year as part of the Roadie crew. I will admit I was very jealous that he was able to participate and I wasn't. I realize I could have volunteered before last year but I don't think I was really ready. I was apprehensive to be part of the ride because I didn't think I had a strong connection to the cause in comparison to my mom, uncle, grandma, or all the other riders and volunteers.

My grandpa died in November, it has forever changed my outlook on life. I suppose death usually does that to people. It was my first time attending a funeral. I wasn't necessarily close with my grandpa like many people are, but regardless it was hard to say my final goodbye to him. After finding out that he was sick my mom was gone a lot visiting my grandparents along with her two brothers. Something had changed. I'm not sure how my mom became closer to her family. but she did. I remember that after one of the trips she brought pictures back… pictures from when she was a little girl, pictures of Peter, her brother who died of HIV/AIDS at a young age.

Growing up I always wondered what my Uncle Peter was like. When I would hear stories about him from my mom and her brothers it made me wish I had met him. From what they told me, he was intelligent, caring, outgoing, and he was described to be "before his time." They said he was also an artistic "Renaissance Man" and had a love for music. I wish I could talk to him about music for hours and hours because it is a huge part of my life. I wish his intelligence had passed down to me. He graduated high school at the age of 16 and then was accepted to the University of Notre Dame where was on the honor roll during his first year. One thing that has had a resonating effect on me was when they told me he always seemed to be trying to find something that made him happy. Now, as an adult, I have a better understanding of how hard it can be to find what makes you happy. Knowing this, it makes me feel connected to him in some weird way.

My mom and uncle had their own reasons for joining the ride. They both had a different connection to Peter and perhaps this ride is a way to keep him alive, so to speak.

When I was a little girl, I remember coming home from school and mom was always training on her bike. I will admit I was a bit bitter about the ride because it was always during my birthday. Selfish, I know, but then we went to meet my mom at the finish line when the ride ended in Chicago. It was during that closing ceremony my whole outlook on the ride changed. I saw strangers hugging each other, laughing with one another, and even crying. Words cannot describe what that ceremony was like for me. I wanted to be a part of it. It was at that moment I saw how everyone was connected by what they had been through, to stand together and fight against HIV/AIDS. It didn't matter what their story was or who they had lost or why they wanted to ride. What mattered was they were there. They were raising awareness and standing up to all social stigmas about a disease many people don't understand.

I knew I had to stop asking questions and see what it was like for myself. Not only to raise awareness to help find a cure but to keep my Uncle Peter alive and find my own connection to him.

AIDS/LifeCycle 2013 Here I come!!

Amber Lynn Post

Age: 25

From: San Francisco (originally LA)

Bike: An old shitty Trek

Why ride?

I originally signed up for AIDS/LifeCycle as a personal challenge for myself. I had never cycled before and figured if I was going to start, I might as well go big or go home. The fact that it fundraised for the SF AIDS Foundation was just a bonus, and quite the learning experience for me fundraising wise. I ride because the community of people is just amazing. I ride because it builds my physical, emotional and mental confidence and self esteem. I ride because in the process of physically training my body and mentally training my braid fundraising, I'm also helping save lives. How could you not dig that? All in all its a win-win situation, I get so much out of the experience of AIDS/LifeCycle and the money fundraised helps other people get more out of life, or possibly more life to live. Amen to that! :)

Samantha Sprecher
Age: 45
From: Los Angeles
Bike: A beautiful Bianchi road bike borrowed from a friend
Why Ride?

I've always wanted to do the ALC ride but I kept putting it off, saying "I'll do it next year".   Last summer I realized that I needed to stop making excuses and just do it.  Once I made that decision everything fell into place around me.  A friend lent me a bike (which fit); my cyclist friends took me under their wings and taught me how to ride; my friends and family donated a lot of money; and - most importantly - my wife and kids showered me with love, support, and encouragement.  Like many riders I did this for the physical challenge -- I wanted to do something crazy hard  -- but I wanted it be for a cause.  I am so proud to be contributing to the very important work of LAGLC and SFAF.  And I will be forever grateful for this life-changing experience they helped create.  I'm so glad that I stopped saying "next year!”

Kallie Beebe

Age: 24

From: Santa Cruz, CA

Bike: Specialized Dolce, which I bought with my 2010 tax returns… Thanks federal government! His name is Girard.

Why ride?

This is my third year riding in AIDS/LifeCycle, and I continue to ride for so many reasons. HIV/AIDS is stigmatized as just a gay male's issue, but it's not- this is a public issue that affects everyone, even if you are not personally dealing with the disease. My first year, I signed up because I wanted to help provide life-saving services to people who couldn't afford it themselves. The San Francisco AIDS Foundation does an amazing job at providing these services, as well as educational information to help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. What an amazing foundation to support!!

I ride because AIDS/LifeCycle presents the most beautiful side of humanity. It's a community where everyone is your family, and you all have each other's backs no matter what. If you need help changing a flat, a shoulder to cry on, some butt butter... you got it! Whabam! It's what the world is supposed to be like.

I ride because I want my kids to grow up in a world where HIV only exists in textbooks. When I hear my elders tell me stories about how they fought for civil rights, I imagine myself telling my kids about how I helped fight for an end to HIV. If you believe in something, you should fight for it. Whatever it may be. Find something you're passionate about, and dedicate some of your time to help change this world. For me, I dedicate myself to AIDS/LifeCycle.

Jinny Morelock (aka Gramma Jinny, Gmom)

Age: 82

From: Huntington Beach, CA

Bike: I was training on my youngest grandson's old mountain bike until his mother Tracy felt sorry for me and let me use her Fugi, Aloha, bike. It's much lighter and fun to ride. And after all, she got me into AIDS/LifeCycle when she rode for the first time. Quote, "Mom, you don't have to ride a bike, you can just be a roadie.”

Jinny (left)

Why ride?

In 1989 or so, when this AIDS thing had just started, or rather had a name -- finally -- Tracy's brother Mike asked us all to sit down in the living room. He then announced that he had AIDS. And for our information, there was going to be an AIDS WALK LA in a couple of weeks and would Tracy and I walk with him? Of course we did. The next year, we walked and I had to use a cane. The following year, Tracy and I walked, with me on crutches. Mike was too ill to walk. Mike passed away in May of 1992, but Tracy and I continued to walk. I use the term "walk" loosely, as by then I was using a wheelchair. A year or so after that, I had knee surgery. We continued to walk. I had an inspiration. "Tracy," I said. "I just signed up for the 200 LaSalle Marathon in Chicago." The reaction was wonderful. She signed up also and my husband said, "You can't do that!" Wrong. Did you know you can walk a marathon in 8 hours, 38 minutes and 24 seconds? Tracy came back and went across the finish line with me. Hawaii was next. Unfortunately, Tracy came down with planter fasciitis that ended her running days.

And that's how I started being a roadie for AIDS/LifeCycle. All the time I was a roadie, the riders kept saying, "We have the easy job. You roadies work way harder than we do." Well, now I am going to find out. When I told my dear husband, his remark was, "You can't do that.” That was the wrong thing to say again. Thanks to Team Long Beach, I started to train in January. It's been about 65 years since I've ridden a bike more than around the block. Mel and Kerry are at me to ride up those hills again and again. Each time I get stronger and stronger. Who knows what a determined old lady can do?

 

Katina Calvin

Age: 42

From: Los Angeles

Bike: Seven / Alaris nicknamed "The INDIAN." This bike has been in 3 previous ALC rides with another 

rider.

Why ride?

Katina is a self-proclaimed “out-of-shape” personal trainer. Because of recent health challenges, training for the ride has not been easy. But she’s determined to cross the finish line in honor of her uncle, who is a 20-year AIDS survivor and a huge influence on the woman she is today. This year Katina rides not only to regain her fitness and inspire her clients but also to show her uncle her love and support. She believes that after seeing her uncle bounce back from his deathbed three times and still thrive, she can do anything…including AIDS/LifeCycle!

Ryen Lindsy Reed

Age: 23

From: Corona, CA

Bike: Trek Alpha aluminum

Why ride?

I ride for many different reasons. I grew up with a disability and always worried about fitting in or not being good enough to do physical activities. As a result, I always pushed myself and proved everyone wrong. Growing up with that state of mind always pushed me to want to help other people. I never wanted anyone to ever go through what I had to go through, so I wanted to find ways to help people. This ride gave me the opportunity to help people in need and for a cause that the whole world doesn't always accept. I came into this not knowing what to expect or realizing the type of challenge I was setting myself up for. The only thought in the back of my mind was being able to help people. I was going to accomplish this challenge through all the pain and suffering I had to go through for these seven days, because it would be nothing compared to what HIV/AIDS patients have to go through for the rest of their lives.

Traci Dinwiddie

Age: In my last year of my 30s (Shivers!!!!)

From: Born in Alaska, brought up in the Carolina's, living in LA

Bike: Specialized carbon-framed Ruby Elite from Cynergy Cycles in Santa Monica

Why ride?

My reasons are many for taking on the AIDS/LifeCycle ride. I've so many sober sisters and brothers who are currently HIV positive. I also witnessed one of my very best friends struggle for many years to rebuild his life after losing his partner to AIDS. One of my spiritual mentors sang this wonderful organization's praises, and the seed was planted for me to join AIDS/LifeCycle. We shared a common friend who lived his last days with AIDS. Some time after he died, my partner took a job in the AIDS/LifeCycle office. I always try to practice being a helpful contributor to my partner's work, my community, and this world. The timing seemed right to join ALC as a rider and use my little bit of celebrity to raise money and awareness for the cause. So, here I am with hundreds of training miles pedaled. ALC training ride leaders taught me how to clip in, ride safely, and climb massive California hills. My fans, whom I affectionately call my T~bugs, have been beyond supportive of this endeavor. I'm humbled and grateful. I've seen the good work that the LA Gay and Lesbian Center is doing for their patients. It brings me great joy to know I've been able to be part of such goodness. Or, "Good Isness", as I call it. ;)

Ellen Ciuba Parkhurst

Age: 26

From: El Cacique, Monte Plata, Dominican Republic

Bike: Felt Z80 2009

Why ride?

One of the most profound experiences I have had as a Peace Corps Volunteer was when my main community health educator, Ysabel, described to me the way the rest of her father’s life played out after his HIV test came back positive. Pregnant and uneducated on how HIV is spread, Ysabel ostracized her father within their own home. He had a special chair, his own utensils and plates, and he was no longer allowed to use the family latrine. It wasn’t until he was close to death that Ysabel learned the real routes of transmission. She has never been able to forgive herself for buying into the stigma that surrounds HIV. Her commitment to the fight against HIV is a constant inspiration to me. I hope to dedicate my life to the same fight, and this ride is just one of many ways for me to do that.

Boo Jarchow

Age: 26

From: Los Angeles, CA

Bike: 2010 Cannondale Six Feminine 3 (its really cute!)

Why ride?

As a type 1 diabetic, I have a constant reminder of the importance of staying healthy despite having a lifelong illness that requires daily treatment. While there’s not generally stigma associated with diabetes, it is one of the biggest challenges in the battle against HIV and AIDS. Until there is a cure, people living with HIV and AIDS must continue to face not only their diagnosis, but also the stigma that comes with it. That’s not ok.

By riding, I hope to encourage an environment of dignity and improved quality of life for those affected by HIV and AIDS, until they are finally a thing of the past.

Also, on a lighter note… The ALC community is something amazing. I tend to think of it like the a super fun summer camp for "big kids." Just when you think you can’t do something, you're suddenly surrounded by countless people helping and cheering you on – whether it’s the residents of the small towns along the route lining the streets, Viagra Man with a brilliantly phrased [dirty] sign that you can’t help but laugh at, guys in drag (Elton John-esque pumps included), or the unbelievably dedicated Roadies.

I can’t find a reason not to ride. Go Team Racks & Rims! 

Tracy Gilchrist

Age: 45

From: Los Angeles, CA

Bike: Cannondale 2007 Optimo Feminine 2 (her name is Nico) 

Why ride?

Last June I rolled into the VA in Westwood having pedaled my faithful 2007 Cannondale road bike from San Francisco to Los Angeles over the course of seven days for the third time (the second time in two years). To be completely honest, I lost about 70 miles of cycling somewhere between Salinas and King City due to incessant, frigid rain, but mostly I rode the 545 miles to raise money and visibility for those who are living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.

P!nk's anthem to outcasts, to being different, 'Raise your Glass,' blared over the loudspeakers as I pedaled the gauntlet of balloons and screaming throngs of people who had gathered at the finish line to welcome us home like conquering heroes. I hung up my bike on the rack and sidled off to the registration tent to sign up for ALC 2013. While I questioned for a moment if I should mentally and physically download 2012's ride before signing on to another massive commitment of training every weekend and fundraising thousands of dollars, I knew in the end that I would sign on for 'the ride' again. The ride, my ALC family, and the good we do with the money raised has become a part of who I am.

I have often thought that I should throw my efforts behind other charities like breast cancer, diabetes, arthritis, MS and so on. There are so many causes… And one day I will branch out, but today, there continues to exist a stigma and fear around HIV/AIDS that other causes don't bear. As someone who came up and came out in the 80s, where I watched beautiful people fade away around me while the government sat on its hands, it’s imperative to me to work not only toward eradicating the disease but also toward eradicating stigma. And 2,500 cyclists and 500-plus roadies making their way down the California coast through tiny towns where elementary kids come running out of school to high-five us, is a pretty good start.

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