Mark Dulcey and the BostonNew York AIDS Ride 3
or Why am I doing this fershlugginer thing anyway?

 
Photo by Depressed Press

First, I'll give you the "boilerplate" text from the sponsors of the thing. Then, my own comments.

"While many of us are enjoying good health, and the love of friends and family this new year, I feel it's time for new resolutions. It's important to remember the hundreds of thousands among us who are suffering physically and emotionally with HIV and AIDS -- and to resolve anew that we can make a difference in the battle against AIDS. That we can take bigger, bolder strides -- like never before.

This September, I'll be dedicating three days of my life to ride my bicycle 275 miles from Boston to New York in an event called BostonNew York AIDS Ride 3 Presented by Tanqueray. Over 3,000 people will ride together to raise money for the parents, sons, daughters, partners, and friends affected by the AIDS epidemic. Each rider must raise a minimum of $1,500 in pledges to participate in this life-giving event.

This year, please join us -- and the thousands of contributors who have already donated generously in the spirit of the AIDS Ride to Fenway Community Health Center. By supporting my efforts, you have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of hundreds of persons living with AIDS and HIV. And to support the crucial AIDS/HIV-related services of the benefiting agencies.

Enough of that! It isn't as bad as last year's version, but it's not the way I usually talk. So, in my own voice, I'm going to try to explain myself and my reasons for doing this ride. Let's start by getting some of the reasons I'm not doing it out of the way.

It's not because of any personal impact of AIDS on my life. So far, I've been fortunate. I don't know anybody who has died of AIDS. So far as I know, nobody from my everyday life has AIDS or is HIV-positive.. (I'm careful to word it that way because I may well know people who are HIV-positive but have not chosen to reveal it to me.) Unlike last year, I can no longer say that I don't know anybody who is HIV-positive; I met some of the Positive Pedalers (a group of HIV-positive people who do the AIDS ride together) last year. (And I thought the ride was tough for me!)

It's not because I'm in any doubt of my ability to ride the distance. For starters, I did it last year, finishing all 300 miles (on a different, four-day route) under my own power. (I did have to walk up some of the worst hills, though.) It won't be the longest distance I have ever gone on a bicycle (that would be a tour of Maine I did in 1993). Nor will it involve the longest daily distance I have ever ridden (new personal best this year - 110 miles on the AYH Cape-In-A-Day (Plus One) ride). Short of injury, serious illness, or gross mechanical failure (frame crack or something equally bad), I should be able to finish the ride.

That out of the way, let's look at some of the real reasons. 

Marian, the great love of my life, says that I am fond of grand gestures. This certainly qualifies as one.

The Ride involves being a part of a big thing, something I rarely manage and frequently long for. As a natural loner, I'll never manage it for long periods of time, but that doesn't stop me from trying. Riding with such a large group of cyclists for three days will be an experience. And I didn't quite get it right last year, so I'm trying again. One thing I certainly will change; I'll get more involved with the ride before I go -- do the training rides, volunteer, and so forth -- so I'll go into Day 1 with some friends out there.

Another challenge is that I'll have to get out there and do it every day, unlike training rides or touring alone, where you can opt out of riding when you just don't feel like it. That was sure a factor last year; read my report on the 1996 ride.

Finally, the cause really matters. AIDS is a killer; nobody doubts that. But it scares us in a way that other killer diseases don't, with good cause.

First, as a sexually-transmitted disease, it strikes at our identity in a way that other diseases don't. (I seem to remember something about "the pursuit of happiness" in our Declaration of Independence...) This sort of fear can really change society for the worse; for a dystopian look, read Journal of the Plague Years by Norman Spinrad. (Friends here in Boston; I can lend you a copy if you want to read it.)

Second, as a disease that mutates rapidly, it has the potential to be another Black Death, a disease that leads to The End Of The World As We Know It (and trust me, we won't feel fine); something that killers like heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes lack. So far, AIDS is hard to catch; it requires fluid contact. We must hope that it stays that way.

You can follow my progress preparing for the ride at http://www.ziplink.net/~mark/aidsride/. I will be posting training updates and other thoughts on the ride.
 
So, that's the story. I need your help to make this ride a success for me, and for the many people with AIDS who need our help.

I will be posting regular reports on my training progress and my feelings about the ride on my web site: http://www.ziplink.net/~mark/aidsride/. If you're interested, I can also keep in touch by email or snail.

If you want to make a pledge, you can download the pledge form. Fill in my name as "Mark Dulcey" and my rider number as "1968B".