Every year, I find an excuse not to do the AIDS LifeCycle. Well, not this time. I’ve just registered for the 2019 cycle. This is my story.
In case you’re not familiar with it, the AIDS LifeCycle is a 7-day bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. The 545 mile cycle raises money to support the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center.
My AidsLifeCycle Fundraising Page
My fundraising page is now live!
Whether you can donate $1, $10, $100 (or more!) – every dollar raised goes directly to charity.
My 2019 Aids LifeCycle Story
You can read all about my journey (from the very beginning) below.
Read by month:
Aids Life Cycle 2019
I’ve been wanting to do the ride for a few years now. And yet each year, I always manage to find an excuse not to. My excuse list looks something like this:
- I’m not fit enough.
- I don’t have the time to prepare, train AND fly to the US to do the ride.
- I don’t have the motivation and/or willpower to commit to it.
- I won’t be able to raise enough money (there’s a $3,000 minimum you need to raise to be eligible to cycle).
- I don’t have a personal connection to AIDS, so it’s not appropriate for me to do it.
I was actually in LA as the 2018 ride took off from San Francisco. Maybe being in the country and see it unfold in real-time before me (or at least on my social media feeds) had an impact. Because since returning back home to Australia – I haven’t been able to get it off my mind.
What you’ll read below is my progress from 1 July 2018 until the AIDS LifeCycle in 2019. I’ve also decided to dedicate the Little Gay Blog Instagram account to documenting this journey, so if you like, you can follow my story on Instagram too.
1 July 2018
The excuses/reasons that have previously held me back are all still there (and I’ll unpack them all a bit later). But for some reason, something’s changed within me. I now see them as challenges I will be able to overcome, as opposed to valid reasons not to even try.
I’m going to document this journey for two reasons. Firstly: I’ll admit I’m a little lost with it all. There’s so much to do, and even though I basically have a whole year to figure it out, I am going to take it one step at a time. I’m hoping that by sharing my story, people with experience might be willing to offer some advice and feedback.
Secondly: If I’m actually able to pull this off and do the cycle in 2019 – it means that pretty much anyone can. I am as unfit, unprepared and pretty much as clueless about the whole thing as you can be. If I can inspire even one other person to do it, I’ll be very happy.
Step 1: Register
So, I made my mind up a few days ago and I took the first step. I registered online on the Aids LifeCycle website. It was super quick and easy to do.
Shortly after I registered, I received an email confirming my registration with some initial, welcome information.
The email also advised that my fundraising page will be available as of 16 July.
So until then, I am going to do a little bit of internal work and look at the excuses that have held me back until this point. I want to address and hopefully resolve them, so that they don’t resurface down the track. Stay tuned!
2 July 2018
OK, so before I really turn my attention to the physical side of the ride, I know I need to deal with a few mental things first. I’ve learnt from my almost 38 years on the planet, that stuff unresolved doesn’t go away. It might move to the background, but eventually it reemerges.
Step 2: Deal with internal/mental blocks
So I want to deal with this stuff upfront. These excuses have held me back from doing the AIDS LifeCycle in the past. I know that things might get tough between now and the ride so if/when they do – I want to be strong enough to not allow my excuses to take over and derail my plans.
OK, so here goes…
Excuse #1 – I’m not fit enough
This is a genuine, but I feel overcomeable, fear.
I know that I am not, in my current physical state, capable of doing a 545 mile cycle. I may not appear to be overweight, but being slim doesn’t equate to being fit. Not by a long shot.
So to overcome this excuse, I need to arm myself with the information of what it takes – physically – to do the ride, both in terms of training and in terms of nutrition. I’m confident that I can research this online and come up with a good training plan.
I’ve also got a friend of a friend who has done long distance cycles, so I plan on picking his brain when we next meet.
And even though I don’t live in Brisbane, I live close enough that I could come in maybe once a fortnight to join the gay cycling group. I’ve already reached out to them on Facebook.
I currently don’t own a bike (more on that later), but I do have a rowing machine and some kettlebells. So in order to be doing something (anything) to improve my current physical condition, I’ve committed to 30 minutes on the rowing machine every morning, followed by a round of whole-body kettlebell exercises. At least it’s a start and a step in the right direction.
Food-wise, that side of things is taken care of on the ride by a dedicated team of roadies. So I’ll do some research about how to prep for the cycle and what’s best to eat in the lead up to it, but on the actual cycle itself, I should be good.
All in all, overcoming this excuse requires a bit of research and a whole lot of physical preparation. I’m confident that given how much time I’ve given myself to get ready, I’ll be physically fit enough to meet the challenges of the ride in June 2019.
5 July 2018
There’s no getting around it. Committing to cycling 545 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles is going to take a lot of time. Time to prepare – physically, mentally and financially.
Which brings me smack bang to my next excuse….
Excuse #2 – I don’t have the time
And yet, I have time to binge watch whatever Netflix tells me to. And I have time to squander on social media. And I had time to watch all of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 10 (and UnTucked – because if you’re not watching UnTucked, you’re only getting half the story).
So really, perhaps the issue isn’t lack of time rather, it’s time management.
I’m a big fan of spreadsheets and being pretty well organised in general. So, I’m going to write out everything I need to do sequentially, along with the time it will take. As I begin to learn and get a better understanding of training requirements for instance, I’ll be able to update my schedule to reflect that.
Breaking things down into smaller, more manageable pieces will work. It will also allow me to schedule in the things I still want to do for fun (like RPDR season 11!)
This time – not enough time – is not an excuse. I am going to get organised and get into it!
8 July 2018
In addition to the physical side of the ride, there’s a whole bunch of other elements that come into it too.
There’s the finance side of things – flights and accommodation to and from the US being the biggest cost drivers there. Then there’s the fundraising side of the ride (more on that later). And then there’s the actual commitment of a lot of time and energy, over a long period of time.
All of which leads me to this excuse:
Excuse #3 – I don’t have the willpower
This “excuse” is closely related to a fear of failure. And so to offset it, I’m doing two slightly contradictory things at the same time.
Firstly: I’m telling friends and family about my intention to do the ride. Heck, I’m sharing it with the world on my blog, and I’m dedicating the Little Gay Blog Instagram account to tracking my progress for the next 12 months.
By doing this, I’m hoping that it will give me momentum now – but also further down the track when things get hard. When I run into physical hurdles. When I lack the motivation to get up early and train. When I lack the discipline to say no to alcohol/junk/food/anything naughty.
By being out and open with my intention, there’s a positive element of internal pressure that I can use to summon my willpower when needed.
Secondly: should I, after doing my absolute best, not be able to do the ride for any reason – then that’s OK too. This isn’t an escape clause. It’s a reality check. If I break my leg. If something major and unforeseen happens in my life, I need to be OK with not doing the ride.
It’s good to have some internal pressure, but I don’t want that internal pressure to reach breaking point inside of me. Like I said, I am going to do everything I possibly can to do the ride. But it’s also OK if I don’t.
So these two contradictory forces – of both applying pressure as well as not letting it become too overbearing – will hopefully steer me well and give me the motivation and willpower I know I will definitely be needing between now and the ride.
9 July 2018
The AIDS LifeCycle is a ride that aims to raise money. People who participate as riders raise money throughout the year, and in order to be eligible to ride, need to raise at least $3,000. That’s a lot of money and it brings me to my next excuse:
Excuse #4 – I won’t be able to raise enough money
The amount needed to be raised isn’t really what worries me though. It’s more that I hate asking people for money in the first place. I don’t know why, but it’s just not something I feel comfortable doing. Even though I know it’s for charity, it still feels way out of my comfort zone.
But then again, so many other aspects of the ride are out of my comfort zone too. In a way, that’s a big part of the appeal of it. Here I am: a 37 year old guy in Australia, who doesn’t even own a bike, has never done a long distance cycle (on the other side of the world, no less), isn’t exactly super fit and has no idea how to raise money.
Yet, part of me feels (knows) that I can do this ride. And that goes for raising money too. And in a way, perhaps having a platform, like this blog, is a good starting point. Plus, there’s social media. And of course, hitting up friends and family.
There’s also the fact that you can donate to yourself. So, if I should fall short of the target amount, I can always top it up myself. Not ideal sure, but I don’t want to miss the chance to ride. So, it’s always there as a backup option.
I think the biggest reason I don’t like asking people for money is because I feel like it puts them on the spot. I don’t like to feel like I’m trapping someone into doing something they either a) don’t want to do or b) might want to do but might not be able to afford to do. I know so many people are struggling financially these days, and I don’t want to add to their burden.
So, I think I’m going to ask for money my way. It’s going to be low-key and no-pressure. Hopefully, that makes it easier and doesn’t make anyone feel uncomfortable or trapped.
10 July 2018
OK, so now we get to the fifth – and final (thankfully) – excuse that’s been holding me back from doing the AIDS LifeCycle in years gone by.
Excuse #5 – I don’t have a personal connection
I don’t have a personal connection to AIDS. Therefore, the question holding me back is – is it even appropriate for me to be doing this ride? Should I just donate money, or raise awareness through the blog?
This is a tough one, and one that I haven’t figured out just yet.
One thing that comes up whenever I begin to doubt myself about this, is that even though I don’t have a personal connection or story to share, I do have a genuine desire to change perceptions about AIDS. Including my own – and those of the people around me.
Because the stigma around AIDS still exists. Even in 2018, unfortunately.
I’ve even noticed it in my own interactions, speaking with people about the ride. When I say it’s for charity, I can see people’s eyes light up. When I mention it’s for an AIDS charity, there’s an ever so slightly different response.
Don’t get me wrong, people are still supportive. But it’s that little moment of hesitation that I can feel. It’s real. It does exist.
And hey, I’m going to be 100% honest here too. I experience myself. There is a small part of me that wonders if by saying it’s an AIDS cycle, will people think that I have AIDS? Why does it matter? I know it shouldn’t matter and honestly, it 99.99% doesn’t matter. But there is still that little, ever so slight hesitation there.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me, maybe it’s partly to do with my first memories of AIDS. Here in Australia, the ‘grim reaper’ campaign was run in the late 80s. I was only a kid at the time (8 or 9 years old) and I still remember those ads. They scared the shit out of me.
In my formative mind, AIDS was this scary thing that no one wanted to “catch”. Even though the intent of the campaign was one that wanted to promote public safety, it had unintended impacts as well. Fear being one of them.
Now as an adult, I need to take responsibility for my thoughts, words and actions. And in some way, perhaps that can be one way I make a contribution – and have a connection – to the cause.
Because there shouldn’t be any shame or stigma attached to AIDS. Maybe I can figure out how to play a role in changing that for the better?
This is still a work in progress…
If you do have any comments or suggestions to offer on this issue, please leave a comment on the Little Gay Blog Instagram page here.
16 July 2018
Mentally, I am feeling good. Dealing with my excuses and the reasons that have held me back has actually been a really good experience. I’m not a person who likes to dwell on negativity, but I really do feel like the process of getting my thoughts out – and sharing them with the world – has been so helpful.
But why use just words to convey what I’m feeling?
In order to move on past the metal blockages I’ve experienced, here are two memes/images that perfectly sum up where I am right now.
Firstly, from Mama Ru herself – this clearly draws a line from where I’ve come from to where I am right now:
OK, so now I need to move past this and onto the next step of the journey.
Step #3 – Start getting ready physically.
And this image, perfectly sums up my readiness to do this – although yes, admittedly it comes from a rather surprising (and slightly embarrassing) source:
The sentiment here is spot on. It’s exactly what I’m feeling.
Like Becca, I’m ready to put the past behind me (in her case it’s the asshole Arie, in my case it’s excuses) in order to be ready for (in Becca’s case finding love, and in my case doing the ride).
I am ready to DO THE DAMN THING!
OK, so here’s what’s been happening with me:
I’m well and truly over all my limiting and negative self-beliefs. I really, genuinely know I am going to do the ride. It’s real. It’s happening. And I am 100% here for it!
I’ve bought a bike and have started cycling! I’m starting slow and cycling between 3-5 miles. That will obviously ramp up in the coming months.
I’ve been assigned a cycling rep from AIDS LifeCycle. Her name is Megan (pictured below). She’s been super awesome in answering my questions (and further quelling my initial anxieties). It makes such a big difference knowing there’s someone I can turn to at any time. Hopefully I won’t bug her too much – and hopefully I get to meet her at the ride next year!
My fundraising page is now live!
Thanks to some awesome initial donations from family and friends, I have made a start to achieving my target of raising $5,000!
Now, I hate, hate, HATE asking people for money. Even though it’s not for me – it’s for charity. I still don’t enjoy it. But hey, this whole experience is pushing me out of my comfort zone in so many ways, that this is just one other way that I’m growing and challenging myself.
So – if you would like to support me, just click on the button below. (And if you don’t – that’s totally fine too!)
Aids Life Cycle 2019 dates, route & info
This section will be updated as more information is released.
The 2019 ride will take place 2-8 June 2019.
Here’s the route taken in 2018. As soon as the 2019 route is announced, I’ll post it.