Bob O. Gave This Year’s AIDS Lifecycle Ride His Personal Positive Best – July 13, 2011

It’s been a week and a day since my last ride to end AIDS and HIV, a ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. The sky is a little cloudy, and so is my mind, from enjoying another fantastic Oysterfest. Both events are truly my annual favourites, both bring a huge appreciation of community and love of my fellow humans.

This year’s AIDS Lifecycle ride held a special meaning to me, since it was my fifth year in a row and the event’s 10th anniversary. Like other years, it provided an opportunity for me to prove myself physically, while challenging myself emotionally to admit my limitations and the aging and maturing that has taken place over these past few years.

For the first time, I rode myself to absolute exhaustion, by trying to hold on to the wheels of many younger and faster riders, and finished this year in doubt of next year’s ride.

I was completely spent at this year’s finish and could not be lured by the beautiful shirt that was offered with an early registration. Is Bob just getting weak?

Bob uses his bike for some upper-body exercise.

Certainly, I could have done a better job of training… who needs to work and be solvent, right? And during the event I could have eaten better, rested more and focused on maximizing efforts to maintain my caloric needs, replacement of precious electrolytes and done a better job of “pacing,” rather than just going "balls out" whenever the mood struck, or when a group came racing up from behind and I opted to grab on to their slipstream and give chase.

And then there were all those times I rode past rest stops and cut short lunches to press on and get in with the top 10 to 20 riders on most days. Ego. Machismo. Afraid of letting go.

Yes, we all age and we all have to be honest with our bodies and admit our limits. Each year, hundreds of riders in the AIDS Lifecycle ride 545 miles with AIDS and HIV. These “Positive Pedalers” are the true heroes of the event. They are the ones who are most challenged by the rigors of miles, hills, winds and their health.

These riders are truly inspiring when you consider all they endure throughout their lives; be it from the uniqueness of their disease, the prejudice of society, the ignorance surrounding all things AIDS and myriad issues that few of us challenge ourselves to appreciate. They are my heroes. It is an honour to accompany them on these epic rides, to share the experience that comes with riding, bathing, eating and camping together. The laughs were plenty. The humour sustaining. The emotions deep and shared.

2,800 riders and a staff of 500 plus volunteers joined together to raise over $13 million dollars for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the LA Gay and Lesbian Center. Yes, a staggering success by many measures, but not enough to achieve the ultimate goal of finding a cure for HIV and AIDS, educating the public, treating those who suffer, and providing for the measures to prevent new incidences of this continuing epidemic. We all have an opportunity to be involved and I guess riding the ride is my easy way out. It gives me a justification for all the hours I spend out alone and spinning, all the time I spend not working with others, all the times I drive my wife crazy not dealing with the “honey do list.”

Bob the lot potato puts off installing that outdoor shower.

I guess I’d be out riding right now if the weather was nicer, and I didn’t still have saddle soreness, or an urgent need to thank all the wonderful people who provided support for this and past years’ rides. They are my heroes too. Each year I go around asking many of the same folks that have donated in the past. To them, a thousand thank yous. And to the many folks who donated for the first time, I hope they know how much their support means to me and the foundations that received the net from this huge event.

My butt may still be uncomfortable on a bike, but my body is in some kind of peak condition. My heart rate is low, I lost five pounds, maybe, and I really want to go riding… a lot. But I won’t let myself be lured by the beauty of my elegant Italian De Rosa road bike.

I must quell my addiction to cycling. I must return to normal life and address the 47 messages on my answering machine, face the overgrown lawn, and busy myself with the many letters of thanks that I should write to all my patrons and friends. The bike can wait.

My fanny can do without the saddle for now… and I can put a smile on Susan’s face by installing that outdoor shower she has been patiently been expecting, for, what, two, three years?

So, dear editor, please indulge my hope for understanding... and my poor writing, punctuation and prose. Pass on to all that this rider feels blessed, by all.

Bob Ornelas is... like you don’t know?


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  1. kevpod said:

    You know, Dan, we really get that you don’t like Bob. This might not be the best time to heap abuse on him, though, ya think?

  2. Dan Hughes said:

    I can’t read I only look at the pictures when my playboy Magazine comes in!

  3. Dan Hughes said:

    Or is it that you live a fantasy life and think you are a Russian dictator after reading Tolstoy? war and Peace or is it you don’t remember that book 2 much beer?

  4. Dan Hughes said:

    Tell me Bob are you so hot to cure AIDS because you got it from getting cornholed by your your butt buddies like Timmy Martian Sleepin over in the Van.

  5. Dan Hughes said:

    Also I don’t look up to persons such as Lance Armstrong. Guys a walking medicine cabinet.

    I would bet good money I could whoop his ass in a street race in the city on Mountain bikes. As could just about an bike messenger worth his salt.

  6. Dan Hughes said:

    #1 Looks to me that “BAD” Bob thinks he’s going to take the place of Liz Taylor AIDS Queen. I smell a gold digger.

    #2 I ran a bit when a young man sub 60 second 440 on the track. Also ran a marathon Less than 3:10 at 220lbs. Yea so what? I rode my bicycle down to the start of the Redwoods Marathon ran the stupid race and rode home. Yea so what.Bunch of snobbery is what I saw.

    #3 I don’t run anymore for several reasons but first and foremost I am not going to ruin my ankles, knees and hips so somebodies daughter can practice being an orthopaedic surgeon.

    I rode bicycle from Arcata to L.A. a couple times there and back no biggie. I have raced the bike messengers in Portland Oregon and San Francisco in impromptu races blew they little baby legs off the road. I don’t have this need to prove myself.
    I met this guy at the Recycling center before he got elected Mayor and after watching these guys for a while I take my cans and crush them and throw them in the garbage bin so the dumpster divers can’t take them to Oregon and get the $0.05 deposit on them. they won’t let me recycle the cans there even if I bought them in the state of Oregon and paid the deposit.

    Matter of fact I talked to the lady at Waste managment who told me once someone puts the cans in the recycling bin they belong to waste management and when someone takes them out of the bin that’s called petty theft stealing.

    You are a Politician Bob O. enough said, smiling pretty for the camera and scowling behind my back.

    Probably has Ms. Tomm’s drive him around in the back of his old yellow van and make pretty for the media is what I figure.

    Bob do you have anything to do with Arcata economic development corp? I ask because as soon as that building was built with the commercial kitchen in it I was told I had to use a commissary to put my itinerant restaurant in. At $500 a month. Yea I did notice that the Tofu guy is in that building as well.
    Nope I am never going to go to Humboldt County California again the place is a prison as far as I am concerned. It’s the land of no fun,no money, no honey.
    Bunch of wino’s who now are sick of their Napa valley wine and have diabetes and high blood pressure and want their medicinal marijuana because apparently they like to get stoned and don’t want to go into a seizure from sugar hypoglycaemia.
    And by the way Bob I have google earth now and can see the clearcut that goes from HWY 101 to Weitchpec along the Klamath river. You boys really saved the day with your Earth First campaign, NOT!

    I smelled a rat when I first saw you and now I know for sure.

  7. Ted G. Freitas said:

    Bob O. great job on completing ALC 10. I hope that you do sign up for ALC 11. ALC 10 was my first ride and before I had even taken off I had already registered for ALC 11. My first ride was amazing and I met some great people. Next year I will meet everyone, this year I was a bit unsure of what to expect so I was a bit reserved, but next year WATCH OUT ALC!!!

    ALC discussions have already begun here in our local community about ALC 11 and I’m excited to see what we are able to accomplish as a group rather than individually. Feel free to keep in touch and if you need any encouragement to join us in ALC 11 let me know!!

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