California AIDS Ride 5 Participation Report – Part Three

June 10th, 1998


Saturday at 1:45 p.m. I pulled into the Pit Stop 5 final bicycle parking area – the end of our journey at the FOX lot. Picked up my official Closing Ceremony Victory Ride jersey (I’m a Scorpio born in the Chinese Year of the Tiger so my jersey had to be a red one) and headed over to the private party holding area set aside for us until the start of the ceremonies. Late in the afternoon around 5:00 p.m. we began our Victory Ride of bikes down the Avenue of the Stars to the stage of dignitaries assembled for the final event. The ceremony was a very moving experience, both joyful and sad, which included a tribute to those we’ve lost to HIV/AIDS. Most of the riders and crowd members were tearful at one point or another. Afterwards I took my bicycle over to the “Meet and Greet” area and found my good buddy Ed Emond waiting for me. He had driven down from San Francisco for the closing ceremonies and to give me, my bicycle and gear a ride back home in a vehicle with 4 wheels and with seats which were actually larger than what was sitting on them. That ride home was a wonderful experience!


My seven days with the AIDS Ride were filled with events and sightings too numerous to recount in detail here. There were the 20 Spokebusters – men and women who’ve pledged to raise $12,000 and ride in all five of this year’s American AIDS Rides. The Positive Pedelers were all riders who’ve been infected by the HIV virus. There were a few deaf riders and David, an amazing young man who did the entire ride propelling his vehicle with only his arms. Riders on tandem bikes, and, of course, riders of every age, size and shape – all there because of their determination to be part of the HIV/AIDS fight. Camp Services published The Daily Ride newsletter which informed us of route changes, the lunch menu, Pit Stop locations, Rider Profiles, and other significant events. Each day’s ride was covered by representatives of the media, both local and national. In camp, many of the tents were decorated – some took on an appearance similar to National Park car camping. Finding one’s way back to the tent during the night was much easier for those whose tents had been lighted or otherwise made to stand out. The big Thursday evening Annual Rider and Crew Talent Show was a big hit. Snoring was a recurrent theme of discussion among the younger set for, since most tents were less than 12 inches apart, sound travelled between tents with amazing clarity. Butt Balm was another frequent discussion topic. It’s a salve-like substance distributed by the Medical Crew which was intended to relieve the pain resulting from chafing, rash and other skin conditions occuring in the area closest to one’s bicycle seat. I tried it once, but returned to using Petroleum Jelly – not Vaseline, mind you, but the stuff sold by Walgreen Pharmacy – a product with genuine axel grease properties.


The crew consisted of more than 650 volunteers all of whom really worked their tails off that week while always managing to make it appear that we (the riders) were the real heroes. I think not – for all I had to do was ride, eat and sleep. Crew members put in 8, 10 and 12 hour days performing such tasks as food servers, baggage handlers, Pit Stop services, bicycle traffic control, route signing (put the signs out each morning and take them down each evening), lunch distribution, tent stake layout and other tasks designed to make life for 3300 persons a smooth running operation. The crew really seemed to love us and their enthusiasm and support was the most positive and infectious experience I’ve ever encountered. In addition to the generous caring nature of the crew, the absolute insistence upon road safety by the organizers,the generous hospitality of host communities, the concerned and active involvement of officials from the benefiting foundations, the support of Tanqueray (no, we didn’t have alcoholic beverages that week), the marvelous UPS folks, Start to Finish Bicycle technicians, Clif Bar and the other corporate sponsors, the volunteer masseuse, medical, and chiropractic staff and the additional volunteers who handled the opening and closing day ceremonies all contributed immeasurably to the success of the entire ride. In retrospect, the more I think about the fantastic manner in which the event moved along to smoothly, my sense of amazement and admiration grows. If mistakes were ever made in years past, the organizers surely learned well from each one, for I saw none on the ride we just finished. It was an effort truly well done and all have good reason to take great pride in the successful result of their undertaking.


When the California AIDS Ride concept was first created 5 years ago, proposals for corporate sponsorship were sent to over 200 organizations. There was a single response and that was from Tanqueray. Since that first ride in 1994 (and including the other American AIDS rides in Washington DC, Twin Cities-Chicago, Boston-New York and now Texas), Tanqueray’s sponsorship has been unwavering and the company has invested more than 6 million dollars in support of the program. I’m enclosing one of the official “Tanqueray’s American AIDS Ride” pins as a token of my personal appreciation for your support and sponsorship of my AIDS ride effort. The purpose of the ride was to raise funds to fight HIV/AIDS and this you did – magnificently! The real heroes of this effort are you who were so generous with your contributions, large or small, benefiting the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. You have my most sincere thanks and I hope that whenever you wear the pin or see it on a shelf, it will remind you of your role as one who was responsible for a portion of the almost 10 million dollars raised to fight HIV/AIDS. Thanks again.

Very sincerely,

Bond Shands
Rider #2933

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