But first:

When the 1996 ride was about to start, boston.com made a link to these pages. These pages were written right after the ride finished in September of 1995 as a thank you letter to all of my sponsors. I consider it an archive (all the web looked like this in 1995) so I haven't kept any of the links up to date. As a result, many of the links are broken. Sorry. I hope you enjoy the story.

And now...


Boston->New York AIDS Ride

Prologue


Thanks

The very first thing I want to say to all of you is "Thank You." The BostonNew York AIDS Ride is one of the most awesome experiences I ever lived through and I must thank each and every one of you for your pledges and contributions that enabled me to go. You'll soon see that I am not a writer, but this is some of what happened during the trip. To thank you in some small way for your contributions, I thought I'd take you on some of the trip.

As you've probably all know by now, you all made this was the single largest AIDS fund raiser ever held, with 6.5 million dollars raised during the three day event. It was grueling. It was exhilarating. It was miserable. It was joyous. You just can't describe it fully with words.

The first day, that was the hardest. The second day, that was the hardest too. I made it the whole way. I didn't walk up one single hill. I'm very proud of that. Many didn't make it. There were those who didn't train. There were those that had mechanical trouble. There were those that had bad luck in queuing. Luck was with me in all of these. I wasn't really sure what the route would be like exactly, so I wasn't sure how to train for this specific ride. I guess I did it right. There aren't hills around here like those on the ride, but I had been climbing (the equivalent of) to the top of the Hancock Tower four times at least three times a week for the last year or so, so the legs were ready. These hills weren't just hills. These are the hills people spend weekends skiing on in the winter. Those of you from out by the Rockies and the Smokies might snigger, but the Connecticut River Valley is a popular ski resort. (For those geographically challenged, the Connecticut River is the one that protects Vermont from New Hampshire.)

My bike developed only two small mechanical problems. The left pedal got some gunk in the bearings and so wasn't spinning around as freely as it should. Normally, that probably wouldn't be noticeable, but that's the foot I prop myself up with when I stop, so it was tough getting my foot back in the toe clips again. Not something you want to pay a lot of attention to when starting up in a crowd of people. The other problem was that the front derailleur went out of adjustment and made it difficult to get the chain to the outer gear. I found that if I shifted both the front and back at the same time, it would throw the chain to the outer gear. This is the highest gear. It was needed.

Kevlar tires are the way to go! They're expensive, but I didn't get one single flat. I'll say that again: NO FLATS!!! It was important to get in as early as possible and a flat would have lost at least a half hour each. Catastrophe!

Before I get into the details of the ride, I want to single out two people to give special thanks to. Ean Crawford, my friend and neighbor. Ean baby-sat my dog taking one big concern off my mind. And my friend Greg Mailloux. Greg was the Logistics Director of the ride and the one who talked me into doing it. Thanks to both of you.

Statistics

Reports like these always need statistics. Here are some:

Preparation

Why

I've been asked why I wanted to do this ride. There are several answers. One is that I enjoy bicycling. At least I think I remember that I enjoy bicycling. It's been so long since I've done it on this sort of scale, I forget. Second, to prove I could do it. I knew it would be tough. I didn't know it was going to be this tough. Third, I am a big supporter of Fenway. It's an outfit unlike any other. Fenway is a community created and run agency that is a shining example of what determined individuals can do to fill the gaps left by an overloaded or uncaring society. Fourth, is hard to explain without sounding cliché or trite. But in the worst movie-of-the-week phrase, it's for all of my friends who are no longer here. There are many. Too many to list.

The Bike

I haven't had my bike out of storage in close to two years. I have a big beach cruiser I use around town -- one with 2-1/2 inch wide tires that's great for the Esplanade -- but I haven't used the other one much since leaving Medford. It's a 1973 Peugeot PX-10 that I bought from D.J.'s Cyclery in Bowling Green, Ohio with money from my first ever job. For some reason, I had my heart set on a Peugeot and this was the only one in the state with a 19 inch frame. I think I've ridden that bike about 20,000 trouble free (or nearly trouble free) miles by now. I made the right choice. Too bad they don't know how to make cars.

It needed a complete overhaul. New tires, tubes and a tune up. The wheels needed trued, new brake pads. New handlebar tape and even a new water bottle. Due to an accident a couple of years ago, the whole back wheel was seriously bent needed to be replaced. The ride negotiated discounts with all the bike stores around Boston (and most of New England, in fact) so the damage wasn't as expensive as it could have been. Still, it ain't cheap.

Training

Bicycling is an aerobic sport. I never thought I was especially fast, endurance was always what I tried for. It wasn't uncommon for me to do two 100-milers (or "centuries") in a month, but that was [expletive deleted] years ago. Years of software engineering tends to reshape one's body. And not for the better. Time to fix it. So, into the gym, set up the NordicTrack, oil the bike and hit the road.

There are some awfully nice rides here in New England. There was one or two more that I wanted to take but ran out of time. I spent most of the summer doing smaller 20 to 25 mile rides in and around the city. Then the ride had a picnic for the riders in Ashland, MA. Ashland is one town nearer Boston than Hopkinton, the starting line of the Boston Marathon, so it was about 25 miles away. So there was a 50 mile trip. No problems, it felt good. Time to up the mileage. Over the next several weeks, I took trips to Andover, Salem, NH, Lowell, Waltham and the northern and western 'burbs. I wanted to go south to maybe Pawtucket or Providence, but ran out of time.

Bicycling uses muscles you don't expect. Like the ones that hold your head up. Back to the gym to work on those.

Packing

New England is in the middle of a drought. It really hasn't rained since May. The weather on TV said it was going to be nice all weekend, maybe a little cloudy, but no rain in sight. All of the WWWeb's weather pages said the same. The NOAA satellites didn't show anything headed our way. Channel 5, Intellicast, Todd Gross, Bruce Schwegler, Michigan State University, Carnegie-Mellon University, The Weather Channel" and The Globe all said, "Fine." Why carry rain gear?

Baja & the T.G.I.Friday Fire

Baja and T.G.I.Friday are restaurants. Friday's is a chain you may know. They make the best mudslide mix. Baja is a local restaurant. Next door to my house. I've had an ongoing feud with them since they opened a year ago last August. They seem to have difficulty understanding that I might not appreciate having the by products of deep fried tortillas and burned fajitas blown directly into my house with their Pratt & Whitney exhaust fan located six feet from my bedroom window. About two weeks before the ride, TGI Friday was cited by the Health Department for having dirty grease vents. They had someone clean them. It started a fire. The fire totaled the restaurant and the book store next to it. Well, that threw the fear of ISD (the Health Dept.) into every restaurant in the city and they all had to clean their vents. For some reason, this is a job that can only be done in the wee hours of the morning. So from 1 am to 2:30 am the night before check in, rather than sleeping, I was listening to a sand blasting machine parked outside my window. It made for a grumpy check in day. The Baja is not a good neighbor. Don't patronize them.

My Dog Billy

[Billy] Billy knew something was up. For days before, the routine had changed. Extra meetings to go to, bicycle components to adjust, extra laundry to do, packing and general running around. And then wondering what to do with him for four days. We haven't been separated since I got him last March. There's an epidemic of Parvovirus going around the South End where I live so when Ean volunteered to baby sit, it took a big load of my mind. Thanks again. Sorry you got locked out of the house though.

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