Thanksgiving to World AIDS Day

Thank you. Thank you for acknowledging the power of a virus to ravage lives. Thank you for extending compassion to every human being, protec...

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Til AIDS is History

To know me is to know I ooze my passions, especially when hearts are involved. In two weeks, Mary and I, along with Puget Sound Rider teammates, Jon and Lisa, return to the AIDS Vaccine 200 for the 5th time. Today our friend and Ride Director of this year's event, Tina Chang, posted a Facebook #TBT to an interview of Mary and me on our first AV200 in 2011.

Mary and I will spend this weekend training....again....riding for the same reason, til AIDS is history.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Montana Memories

Dedicated to the memory of my friend and teammate, John Morse
Susan & John Morse w/2002 Breakthrough Riders
We pulled on team jerseys and headed out this early spring weekend to bid farewell to one of our founding members. John “Pappy” Morse was a man whose gentle manner betrayed his strength of character, who joined the Puget Sound Riders with more cycling miles under his belt than the rest of the team combined. John introduced me to spin classes as we trained to cycle Alaska and Montana, raising money for HIV vaccine research. He made the first donation to my self-supported Breakthrough Ride and continued to be a stalwart supporter each year since; now John joins our fans in a heavenly grandstand.

The calendar rolls ever closer to the 2015 AIDS Vaccine 200 weekend but I'm playing hooky from cycling this weekend. Instead, Steve and I took a long car trip to enjoy the rare opportunity of hearing our son play with both his bands in Missoula, Montana. Memories of the Montana AIDS Vaccine Ride flood my thoughts each time I drive through Big Sky country, never so much as this weekend, having so recently lost the one teammate who rode at my moderate (OK, slow) pace along the Lewis and Clark trail, across the Continental Divide in freezing rain and over rolling wheat fields in blistering heat. On Day 4 of that 7 day trek, John unceremoniously presented me with a pack of  scenic Montana playing cards as a birthday gift and on Day 5, when my day was cut short by a heat-induced tire blow-out, I put my ice collar around John's neck to keep him going another 40 miles to camp.

Our Puget Sound Riders team had raised more than $200,000 for HIV/AIDS vaccine research when we arrived in Missoula 14 years ago to honor those lost and affected by HIV and to share our commitment to ending AIDS with communities over 570 miles of Montana from the seat of a bicycle. We arrived with hope and determination to make AIDS history one mile at a time.

The last mile toward a globally accessible HIV/AIDS cure is within reach and the Puget Sound Riders remain ready to ride it. In 3 weeks I’ll pedal the AIDS Vaccine 200 through the Georgia countryside then keep training all summer to return east in late September for the Charity Treks HIV/AIDS Bike Trek covering 350 miles from Charlottesville, VA to Washington, DC. Contributions to this smaller sister ride of the AV200 have the bicoastal reach of funding HIV/AIDS research at Emory Vaccine Center and the equally innovative UCLA AIDS Institute, beneficiaries of both those early HIV vaccine rides across Alaska and Montana.

The road has been long but traveling it together with Pappy, Bret and many more angels in heaven and on earth cheering us on with hope and determination, we'll make AIDS history.

Montana AIDS Vaccine Ride memories: