This is my bike. While there are many like it, this one is mine. My bike is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, just as I must master my life.
My bike was always been a way for me to handle the stressors that life dishes us. When I was dealing with my decision to come out of the closet, I would get on, hold on tight, and ride. I found that riding was healing.
Then my bike and I found a way to turn that healing into a way to help heal others. We have traveled all over the country doing charity rides with the hope, wishes, and dreams that friends and family members who were sick would one day get better and join us.
Doing a long ride, such as an AIDS ride, always seemed like a huge undertaking. But if my bike and I could help others, then why not? In February 2004, I signed up for my first AIDS ride. I didn't know anyone who was HIV-positive at the time, nor had I lost anyone I knew to AIDS. But this was my community, and I was going to help heal it.
Only a month before my first AIDS ride, in August 2004, I found out that I was riding for me. I went to many HIV/AIDS organizations throughout New York City, but only one place -- the New York City LGBT Center -- took my partner and me in, sat us down, and assured us we would be OK and that my community and my community center would be there for us.
Over the years, I left a lot blood, sweat, and tears on those roads, not knowing what my future would hold. It took me a long time to find a sense of comfort with my HIV status and to ride with my orange Pos Ped flag.
Now, I ride with my flag flying high. This will be the ninth year that my bike and I are riding. We ride for those who are no longer with us. We ride for those of us who live with HIV. My bike and I ride for my community center.
RICK WEBER is a member of Team Eagle. Support this rider and the Center's HIV/AIDS-related services by visiting CycleForTheCause.org