Tray Robinson and the AIDS Lifecycle Ride
Why would anyone undertake a seven-day, 585-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles with 2,500 other cyclists, enduring grueling grades, rain, sore muscles, and eight hours a day of cycling?
For Tray Robinson, diversity coordinator, who rode with AIDS/LifeCycle May 31—June 6, the answer is easy. “I rode in the first ride to honor my oldest brother who died of AIDS in 2000, and to also raise financial support for HIV/AIDS education, awareness, and research. I rode in the next two because of the human connections, the feelings of satisfaction that came from being part of something so large and significant, and the pure joy of it!” He’ll ride in next year’s race, too; in fact, he has already signed up and lined up a new partner—Jim Sager from the College of Business.
The whole ride was “one of the most overwhelming community experiences” he ever had. “There was such an incredible variety of people—different sizes, ages, ethnicities, some HIV positive, some straight—but everyone, helping each other with fixing bike tires, putting up tents,” said Robinson.
He remembers times that he was especially inspired by people on the route. “There were three different groups of kids on the side of the street cheering the riders on—third or fourth graders who wanted to slap your hand!” said Robinson. “On day one, on the way to Santa Cruz, I was tired and I looked up and there was a mother with a huge sign, a photo of her son, and the words, ‘You are my hero.’ It spurred me on.”
The first year, Robinson rode with Dave Miller, University Housing and Food Service, who is a triathlete. Robinson was an athlete, but not a cyclist. “The first year I had a mountain bike, and Dave took me out, even in a thunderstorm and rain. We rode to Scotty’s, up Honey Run, through Durham. We just started and kept riding; we had so many good training rides,” said Robinson.
On the last night of the ride the first year, there was a candlelight vigil, with more than 3,000 people on the beach in Ventura. “It was a tearful and overwhelming experience, and I knew I had to sign up again. For me, to complete the ride, not being a cyclist, felt like I could do anything after that.”
Each rider must raise $3,000 to be part of the ride. Robinson had two business sponsors, Cyclesport and North Rim, and then contacted his friends and various community members. People donated much more than the minimum amount he needed. He raised more than $7,000 this year, and his initial goal for next year is $5,000. The current state of the economy is a concern.
All three years, his partner and friends have met him at the end of the ride. “Mom thought I was crazy the first year and wasn’t able to show up. The second year, she came with my sister and niece, and this year, she was there for the whole ceremony. She thinks it is a great way to honor my brother.”
A road crew carries gear, sets up camp, and prepares hot food for the more than 2,500 riders. “It’s amazing how organized they were. Each day at least four rest stops, plus lunch, hot breakfast, hot dinner, portable showers, doctors, chiropractors, masseurs,” said Robinson. After his ride next year, he’s contemplating being part of the roadie crew the following year.