Friday, June 2, 2000
Carlisle Residents Train For Boston to New York AIDSRide 6
If you missed seeing Roy and Chela Watson pedaling down East Street last Sunday afternoon on their Ryan Recumbent cycle, don't worry, they'll be biking somewhere around town for the next couple of months. The Watsons are in training for the Boston to New York AIDSRide 6, scheduled to take place on September 15, 16 and 17. This will be the second time the Watsons have taken part in this ride to raise money for the Fenway Health Clinic at 7 Haviland Street and its HIV/AIDS research programs. In 1998 they rode a standard tandem bicycle, but this year they have opted for a more comfortable human powered vehicle, a Ryan Recumbent, which is well-designed, faster on the flat areas and as Roy is quick to admit, "easier on the butt."
The Watson's biggest concern at the moment is to raise the required amount of money that each rider is obliged to collect in order to take part in the ride. This year the minimum pledge figure has been set at $1,700 per rider and the money must be in the pledge office by August 18, 2000. Raising their pledge money and more is the highest priority for the Watsons at this time. On Sunday June 11 they are planning a Venezuelan brunch from 11a.m. to 2 p.m., at which they will show a video, talk about the ride, and hope people will want to make a contribution to support their ride.
Asked what had motivated them to get involved in the AIDSRide, the Watsons spoke of the number of people they have known who have tested HIV positive. "We want to give back to our society, we want to contribute and have our children know we contribute. We take them with us when we train," Roy tells me. "In Carlisle, everyone contributes in some way."
The Watsons admit they weren't bikers before they committed to take part in the '98 ride. "We almost died that first ride and that's why we bought a tandem-recumbent," says Roy. However, the Watsons stress the training schedules that began in April, physical training, endurance building, cycling techniques, injury prevention, diet, stretching schedules. Roy explains how well-organized this entire undertaking has become: "Safety is emphasized; it is paramount...this is not a race. Training schedules are put out by the organization each month, or you can do it on your own. You can't jump on a bike and ride. You need lots of training in advance to spend 12 hours on a bike to make 100 miles in a day."
Boston to New York AIDSRide '98
Looking back at their experience in the '98 ride, Chela and Roy remember how wonderful everyone was. Many were riding with pictures of deceased relatives. Some riders were HIV positive. Four thousand riders started out in the early morning from Northeastern University with the goal of reaching a tent city by dusk, set up at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, approximately 100 miles away. Massive, well-organized logistics were involved each day, explained Watson. There were rest stops every 15 miles along the way, with bathrooms, water, fruit, and bicycle repair facilities. There were trucks carrying each rider's bags, and if the rider was behind schedule, trucks were equipped to pick up the rider and his bike as well, and get him to the next rest stop before it closed. The tent city provided two-man tents and all sorts of other amenitiesfood, showers, massages, repair facilitiesanything that an all-day biker could possibley want or need.
The second 100-mile lap of the three-day trip took the bikers as far as the University of Bridgeport in Bridgeport, Connecticut, for another overnight at a second, well-equipped tent city. On the final day, with a shorter distance of 75 miles to go, there were people all along the way cheering the bikers on as they made their way into Manhattan and their final destination on Seventh Avenue. Cheered but exhausted, the riders took the train back to Boston in the early evening.
The money that has been and will be raised by the Boston to New York AIDSRide 6 will go to HIV and AIDS care and treatment. It will provide for counseling, testing and support services, as well as research and prevention. If you are interested in taking part in the ride or making a contribution, call the Watsons at 371-1121.
© 2000 The Carlisle Mosquito