The 545-Mile Bike Journey to a Cure
One man, one bike, one mission.
At Verizon Digital Media Services, our employees are equally as passionate about helping their local community as they are about delivering instantly gratifying experiences to users around the globe. Sinh Lam, a Verizon systems engineer, is the perfect example of what it means to be part of the Verizon family.
On May 31-June 6, 2015, Sinh participated in the AIDS/LifeCycle Charity Bike Ride put on by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center. He participated alongside 3,000 other riders in this seven-day event where bikers rode from San Francisco to Los Angeles. For Sinh, all he needed was a single-gear bike and a pure-hearted mission.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic is growing, and Sinh is determined to help eliminate this worldwide disease. “This is my way of helping with something that I can’t cure. I have no expertise, I’m not a doctor, but I can help raise awareness. Plus, I get to ride my bike,” he said.
For Sinh, the ride perfectly combined physical activity and charity. Sinh started to take bike riding seriously on his last birthday. When LifeCycle rolled around, he was prepared to show off his new endurance. After signing up for LifeCycle, he stepped up his training from short, leisurely rides to more intense rides of 50 miles over steep hills. He set out with the intent to contribute to the cause, raising $3,800 of the $16.8 million collected in total.
The LifeCycle event began with a somber start. While all the riders and supporters were gathered in an auditorium, the bike belonging to a deceased rider was wheeled through for all to see. This was a humbling reminder of why they were all there. Sinh recalled the opening ceremony and the sense of sadness that hung in the air. “It’s painful to know that people still suffer from this, and it takes support for the disease to go away,” he said.
Bike riding with a community of like-minded activists was the perfect way to show united support. Each rider was free to travel at their own pace, without pressure from the faster riders. The courses varied in difficulty and distance, ranging from 47 miles to 109 miles depending on the day. Routes were lined with rest stops every 20 miles to provide riders with some relief. The two most famous days, “Quad Buster” and “Evil Twins” notoriously sapped riders’ energy and morale, but this was nothing compared to the HIV/AIDS’ victims unpredictable journey.
Five days later, as the riders neared the end of the course, spirits remained high despite their depleted physical energy. June 4th was “Red Dress Day” and was designated as LifeCycle’s AIDS Awareness Day; bikers rode in a ribbon formation to honor this special occasion.
One of the most notable aspects of this event for Sinh was the overwhelming sense of support from all involved: riders, EMTs, paramedics and spectators alike. The unique thing about this fundraiser is the focus on fun and enjoyment rather than competition. “You might not know anyone at this event, but you’re never alone,” he said. He has already signed up for next year with hopes to recruit a team of family and friends to ride alongside him. Sinh also hopes to be able to increase the amount of money he raises to $5,000.
What else will be different about next year’s ride? Sinh looks forward to riding and conquering hills with a new multi-gear road bike.
Sinh’s determination and perseverance is inspiring and will undoubtedly encourage many others to join in next year’s LifeCycle ride. According to Sinh, “When you read about how it benefits these people and where the money goes, you can’t help but to think, ‘How can you not help them?'”
“It was just me, my bike and my helmet,” Sinh recalled. With no first-hand experience, no professional training, and no one to ride with, Sinh was purely motivated by the difference that he would be making. And so can you.
To learn more about the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and Los Angeles LGBT Center or to join Sinh in AIDS LifeCycle 2016 please visit: AidsLifeCycle.com