Orange County Ride For AIDS (OCRA) is a fully supported one day ride -not a race- through some of Orange County’s most breathtaking scenery. OCRA offers Century (100 miles), Metric Century (62 miles) and Taste of OCRA (30 miles) rides starting in Irvine at the William R. Mason Regional Park. The route travels through the hills and towns of South OC with amazing stretches along the ocean and open spaces. Whether you are participating in a ride for the first time, or an experienced cyclist, this ride is for you. Anyone can choose a finish point along the route and get a ride back by one of our gracious SAG vehicles…or try to finish the entire ride….you’ll surprise yourself!
OCRA riders will be required to raise a minimum of $125. Your $50 registration fee is included in that total. Go ahead and register today on-line! Maybe even start your own TEAM! The money you raise will go directly to support the important work of ASF Orange County.
OCRA is produced by AIDS Services Foundation Orange County (ASF) whose mission is to prevent the spread of HIV and improve the lives of the men, women and children affected by HIV/AIDS in Orange County. The agency was founded in the late summer of 1985 by a small group of volunteers because people were dying, had nowhere to turn, and desperately needed help. ASF is now the largest and most comprehensive nonprofit HIV/AIDS service provider in Orange County.
We want to hear how your life has been impacted by an AIDS Ride or the agencies who benefit. To email your story click here.
Why I Ride (by Arash S.)
I hurt. A lot. I’m physically exhausted and mentally drained. But we’ll get back to all that. As is often the case, it’s a good idea to start at the beginning.
For me, this started innocently enough at a board meeting. I sit on the board of directors for AIDS Services Foundation Orange County (ASF), and there was a lot of talk about the Orange County Ride for AIDS (OCRA) — an idea of that has been bandied about for at least the last few years — looked like it was going to become a reality. This was no small feat in a time when agencies, sponsors and fundraisers are tending to do less, not more. Well, with some truly masterful cajoling by the organizers, including guilt (“You think riding a bike is hard? Think about what our clients have to deal with”,) prodding (“We REALLY need your support to make the inaugural ride a success”,) and outright lies (“It’s not that hard. You just need to pace yourself and take it easy. Plus, it’ll be FUN!”), I started seriously considering doing the ride. Did I mention it’s a century ride? Yes, 100 miles. Oh, there were some whispers of a metric century option, but it was almost a throw-away; something for the elderly or disabled maybe. So I agreed to do it.
Then came my long list of challenges in this endeavor – just a few of which were: 1) I don’t own a road bike. This dovetailed nicely with the next challenge. 2) I had not ridden 100 miles total in my adult life, and it is quite possible that I had not ridden 100 miles throughout my entire life (I was a part of the initial video gamer generation, and let’s just say my journey to the chunky side started early.) These factors all exacerbated what was probably the greatest threat to my successfully completing the Ride – it was less than two months away.
Well, a dear friend solved my first issue; she loaned me her very fancy (read: cost more than I ever thought I would spend on a bicycle) road bike. Once I picked up the bike, I quickly learned I couldn’t actually ride it. Apparently, fancy bikes don’t have regular pedals. They have special pedals that hook into special cleats that are attached to special shoes that you can only use for pedaling, as opposed to say, walking. Well, isn’t that, for lack of a better word, “special.” So it took a couple of weeks to buy the gear and figure out how it all went together. Finally, I was ready to ride. Over the next month or so, I did 6 or 7 training rides. They started around 10 miles and culminated in a whopping 34 mile trek from my house in Orange to my friends’ in Long Beach. After that last long ride, I was finally convinced that padded spandex shorts were a necessity and not just a fashion faux pas. Oh, and with one exception, these rides had one important feature: a large meal during a long break at the halfway point. Needless to say, my anxiety grew ever-greater as the day of the Ride approached.
I dutifully raised some money, and thanks to the generosity of family, friends and ASF’s illustrious Board President, I raised enough to earn a jersey. Sweet! So the day of the Ride arrived, and I was off. The first leg was a breeze, the second leg, tougher, but manageable. Lunch flew by quickly and then the real grind began. Hills and climbs followed by hills and climbs. The next rest stop was about ready to pack up by the time I rolled in. Then, more climbs. I barely made it to the last pit stop.
This is where it got really rough. I was done. Cooked. I get some ice, and food, and electrolytes, but my body was just not doing what it was supposed to do. I couldn’t cool down. My back was screaming. I had nothing left. It must have been written on my face, or suggested by my posture, or obvious from the void behind my dry, tired eyes, because my wife—my cheerleader, my rock—asked me for the first time all day if I was done. I intended to instantly and defiantly proclaim “No way! I’m too close!” But my response was slow, delayed. With little conviction, I whimpered “No.” I was going to try to go a little farther. I moved as fast as I could and tried to avoid eye contact, because I could see the doubt and concern on her face; she was seriously considering ignoring me and pulling the plug anyway.
The last 15 miles took everything I had. SAG vehicles were all over me, first asking if I was OK, then asking if I wanted a ride, and finally strongly urging me to get in. I refused. I’d come too far. Then the calls started. One of the monsters, the architects of my ordeal, was now calling me to say “Where are you? Are you OK? Should we send someone to get you?” The rage started to boil over. I stopped answering my phone and I keep peddling. Forever peddling. I get lost for the second time and by the time I was back on track, I’d added 4 miles to my day. Why make it easy now? At least I was finally back in Mission Viejo – sadistic, cruel, hill-laden Mission Viejo. I finally got through it and pulled into the College.
I’d left this same lot 11 hours earlier (8½ hours of pedal time). I was a shell of myself, and so tired that I couldn’t even really appreciate how gracious all of these people – board members, ride organizers, ASF staff, volunteers – were for waiting for us. I just wanted off the bike. I stepped off, got some congratulations, and hobbled toward the car. My bike somehow magically appeared in my car. A few more handshakes, hugs and kind words later, I was in the car and headed home. My wife had been worried—unable to find or reach me—but she finally proclaims her pride. Having driven the entire route, including many trips ahead of me to cheer as I passed, just to move forward a few more times to repeat, as well as some frantic searching during my extra-century adventures, she put in more miles than I did that day.
It took me a few days to really appreciate what I had been through. I felt proud of my accomplishment. Most of all though, I realized what a perfect metaphor a ride like this is for those suffering with HIV and AIDS. There is the apprehension and fear of waiting for the ride to start, or the test results to come back. There is the guilt and shame associated with thinking you could have done more to prepare or prevent. The feeling of isolation and loneliness of traveling this road alone. Of your body betraying you, simply refusing to do at all what it did so effortlessly not long ago. The feeling of vulnerability from things simply out of your control, be they car doors or infections. The pain. The fatigue. The desire to just quit. Those are the challenges, but there is also the flip side. The incredible feeling of warmth and relief when you realize you’re not alone – that there are people who love and support you. That there is someone there with just what you need, even when you don’t necessarily know you need it – a little nutrition, a little sustenance, a kind word, a place to rest, an offer to take a little bit of the burden, a subtle and gentle showing of love and affection. Just as I needed all of those things on my ride, our clients need those things in their daily lives. Just as ASF staff and volunteers giving me those things got me through the Ride, those same people offer that support to the most vulnerable members of our community every day.
Just to be clear, I am in no way equating riding 100 (+4) miles to what those infected and affected by HIV and AIDS go through. I just feel like it gave me the slightest glimpse. And that glimpse, this Ride, changed me. So yeah, I hurt. A lot. But I got so much more out of this Ride than I gave, and for that I am humbled and forever grateful. Now I must begrudgingly, and wholeheartedly, thank all of those who conspired, lied, cajoled, tricked and challenged me into riding. I owe you.
Posted: September 26, 2011
Why We Ride (by David W. and Kevin N.)
We ride for the dozens of friends we have lost. We ride for the dozens of friends who are fighting HIV. We ride to continue our dedication to ending AIDS.
In 1991, we made our first quilt as a fundraiser for AIDS Services Foundation. In 1992, we started KD & Company. We said if our friends were still alive, we would have a party for them. So we went to an AIDS Hospice and put on a party for the residents that lived there. This continued for the next 7 years when they had new drugs and no longer needed the hospice.
The end of August 2007, we decided ALC sounded fun. Not sure why because we didn’t ride our bikes. We had them, but they just collected dust and spider webs. After cleaning them, we went out for our first ride. Returning home with 6 miles under our belts, we almost died. Every day we would add a little more to our ride. When we started to ride with Team OC in November, we were riding over 100 miles a week and riding 40 miles on Saturday.
ALC 7 was a life changing experience for us and we made new friends that we will have for the rest of our lives. This group is supportive, caring, and loving. If you need help, just ask. They will help even if you don’t ride with them.
Now we are very excited to have a ride in Orange County. There is only one first and we got to be a part of it.
Posted: May 24, 2010
Why I Ride (by Jorge R.)
Truth be told, I haven’t ridden a bicycle in over six years. The last time I did was shortly after completing the seven day long AlDS Life Cycle #1. That bicycle ride was over 600 miles long and went from San Francisco to Los Angeles. I found it to be one of the best experiences of my life. I did that ride to prove to myself that I could push myself physically past the boundaries that I knew. I was right. Physically I accomplished more than I ever expected. What I did not expect were all the psychological and spiritual benefits I received from riding alone on a bicycle for eight hours a day. There is a lot of time to think. There is a lot of time to reflect. There is a lot of time to cry and a lot of time to laugh. I did them all, alone, riding through the beautiful hills and countrysides of California. Wow.
However, there was something missing. Even though the money I raised went to help people with HIV in San Francisco and Los Angeles, my fundraising did nothing to help my own neighbors. Since that time, I have wanted to create a similar experience here in Orange County. I wanted to give the cyclists from Orange County the opportunity to help their own community… help their own neighbors…the people of Orange County living with HIV and AIDS. It has to start locally. That is why I am helping to create this inaugural Orange County Ride for AIDS (OCRA).
Trust me, the benefits YOU will receive by riding in the OCRA…pushing yourself more than you know you can…conquering every hill in front of you…having time to think about your life…is more than you will ever be able to give back. But you will be giving back. Participating in OCRA is a win-win situation.
Do the ride. Help others. Do the ride. Learn about yourself. That’s why I will be riding in OCRA.
It will be an experience of a life time.
Posted: June 7, 2010
Why I Ride (by Karen Z.)
I was drawn into helping people with AIDS by St. Mary’s Church in Laguna Beach. Helping out on an AIDS Care Team for 15 years, I became very close to several care partners as we walked through their last years together and learned first-hand of the tragedy that is AIDS. Two years ago, I was recruited by a good friend to do the CA AIDS LifeCycle, a 7-day ride from SF to LA. It turned out to be one of the most fun weeks of my life – helping people out by fundraising and cycling through beautiful California. And it got me into great shape! This year is my 60th birthday and I decided to do another ride to celebrate it and to attempt to raise $6,000. Dozens of generous, compassionate people have helped me reach that goal. It’s a privilege to be a top fundraiser – but even more, I’m very happy to help out the thousands of people living in the OC with AIDS. We all look to the day when there is no need for all of this. But until that day, I’m happy to help out.
Posted: September 28, 2010