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My greatest relationships, whether short-lived or lifelong, friendly or romantic, have one thing in common. All were and are with people willing to do the craziest things with me. If you can’t relate, you will when you meet Cecina Hines and Jim Freemon.
As a tribute to Cecina’s 10-year anniversary of throwing cancer to the curb, Jim challenged her to a crazy, 545-mile bike ride: The AIDS Lifecycle. This annual fundraiser for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center is a 3,000-rider-strong journey from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Cecina and Jim’s petal pushing will help fund research and awareness in the fight against H.I.V. and AIDS.
I talked to Cecina and Jim about their friendship, their training and what it takes mentally to pedal for 545-miles.
545 miles! Are you insane?
Cecina: I quite possibly am insane…but that’s beside the point. I am extremely excited and thrilled to be participating in such a great event.
What inspired you to take this adventure?
Cecina: A few times over the past ten years, Jim has encouraged me to join his team for the AIDS ride. The first time was soon after my breast cancer treatment and I just couldn’t imagine riding 545 miles. I thought he was insane. Last October, I started a new job. In an employee icebreaker activity, we wrote three things we have accomplished or participated in. One had to be a dream accomplishment, so I wrote that I rode my bike down the coast of California. I was surprised that my colleagues guessed that I had already accomplished the ride. That night, I saw a Facebook post that Jim’s son had signed up for the AIDS Lifecycle. I called Jim. We went to dinner and had a conversation about joining his team. I signed up the next day.
Jim: I was with my family in San Francisco in 2003 when my wife, Connie saw a flyer about the ride. I knew right away it was the right thing to do. I knew I could make a difference on my bike. I signed up and the rest is history.
Who encouraged who?
Cecina: Jim encourages me. He is very kind and patient and willing to teach me so much. He is a great teacher and friend. My partner, friends, family and coworkers have been excellent motivators too! My mom signed up to be a roadie for the event.
Jim: The most wonderful lady in the world Connie Murray and of course all those who contributed to the ride with their hard earned money.
Tell me about your experience with cancer and how it motivated you to do this ride.
Cecina: The ride is a great way to “celebrate” the ten year mark of my breast cancer diagnosis and journey. It’s special that I get to ride with a great friend and mentor who is so supportive of my journey. Giving back by riding in the AIDS ride feels really good.
Jim: Many of our friends have experienced cancer, some have survived and some have died. When I ride, the solitude combined with the beauty gives me the opportunity to meditate, pray, and honor the journey of each individual who enters my life. When Cecina asked if she could do a ride as challenging as the 545 mile AIDS ride, I said “of course.” Her story is one of strength and courage and I knew instantly that this ride would change her life like it did mine.
What part of the ride are you most looking forward to?
Cecina: I am most looking forward to the first day of the ride. The excitement of leaving the Cow Palace in San Francisco with 3,000 other riders will make this idea a reality.
Jim: The coast ride is awesome, not only for the beautiful scenery but also for the opportunity to share so much with each rider and support staff. I also know every coffee stop from San Francisco to Santa Monica on the route.
What part of the journey is the most daunting?
Cecina: Knowing that I am going to ride 545 miles and that it is going to have its up and downs emotionally and physically. I am trying to prepare for the fact that it is a journey and that it won’t always be easy.
Jim: The most grueling day for me was the second day when we rode through the valley when the temperatures were 100 degrees. Ugh!
Tell me about your bike. What kind of bike and equipment did you need for this kind of journey?
Cecina: I bought a really cool bike: a Cannondale Synapse with 105 components from Village Cycle in Redding. I had some gear already from mountain bike riding, but mostly I am starting from scratch: new shoes, gloves, riding gear, and now really just trying to dial in a saddle that will keep me comfortable.
Jim: I ride a carbon fiber road bike for most of my long rides but this year I will be riding a vintage steel Schwinn road bike I have restored. You will see every kind of bike on the AIDS Ride from mountain bikes to single speed fixed bikes, and single gear beach cruisers.
What kind of training have you done?
Cecina: I am riding as often as I can and incorporating more miles every week. I am also changing my diet and thinking a lot more about staying hydrated.
Jim: I have ridden hundreds and hundreds of miles. I ride about 100 miles a week. This area is the best riding country in California. The hills give you lots of bang for the buck when training, meaning greater strength with less miles. There is no way to get around the time needed in the saddle to build butt and legs like tree trunks and lungs like garbage cans. But if you can’t sit in the saddle you are out of luck. Long slow distance is the key to getting ready for a long multiple day ride like this. A ride must be mentally disciplined as the days are long, hard, and hot.
How much have you raised so far?
Cecina: Every rider is expected to raise $3,000, but you can set any goal for yourself. I have set my personal goal at $5,000 and I really hope that I make the goal. So far I have raised $3700.
Jim: I have raised $100 to date. Over the years, I have raised about $50,000 dollars to support health care and research for AIDS and arthritis by riding five Capital City Aids Rides, two San Francisco Aids Rides, and one eight-day Arthritis ride. Regardless if you are able to donate or not, if you have lost a family member or friend to AIDS, or know someone who is living with AIDS, please contact me and I will be honored to carry their picture or name with me on the ride.
What are you most scared about?
Cecina: I am most scared about having some sort of physical problem that would hold me back.
Jim: In 2005, on my second San Francisco Aids Ride, I injured myself and had my bike taken away. When I returned home I had five rods put into my back. Now I have rods in my back, one new hip, one new heart valve, one new disk in my neck and I am still riding. What is there to be scared of? No Whining!
AIDS Lifecycle is a fully supported, seven-day bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles, June 1 to 7, to raise money and awareness in the fight against HIV and AIDS. To learn more about the AIDS Lifecycle, visit aidslifecycle.org. To donate to Cecina or Jim, visit aidslifecycle.org, choose “Find a Participant,” enter either “Jim Freemon” or “Cecina Hines” and chose “Search” and “Donate.” All donations are appreciated and help support AIDS education, research and treatment.