why Jer rides

the cause

In college I had a scare. For a brief period of time, it seemed as if I might have been HIV+.

In 1995, while it seemed as if HIV/AIDS was much more prominent in the media than it is today, there was still a stigma attached to getting tested. Not wanting to go to the campus health center, I found a public clinic that administered the tests and had it done.

In those days, you could call and get your results over the phone. When I did, the receptionist asked me to hold, and put the phone down on the desk while she went to fetch my records.

A few moments later, I clearly heard her say, “Oh, shit.”

I blacked out, and fell over backwards onto my bed. The soft impact brought me back to consciousness. They had lost my results and I had to return to have the test done a second time.

I feel like I know what it is like when someone first learns that they are HIV+. During the two weeks I had to wait for the second set of test results, I sat with my mortality, trying to imagine how my life would change if the results came back positive. I was lucky. The results were negative, and it was still another six months before an additional test could conclusively prove it.

For me, it was a scare, but for others, it is just the beginning. Had things been different, someone else might be doing this ride in memory of me.


I’ve always ridden a bike. I remember my Dad holding the back of my seat when he was teaching me to ride. In grade school and middle school, I’d ride my bike across town to see friends. Not having a car in high school, my bike was still how I got around. Not having a reliable car in college, and city parking being what it is, I still relied on a bicycle in college. In many ways my bike has been my freedom. After graduating from college and moving to Rochester, I almost stopped riding. I commuted on my bike occasionally, but the winters were too harsh to do it for long.

When I first saw an ad for the Northeast AIDSRide in a local Boston paper, it reminded me of my own HIV/AIDS experience and my now dormant love of biking. I decided to do it.

Riding long distances is hard work, and I’m often completely wiped out after a day of riding, but there’s nothing else I’d rather do. The roads and trails around Boston are beautiful. The people who participate in the AIDSRides are kind and generous. Spending the entire day outdoors, with fabulous people is one of my favorite ways to spend the day, especially now that Sharona, my wife, is out there with me.