Richard Cordova has quite an ambitious goal for the 2010 Ride For AIDS, the annual two-day, 190-mile bicycle trek from Northwestern University's Evanston campus to Lake Geneva and back.
He wants his 21-person team to raise $30,000 for the event's sponsor/promoterTest Positive Aware Network ( TPAN ) which would set the record for most money ever raised by a team.
" [ Raising ] $30,000 is a lofty goal, but with so many people on the team I'm hoping we can rally enough support for such a great cause and make our goal," said Cordova, 32, a gay Lakeview resident who will be participating in his third ride. He has also run five marathons ( 26.2 miles each ) and three half-marathons ( 13.1 miles ) .
Cordova, who has a boyfriend, is a health educator at the Center on Halsted; he also is a spinning instructor at the Lakeview Athletic Club.
"The 2009 Ride was great because two of my closest friends, Zak and Andrea, did the ride with me, which really made it a lot of fun," Cordova said. "I decided to start my own team [ this year ] because I knew I was going to do the Ride again and it just seemed like the logical thing to do."
The Ride for AIDS is July 10-11.
Cordova's team, appropriately dubbed Richard's Riders, has members in their 20s, 30s and 40s. There are grad students, flight attendants and business owners. There also are professionals in education management, finance, advertising, insurance, non-profits and more.
Rider Kevin Ciacco suggested the team name and, "of course I was on board with it; who wouldn't want a team with their name in it?!" Cordova said.
Richard's Riders is one of the bigger teams ever in the history of the ride and each member has their own reason for participating in the grueling gig, Cordova said.
"Some [ of the riders ] connect with the cause on a personal level because someone they know is HIV positive or they themselves are positive. Others are doing the Ride because it is something they never thought they could do, and some people are doing it because they are on their own personal journey of health and this happens to be a stop on that journey," Cordova said. "As someone living with HIV for over eight years now, I've come to look at physical challenges as my way of sticking it to the man, as they say, and 'the man' being HIV. It's important that I prove to myself that even though I live with this virus every day that I must continue to stay positive and that having HIV doesn't stop me from living my best life. Honestly, having this virus in some ways has helped me live an even better one because I've come to realize how destructive behaviors in my life were leading me to an early grave."
So how demanding is the ride?
"The ride is tough. It's fun, but tough," Cordova said. "The winds can be brutal while the hills and long flat stretches in Wisconsin are mentally and physically draining. The camaraderie among the riders and the crew helps of course.
"The ride also can be pretty emotional. I think any endurance event can and will bring up all sorts of things for the person participating in the event. I know it does for me, during marathons for sure. My friend Zak, who did the Ride last year and is riding again this year, might have said it best when he said, 'I purged my demons [ on the Ride ] .'"
Cordova added, "My team would love it if the kind and benevolent LGBTQ community could find it in their hearts and their wallets by helping us support Test Positive Aware Network ( TPAN ) through a donation. No matter how big or small; every bit counts. Whether it be information dissemination, outreach, testing and prevention, and positive living support groups and more, TPAN is on the front lines every day helping those, myself included, who are living their best life possible with HIV/AIDS. We ride to do our part and when you make a decision to support our ride you are doing yours. Thank You!"
Donations can be made via mail or the Internet; go to www.rideforaids.org, click on "Pledge" and select Richard's Riders.
The team is holding a fundraiser on Wed., April 21, 6:30-9:30 p.m., at Wild Pug, 4810 N. Broadway. For $30, you get all you can drink well beer and mixed drinks.