When our Unframed helmet designer Todd Standish began training for the 2015 AIDS/LifeCycle ride, he had some pretty deep doubts. Doubts that he could fundraise the minimum $3,000; doubts that he could successfully train for the seven-day, 545-mile ride; doubts about his endurance and his own body’s ability.
But Todd, who is 52, has lived through the worst of the AIDS epidemic in the decades he has lived in San Francisco. He’s experienced many of his friends getting sick with this debilitating and life-threatening illness; he has marched in protest, and he’s given his time and his artistic talents to fundraisers and benefits.
So mustering a new effort to get ready for the long and taxing ride seemed the least he can do.
“I tried to make a difference in AIDS awareness and “queer” acceptance. Many men I knew then have since died before their time,” Todd says on his fundraising page. “AIDS is still with us even though, thankfully, it is no longer the death sentence it once was. I have close friends who have survived the disease for 25+ years. They need to take medication several times a day, every day. Doing this ride, raising this money for this cause, is another way I can continue to fight for my friends, and my brothers and sisters.”
The AIDS ride, now in its 23rd year, raises millions for awareness, caregiving, and research in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Last year more than 2,000 riders traversed the California coast in the seven-day ride, raising more than $15 million, while this year a record-breaking 2,350 riders raised (thus far) almost $17 million.
On Sunday, those riders took off from the ride’s start in south San Francisco. Their route will lead them south through many of California’s scenic roads and landscapes.
Averaging more than 75 miles per day, the group congregates at parks and other rest stops and camps each night along the route.
For Todd, reaching his initial fundraising goal was a big boost for his training sessions, which he sometimes found to be grueling. Once he lost his group, suffered a flat and hung out for some time on the side of the road. On other rides he thought climbing the hills would do him in.
But Todd said that the camraderie and support of his riding team – the New Bear Republic – kept his spirits intact. And once his initial goal was met, he decided to take on a new, stretch goal for fundraising through the end of his ride. He’s hoping to raise $5,000 by his journey’s end – and is currently at $3,678.
To help Todd as he rolls down the coast toward the finish line, we’ll be giving away the original hand-painted helmet
he created as part of his work for the Nutcase Unframed Artists Series. For any donation of $40 or more, you’ll be automatically entered to win the one-of-a-kind helmet. Click here to donate now.
Though Todd has taken his first spill near Santa Cruz – "Wicked crosswinds combined with soft gravel took me down," he said – he was cleared to ride and is now heading into his fourth day. Known as Red Dress Day, the fourth day of the ride has most riders decked out in outlandish red ensembles. Keep updated on Todd's outfits and his progress on our Nutcase Facebook page.
And donate! Your donation help people with access to free HIV prevention and care programs. We'll award Todd's hand-painted 'Cloud Nine'-style helmet in the week of June 8th. And next year we'll be releasing a Rainbow helmet, inspired in part by Todd and our hopes for a more just, equitable, and nutty world.
Unfortunate legalese: Custom painted helmets are art objects, not safety equipment, and are not intended for use as personal protection. Once a helmet is altered it is no longer under warranty.