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Riding for a cause: Clinton resident trains for a 545-mile bike ride to end AIDS
Four months ago, Clinton resident Natasha Dworkin never would have imagined being the type of person to ride 545 miles on a bike.
With months of training and encouragement behind her, Dworkin will take off on June 1 to ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles for the AIDS/LifeCycle Ride to end AIDS, a seven-day, 545-mile journey to benefit the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center.
Dworkin’s ride supports two of the nation’s largest HIV/AIDS groups that provide life-saving programs and services.
The grueling expedition will be about 80-90 miles per day and is about the equivalent of riding from the Clinton Ferry to Deception Pass and back every day for a week. The ride will be both physically and mentally challenging for Dworkin as this is her first long-distance tour.
“I hope the ride culminates to make a positive difference in people’s lives,” Dworkin said.
When she’s not on the road, Dworkin provides design and marketing services for nonprofit organizations with her namesake communications business.
“I’ve never done anything like this,” she said.
After speaking with several friends who live in California and have previously taken part in the ride, Dworkin couldn’t get the idea of joining them out of her head.
“I immediately blew it off and thought ‘no way I could ride 545 miles,’ ” she said of her initial thoughts.
She returned home from that night and couldn’t stop thinking about it. “I thought, ‘maybe I am that kind of person.’ ”
She began following the sponsored page on Facebook and saw a reduced price sale for entry tickets. On a whim, she decided to go for it.
“That day, I felt it was the right thing to do, I was compelled in that moment,” she said.
After the purchase, she went on a leisure ride with the decision on her mind. Hundreds of miles later, she realized it wasn’t just a whim. The ride represented a lot of important things for her, including building positive community relationships, friendships and improving overall health and wellness.
Dworkin said a big piece of her motivation is to bring information about the disease back into the public’s consciousness.
“It’s important to remind people the disease hasn’t gone away,” she said. “There’s an increasing number of women and a disturbing number of children. It’s no longer a disease that only impacts the gay community.”
She hopes the money raised will help provide the care people need to live fulfilling lives, she said.
Dworkin has known people who have died from the disease and other terminal illnesses — she rides for them.
“They were young — too young,” she said. “Personally, I feel some obligation to those I have lost to live fully and push myself, because they’re not here to experience that.”
Longtime friend Alicia Lomne, of Langley, said she wasn’t surprised at all to hear of Dworkin’s new endeavor.
The ride fits with Dworkin’s personality, as she leads her life with the greater good in mind, she said.
“She’s just an all-around good person,” Lomne said. “She’s very thoughtful about things in the world and the general environment around her.”
Lomne trains with Dworkin every Sunday morning at the gym and said she is constantly pushing herself further.
Dworkin has always used bicycling as a method of transportation. Living in Seattle for 20 years, it was how she got around.
Since joining the ride, Dworkin has been training three days a week; two shorter rides during the work week and a long ride on Saturday.
“I think one of the hardest parts is being by myself,” she said, adding that she is always on the hunt for riding partners.
Dworkin is also working on increasing her mileage each week. She hopes to ride from the ferry to Deception Pass and back at least once before the ride begins. She said she always appreciates a honk of encouragement if drivers see her on the road.
“I’m riding on the island all the time,” she said. “If you see me, give a couple of honks of support.”
To support the AIDS/LifeCycle ride
Natasha Dworkin hopes to raise $5,000 through her ride to benefit the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, and is more than halfway there.
Dworkin is also looking for places to refill her water bottle and people to ride with.
Visit Dworkin’s AIDS/LifeCycle page at www.tofighthiv.org/goto/natashad to donate or learn more about her ride.