M.M. ADJARIAN | Contributing Writer
As one of the first “route architects” of the Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS, Richard Treat can tell you that one of the most crucial elements in route planning is variety.
He can also tell you that he’s one of the proud and hardy few able to say that he’s ridden in all 10 of Lone Star Rides.
A veteran of the 1999 and 2000 Texas Tanqueray AIDS Rides organized by Palotta TeamWorks, Treat jumped at the chance to become involved in the Lone Star Ride, which emerged from TTAR’s controversial ashes.
“[TTAR provided] a limited percentage of return to its beneficiaries,” Treat says. “And the beneficiaries felt they could do better if they took it upon themselves to conduct their own event. I had at that point expressed an interest in becoming involved in the [LSR] steering committee, and my role ended up being route planning.”
In the beginning, the routes took cyclists from Fort Worth to Dallas or Dallas to Fort Worth. While riders could never be sure from year to year of the actual roads that would comprise the ride, they could always be assured of one thing: Diversity.
Says Treat, “It was always a challenge to come up with a good route. [It would have to have] scenic elements to it, preferably on lesser-traveled roads. [And it] would also have to have a physical challenge to it in certain spots.”
Starting in 2009, the more or less straight-line trajectory of the route changed. Now each day of the ride begins and ends at the American Airlines Training Center in Fort Worth, on Hwy. 360, just south of Hwy. 183. One leg of the ride typically takes place in Tarrant County and the other in Dallas County, giving the route a figure 8 shape.
It’s a mild twist of irony that Treat has traveled down a varied life road himself. The self-described “war baby” was born in Fort Benton, Mont., one year before the formal surrender of Japan in World War II.
“Right after graduation from high school [in Billings, Montana], I decided to go to Abilene Christian to do my bachelors. And that’s how I got to Texas,” he says.
From Texas, Treat’s path wound through Mexico, Columbia and Argentina, where he did church work for almost nine years.
He then returned to Texas and became a New Testament translation consultant for an organization in Fort Worth. From there, he migrated into a position at Verizon and later, one at Marcus High School in Flower Mound, where he taught Spanish.
He has now retired from teaching in public schools.
Although Treat has participated in other charity rides — such as the MS 150 — LSR is especially close to his heart.
“[I do it for] friends who are HIV-positive [or who] have died,” he explains. “I’m committed to the work of the agencies involved [in putting together the LSR].”
After a moment’s reflection he also adds, “I myself have also been a recipient of services that [the agencies] perform with community.”
Treat points out that unlike the Texas Tanqueray AIDS Ride that preceded it, the Lone Star Ride began as a local event in which every dollar earned went straight to the beneficiaries. Now the goal is to make the LSR a larger event. But to do that, it will need, in part, to draw more mainstream cycling enthusiasts from the Metroplex.
“I think a lot of people in the cycling community perceive it as a gay event, and there’s perhaps a certain amount of stigma [attached to the LSR] for that reason,” Treat observes.
Still, the Lone Star Ride is growing, albeit slowly. Any apparent obstacles it encounters along its own path are simply part and parcel of a bigger, more important journey.
“It’s just the challenge of the route,” Treat says.
Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS takes place Sept. 24-25. For details or to donate to a specific rider or team or to the ride in general, go online to LoneStarRide.org.
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