It’s that time of year again time to break out the bicycles and start gearing up for this year’s edition of Loan Star Ride. The annual AIDS fundraising bicycle ride, which can range from 80 to 170 miles depending on which route riders choose, is set for Sept. 29-30. The first training ride for the Ride, a 31-mile jaunt, is set for 9 a.m. on Saturday, March 31, beginning at Plano Cycle & Fitness, at 18th Street and North Central Expressway in Plano. The Voice sat down with 44-year-old Arlen Miller, a member of the Lone Star Ride steering committee who has participated in the event each year since 2005.
How did you get involved with Lone Star Ride?
I got involved because a friend of mine who did the ride every year who was HIV-positive made me feel really guilty. I told him I didn’t know whether I could do 100 miles. He looked at me and said: “Girl, look at me. I’m HIV-positive and I do this ride every year, and you’re telling me you can’t do this ride?”
How many people typically participate?
The average number of riders is between 115 and 125. The highest number we’ve ever had was in 2003, when we had 133 riders. Right now we have 113 riders committed for this year’s ride. We want to have over 200 riders.
I understand that you’re trying to recruit new riders from beyond the LGBT community?
The Lone Star Ride is one of the best-kept secrets in the Metroplex, and we would like to have it not be a secret anymore. You can go virtually any Saturday of the month and find a pay ride. Most of them are to benefit specific charities. So what we’re going to do is take a team of riders that will have Team Lone Star ride jerseys, and the purpose of that is so people see us all together as a team and we start creating some buzz and some word of mouth about the Lone Star Ride.
Another new element this year is the Loan Star Locker, which will provide bicycles to those who don’t have them but want to participate. How does that work?
We’re trying to get donations from people going into bike stores, and we’re asking people to donate used bikes, and then the first Saturday of every month, people who want to do the ride but don’t have a bike can come to our warehouse. Then if they raise at least $2,000, we’ll just give them the bike. What we’re trying to do is break down barriers to entry. If anyone wants to give us bikes, we’ll take them.
What’s the easiest way for a newcomer to get involved with Lone Star Ride?
Probably the easiest way is to go to our Web site, www.loanstarride.org. There is plenty of information about the ride and how to get involved. The other thing is, if you’re a rider or crew, you can kind of just show up at the training ride. Just show up on Saturday at Plano Cycle & Fitness. If you like us, you can stay. If you don’t, you can just carry on.
Soundout is a weekly column featuring people whose jobs and interests have an impact on the daily lives of members of the GLBT community. It features those who often go unnoticed by the press and community. If you’d like to recommend someone to cover in this column, contact staff writer John Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 30, 2007