David Hodge, captain of the E-racing Stigma team for Lone Star Ride, says cycling for the cause is in his blood
M.M. ADJARIAN | Contributing Writer
Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS cyclist David Hodge is what you could call doubly positive: Not only is he one of the most upbeat, life-loving people you could hope to meet; he also happens to live with the very disease that LSRFA exists to combat.
When he turned 40 five years ago, Hodge decided to mark his definitive entry into middle age with a celebration of physical fitness.
“I wanted to do something big and fantastic,” the Parkland imaging specialist recalls. “Some friends of mine and I were talking about bicycling, [something] I hadn’t even thought about for a while. I hadn’t been on a bicycle in 20 years.”
So Hodge immediately began training — but not for the LSRFA.
“We have a similar ride in Atlanta,” he says. “The name of the event is the AIDS Vaccine (AV) 200 and [it benefits] the Emory AIDS Vaccine Center. I [started participating in] 2006.”
As the name suggests, the Atlanta ride covers 200 miles, about 20 more than LSRFA. It also takes place in late spring (May) rather than late summer (September).
Hodge’s resume also includes two appearances in the seven-day AIDS LifeCyle Ride, which takes place every year in June. The route covers approximately 600 miles between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Hodge officially began riding with the LSRFA just last year, when he moved from Atlanta to Dallas. But already he’s doing double duty as the captain of one of the oldest teams to be saddling up for the event: E-racing Stigma, the LSRFA Positive Pedalers team.
“The whole concept [for the team] came from [a desire] to get the word out,” he says. “Just because you have an [HIV] diagnosis, that is not a death sentence anymore so long as you take care of yourself. You really can be an active member of society and help out anywhere you can.”
As team captain, Hodge fulfills a number of important duties.
“[I’m] the person who gets all the information out, whether we’re having social events or training rides,” he explains. “[I also have to] keep people motivated to get their fundraising done. [Our] team is also very involved in the closing ceremonies.”
Participating on a team like E-racing Stigma is a lot like riding with family. Members bond through similarities — in this case, positive diagnoses. At the same time, they also take care of each other on the road.
Says Hodge, “In the bicycling community, when you go and out and deplete your body of every ounce of water and electrolytes and food, [you’re in danger of] ‘bonking.’ Your fellow riders watch out for those kinds of [potential problems].”
A potentially deadly disease may reside in Hodge’s body, but so does an equally passionate dedication to cycling for the community he loves. In May, the E-racing Stigma team captain returned to Atlanta to participate in the 2011 AV200; and recently, the odometer reading on Hodge’s current bicycle slipped over the 4,000-mile mark.
“[The cause] is something that’s very dear to my heart, so that’s why I keep doing what I do and cycling as many miles as I can,” he says. “It’s in my blood now and I can’t stop doing it.”
Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS will be held Sept. 24-25. To donate to an individual rider, to a team or to the Ride itself, go online to LoneStarRide.org.