LSR team Slow Spokes (more photos from Sunday's party below)

Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS kicked off the new season with a party at the new Irving Convention Center. LSR event manager Jerry Calumn announced new sponsors and fundraising tools, and handed out copies of the new route.

The two-day, 175-mile ride takes place the last weekend in September and benefits Resource Center Dallas, AIDS Services Dallas and AIDS Outreach Center.

The first day of this year’s ride begins in Irving and makes a 100-mile loop through Dallas. The second day, the ride heads through Arlington and Fort Worth.

A new corporate sponsor is Microsoft.

“Microsoft is invested in the community and diversity and helping people realize their full potential,” said Jeri Johnson, leader of Microsoft’s citizenship and public affairs outreach in the DFW area.

The LSR will ride out from Microsoft’s Irving campus.

“This is the first time we’ve hosted anything on this site,” she said. “We want to make a difference.”

Microsoft’s sponsorship will have an impact on the ride. She said the company is fielding a team of 50 riders. For the past few years, Dallas Voice has fielded the largest team, but Microsoft could present a challenge.

In addition to what those riders will raise, the company donates $17 an hour for volunteer time. As the team’s riders and additional volunteers participate, the contribution from the company will grow.

The Irving/Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce, the city of Irving, and the Irving Convention and Visitors Bureau are also sponsors of this year’s LSRFA.

“For us in the hospitality business, the gay and lesbian community is very much a part of our family,” Irving CVB Executive Director Maura Allen Gast said. “The cause is near and dear to our families. We don’t have an industry without the GLBT community.”

She said that the city has gotten involved in a number of runs and other events. For the Sydney Olympics, she said the triathlon tryouts were held in Irving because of similar topography and climate. She called Lone Star Ride “a good size, the right time and right place.”

Weekends are a good time for events like this in Las Colinas. Traffic is minimal. Gast described the area as looking like a movie set rather than a neighborhood.

Calumn said that planning for this year’s ride was pushed up by eight months. He said that planning is basically done and he’ll spend most of his time between now and the ride recruiting more sponsors and riders and helping riders raise money.

He said that although plans are set, some could still change. Construction or alternate pit stops could alter the route.

Calumn also announced a bike loan program he developed with Richardson Bicycle Mart, another new sponsor.

The ride will arrange to lend a bike to anyone without a bike. At the end of the season, riders can buy the bikes for cost if they raised $1,000 and keep the bike free if they raised $2,000.

Riders are expected to raise a minimum of $500.

While all this is great news and good information, only personal experience can explain why we ride. Lone Star Riders participate to raise money for three great organizations, have lost friends to AIDS and want to make a difference. But the ride is also a lot of fun.

Take me and my riding partner, Shelly Morrow, two of LSR’s worst riders. Shelly and I began our Lone Star Ride planning at the Irving party and decided that this year will be a challenge.

We met on the 2010 ride when we wiped out on a street in Arlington. I mean back-brake-failed, over-the-handlebars, blood-on-the-street, landed-on-my-head wiped out.

The following year we got lost together, carried our bikes over an embankment, had flat tires together and rode in dead last together — not that it’s a race. When we finally decided we were lost and asked directions, the answer we got was, “Oh, my God, that’s nowhere near here.”

So this year we’re worried about how we’ll keep “The Adventures of David and Shelly” interesting. We have ’til September to figure it out.