12th annual HIV/AIDS fundraiser rolls out Saturday from new venue; pitstops include NorthPark Center, Round-Up Saloon, Flying Saucer

CHARTING A NEW COURSE | For the last several years the Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS has been based at the American Airlines Training Center in Fort Worth. This year it moves to Microsoft in Irving.

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer

For its 12th year, the Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS has a new home base, new host hotel and new route. But the beneficiaries remain the same — AIDS Services of Dallas, Resource Center Dallas and the AIDS Outreach Center in Fort Worth.

LSRFA event manager Jerry Calumn said he expects about 100 riders for the two-day event that begins Saturday, Sept. 29.

“It’s a hard year to raise money,” Calumn said. “We’re in the middle of the nonprofit recession that always hits three years after the regular recession.”

Despite those challenges, the event has new sponsors and Calumn expects a “buttoned-down ride.”

This year’s routes begin at the Irving campus of new corporate sponsor Microsoft. From there, riders head out Saturday morning on a 100-mile route that will take them down the scenic Campion Trail in Las Colinas to Royal Lane and across into Dallas.

One of the morning pitstops will be at NorthPark Center. The stop is sponsored by Paul Cross and the family of his late partner, Jim McCoy. McCoy, a longtime Lone Star rider, died suddenly of pancreatic cancer earlier this year.

The stop will be at the northeast corner of the NorthPark Center parking lot near Park Lane and Central Expressway. People are invited to cheer on riders there.

For lunch, riders will head up Cedar Springs Road and stop in front of the Round-Up Saloon. Calumn said this is another great place to cheer on riders. He suggested arriving by 11 a.m. to catch the fastest riders.

The Cedar Springs Merchants Association is sponsoring the lunch stop.

“We’ll have white tents with outdoor tables,” CSMA Executive Director Scott Whittall said.

Whittall said Hunky’s and JR.’s are providing most of the food. There will be music on the TMC patio, and several stores plan specials.

“We’re hoping to have [Dallas City Councilwomen] Angela [Hunt] and Pauline [Medrano] there,” Whittall said.

The second day, the route is shorter because everyone must be back at the Microsoft campus before 5 p.m. for the closing ceremony.

The Sunday ride again begins at Microsoft but heads toward Fort Worth. Last year, much of the Tarrant County portion of the ride was along the Trinity Trail, and managing that segment was difficult. Many riders made wrong turns, missed the river crossing and on one unpaved section got flats.

This year, only a small portion of the ride will be on the Trinity Trail. Bikers will cross the river on a new trail bridge near downtown that opened earlier this year.

Lunch will be at the Flying Saucer in Sundance Square, and gay Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns is expected to attend.

Ride co-chair Danny Simpson said he’s excited about this year’s new sponsors and host hotel. He said several Lone Star Ride meetings have been held at the NYLO Hotel in Irving.

“They’ve been hospitable and generous with their space,” he said.

In addition to getting an upgrade in facilities, LSRFA participants will mostly fill the hotel and won’t have to compete with other groups for space on the property.

Microsoft will host the morning ride-outs, Saturday evening entertainment and Sunday closing ceremony. Microsoft also fielded a team of riders and offered a free copy of Microsoft Office to riders who raised more than $1,000.

Sponsor GLM Waste Management, which Simpson called “an all-green waste management company,” will provide recycling containers and recyclable goods such as plates and plasticware for the event, as well as “port-o-potty support.”

Irving Convention Bureau spokeswoman Diana Pfaff said LSRFA approached the city last year about moving to the city.

“We helped with hotel selection, promotional efforts and the opening night dinner,” she said. “We’ll welcome riders to Irving for the weekend.”

The city’s promotional efforts included publicizing the ride with inserts in water bills.

She said riders will be surprised by the Campion Trail — which she described as a 22-mile greenbelt along the Trinity River crossed by horse trails and surrounded by beautiful flora and fauna.

“We’re thrilled to have you guys here,” she said.

The closing ceremony will include the riderless bike remembering friends who died of AIDS. That tradition has been part of all 10 previous Lone Star Rides and was carried over from the longer Houston-to-Dallas Tanqueray Texas AIDS Rides that preceded LSRFA.

Don Maison, president and CEO of AIDS Services of Dallas, said his agency is “very grateful” for the support from Lone Star Ride over the years. Maison said the money is especially important to his agency because it provides unrestricted funds that cover things that grants don’t.

“It pays for amenities that make a home a home,” he said. “Especially for us as a housing provider, the money helps us make a pleasant living environment.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 29, 2012.