DV Classified Account Manager Chance Browning, right, in his business casual attire at Day 2 Pit 2 at Station 4.

The total amount of money raised for AIDS organizations has now topped $2 million in the 11 years of the Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS. The Ride supports AID Services Dallas, Resource Center Dallas and the AIDS Outreach Center. That’s the important thing. All the rest is just plain fun — and physically and emotionally draining.

The first day of LSR, riders made a loop from the American Airlines Training and Conference Center just south of D/FW Airport through Fort Worth and back. Riders had a choice of routes up to 100 miles. However, most — including me — chose to make their own route. Or got lost.

About 22 miles of the Fort Worth route was along the Trinity Trails, which follow the course of the streams that flow into the Trinity River and the main fork that flows through Downtown Fort Worth. The trail is not one continuous route and more than 40 riders reported going off-course without street signs or clearly identifiable landmarks along the way to indicate where to turn or cross the river.

My riding partner Shelly Morrow and I rode to the end of a wrong trail, carried our bikes over a guard rail, over a bridge down an embankment and continued down another trail — before realizing the river was flowing in the wrong direction. We knew we needed to be near Downtown Fort Worth for the lunch pitstop. So we turned around, made some frantic but unanswered calls, had a flat and a broken spoke, fought off snakes, scorpions, alligators and other critters indigenous to the wilds of Fort Worth, survived the intense sun and brutal heat, a wind storm and finally, 100 miles later, after seeing most of the Trinity Trails, some of it twice, made it into lunch, bruised and battered — and dead last.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s a ride, not a race. And the Trinity Trail is very scenic — even if it’s not all paved.

The second day route looped through Irving and Dallas with a fun ride down Cedar Springs Road and an elaborate pitstop at Station 4. Individuals stood along Cedar Springs cheering and thanking riders.

As we rode under Royal Lane Station, I thought of taking the Green Line down to Inwood Station. But just as we crossed, a train passed. It was Sunday and trains come only once every 30 minutes. I could pedal down there faster. And I’d never cheat. OK, so Shelly kept me honest.

In his first year as event manager, Jerry Calumn was the master of spin.

Calumn said: “North Lake Ranch Park has a panoramic view.”

Calumn meant: “There’s a steep hill to get to this pitstop. In fact, this being the highest point on the north side of Dallas County means it’s a very, very steep hill. Lots of luck.”

Calumn said: “Panoramic view.”

Calumn meant: “You can see for miles because this is Irving. There’s not a tree for miles.”

And of course: “If riders go as fast as yesterday, we’ll do great,” actually meant, “It’s going to be stinkin’ hot again this afternoon.”

And: “Don’t ever say anything when David has his pad open,” means … well, Jerry’s right, his words just may end up in the Voice.

One of the pit highlights each day was Dallas Voice Classified salesgirl Chance Browning dressed in what he described as his “business casual” attire. At Rainbow Lounge on Saturday he was a damsel in distress and at Station 4 on Sunday he was a Hawaiian whore. I think. He just called it “Dressed for work.”

As riders finished their day, crew and supporters and friends and other riders cheered as each cyclist rode into the AATCC.

I had so much fun getting cheered riding in that after my first ride-in, I rode around the building and then back in — four more times. So there should be A LOT of pictures of me riding in out there.

At closing ceremonies, Browning won the award for crew member who raised the most money. His Dallas Voice Classifieds cohort and consort Greg Hoover won second place.

Ralph Randall, Michael Veale and John Tripp were the top fundraising riders. Tripp finished his second year as Ride co-chair.

Team Dallas Voice came in first place for team fundraising. Slow Spokes more than doubled the amount they raised last year and finished second, and Wild Stallions was a strong third.

Comedian Paul J. Williams hosted closing ceremonies and has probably never made so many people cry. Closing began with the motorcycle crew leading in the riders. The crew followed. The Turtle Creek Chorale sang as the Pos Pedalers wheeled in the Riderless Bike, symbolizing those lost to AIDS.

Ten panels from the AIDS Memorial Quilt were laid out in the center of the lawn during the closing ceremony. The panels included quilts for a number of people from Dallas. Among them were Alan Ross, namesake of the annual Pride parade, Hunky’s founder David Barton, long-time Round-Up Saloon manager Tom Davis, Congregation Beth El Binah co-founder Don Weiner and Resource Center Dallas Executive Director John Thomas.

Now if you’ve read this far and you’re not already a rider, you probably have some interest in the event so here’s a pitch for next year:

You CAN do this.

The ride isn’t a race. It didn’t matter that we made it to lunch last or did our 100 miles completely off course.

It doesn’t matter how far you can ride. Or how fast.

What if you get a flat? Bike tech is there to help.

What if you poop out on the road? Sweep trucks are there to pick you up.

If I can do this, you can do this. Believe me. I’m not athletic. And everyone in my office would tell you I’m old. (And I like to remind them that I’m also the only person in the office not on any daily medication for some ailment or another — but even many of my decrepit co-workers participate in the ride.)

The fundraising goal for each rider is $500. There’s a team that will help you raise that money. You CAN do this.

You can join a team. Dallas Voice would love to have you on our team, and we’ll help you reach your goal and train. Slow Spokes and Wild Stallions would love you on their teams. So would Cathedral of Hope and Team AT&T or ViiV Healthcare or other teams listed here. Or form your own team. Or you can sign up solo.

It takes some training to ride. Some. You need to go on some bike rides over the summer before the Ride.

It takes some training to learn to raise the money. Some. The key is to ask. The fundraising committee will help you.

You need a bike. The Ride will lend you one if you need one.

If you think you might be interested, ask a rider. Any rider. But be prepared for the rider to talk your ear off for an hour about the incredible experiences, the awesome feeling of participating. And the friendships formed.

I met my riding partner Shelly on the road. Literally. We wiped out on the road last year when she stopped short and my brakes failed. We rode together this year and we’ll ride together next. But what a great way to start a friendship. Hope you’ll join us. (Just don’t ride too close. She’s a menace on the road.)

Want to participate but not sure about riding? Join the crew. There’s lots to do that contributes to this incredible event.

You CAN do this.