June 10, 2011

First Person: Paige Martin

AIDS Vaccine 200 cyclist shares reflections from the road

AIDS Vaccine 200 cyclist shares reflections from the road
Paige Martin (left) and the rest of Team Blissfully Unaware.

By Paige Martin

In December I registered for a 200-mile, two-day bike ride, the AIDS Vaccine 200, which benefits the Emory Vaccine Center. 

In the winter and spring, I spent almost every Saturday and Sunday on a training ride with my teammates, colleagues I peripherally knew at the onset of our training and got to know quite well over the course of our training. You learn a lot about each other on 52- or 75-mile rides — biking up hills and along seemingly never-ending roads.  I now consider them dear friends.

Without a team, I would never have been so faithful in my training.  Ours began with an 11-mile ride in January in snow and ice and ended in May with an 82-mile ride in heat and more heat.  

When it came time for the AV200, rain was in the forecast and I was more than a little nervous about braking.  (In our five months of training, remarkably we never had to ride in the rain.)  But the light rain made for a nice temperature.  Themed pit stops with familiar faces at many made for a fun day of riding.  I essentially biked a full work day from Emory, through scenic Georgia countryside to arrive at Camp Rock Eagle in the Oconee National Forest.

On the second day of the ride, my biggest fear was that I would be "swept up" by the rescue vans.  Knowing I'd need to bike the full day, I hurried through breakfast and was the first to leave the camp.  I was on my own for the first 30 or so miles and then three riders adopted me into their group, and I kept pace with them for the rest of the route.  So I did not get swept up. 

I know I would not have finished the full ride had I not been part of a team.  I would have missed out on all of the riders biking from Decatur Square to Emory with police escort.  I would have missed out on the celebration and learning from Dr. Rafi Ahmed, director of the Emory Vaccine Center, and Dr. Mark Mulligan, director of the Hope Clinic, about what is made possible at the EVC and the clinic by AV200 dollars.  I am grateful for my training team and my riding team – and what they made possible for me.

Paige Martin is senior director of development for Emory School of Medicine.

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