Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Coffey Enters AIDS Bike Race

Starr Market Cashier to cycle 545 miles in brother's memory

By Linda Harmon
Denise Coffey has been a cashier at Starr Market for 14 years. This year she’s spending her vacation riding in a 545-mile bike race, the 2008 AIDS-LifeCycle, June 1 through 7.
“I’m doing this for my brother,” said Coffey, standing in front of the market, gathering sponsors for her trip. “My brother fell out of a tree up in Rose Valley on a family camping trip. He needed a transfusion before they had protected the blood supply and he died later, from AIDS.”
He was 33 when he died in 1996.
According to the race web site, more than 151,000 Californians are living with HIV/AIDS, the highest number since the beginning of the epidemic. It lists 83,000 deaths from AIDS and estimates 9,000 Californians will become infected this year alone. The ride is expected to raise $11 million while raising awareness of the disease.
This year’s race has 2,500 registered riders and more than 700 volunteers who act as “roadies” for the cyclists, serving food and water and setting up the tent city every night.
Each participant pays their own expenses and raises a minimum of $2,500 in sponsors for the race. Coffey has already raised $1,000.
Coffey will start her travels in San Francisco and end up in Los Angeles seven days later. Her second day out she’ll cover the longest distance, 105.4 miles between Santa Cruz and King City.
“I got into this because of my good friends, Tom and Nanette Benbrook,” said Coffey, about the two avid cyclists and “roadies” for the race. “They were already part of the race and encouraged me to train for it.”
Coffey will be accompanied to San Francisco by a friend from work, Randy Miller, who has been riding since 2001. Coffey says she has only been biking for about three years, two of them seriously.
“I bring my bike to work and ride after I get out at 4 p.m.,” said Coffey, “and ride to Thacher or Dennison Grade.”
Coffey uses a “trainer” to elevate her rear bike wheel and trains indoors after dark, sometimes eating her dinner while pedaling. The longest trip she has ever taken was a 100-mile ride, taking seven hours of actual bike time.
“I’m not very fast, but I’m really looking forward to it,” said Coffey, smiling while acknowledging the trip will really be about endurance.
She says the race has a training team in Ventura but she often trains alone because of her work schedule. Coffey feels she’s in good hands with the organization.
“They provide us with everything. Look at this list of supplies,” said Coffey, holding up a sheet of information from the web site listing last year’s supplies. “The volunteers served up 2.2 tons of chicken, 2.2 tons of oatmeal, 16,800 gallons of water and 18,000 packets of Butt Balm.”
To find out more or make a donation go to aidslifecycle.org/donate.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Denise, you're always smiling and have never been anything to me but a day brightener. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to support such a moving cause. Good luck, and you go, girl!

-Cathy Jones