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3000+ Acts of Kindness from Boston to New York City

By
Real Estate Agent with eXp Realty of California, Inc. CA DRE #01490977

3000+ Acts of Kindness

A Bike Ride from Boston to New York City

 

It was 2000 and I was working as the VP of Human Resources for a start-up Internet Marketing company in downtown Boston. Early in the year word got around about the upcoming Tanqueray AIDS Ride from Boston to New York City. A bunch of us got together to talk about it and ultimately 10, including me, committed to training over the next several months for the ride – about 325 miles from Boston to Manhattan over 3 days.

 

A number of my teammates were avid cyclists and they kindly shared their thoughts on training, as well as nutrition before and during the ride and appropriate equipment (shoes, gloves, etc.) to have. There was lots of encouragement and support among the group as we all got prepared for the big day.

 

I remember feeling both excited and overwhelmed with what lay ahead. After all I hadn’t even been on a bike in many years and didn’t even own one. I bought a new bike and training began in earnest, often solo but sometimes with others on the team on the weekends. It was important to not only train on increasingly longer rides, but also learning how to navigate through the mountains (part of the route ran through western MA which is quite hilly - miles of just up and down).

 

The AIDS Rides were all about kindness – raising funds to fight AIDS that was pretty rampant at the time and without a cure. Each cyclist committed to raising at least $1800 to participate. Ultimately, I believe there were about 3000 participants in the ride which meant over $5M raised from just this one ride. At the time there were multiple similar rides around the country, some lasting 1 day, and others of longer duration.

 

Personally, I was thrilled to run across so much kindness from friends and family in the form of their generous donations and encouragement, and I exceeded my goal as did many others. We heard about some riders who raised truly amazing amounts of money. Kindness was flowing abundantly.

 

The big day arrived and the 10 of us gathered at the starting line with several thousand others, feeling a tremendous mix of emotions about what was to come. Unfortunately, the weather was not in our favor and as we were beginning the ride a heavy rainstorm broke out, along with some lightning and thunder – the first 2 hours of the ride through traffic, pouring rain, rivers of flowing water and huge puddles was quite the adventure, if not a bit dangerous at times.

 

There were several rest stations set up before the final stop for the day, and I remember lots of people wringing out their bike shirts and pouring water out of their shoes when they stopped. But everyone was in good spirits, and there was lots of encouragement about our success thus far despite the long ride that still was ahead that day…in wet clothes.

 

There was abundant kindness along the way. I saw riders who stopped to help others with flat tires, or when bike chains came off. Those more adept at climbing steep hills shouted encouragement to those who were barely creeping up the steep mountain roads but did not want to give up, get off and walk their bikes, although some did.

 

At the end of that first day I remember feeling more physically exhausted than I ever had in my life. But the feeling of achievement of having succeeded that far and the exhilaration made it all worthwhile. And the spirit of camaraderie and kindness was pervasive.

 

At the end of each day the sponsors of the ride provide hot meals, shower trucks, and tents for sleeping. All of our personal stuff – sleeping bags, clothing – had been transported from Boston and then was transported to the next rest stop on Day 2. They also had massage therapists available which was a blessing, along with medical personnel. I had developed some fairly significant pain in my right knee, and the massage as well as kind suggestions about stretching I could do for my IT-band were most appreciated and helpful. I still rode with pain the rest of the ride but it was tolerable, and I was certainly not giving up!

 

The culmination on Day 3 was the ride into Manhattan to the finish area and the closing ceremonies which were very emotional.

 

What was most memorable were the 3000 or so riders all holding hands and watching a riderless bike wheeled silently through the crowd up to the stage, the empty bike representing the many thousands of deaths from AIDS. I suspect there were few dry eyes in the crowd – I know mine weren’t.

 

The 2000 Tanqueray AIDS Ride was a powerful message of kindness from start to finish. It was an unforgettable and life-changing experience.

 

And then I did one again in 2001 from Bear Mountain NY to Boston…350 miles over 4 days! It was amazing.

 

This is my 3rd submission for the December Kindness Challenge hosted by Kathleen Daniels and Dr. Paula McDonald.

 

The Feature Photo was taken by a photographer when we were riding through New Haven CT right along the ocean on Day 2 of the 2nd AIDS Ride (New York to Boston). It's not the best quality but when you are whizzing by at 20 or 30 mph and seen from a distance this is what you get. And it's a copy of a printed photo.

Posted by

Jeff Dowler, CRS
Certified Residential Specialist / Realtor®


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Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Liz and Bill Spear 

It was an amazing experience in many respects.

That park must have been beautiful to see. What a great please for a midpoint rest.

Too bad it has closed.

Jeff

Dec 29, 2023 03:06 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Carol Williams 

Thank you for the kind words. It was certainly unlike anything I have ever done before, or since (other than the 2nd ride in 2001). My back would never tolerate it these days.

Jeff

Dec 29, 2023 03:08 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Jan Green - Scottsdale, AZ 

I really had no idea what to expect but thank goodness for the support and kindness of so many people, before and during the ride.

I had to buy a new bike for the next year's ride - my 1st bike was stolen off my side porch...I still have that second bike and rode it pretty often until my back started acting up.

Jeff

Dec 29, 2023 03:11 PM
Jan Green - Scottsdale, AZ

That's wonderful Jeff!  So glad it all worked out.  Having a bike stolen is so frustrating!  That's what keeps me from buying a bike.  Back problems at this age are common, and also frustrating!   Happy New Year!

Dec 31, 2023 10:11 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Thank you so much, Dorie Dillard Austin TX 

It was impressive that so many people made the same commitment. It was fun to relive the whole experience when writing this post.

Jeff

Dec 29, 2023 03:15 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Thank you so much Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP 

It was an unforgettable experience overall and it felt wonderful to be contributing to the fund raising in such a meaningful way!

Jeff

Dec 29, 2023 03:21 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Sheri Sperry - MCNE® 

It was a life-changing experience for sure. I don't think I would have decided to participate if not for my fellow employees. And there was lots of support from the rest of our co-workers which was inspiring.

The next year I rode by myself but had a good idea of what to expect.

Jeff

Dec 29, 2023 03:39 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi George Souto 

One of the major overnight stops was in New Haven on the 2nd ride. Having lived in Boston with my parents in PA we drove the freeway through New Haven many times. Seems to me I was also at an AR meet-up in New Haven a number of years ago.

Jeff

Dec 29, 2023 03:44 PM
Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty
Front Gate Real Estate - Brandon, MS
601-991-2900 Office; 601-278-4513 Cell

Jeff Dowler, CRS You AMAZE me! What a huge accomplishment and such a worthy cause. I am beyond impressed with you making this sacrifice to raise money and bicycle from Boston to New York. Thanks for sharing this exciting story with us.

Dec 29, 2023 06:13 PM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Hi Jeff- I am in awe of your achievement!!!   I cannot imagine what it must be like to undertake something like this. And the overwhelming sense of people coming together to help others always brings a lump to my throat. 

Dec 29, 2023 07:49 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Thank you Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty 

It was an amazing life experience in so many ways, and so rewarding. It was impressive to see so many people together on this ride and to think about what it must have meant to each person, especially those who might have been living with AIDS or who had lost friends or family.

Jeff

Dec 29, 2023 08:56 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

It was an incredible and emotional experience, Kathy Streib. I felt very proud to be part of so many dedicated people coming together on this fundraising journey.

Jeff

Dec 29, 2023 09:01 PM
Lawrence "Larry" & Sheila Agranoff. Cell: 631-805-4400
The Top Team @ Charles Rutenberg Realty 255 Executive Dr, Plainview NY 11803 - Plainview, NY
Long Island Condo and Home Specialists

Jeff, That's not just a bike ride; it's a journey of heart and commitment. Kudos to you for taking on such a special challenge for charity! Truly inspiring!

Dec 30, 2023 08:07 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Lawrence "Larry" & Sheila Agranoff. Cell: 631-805-4400 

Thank you for the kind words. It was a very pleasurable, and special, journey.

Jeff

Dec 30, 2023 09:46 AM
Ed Silva, 203-206-0754
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

That is some impressive pedaling having to average over 100 miles a day. I thought about it and had to pause in my comment as I was almost too tired to finish.

Dec 30, 2023 11:53 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Ha ha Ed Silva, 203-206-0754 

I think the longest bike ride I did during training before the ride was about 60 miles. The thought of riding over 100 miles in 1 day, especially with hills, was daunting. And then getting up the next morning and doing it again.

Jeff

Dec 30, 2023 11:56 AM
Ed Silva, 203-206-0754

Jeff Dowler, CRS   The training would have been most necessary as being able to walk the next day wud have been a challenge.

Dec 30, 2023 12:13 PM
Debe Maxwell, CRS
Savvy + Company (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
The RIGHT CHARLOTTE REALTOR!

WOW! I had no idea about all of the prep work and behind the scenes work that goes on for these 'marathons,' Jeff. How absolutely wonderful that you did this - what an undertaking! 

I read every word and when you described the final stage/scene, I actually got teary eyed. I believe that had I been in your shoes - after the prep, the pain and the exhaustion, knowing what 'we' had accomplished and what it was for - it would have brought me to tears too. Only I would probably have let go of a deep, deep cry! 

Happy New Year, Jeff!

Jan 01, 2024 07:32 PM
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Jeff Dowler, CRS  funny you should say that every one of our friends who did the Ride did the same thing, friend, family or significant other picked them up:)Endre

Jan 01, 2024 08:34 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS

Endre Barath, Jr. 

I certainly would not have wanted to have to ride all the way home!

Jan 02, 2024 09:43 AM
Dr. Paula McDonald
Beam & Branch Realty - Granbury, TX
Granbury, TX 936-203-0279

A truly, amazing experience. Thank you so much for sharing this. I am inspired.

Jan 02, 2024 07:19 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Thank you for the kind words Debe Maxwell, CRS 

It was an amazing, and emotional, experience from start to finish. It was a wonderful feeling to be part of such a large group of people who were riding bikes to make a difference.

Jeff

Jan 02, 2024 09:42 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Thank you so much Dr. Paula McDonald 

And thank you for hosting such a wonderful and inspiring Challenge. 

Jeff

Jan 02, 2024 09:46 AM