By Josh Inocéncio
From June 5–11, Houstonian Christopher Luke Moore, 26, will ride 545 miles on his bicycle from San Francisco to Los Angeles for the annual AIDS/LifeCycle ride. Joined by thousands of cyclists across the nation, Moore will traverse trails through California’s hills and beaches for seven days in order to raise awareness for HIV/AIDS research, which is sponsored by the Los Angeles LGBT Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. For this year’s ride, Moore seeks to raise $10,000, which will ultimately support critical HIV/AIDS services, such as testing, medical treatment, and education services.
“In 2014, I had a friend who was doing [the ride] from here, and I donated to his ride, and a friend of mine also donated, and we started talking and we thought, ‘You know what would be cool is if we went to L.A. and watched him cross the finish line,’” Moore says about his inspiration for participating in the AIDS/LifeCycle ride. “At the closing ceremony, there were so many people who had finished, and it was so cool. I had to be part of it. I signed up that day. I bought a bike in December and started training.”
While Moore is a personal trainer who leads one-on-one and group sessions at BASICS Training Studio off of I-10 just west of downtown Houston, he wasn’t always into fitness. He recommends signing up for the AIDS/LifeCycle ride even if you haven’t extensively trained as a cyclist.
“I was terrified to do it at first. But like any new experience that I’ve been terrified to do, it’s always been better coming out the other end,” Moore says. “Just do it, just sign up. You’ll be glad you did. The best thing is, for seven days, all you have to worry about is riding a bike. You don’t have dinner plans, you don’t have appointments. It’s so peaceful to do something like that.”
Each day on the ride, bicyclists travel through four rest stops before they arrive at an official campsite. In addition to basic services, all the rest stops have a theme to entertain and energize participants.
“My favorite theme last year was the Book of Mormon,” Moore recalls. “Everyone had dressed up! So as soon as you pull in, there’s all these hot Mormon boys with their books.”
With the assistance of Roadies who help at the campsites each night, AIDS/LifeCycle provides tents to all bicyclists as well as breakfast, dinner, water, hot showers, and massages.
This June will be Moore’s second year to ride the California routes for AIDS/LifeCycle, but this is his first time as a media ambassador for the organization. To be a media ambassador, participants must apply for the position and be selected. They write a short personal bio that gets featured in an issue of the Daily Spin, a newsletter that AIDS/LifeCycle releases every day of the ride. Typically, media ambassadors reach out to their local communities to inform fellow citizens about the ride and how it benefits locals.
“The San Francisco AIDS Foundation is the world’s leading research center for HIV and AIDS,” Moore says. “And that was one of my big questions last year, apart from doing this for myself: how can I get people in Houston to realize that this is helping Houston, too? Basically, the research they do funnels down to us.”
The money Moore raises contributes to the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, which has a federal advocacy program that produces nationwide results. According to the foundation’s website, they are “actively involved in the implementation of the first-ever National HIV/AIDS Strategy and the formulation of HIV/AIDS components of national healthcare reform legislation.” In addition, they “worked closely with the CDC to establish guidance on how to administer pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).”
The visibility of the media ambassadors also permits them to share personal narratives in relationship to HIV/AIDS in order to educate others on the ride and those watching on the sidelines or from their home communities. In August 2013, Moore himself was diagnosed with HIV while struggling with a crystal meth addiction, which fuels his motivation to obliterate stigmas attached to HIV-positive gay men.
“Something’s going to kill you,” he remembers thinking. “The crystal meth or the HIV. But if you take care of yourself, you don’t die of HIV. That’s where it started. Trying to take care of myself.”
During the months after his HIV diagnosis, Moore abandoned crystal meth, got into fitness training at the gym, and has remained sober since December 2013. Rather than allowing HIV to plunge him further into drug abuse, Moore shaped a healthier lifestyle to achieve sobriety.
“When I first found out I had HIV, I thought I was going to look really sick,” Moore recalls. “But I live a normal life. I don’t look like I’m sick, I don’t feel like I’m sick, I live a normal life. If someone had told me the day I got diagnosed with HIV that there would be days when I don’t think about [having] HIV, I would’ve called them a liar. But 350 days out of the year, I don’t even think about it.”
For more information on AIDS/LifeCycle, visit aidslifecycle.org.
To help Christopher Luke Moore reach his $10,000 goal for this year’s AIDS/LifeCycle, consider donating on his fundraising page: tofighthiv.org/site/TR?px=3106154&fr_id=1880&pg=personal.
Follow him on Instagram at @1lukemoore.