Bayside resident Lon Blais isn't just pedaling a cause—he's pedaling for a cause.
From May 1-7 he will be participating in the AIDS/LifeCycle seven-day, 545-mile cycling event in Bayside to support HIV/AIDS services in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
This will be Blais’ third goodwill AIDS ride, having partaken in the grueling excursions in 2009 and 2010.
A vacation with his wife was scheduled for the same time as the actual seven-day (June 5-12) tenth anniversary riding event in California--from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Blais said he still wanted to be part of the action, because he didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to help raise money for the worthy cause.
"Coming from a theatre background, I’ve lost too many friends to AIDS," Blais said. "This is my way of honoring them."
The Bayside ride will take place on the Cross-Island Bike Path, which starts at Northern Blvd. and travels along the Cross-Island Pkwy., ending just beyond the Throgs Neck Bridge. In total, the round-trip journey will cover approximately 6.25 miles, and Blais will complete the trail 88 times during the eventful seven days. Blais said he hopes to have fellow riders join him during the first week of May.
Inspired by his bucket list, his Dad, Bob, and a promise he kept to a higher power, Blais’ first long-distance philanthropic jaunt, which he called the "Lest We Forget Tour," took place in the fall of 2008 in memory of his father, who passed away from Alzheimer's disease in 2006.
Trekking from his Bayside home all the way to the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, Calif., he peddled a total of 2,974 miles in 40 days to raise money and awareness for the disease.
"I made a promise to the universe, that I would do something (good) if my wife recovered," he said of his Joann's battle with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which she since has beaten. "To me, continuing to do this ride is to continue to keep that promise."
His second trip was the 2009 AIDS/LifeCycle ride, followed by another Transamerica journey for Alzheimer’s later that year. On October 11, he biked from Campobello Island, New Brunswick, just over the Canadian border, all the way to Key West, Fla., a total of 2,200 miles.
His fourth was the 2010 AIDS/LifeCycle ride, his second to date.
But the former middle school teacher’s biggest undertaking will start on June 18th in La Junta, Colo., and continue in the fall in NYC. Furthermore, over the next five years, Blais wants to organize one-day century (100 miles) events in each of the 50 states, initiating rides in 10 states each year.
The new wrinkle in his rides for this year is that he hopes to court local bikers in each state (at first, 10 - 25) who would be willing to bring at least $100 to the Alzheimer's cause, increasing the fundraising potential.
Though the rides include a great deal of physical, mental and logistical preparation, Blais said it’s something that chose him, and now has become an integral part of his life, giving him great satisfaction.
"To me, once you did it, it’s hard not to do it anymore," Blais explained. "At this point, I don’t know how not to ride these rides anymore. I feel like this is what I was destined to do."
Blais is registered at the official AIDS/LIFECYCLE 9 website (Rider #6007) and has a direct donation page set up where you can make a contribution for his upcoming venture.