Interview with Liam Garcia about the Hill Country Ride for Aids

Bri Jenkins, Out Youth’s Development Coordinator, sat down with Liam Garcia the Out Youth Team Captain.

Bri:  So you are this year’s Hill Country Ride for Aids Out Youth team captain.

Liam: I was voluntold.

Bri:  Voluntold, um how are you feeling? What are your thoughts so far?

Liam: I’m excited. I’m excited about the fact that it’s our first time, in a while, that we have a team. I am hoping that we get more youth involved but it’s looking like it’s going to be more adults. I think a lot of people just get scared at the fact that it’s a big ride. They see distances like 60, 35 and it’s just way too much. Buy you can start with 13, I believe that’s the shortest one. I think people would be surprised by how chill it is.

Bri:  Have you done the ride before?

Liam: Yeah, last year was my first year doing the HCRA ride. But I have done the LiveStrong Ride twice, the Real L Ride twice. I want to do the MS 150 and there’s an Aids ride in California that goes from San Francisco to L.A., that’s like a four day bike ride. That’s on my list, hoping to get that one done next year.

Bri:  I will cheer you on but, no thank you.

Liam: That sounds amazing.

Bri:  What would you tell the people who are scared? I feel like that’s a big thing. People are like, “I can’t do it” or “It’s too long”.

Liam: It’s not about the distance, once you’re out there. It’s about riding the difference. I would say come out to some of the training rides, like just hang out and you’d be surprised how much you could just talk. We are going to start having training rides, in the next two weeks. And I will send you that.

Bri: Okay, and by the time this comes out, I will be sure to include it in the newsletter.

Liam: Another part of it that can be really scary is the distance and that you are on the road with cars and it’s just something unknown, but my favorite part of the HCRA is that you are amongst family like, in every way.

Bri: Yeah

Liam: Like in ways you.. It’s one of the most comfortable rides I have ever been a part of because you are completely surrounded by your queer family.

Bri: I went last year, which was my first year going, and that was it. There are people all along the ride letting people know riders are coming and people who live there know the ride is taking place so it’s not like people aren’t looking out for you. And then it’s also that too, people are cheering you on, people that you don’t even know. During the ride there are are pit stops that you can stop at and talk to people and take a little break and that’s the great thing you can finish at your own pace. It’s not a race, which a lot of people are concerned about. It can take you all day or it can take you one hour. Also, it’s beautiful out there, just gorgeous.

Liam: It is beautiful and you can camp out there with friends, have good food afterward. It’s a good way to honor the folks that we have lost and the friends who continue to live with AIDS.

Bri: What is your goal? Not like financially but what is one thing you want to do now that you are the voluntold team captain? One thing that you want to make sure kind of happens. Certain amount of people? Is there a personal best you want to beat?

Liam: There is a personal best but I don’t think it’s about my personal best. I think I am having to come to terms with that because I want to do the 65 or the 80 mile this year. But it’s not about me, even as the team captain. It’s about just everybody having fun. I think that’s my ultimate goal, like having people complete it, whatever distance that is, making sure they get to the end and like be ready to celebrate your first, second, third, or whatever number ride.

Bri: What would you tell any youth that are on the fence about doing the ride? Or youth who aren’t sure if they want to join.

Liam: What do you have to lose?

Bri: Yeah !

Liam: It’s always surprising how healing it can be. To just hop on the ride, or whatever physical activity it is. To just, for a long a period of time, to mentally get into this place where you can get into your body again. People, especially queer people, trans folks where we’re not always necessarily connected with our bodies, it’s really beautiful to find power in them and know that we are able to accomplish this. That’s what got me into riding in the first place.

To register with the Out Youth Team for the Hill Country Ride for Aids please click here. There is also a Facebook Group for the Out Youth team in case you have any questions or concerns and for updates on training rides.