BY JOHN PAUL KING | Often in life we choose the greater good over indulging our own private pleasures. Thanks to one altruistic group of L.A. guys, however, you can do both. Trudging Buddies, a team of sober and sober-supportive (or “sober-adjacent,” if you prefer) cyclists and roadies who participate every year in the AIDS/LifeCycle ride, has released a 2016 calendar for you to purchase, called “Straight Pepper Diet,” which features sexy pin-up photos of members of their team. With one simple action, you can lend your support to programs for HIV/AIDS treatment, prevention and support- while also guaranteeing that you can have a naked man to stare at in your house every single day of 2016. It’s a win-win situation, really.
Founded by Erik Zamora and Dave O’Brien in 2013, Trudging Buddies come together first and foremost as an AIDS/LifeCycle team, but also to celebrate what can be collectively achieved once an addict breaks out of the bondage of alcoholism and addiction. In their first year as a team, Trudging Buddies raised $125,000.00 to fight HIV/AIDS. The following year, they raised $230,833.00. With its largest team yet, in 2016 they’ve set an ambitious goal of $300,000.00!
For those few of you who may not know, AIDS/LifeCycle is a 7-day, 545 mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles that raises money and awareness for the HIV and AIDS services of the Los Angeles LGBT Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. This ride marks the fifteenth year for AIDS/LifeCycle and the twenty-third for the event overall, and will take place during the week of June 5 – June 11, 2016
Dan Wentzel is co-captain of the 2016 team- and he’s also Mr. November in “Straight Pepper Diet.” Wentzel says he came to Trudging Buddies as a “mid-life game changer,” to support a cause he believed in but also as a way to support people in recovery. “It never occurred to me that I could bicycle all the way from San Francisco to L.A., but I trained, and I can. And if I can do it, anyone can do it!”
As for the calendar, Wentzel says: “Every cyclist has to raise at least $3000, so to assist… we come up with individual and team fundraising idea. Somebody suggested a pin-up calendar, something that had been done successfully in the past.” There’s an additional reason behind it, though, besides just the notion that sex sells. “Sometimes people have this fear that if they get sober or clean that somehow the fun ends… we wanted to show that being sober is not only fun, but it’s also sexy.”
“Straight Pepper Diet” (the name is a tongue-in-cheek reference to a line in the “Big Book” of Alcoholics’ Anonymous) is available for purchase now.
Sales of the calendar raises funds for HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention by sponsoring the rides of Trudging Buddies cyclists in AIDS/LifeCycle 2016.
-John Paul King