August 24, 2022

545 Miles for AIDS/Lifecycle: Quinn's Mission-Driven Journey

Written by

Steph Conrad

Meet Quinn Morgenthaler - Osmind’s Human Resource Director.

Quinn develops and leads initiatives across talent, people development, culture, and employee experience to optimize our company growth, productivity, and engagement with all employees.

This past June, Quinn embarked on a 545 mile bike ride from San Fransisco to Los Angles with AIDS/LifeCycle to raise money for HIV/AIDS services and raise HIV/AIDS awareness. We checked in with her to share her more about her mission-driven journey.

How did you hear about AIDS/Lifecycle?

A friend and former colleague shared his experience with me during a social 1:1 that was generated through the company donut app in slack.

What inspired you to join?

When hearing my friend, Drew, talk about how much the experience meant to him and how life-changing it was, I was hooked. I was in a rut from the pandemic, social injustice, political disappointment, etc., and AIDS Lifecycle felt like the right combination of philanthropy and physical challenge to shake me out of the funk I was feeling.

Quinn and Drew—the person who inspired her to participate in the event.

Did you have biking experience before joining?

I mean, I knew how to ride a bike, but not in a way that was going to get me from couch to 545 miles. This journey included a lot of research and purchasing my first ever road bike, along with all the gear that comes with road biking.

What was your training regimen like? How long did you train for?

Training included quite a bit of fear initially. Road biking means putting yourself out with car traffic. I took it easy at first to build up my confidence, going on less trafficked roads and with the company of my husband who had experience in this arena. It was really helpful to have him as a coach and to teach me about what to pay attention to.

When trying to build up endurance with milage, I'd toggle between mornings on my Peloton (getting outside to train with a kid was hard, thankful I had an indoor training option) and weekend rides with various training teams who were also participating in the event. Each weekend there were groups who would lead various training routes with progressive mileage as a recommendation of 'what mileage you should be up to' this far out from the event.

The milage across the 7 days you ride from SF to LA varies from 43 to 109 miles. I knew I had to experience what 100 miles (or century) felt like before the real ride. I'm thankful to the Marin Marauders for leading that training ride; as painful as it was, that amazing group of people made it so much fun!

What was the most challenging part? How did you work through that?

Probably day one of the actual ride. It was raining as we left SF. Fortunately I was well dressed in foul weather gear so I didn't really get cold, but let's just say each shoe was it's own respective pool party. It became all the more challenging after a fall. Complete accident as a result of the wet and slick roads, but my friend Drew and I collided and got a few bumps and bruises (Drew got the short end of the stick as I also landed on top of him). We were barely 30 miles into day one so my thoughts went to a dark place thinking the entire ride was going to be like this. Fortunately, a little rest and some laughter helped to look beyond this difficult moment as just part of the journey.

What was the most rewarding part of your experience?

It was amazing to learn what you're capable of. I held doubt in so many moments about making it the full distance each day. Your body tries to tell you to give up, especially when you can see a hill off in the distance. It was so rewarding to experience pushing through that doubt and actually riding all 545 miles.

What was your favorite memory from the experience?

I feel so lucky to have collected a ton of memories through AIDS/Lifecycle, really hard to pick just one. Maybe cliche, but crossing the finish line really stands out. Each day when you're riding, you get a little hypnosis and get focus on how much road is still left. On the last day, within 15 miles of the finish line, all of a sudden that hypnosis track shifted and I started feeling really emotional as we counted down the final miles. Oddly, part of me wasn't ready for it to be over. It was an overwhelming sense of pride and appreciation. I did something I never thought I'd be able to do in my life, and I was overcome with gratitude for the entire experience and everyone who helped make it happen. I'll never forget the feeling.

How did your coworkers at Osmind respond when you shared you were taking a week off to bike to LA for AIDS for life?

The common response was "you're riding how many miles?!" To be honest, I was in disbelief right along with them. Many folks expressed a lot of genuine interest in the event, it was fun to talk about with them as the enthusiasm was helpful in those moments I felt I'd made a terrible decision.

Did you feel supported by the Osmind team to take time to do something like this? How did they express this to you?

The support from colleagues was amazing—I felt like I had my own special cheerleaders. Between support during training, getting tips and guidance from folks who had experience riding, donations to the cause, true coverage while I was out... all that helped to add up to one of the most incredible experiences of my life.

I was so touched when our CEO asked me to present on it during a company all-hands. That kind of support is rare, that your colleagues want to celebrate you so much for something that happened outside of work. It was really hard not to cry when I presented on the experience.

What was your first week back at work like? Were there any mental shifts?

One of the reasons I participated in the AIDS Lifecycle was because I was in a rut. Coming back to work after this life changing experience was honestly great. The ride gave me the opportunity to do a lot of self reflection and allowed me to regain perspective that had been dulled throughout the pandemic.

I joined Osmind back in December and made the decision to ride in the ALC before I started. I'm grateful that joining Osmind also helped to shake off some of the stagnant feelings I was having about life. I was welcomed back after the ride with a lot of excitement from colleagues and I felt a renewed energy about being part of things that are bigger than yourself. Riding for AIDS research, working for mental health... sounds cheesy, but it's my happy place to know I can contribute to such things.

What was your go-to food on your bike ride?

ALC providing an incredible array of sustenance during the ride! No one ever went hungry, that's for sure. I have to say the Pop-Tarts at the rest stations were one of my favorite biking snacks.

What was your go-to song?

For road safety, riders don't wear headphones, but that didn't stop me from thinking about music or enjoying it at the themed rest stations (thank you Spice Girls at rest stop 4! Honestly, I'd often catch myself cycling along to Bicycle Race by Queen playing in my head.

Spice Girls - one of the themed rest stops with the best music and some 'roadies' (volunteers) who dressed according to the theme.

What kept you motivated to keep going?

I collected a lot of motivation throughout the ride from others - hearing their stories of why they ride and feeding off the energy from the community love bubble, it was truly amazing. During the harder moments when my body and brain were trying to convince me to throw in the towel, I reminded myself what this ride was all about and that having AIDS must be harder.

What advice would you give to someone interested in signing up for AIDs for life?

Do it. You wont regret it. Sign up, go on training rides, make friends, and surprise yourself with how capable you are.

Would you do this ride again?

In a heartbeat. The literal blood, sweat, and tears that go into ALC are totally worth the high from the experience.

I have a special appreciation to the AIDS Lifecycle organization and all the Roadies that make the event possible. I've been fortunate enough to be a part of and attended many non-profit events, and the work that went into making this experience what it was is unsurpassed. There is nothing ALC hasn't thought of to make this the Cadillac of charitable events - I'm in awe.

If you're interested in participating in the life-changing AIDS/Lifecycle ride, 2023 registration and fundraising opens on August 17th.

Quinn and Adam (husband) leaving Cow Palace on day one from SF (the rainy day)

Bike parking photo to show a slice of how many people were riding with you (close to 3,000 participants).

Quinn painted the names of the folks who donated to her fundraises efforts on ribbons for Red Dress day.

On the last camp night, there was a candle light vigil to remember those who have lost their lives to AIDS.

Quinn and Adam after they crossed the finish line in LA - lots of relief but a lot of big emotions!

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