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SUSAN BASTONE, LEFT, stands with two of her racing teammates, friends Damian Possidente and Renee Habib. The trio will be riding in a benefit for AIDS research next month, trekking 400 miles from Montreal, Canada, to Portland, Maine. Bastone is a 1997 Monticello High School graduate.

Bicycling Has
A New Meaning

By Jeanne Sager
MONTICELLO — July 26, 2002 – For five days, Susan Bastone will be riding as if life depended on it.
The 1997 Monticello High School grad is one of the hundreds who signed up for this year’s Canada-U.S. AIDS Vaccine Ride, a 400-mile bicycle trip to benefit research on the deadly disease.
Though not extremely athletic, Bastone grew up playing soccer, and she’s spent the last four months in heavy training to jump on a bike and pedal the 400 miles to the tune of $4,000.
A friend managed to ride the distance last year, raising at least $3,500 for AIDS research, and Bastone has always been interested in riding herself.
“It looked like it could be something fun to do for a really good cause,” she explained.
But when she heard about similar rides in the past, it was always too late to get out there and train sufficiently or even raise enough money.
Until this year.
After watching her friend complete the ride, Bastone went on the Internet to find out about this year’s AIDS vaccine benefit which will run from Aug. 28 through Sept. 1.
Bastone started training in April, riding her bike around Monticello and down in Manhattan, where she’s a graphic designer for an architectural firm.
She participated in a five-borough ride through New York City, and she’s been spending hours at the gym trying to incorporate her whole body into her workouts.
And Bastone has been raising money by asking family and friends for pledges and selling copies of a photo she took of the World Trade Center Tower of Lights Memorial (she dabbles in photography when not training or working).
“I’ve basically asked everyone I know,” she said with a laugh, “and my mother and father have been asking people.”
Bastone’s parents, Marilyn and Dennis, live in Monticello, and they’ve been selling copies of her photograph to friends in the area to help support their daughter’s cause.
The money will all go to AIDS research, and Bastone feels ready to tackle the hills.
The 400-mile ride will run from Montreal through Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, finally ending in Portland, Maine.
“I’m guessing it will be fairly hilly,” Bastone noted. “But I’ve been going for bike rides and doing some hill training.”
The cyclists will ride at their own pace each day, with rest stops set up every 15 miles to offer medical help, food and water.
At night, they will stop at camps set up with hot showers, bathroom facilities and tents. Their gear, Bastone said, will be carried by the support team rather than on their backs during the ride.
Bastone has teamed up with two other friends for the event, and she plans to meet a lot of other people on the ride.
“I’ll be in the company of so many people doing something for such a good cause,” she said. “I’m definitely nervous about the miles, but I’m having faith that I will do what I can.”
At one time there was an onslaught of information in the news about AIDS and its terrible effect on its victims.
“I’ve felt like awareness of AIDS was kind of dwindling,” she explained. “But the number of people being infected keeps going up.”
Bastone said she does not have any personal friends afflicted with AIDS, but since she signed up for the ride she has met many who do.
“They’ve all said, ‘Thank you,’ and ‘You’re doing such a good thing,’” she recalled. “That’s made this more personal.
“It makes it feel that much more important.”
Bastone is still on her way to her $4,000 goal. To make a donation, tax-deductible checks made out to the UCLA Foundation can be sent to: Susan Bastone, 1440 31st Drive Apt. 1, Astoria, NY 11106. Her rider number, 1857, should be noted on the checks. To order a copy of the Tower of Lights photo, the funding from which will also benefit the AIDS ride, call Marilyn Bastone at 794-1677.

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