Cindy Stephens was one of the first members I met when I joined the Santa Clarita Athletic Club (SCAC) more than a year ago. Cindy was about my age, but in better shape, so it helped to ride next to her during a spin class to keep me motivated. It was also enjoyable watching her naturally curly brown hair loosen from its ponytail to form the well-recognized arcs of Mickey Mouse’s ears. (Her son calls it “broccoli” hair.)
Then I saw her name on a flier at the gym advertising her current cycling challenge: riding from Los Angeles to San Francisco (575 miles) for charity! And the gym was partially sponsoring her with a special Power Yoga class on April 21 led by the incomparable Yogi Steve Ilg. (It’ll be another column but can I just tell you now…he massaged my head in my first yoga class with him. I’m afraid my swooning will embarrass him if I go back!) SCAC had also enlisted Mary K Salzman to sell “Partylite” candles at the class with EVERY DOLLAR going to sponsor Cindy’s ride!
So I asked for her for an interview.
Cindy Stephens is a full time teacher in the College of the Canyons child development department, a mother of two, a board member of Peachland elementary school’s PTA, a seventeen year SCV resident, a Signal reader and is called a “dedicated member” of the SCAC.
But why this long ride instead of other races? How did she choose this and get in shape for it? Her answers proved equally informative and interesting. This ride (not race), the California Aids 8, was only her second to compete in. She did no other “races”; only this particular annual ride.
She had a special reason for wanting to raise money against the spread of AIDS: in 1992, coincidentally the same year the first ride was held, Cindy lost a very close friend to AIDS. She compared his failing health and subsequent death to that of a victim of the Holocaust. And his death irrevocably changed the direction of her life.
Back in 1992 Cindy was a busy mother of two. Not unlike most mothers there wasn’t any spare time for exercise. But when she saw a flier for the AIDS ride again two years ago she decided that it was now or never. Cindy couldn’t escape the fact that it was the best motivator to get her back into shape. And the first ride was only six months away!
Cindy began with indoor spin classes and outdoor rides. Today she rides at least 100-150 miles per week! Last year she was able to raise $3500 ($2700 being the minimum to be allowed to ride.) Her goal this year: $5000.
“What I like most is the community spirit you feel after riding with the same people for six days. I never met anyone there that I would describe as ‘jaded’. Of course we camp out most nights so camaraderie is automatic. And the special riders, the ones flagged as HIV “Positive Peddlers”, are a reminder what we are all there for. I figured that if they can do it, with the list of medications they have to take, I wanted to be there too.”
So if you can’t make it to Steve Ilg’s Yoga class on April 21 (Big “L” over the forehead for you!) SCAC will still be collecting donations before and after. If you can’t find the time to stop by our own Valley Street in Newhall for the yard sale being held on the same day to raise more donations don’t fret it. You can still contact powerhouse Cindy Stephens at firstname.lastname@example.org
Maybe Cindy won’t have to see so many “Positive Peddlers” in the future. Because even though we’re not riding alongside her I know that there are plenty of us that are endeared to her and her endeavors! Thanks Cindy for riding for us all! We support you!