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There and Back Again: A Hobbit's Tale

Grassroots Tehachapi


July 21, 2018

Grunge Hobbit

Grunge Hobbit approaches the AIDS/LifeCycle finish line in Los Angeles.

Her name is Darline Hartman, but you may know her as Grunge Hobbit.

Grunge Hobbit has lived in Tehachapi with her wife for 13 years. This year, she decided to make the summer a little more interesting. After 10-months of training, Grunge Hobbit and her wife travelled to San Francisco to begin a journey. From June 3-9, she rode her bike 545-miles for the yearly AIDS/LifeCycle event. From San Francisco to Los Angeles, Grunge Hobbit rode during the day and camped at night.

"I would not have been able to do this ride without the support of my wife ... She drove me to San Francisco to the starting line and a week later came to Los Angeles to pick me up. My wife is my rock. I couldn't have done this ride without her," she said.

It was grueling, but for a great cause. A cause that is very dear to Hobbit's heart.

"I lived in Hollywood from 1981 until 1996. During this time I lost 11 of my close friends to HIV," Grunge Hobbit said. "It was a devastating time for the LGBT community. A time I will never forget, nor do I want to repeat. Whatever I can do to find a cure for AIDS I will do. Luckily riding my bicycle is the best way to fundraise for AIDS."

Grunge Hobbit began riding her bike for fitness about four years ago. Within her first year biking, she said she peaked at 10-miles. The following two years, she participated in Tehachapi GranFondo courses, riding 18.5-miles and 38.5-miles.

"I thought I would die," she said. "I had to rest for a couple weeks after that ride."

But she kept pedaling.

"The training I did for AIDS/LifeCycle took me to a whole new level of riding ... bicycle riding became a passion for me from day one," she said.

Training for the LifeCycle lasted about 10-months. She rode almost daily and increased her mile count by five every month. At 60-years-old, she likes to tell her friends, "that we are never too old to do whatever we want to do in life, we might just do it a little slower."

"The AIDS/LifeCycle ride was the most incredible experience I have ever had. It was also the most physical thing I have ever done," she said. "It has taken me a few weeks to recuperate. Between the training, the fundraising and the ride itself, there is a lot of time and energy that goes into this ride. And not just from me the rider, the support from my wife and friends are needed as well."

She faced many challenges ... biking an average of 80-miles a day through wind and blowing sand, setting up/taking down camp each day and facing steep hills. But she focused on the positives and the supportive people by her side.

"I cried happy tears several times during this ride as I conquered hills, saw struggling riders helping each other at their own expense, felt the spiritual connection and strength of everyone I met," she said. "I did something at 60 years old that I didn't think was physically possible for me to do when I was 20 years old. I'm feeling very badass these days, like there is no road I can't travel, or distance I can't ride. It's a great feeling."

As someone who desperately wants to train for a marathon and reach new fitness goals, I am very impressed and motivated by Grunge Hobbit's adventure. More so, though, I am uplifted and inspired by the amount of money she raised for the LifeCycle event. She raised $3,654 from people in Tehachapi, adding to the event's record-breaking total of $16.6 million.

"Seeing all these beautiful people, my people, reminded me why I was doing this ride and how important it is," Grunge Hobbit said. "I saw the faces of all the riders and the roadies who came together for one common cause, to raise money and awareness to cure AIDS. Truly I was overwhelmed during the entire ride by the kindness of everyone who participated."

Grunge Hobbit said she would love to participate in the event again and most definitely wants to see her LifeCycle family again.

"I was surrounded by family for the first time in years and I cried. I had forgotten how wonderful it was to be me, to hold my wife's hand and not worry if someone was going to call us names," she said.

Do you know an inspirational group, individual or program that should be featured in an upcoming Grassroots Tehachapi? Email me at [email protected]

See you next time and be kind to one another!


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