Experienced Chicago cyclist Keith Stryker set to bike Zambia to support locals

Wed. May 8, 2019 10:04 AM by Ross Forman

keith stryker

Chicago, IL - Keith Stryker has participated five times in the annual Ride For AIDS Chicago and just as many times in the yearly AIDS/LifeCycle from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

This summer, the 46-year-old Stryker is going even bigger in his personal cycling-for-a-cause campaign.

He's participating in Bike Zambia from Chooda.org, which is a 13-person, 325-mile ride from Zambia's capital, Lusaka, to Victoria Falls in Livingstone to fundraise for life-changing programs in Zambia. Chooda is committed to promoting the health and well-being, economic stability, and sustainable development of countries abroad by investing into local organizations working in HIV/AIDS, global health, women's empowerment, and economic development. Chooda's funding provides resources to small and large organizations, some of which would not otherwise have access to international funding.

Stryker, who lives in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood, is the lead bartender/assistant manager at Cerise Rooftop at the Virgin Hotel. He also helps organize and promote events through Organized Grime Crew, including Tat-tuesday at Replay, where he also is a bartender.

Stryker is looking to fundraise $5,000 for his African adventure, which will be July 11-21.

"I'm a bit mind blown with all the emotions," Stryker said. "I'm beyond excited going to Africa for the first time and under these circumstances makes it far more special than going as a tourist. Much of our experience will be with the people who live there, eating with them, connecting with them, learning culture. Not knowing anything about Zambia before I registered for the ride I was also excited to (learn) that it is 30 percent national parks, full of wildlife. I'm hoping we get to ride past herds of zebra, giraffes, gazelles and elephants. And, bonus, the ride finishes at Victoria Falls, one of the seven Natural Wonders of the World.

"A friend who's done the ride said it's the most physically-challenging cycling (events) he's ever done with much of it on dirt roads in the countryside."

Stryker will be joined in Zambia by fellow Chicago cyclist Brice Henry Harris.

"After completing TPAN's Ride For AIDS Chicago last summer, one of my co-riders mentioned Bike Zambia, a ride which I'd considered a couple years ago but put on (the) backburner," Stryker said. "I was feeling really inspired coming off the TPAN ride and was ready for another challenge. After a few days of mulling it over, I bit the bullet and registered. The HIV/AIDS epidemic in parts of Africa, specifically Zambia, is largely unchecked and out of control. One in 12 adults has HIV and countless children are born with it. Being one of the poorest countries in Africa, access to healthcare and medication is far out of reach for so many. I'm extremely fortunate to have access to a wonderful HIV specialist, organizations like TPAN and Howard Brown, HIV medicine and the support of a community that's pushing beyond the stigma. Knowing this isn't the case where I'll be going makes the ride all that much more necessary for the organizations we ride for.

"One of the days on the ride, we will be spending with World Bicycle Relief building bicycles. World Bicycle Relief builds and distributes bicycles throughout Zambia, providing affordable transportation for school children and women, allowing opportunities for adults to get to work."

Stryker has, and will continue, with the Ride For AIDS Chicago (now renamed Ride For Life) as a member of Team CÜR (Chicago Urban Riders).

He is not doing the AIDS/LifeCycle this year.

"I'm very humbled," to participate in Bike Zambia, Stryker said. "It's easy to take for granted the level of HIV care afforded to us here in the United States, including the availability of PrEP for prevention."

To support Keith Stryker on his Bike Zambia effort, go to: www.bit.ly/StrykerZambia2019.

To support Brice Henry Harris on his Bike Zambia effort, go to: www.tinyurl.com/BricycleZambia.

Related: Chicago resident Brice Henry Harris set for 325-mile charity bicycle ride in Zambia