Gabriele “Gabe” Bertaccini

compete_june_2017_v11_i6_coverAge:  31.

Hometown:  Firenze, Italy

Current Residence:  Phoenix and Los Angeles.

Current Sport(s) Played: Avid cyclist, enthusiastic swimmer and very passionate sailor!

Interests/Hobbies: I am extremely lucky as my profession is indeed my passion. As the dedicated owner and executive chef at Il Tocco Food & Culinary Mischief, food and wine are an integral part of me that I share on a daily basis with each and every guest. One of my greatest passions is traveling. Being from Europe I have been exposed to an array of different cultures and backgrounds; in my opinion, unless we step into uncomfortable territory we will never know our deepest fears, limits and dreams.

What is it that led you to get involved with the ALC and in what year did you first participate?  I ride so those who test HIV-positive have the support, access and love needed to live a great future. I ride so kids in high school get access to important information about HIV/AIDS. I ride so those who are positive and survived for a long time continue to have a bright and healthy future. I ride so the beautiful souls we have lost are never forgotten. But mostly I ride for the future – your future and MY future. A future where living with HIV/AIDS is a future of living health, without stigmas and with a smile on our faces.

What keeps you coming back to the ALC each year?  The sense of community that forms during this incredible ride, the long lasting friendships you create, the stories you share and the struggling moments every rider goes through are something that touches and moves me deeply. Everybody’s barriers are completely down and we all allow each other to be fully vulnerable. We call it the “LOVE BUBBLE” and it is something I look forward to every year.

How much money have you raised over the years you have been riding and what is your goal for this year?  The last two years combined brought my personal fundraising efforts to $19,000. I am also lucky to be part of Team OutServe, an amazing team of friends who have brought in more than $140,000 in the last two years. There are a lot of tears on the ride, a lot of time to reflect and a lot of moments to understand that it is only by helping others that we can help ourselves.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about participating in the ALC for the first time?  It is an amazing experience but challenging and very impactful on a personal and spiritual level. You have to be ready for it mentally, physically and most importantly you have to have a reason. Every day I ride for someone who I lost from HIV/AIDS and tell myself that what I am doing is the bare minimum by paying respect to their life struggles. What is in your heart is what will make you go through this intense week; the body will follow.

Greatest Personal Achievement:  I believe that as human beings we are all measured not based on our wealth or the level of success we achieve in our lifetime but by the opportunities we are able and willing to give back to the ones around us. Being socially responsible and conscious when it comes to giving back to our communities brings me great joy. It is truly the minimum I can do for everything that life has given me and continues to provide me.

If given the chance, what would you tell your younger self?  “DON’T WORRY SO MUCH” Focus on loving more, being more gentle and true to yourself, be confident. Reject fear and embrace love; be extremely grateful for what you have and appreciate fully the people who love you. But most importantly, when you make a mistake acknowledge it, ask for forgiveness, forgive yourself and learn from it. The important part is growing from it, letting it be fertile soil for the next adventure. Stop trying to control everything – if it comes, let it; it if goes, let it. TRUST.

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