Jeff Katz's picture

The Soul Cyclist

His Instagram account may suggest otherwise, but Kyle Krieger doesn’t love having his picture taken. The celebrity hairstylist and budding amateur photographer prefers life on the other side of the camera. So one would think it’d take plenty of begging and convincing to get him to pose for and open up to a national magazine. But fortunately for us all, this is one cover guy with a charitable soul.

Then again, we can think of 65,000 others who probably would’ve vouched for Krieger’s cover-worthiness—his dedicated Instagram following (@kylekriegerhair), of course. Deemed an official “#Instastud” by the social-media powers that be, the 30-year-old Krieger has become a favorite on the picture-sharing service and in the process has been given a tremendous creative outlet—and yes, a place to show off that chiseled body—while helping to raise thousands of dollars for HIV/AIDS care. (Instagram isn’t just an ego-stroker. In Krieger’s case, it even helped land him a job styling at the Chris McMillan salon in Beverly Hills.)

“I love sharing the way I see the world, the way I see myself. For some reason, a lot of people have tapped into it, but I don’t really know why,” Krieger says with a boyish laugh. “I love the interaction of it all, but I think part of it inauthentically validates. It feels really good in the moment to be validated, be it on your physical appearance or whatever. But that’s all inauthentic validation. That isn’t getting to your core and making you feel good about yourself. If you’re not validating yourself and building self-esteem in other areas of your life through work or relationships, as you age you’re going to get off balance.”

Balance is something Krieger constantly seeks in his day-to-day life. After years of self-doubt, isolation and drug abuse, today Krieger finds himself more than seven years clean and sober and continually looking for the next adventure. And for Krieger, the annual AIDS/LifeCycle ride proved to be one pivotal part in his new journey.

This June will mark the second time Krieger has made the 545-mile journey from San Francisco to Los Angeles by bike, raising awareness and vital funds for HIV services along the way. All it took was his attendance at an initial ALC meeting with a friend in 2012 and Krieger quickly found himself immersed in the LifeCycle culture.

“The ride really touched my heart. It is a complete love bubble, as they say, and I have never in my life felt so connected to a group of men and women,” Krieger says. “Then on another level, to take it a bit deeper and think about the strong sober community that is there, to be able to also share that experience on a deeper level is so awesome.”

Talk to any ride veteran and you’ll quickly get it: The ALC experience is much more than a charity bike ride. The community spirit on display over the course of the week each June is something that many, including Krieger, carry with them throughout the rest of the year.

Krieger recalls a particularly hellacious day on his inaugural LifeCycle ride when torrential rain, cold wind and even hail made for some miserable road conditions. With most of the 2,500 cyclists stranded somewhere along the day’s 100-mile route, trying to get everyone off the roads and back to camp safely was a logistical nightmare. But for Krieger, what should have gone down as the worst day on the ride soon became a highlight of the trip, as hundreds of riders who sought shelter in a school cafeteria soon turned their dreary day upside down. Mylar blankets initially pulled out for warmth were used to create couture and paraded up and down an imaginary catwalk, as the stranded riders helped raise each other’s spirits. Krieger says that image of his ride family coming alive again with joy will stay with him forever...

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Read more of our cover story with Kyle Krieger in the new June/July issue of Instinct—out now! Instinct is available at Barnes & Noble, at iTunes for the iPad and iPhone or through our subscription services at (888) 45-INSTINCT or through our online store here.

And now that you’ve met Kyle and learned why he rides, why not join us on the road for ALC 2015?! Head over to aidslifecycle.org/register—beginning May 27—and enter code word “WOLFPACK” for exclusive discounted registration. And be sure to follow Instinct across all out social media platforms June 1-7 for full AIDS/LifeCycle coverage.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY NATE JENSEN