The AIDS/LifeCycle ride kicked off Sunday, as about 2,150 people started pedaling their bicycles for the seven-day, 545-mile ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise money for people with HIV.
The official AIDS/LifeCycle site allows us armchair cyclists to experience the event, courtesy of copious photos and daily postings from several bloggers. From roadie Ken, (a roadie in this context is part of the support crew -- people who serve food, help with medical needs, provide water, load gear, etc.), we get this: "Roadie Revelation #2 -- When a rider approaches you with a sad look in their eyes and says, 'I just want to apologize in advance,' it means their bag is heavy. Like really heavy."
But the riders are pressing on in good spirits. On day four, the second-longest day of the ride (97.7 miles), blogger Jasmine posted this: "Even amidst the breathtaking land and seascapes today and the entertainment at reststops, there was a moment when I was reminded again that our participation is so much more than just riding bikes. At mile 34, on a rural road paralleling the highway, a woman sat outside her minivan, waving at passing cyclists and saying, 'thank you for riding for me.'"
The L.A. Times' Michael Owen is also taking part in the ride, and so far has posted updates from day one and day four on the Outposts blog. On Wednesday, he posted this: "But for all its danger, the bike is also an affirmation of freedom, of strength, even of recovery. Over and over this week I've heard stories of coming to this ride that combine a loss -- often the AIDS-caused death of someone loved--with a decision to reverse one's own physical decline, however mild (or potentially severe -- the Positive Pedalers, a group of HIV-positive cyclists, have a highly visible presence on the ride). For many people, the ride is no mere demonstration of commitment to 'fighting AIDS.' It’s a lever, flipping the sentiments that accompany loss and failure into a tangible dividend for the suffering. Just as the bicycle lends a new scale to our physical movement, the ride multiplies our hope."
For those who would like to greet the riders when they arrive in Los Angeles, closing ceremonies take place June 12 at the VA Center on Wilshire Boulevard.
-- Jeannine Stein
Photo: Riders from a previous AIDS/LifeCycle pedal through California. Credit: AIDS/LifeCycle