In just a few weeks, thousands of cyclists will head out from San Francisco for AIDS/LifeCycle, the seven-day, 545-mile bike ride to Los Angeles. Now in its 10th year, the ride is on track to be the biggest and most exciting yet. A record number of participants have registered, and the event may even break the $12.3 million fundraising record set in 2008.
As cyclists, volunteer “roadies,” and the AIDS/LifeCycle staff gear up for the ride, we sat down with ALC Director Michael Barron for his thoughts on the 10th anniversary of the world’s largest HIV/AIDS fundraising event.
10 years of AIDS/LifeCycle and you’re expecting your biggest year yet?
It’s really exciting. We’re seeing a level of enthusiasm this year that’s unparalleled, it is very inspiring. More people than ever have registered for ALC 10, both to be cyclists and roadies. For only the second time in the history of the ride we had to close registration this year. And people are blowing us away with their fundraising.
The excitement this year is giving our entire staff a tremendous amount of energy. We’re working harder than ever to make this AIDS/LifeCycle extra special for everyone involved.
What kinds of special things are planned?
We can’t give everything away, because we like to have some surprises for our participants.
But we can promise that Orientation Day is going to be “picture perfect” with two exciting opportunities. First, there’s going to be a very special group photo shoot to help us mark the 30th anniversary of the first reported cases of AIDS in the United States. We’re asking participants to meet at the Cow Palace at 12:30pm to form a giant “3” with an AIDS ribbon next to it so it looks like the number “30” formed by hundreds of AIDS/LifeCycle riders and roadies. A picture will be taken from above and immediately be distributed to media outlets around the world. To participate, cyclists and roadies can now RSVP online for the event.
We’ll also have a special photo booth at Orientation Day where all participants can take pictures with friends and loved ones, and reflect on what 30 years of AIDS means to them. It’s from our partners at Greater Than AIDS, a nationwide movement to promote HIV awareness, testing and care.
We have a number of other special tributes to mark the 30th year of AIDS, as well as some unique things planned for camp each night, but for now I’d like to keep them all a surprise for the participants. Folks at home can get regular updates from the road by liking AIDS/Lifecycle on Facebook. We'll also post photos and videos every day to the Experience The Ride website, so keep an eye on that starting on June 05.
This is your last year as director of AIDS/LifeCycle. You’re leaving on a high note!
I am so proud of all that we’ve accomplished since I joined the AIDS/LifeCycle team in 2007. This will be my fourth ride as director, and my ninth as a participant. The event continues to grow and it’s always so inspiring to see the commitment and the dedication of the cyclists and roadies. Whether they’ve participated in every single ride, or they’re new to the event this year, the people who take this journey are real heroes in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
I’m also so grateful to the incredible AIDS/LifeCycle staff, both in Los Angeles and San Francisco. They work tirelessly to make this a flawless and spectacular event every year. Because of their talent and skill, we are able to host the world’s largest HIV/AIDS fundraiser. It’s quite remarkable.
Tell us about the impact AIDS/LifeCycle has on our community.
AIDS/LifeCycle makes a world of difference in the lives of countless people living with HIV/AIDS. It plays a vital role in funding services here in California to ensure people get the care and treatment they need so they can remain healthy. The ride also raises critical funds to prevent the spread of HIV, which is so important. Still today in San Francisco, it’s estimated two more people are infected with HIV every day. Without the funds produced by AIDS/LifeCycle it’s easy to imagine that number of new infections would be higher.
AIDS/LifeCycle also makes a world of difference in the lives of everyone who participates. It truly is a life-changing experience. We hear many stories of people losing huge amounts of weight or kicking bad habits while they train for AIDS/LifeCycle. The ride is also an amazing vehicle for raising awareness across California. With each city we travel through, we are reminding people that HIV/AIDS still needs urgent public attention, particularly in these difficult economic times.
What are you most looking forward to on your last ride?
Making AIDS/LifeCycle 10 our best ride so far, for everyone involved, and I think we’re well on our way! Now we gotta get back to work…
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