AIDS/LifeCycle bicyclists stop in Goleta during trek from San Francisco to Los Angeles
Thousands of bicyclists and volunteers stopped in Goleta Friday during their 545-mile journey during AIDS/LifeCycle.
On Friday, cyclists covered the approximately 90 miles from Lompoc to Ventura, part of their seven-day journey from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
“We’re here in Santa Barbara, and it’s Day 6 on AIDS/LifeCycle. I’m a first-time rider (in AIDS/LifeCycle), and I’m really excited,” Los Angeles bicyclist Alfredo Trejo said. “It’s been a hard journey, but what’s been inspiring has been talking to all of the other riders and volunteer ‘roadies,’ hearing what has motivated them to take on this challenge of traveling 545 miles down the state of California — and knowing that we’re all in this cause together, so that we do not have any new HIV infections.”
The trek includes more than 2,400 cyclists and 600 volunteer “roadies” who started the journey after raising $17.8 million for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and HIV-related services of the Los Angeles LGBT Center.
The participants include HIV-positive and HIV-negative individuals. And they include members of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies.
The bicyclists vary from ages 18 to 81, and they’re from nearly every state as well as 14 countries.
“Participants must raise a minimum of $3,000 in order to participate. and most participants exceed the minimum amount,” said Emily Land, director of marketing and communications for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.
“Most participants do peer-to-peer fundraising, where they share the personal story about how they are connected to AIDS/HIV and why they are participating in the ride,” Ms. Land told the News-Press.
On Friday, the bicyclists started in the morning at Riverbend Park in Lompoc, stopped for lunch at Girsh Park in Goleta and ended up in the late afternoon or early evening at San Buenaventura State Beach in Ventura.
AIDS/LifeCycle began in 1994 during the height of the AIDS epidemic and was called the “California AIDS Ride.” It started as a way to raise money for people living with HIV and doing HIV prevention work. In 2002, it was rebranded as AIDS/LifeCycle.
Participant Ryan Hines explained how he got involved with LifeCycle. “I was actually first introduced to LifeCycle while I was doing contract work for Toyota North America, so I got to travel along the route as part of Toyota sponsorship. I was asked to start riding during a thank-you party, I borrowed a bike from a nonprofit called Bicycle Angeles. I started training as a cyclist; 2017 was my first year riding.
“After I accepted a full-time position with Toyota, I moved to a suburb of Dallas for work,” Mr. Hines said. “In 2018, I captained the first ever Toyota team. Since that time, it’s been just the friendliness of everyone and the shared experience. It’s a personal journey that we all come to for different reasons. We are on the bike individually processing and thinking, but we are never alone. You start forming bonds with people.”
Another bicyclist shared his story.
“I’m a proud New Yorker who is basically seeing California for the first time as a cyclist,” said Andy Ho, who’s from Flushing, N.Y. “My favorite thing about my experience this week is the people. It’s hard to put into words, but I’d liken it to a fabulous wrinkle in the space-time continuum where for one week in a location traveling down the coast of California, everyone gets to be the best, most loving version of themselves.”
Mr. Hines explained his experience so far this year to the News-Press. “This year was a little different. I hadn’t cycled since 2018, in Dallas. There are not as many hills for training. Going into it, I was a little unsure of what it would hold and not training in California, I was unsure of what to expect. This year I joined the team Funky Monkeys. It was a social team. I joined for myself to do something away from work.
“I have learned to listen to your body and take a break if you need to. The ride offers a massage and chiropractors at camp every night,” he said.
Charlie Arreola is a fifth-time rider from Los Angeles. He participates in AIDS/LifeCycle in honor of his cousin, who died in 1992 from AIDS-related complications.
“I’m participating in AIDS/LifeCycle with my team, Puro Pinche Papi, which is a team that affirms black, indigenous and people of color on the ride,” Mr. Arreola said. “We’re calling attention to the disproportionate impact of HIV and AIDS on communities of color. Yesterday (Thursday), we dressed up to celebrate the Latina icon Selena for Red Dress Day, which is a day on the ride, where we all dress in the color red so we can create what looks like a red ribbon as we ride in a line down the road.
“One thing I’ve loved about this ride is how welcoming and accepting the community has been. Our team is very brown, black and proud.”
Mark Frey, a Rancho Palos Verdes cyclist, joined the AIDS/LifeCycle community with his first ride in 1996.
“I met my husband on a training ride, and this event even played a pivotal role in us deciding to adopt our two children!” Mr. Frey said. “I ride in honor of my brother-in-law, who I lost to AIDS. I love Santa Barbara, the community, and I’m so glad we’re here. Thank you for hosting us for lunch.”