By Amanda Shell
BOULDER – Since last summer, Boulder County AIDS Project’s (BCAP) Bilingual Community Outreach Coordinator, Carli Dean, had been gearing up for the ride of her life – the 2018 AIDS/LifeCycle (ALC), a 545-mile bicycle ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Each year, ALC is organized by the Los Angeles LGBT Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, to raise funds for HIV services and research, and to help reduce HIV stigma and raise awareness about HIV and AIDS.
This year, Carli spent the first week of June (June 3- June 9) cycling down the California coast, completing her first ALC ride alongside her Colorado teammates. She and her teammates pedaled across 58 towns and eight counties.
“AIDS/LifeCycle is more than just a bike ride, it’s a community! We were only together for a week, but this experience allowed me to meet people who are now friends for life. The whole experience was incredibly rewarding,” Carli shared.
The 2018 ALC began with an opening ceremony, where cyclists, “roadies,” and volunteers united to celebrate this community effort towards helping those living with or affected by HIV, to honor those lost to AIDS/HIV-related illnesses, and to reflect on the meaning of this event. During this ceremony, a group made up of individuals living with HIV, and HIV advocates and allies, collectively called the “Positive Peddlers,” presented a red bicycle donning flags inscribed with messages to those lost and remembered.
“The red bicycle was a way to honor riders we’ve lost and riders who will never have the chance to experience this ride. Every day, throughout the route, we would see the red bike with those flags. It was a reminder of why we were riding,” said Carli.
The sixth day ended with a beachfront candlelight vigil in Ventura, California. Participants walked from their camp to the shore, circling around the red memorial bicycle, each with a candle in hand. A single flame was passed around the circle, lighting each candle one by one. The group reflected in silence on the evening’s messages of “how one candle has the power to light many hearts.”
“For me it was very emotional and powerful to be part of that. Throughout the route, I got nervous about parts of the ride. I said to myself ‘you need to get over your nerves.’ I was riding for the people at BCAP, and for those who can’t ride. I would think ‘yeah I’m tired, but there are people who passed away, or who couldn’t be here, who would be doing this thing with a big smile on their face, enjoying every minute of it.’ It was scary, but I did it.”
This year’s ALC raised a total of $16,635,848 to benefit HIV resources in the state of California. BCAP is proud of Carli and her team for accomplishing this amazing feat!
AIDS/LifeCycle is a fully supported, seven-day, 545-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles that has become the world’s largest fundraising event to fight AIDS. Every year, this landmark ride through beautiful California delivers a life-changing experience for thousands of participants from all backgrounds and fitness levels united by a common desire to do something heroic. AIDS/LifeCycle is co-produced by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center and is designed to advance their shared interests to end the pandemic and human suffering caused by AIDS.
For more information about AIDS/LifeCycle, visit: www.aidslifecycle.org