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March 23, 2007
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Volume 35
Issue 12
 
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Tour De Life by Beau Burriola
Tour de Life: So you wanna ride for AIDS?
by Beau Burriola - SGN Contributing Writer

Folks have asked me which AIDS rides are the best to do. Which one is prettiest? Which one is the longest? Which one is the most fun? The proliferation of rides for causes of all types in the last five years has generated a wider selection of AIDS rides than had ever existed before. So, for those folks who have asked and for those folks who will ask, here's a glimpse of just some of the rides out there and how they compare.

Name: Charity Treks Ride / Distance: 445 miles Location: Montreal to Portland, ME / Time of Year: August

In my opinion, the absolute best AIDS ride out there continues to be the Charity Treks AIDS Vaccine Ride. This four-day adventure beats all the other rides out for one big reason: all of the money raised goes directly to AIDS vaccine research. While other rides do good work funneling money into local AIDS charities, there is still only one major ride which funnels 100% of money received into AIDS vaccine research. It is truly the only ride where you can be sure that not one cent of your money goes into the pockets of charity executives earning six figure salaries, but rather to the UCLA AIDS Institute and the Emory Vaccine Research Center. In addition, compared to other rides, there is no minimum that must be raised to participate above the registration fee of $160.00, so it's a perfect ride to start your fundraising skills on. Add to that the bonus of seeing Canada and the U.S., and you've got a ride unequaled among AIDS rides. HYPERLINK "http://www.charitytreks.org" www.charitytreks.org

Name: AIDS Life Cycle / Distance: 575 miles Location: San Francisco to Los Angeles / Time of year: June

Arguably the best-marketed of the AIDS rides is the AIDS Life Cycle event in California, now in its sixth year. The ride raises money for the SF AIDS Foundation and the LA Gay and Lesbian Center, which boast a number of AIDS-focused programs. While this is indeed a worthy enough cause, I usually do not recommend this ride to folks, since the focus is on the two local beneficiaries with virtually nothing for AIDS vaccine research. Of the three biggest rides, Life Cycle benefits AIDS vaccine research the least. In addition, the hefty fundraising minimum of $2,500 can seem a bit daunting to anyone unsure of their fundraising ability. Still, no other well-supported ride can offer the experience of a seven-day trek across southern California, and it should be noted that the beneficiaries have a number of programs aimed at helping distribute meds to those who need them most. HYPERLINK "http://www.aidslifecycle.org" www.aidslifecycle.org

Name: Empire State AIDS Ride / Distance: 560 miles Location: Niagara Falls to New York City / Time of year: August

If you're looking for a beautiful ride with a good mix of beneficiaries for your dollar, the Empire State AIDS Ride is a good start. This ride benefits both local AIDS charities and the AIDS Research Institute and is well-supported. The one downside to this ride may be the $3,500 dollar fundraising minimum, which may not be best for the first-time fundraiser. Other than that, the ride has everything you could want from hills to green roadsides to a finale in New York City. HYPERLINK "http://www.empirestateaidsride.org" www.empirestateaidsride.org

Name: Amsterdam 2007 AIDS Ride / Distance: 300 miles Location: Amsterdam, around Holland, to Amsterdam / Time of Year: July-August

If you want a little international flavor for your ride, try a Tour de Holland of sorts. The 2007 AIDS Ride in Amsterdam coincides with the Gay Pride festivities and takes you on a relaxed average of 50 miles a day through Holland. The main beneficiary is the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and the cost is not cheap: $1, 200 registration and $1,500 fundraising minimum. HYPERLINK "http://www.rfac.org" www.rfac.org

Name: Red Ribbon Ride / Distance: 300 miles Location: around Minnesota / Time of Year: July

Minnesota's Red Ribbon Ride is a four-day adventure across Minnesota benefiting local AIDS service organizations. Again, no vaccine research money here, but the long list of beneficiaries is worthy enough. There is a fundraising minimum of $1,500. HYPERLINK "http://www.redribbonride.org" www.redribbonride.org.

Additional Rides:

In addition, there are an endless number of other rides raising money for local AIDS charities all over the place. The 2-day Southernmost AIDS Ride in Florida, the 1-day Hill Country Ride in Texas, the 2-day Ride for AIDS Chicago, the 1-day Ride4AIDS San Diego (benefiting research!), the 2-day New Jersey Ride Against AIDS, the 4-day Wisconsin AIDS Ride (300 miles)& the list goes on and on. Give any location a Google and see what you come up with.

Whichever ride you choose to register for or give to, you can discover how life-changing riding for AIDS can be. The next time you look at that bike gathering dust in the garage, go ahead and imagine yourself in the seat of a bike going hundreds of miles on the adventure of your life, changing yourself and those around you along the way.

Happy Riding!

Beau Burriola is a Seattle-based bike writer peddling for vaccine research.E-mail him at beaubrent@gmail.com.
visit Beau at www.beaubrent.com

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