It’s a tradition by now for a bicycling team affiliated with UC Berkeley to head down the California coast in early June with the AIDS LifeCycle fundraising event. Campus staffer Christine Shaff, a long-time ride volunteer (a.k.a. “roadie”), introduces this year’s event, and Cal Team members introduce themselves. The riders — who ride out of San Francisco early Sunday morning — will be using social media to share daily photos and reflections from the road. The rest of us will be able to follow them at Storify.com/UCBerkeley.
BERKELEY — We’re about to set out on AIDS LifeCycle 11. While it’s not the milestone ride that last year’s was — the 10th ride happening on the 30th anniversary of the discovery of HIV — it feels like a celebratory event for the Cal Team. We’re celebrating graduations and Ph.D.s, health and friendships and cycling accomplishments that are about to be dwarfed!
AIDS LifeCycle (ALC) is a bike ride from San Fransciso to Los Angeles. It takes seven days to go the 545 miles. Along the way, the 2,700 or so participants (2,200 cyclists and 500 volunteer roadies) create a small tent city in seven towns, traveling south down our glorious state. The Cal Team numbers 22 this year: staff, undergrads, grads, alumni and even an incoming transfer student. We have two new Young Blues and 3.75 newly minted Ph.D.s!
Our team has worked hard to get ready to ride: in addition to the physical training, each cyclist had to raise at least $3,000. We’ve held fundraisers and supported each other — and to date have raised more than $70,000. In another year of budget cuts, these funds are more important than ever to the San Francsico AIDS Foundation and L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center (the event’s beneficiaries) and those they serve living with HIV/AIDS.
I’m pleased to introduce you to the Cal Team for ALC 11, and let you tell them a bit more about themselves and why they ride. With the help of our great campus web and social-media staff, we will be sharing our stories with you during the ride. Beginning Monday, read updates — and see photos — from members of the team as they ride south. Thank you for all your support — we’re excited to don our specially designed jerseys and head south!
Campus affiliation: Undergraduate majoring in anthropology with a focus on archaeology and minor in Near Eastern Studies.
History with ALC: This will be my first time participating in the ALC, but through the vibrant interactions with fellow riders I already feel part of this welcoming community.
Why I ride: I ride for several reasons: as a personal physical and mental challenge, as recognition of the hardships that infected individuals experience, and in a hope to provide some change to this collectively trying material condition. I look forward enthusiastically to participating in this year’s ride and to the unique daily experiences which flourish in this sincere environment.
Campus Affiliation: 3rd year Cognitive Science Undergraduate
History with ALC: This is my first year participating in ALC as a rider, and I’m already considering helping out as a Training Ride Leader for next year.
Why I ride: I really enjoy challenging myself to achieve big athletic goals and I also feel really good when I can support a great cause. The AIDS LifeCycle ride combines the two perfectly – riding the 545 miles from SF to LA will be my greatest accomplishment to date and knowing that the money I helped raise will be supporting vital services to members of the Bay Area is especially rewarding.
Andres Enrique Cicique Tobar
Campus affiliation: Recent graduate! Double major in anthropology and rhetoric.
History with ALC: Fresh meat, first year.
Why I ride: Being born and raised San Franciscan, HIV/AIDS has always been an issue in my life. I’ve listened to too many regret stories, seen too many dirty needs. And, for myself, have been denied AIDS testing due to my sexual orientation, why?
In addition: I cannot think of a more worthy cause to ride bikes for.
Campus affiliation: I am an alum of UC Berkeley, class of 2011. I earned a degree in political economy.
History with ALC: I will be returning for my fourth ALC with the Cal team. I never thought I would still be doing the ride, but after my experience the first year I cannot imagine my life without this event.
Why I ride: I didn’t know anyone who was openly positive when I first set out on this journey. The more I became involved, the more I was shocked at my limited knowledge of the disease. Twenty-three year olds who were just like me were telling me that they were HIV positive. People of all ages, races, and socio-economic backgrounds opened up to me about their experience with the disease and their gratitude that I had been fundraising for the San Francisco Aids Foundation. Now I ride to continue to learn about this disease and support prevention and treatment in my community.
Campus affiliation: An alumnus of the Cal anthropology program and a current staff member at the campus’s Hearst Museum of Anthropology.
History with ALC: This will be my third year riding in the AIDS/LifeCycle and the experience only gets better. Riding with the Cal AIDS/LifeCycle team has been the icing on the cake because it’s created opportunities to make great friends from different corners of the campus.
Why I ride: A picture from some of us after making it up Mt. Diablo.
Campus affilation: Soon-to-be senior at UC Berkeley, studying business administration and minoring in Global Poverty and Practice!
History with ALC: First-time rider in ALC
Why I ride: It’s been more than 2 1/2 years since I finished my ten months of service work with AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps — a government-based national-service program for 18-24 year olds (I took a gap year between high school and college and participated in AmeriCorps!). AmeriCorps struck something in me. It taught me that I, me, one single individual, can make a difference in the world.
Since my term of service with AmeriCorps ended, I have been missing something in me. I have been missing that feeling that comes with doing something outside of yourself, with making a difference in someone else’s life. There is no other feeling in the world that could ever compare.
I met an amazing person this past semester when I studied abroad in Hong Kong. His name is Andrew Rohrlich and he’s a fourth-year student at Berkeley too, and signed up for AIDS/LIfeCycle back in January. When he first mentioned the dates of the ride, I thought to myself, “Aw man, I guess you can’t do it … It’s only a couple days after you get back to America after backpacking around Asia for a month. That’s going to be your only time to rest before work starts.”
A couple days later, Andrew was talking to me about the ride again and it hit me… “What are you thinking, Laura!? Why wouldn’t you do this!? If Andrew is doing it two days after he gets back to America, why can’t you?” I looked at Andrew and told him, “I’m in. I’m doing it!” Andrew has inspired me to take on the challenge of AIDS/LifeCycle and commit myself to the community by helping to end an epidemic.
Campus affiliation: J ust graduated from cal!! And I majored in political economy
History with ALC: This is my first LifeCycle, but most defiantly not my last!!
Why I ride: I am riding to prove to myself that I can ride over 500 miles and I eventually can bike across the U.S. Also because it is a great cause with great people. Everyone is affected by AIDS; if I can, I will spread the message of help, hope and support. I will be riding an extremely old bike so I can make excuses when I want to go slow.
In addition: I can’t wait!!!
Campus affiliation: Doctoral candidate, civil and environmental engineering
History with ALC: This is my first ALC ride… so yet to write one.
Why I ride: To show my support for fight against HIV/AIDS and stigma connected with it.
In addition: In a six-month training period, I made all the mistakes of a novice rider: bonked, stressed, freaked, fell off my bike. But nothing compares with the love, support and care I got from other riders. I’ll have more to say after the actual ride.
Kate Scarlett Mitchell
Campus affiliation: Alum, class of 2011, double major in Anthropology and English
History with ALC: First timer!
Why I ride: From an anthropological perspective, I find the spread of the HIV/AIDS epidemic to constitute a particularly pivotal moment in the history of medicine and illness. On a social level, I feel raising awareness and funding around this cause is essential to breaking the social stigma around positive HIV status. I also really, REALLY love bikes.
Narahari M. Phatak
Campus affiliation: PhD 2012, Haas School of Business
History with ALC: Four rides, one as a roadie
Why I ride: I’m riding to remind myself and others that HIV/AIDS is still a concern. The leaps and bounds we’ve made in terms of treatment shouldn’t overshadow the fact that AIDS can be debilitating, that transmission is preventable and that many in my own community lack access to care and education.
In addition: I feel like this a good picture (from the summit of Mt. Diablo)
Campus affiliation: Undergrad, entering fourth year as a business major, Haas School of Business
History with ALC: First year!
Why I ride: I’m riding ALC for all the people I’ve met and the many more I haven’t who’ve been affected by HIV/AIDS. ALC feels like a tangible way to make a small difference in the fight to stop HIV/AIDS and increase funding for services for those already living with HIV/AIDS. I’ve wanted to ride ALC for two or three years no, but have always found an excuse not to (ie. fundraising too difficult, not enough time). This year I pledged to myself that I wouldn’t tolerate any excuses and would just do it!
In addition: I studied in Hong Kong for the Spring 2012 semester and trained and raised all my fundraising money while abroad. Using solely Facebook, Tumblr and email, I was able to raise over $3,500. At one point I cycled in Guilin, China. Cycling in China can be a little scary, given the extreme traffic!
Campus affiliation: PhD Candidate in Mechanical Engineering, hoping to make that “PhD recipient” by the end of the summer
History with ALC: This is my 5th year, 4th as a rider. It’s more work to prep to be a rider, but it’s more work during the week of the ride as a roadie! If this is your “vacation” for the year, I recommend riding.
Why I ride: Because it’s an awesome experience every time – the people are fantastic, the scenery is beautiful, and it’s just all over exhilarating — and to support a friend who’s been talking about doing the ride for years, and is finally going to! Yay!
Campus affiliation: I am a Cal grad (political science ’90) and current staff member.
History with ALC: This will be my 12th year on the road with the event. I rode once and have been a roadie the other 11 years. Before that, I volunteered for the event and cheered on my sister when she rode.
Why I roadie: I volunteer as a roadie to support the services the SF AIDS Foundation provides, including public-policy advocacy at a state, federal and international level. The doctor who treated me for dehydration on ALC 7 (that’s another story …) is now serving as the U.S. AIDS czar. HIV is completely preventable, yet stigma and ignorance allow it to continue. My service and fundraising is the way I can support the services, support, outreach and education needed to move toward ending AIDS. I have also gained so much from my experiences with the ride! My closest friends are volunteers and riders, and sometimes this week feels more like summer camp. I also love working with other roadies, who never cease to amaze me with how hard they’ll work, cheerfully, and how much they give.
Campus affiliation: Personal trainer and Group X instructor
History with ALC: First-time ALC rider!
Why I ride: I am riding for the challenge and the cause! I lost a cousin two years ago to poor health conditions and promised myself I would take care of my own body as well as help others take care of themselves.
In addition: Training for this ride has been a humbling experience. I have climbed to the top of hills that have made me feel so small. I have pushed myself further than I ever thought I could go. These are the experiences in life that make me feel alive.
Campus affiliation: I am an former staffer in Molecular and Cell Biology who still has strong ties to UC, especially through my ALC teammates!
History with ALC: This will be my third ALC ride, and first with my boyfriend, Colin!
Why I ride: I am currently in the Medical Science Training Program at the University of Iowa and am excited to come back to bike the California coast for such a great cause!
Campus affiliiation: I graduated last year from UC Berkeley with a bachelors degree in sociology.
History with ALC: This is my first ride.
Why I ride: My last semester “at” Cal, I studied abroad in Copenhagen, where I picked up the habit of biking everywhere. Soon after returning I decided I wanted to find a way to do more with my new habit than just get from one place to another – and found ALC. Since then I’ve been riding and haven’t stopped.
Campus affiliation: Incoming transfer student. The ALC team is my first official act as a Cal student.
History with ALC: This is my first ALC.
Why I ride: I tested HIV positive in 1992 — 20 years ago this summer. I’m riding on this unexpected anniversary as a testament that service organizations like San Francisco AIDS Foundation keep people alive and well.
In addition: Bicycles have become really prominent in my life in the last two years. I co-founded the San Francisco Midnight Mystery Ride‚ a monthly ride where participants meet up at a new location, then follow a leader to parts unknown, where we enjoy each other’s company in a new mystery location. A year ago I got a great job with Mission Bicycle Company, where I help people design custom bicycles. I joined the SF Bicycle Coalition in the fall and now ALC. I love bikes — and I love the cycling community in the Bay Area.
Campus affilation: Graduate student in Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute (graduating this summer)
History with ALC: Fourth ALC ride
Why I ride: Elizabeth Taylor said “It is bad enough that people are dying of AIDS, but no one should die of ignorance.” HIV infections can be prevented. I will ride and raise awareness until everyone knows how to protect themselves and until the stigma of living HIV+ is eliminated.