Roll on, you Bears! AIDS LifeCycle Cal team is L.A.-bound

AIDS LifeCycle 12 is upon us. The 545-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles starts really early Sunday, June 2 at the Cow Palace, and ends next Saturday at the Veteran’s Center in LA.  Once again, an enthusiastic Cal team will be part of the week-long journey. This year’s team of 25 includes young blues, staff, graduate students, alumni and friends.

jersey design, bear on bicycle

2013 Cal Team jersey design

AIDS LifeCycle (ALC) is a fundraiser for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center. This ride is the largest HIV/AIDS fundraiser in the world. Last year it raised $13 million  to support HIV and AIDS services provided by the two agencies. This year’s Cal team has raised over $86,000 so far. We’ll be part of a small city of people – estimated at 3,000 cyclists and volunteer roadies – making our way down the state for seven days, focused on raising awareness of HIV and supporting one another.

Our team has been busy this spring training and fundraising, as each cyclist is required to raise a minimum of $3,000. Training has included rides in parts of the Bay Area we might never have discovered, and learning how much you have to eat and drink to go 85 miles on a bike and be ready to do it again the next day.

We are ready to roll and excited to share our stories and photos with the campus community (with big thanks to Public Affairs staff for their support). I am pleased to introduce you to members of the Cal team for ALC 12. ( To follow the team’s progress, check back here for daily blog posts and photos.)

Doug Au
Campus affiliation: Staff member, Office of the Registrar
ALC history: This is my second ALC.
Why I ride: Before I started my career at Cal, I worked at an HIV-prevention program targeting Asian and Pacific Islander youth. More than 15 years later, I still get calls from “my kids,” now adults, asking me to walk them through a PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) treatment, or informing me that they are HIV-positive. It breaks my heart that this preventable and treatable disease still continues to devastate lives. Riding in the ALC to raise funds for SF AIDS Foundation and the LA Gay & Lesbian Center is just a small way that I contribute to these organizations that provide essential services. It’s the least I can do.

Nathan Clark
Campus affiliation:
Information systems analyst, Student Affairs. I’ve been at Cal since 2007.
ALC history: This is my first ALC.
Why I ride: This ride represents my active hope that no more lives and hearts will be broken by this awful disease. I am profoundly impressed and touched by the kindness and generosity of the riders, organizers, support crew and donors. The community is what I’m looking forward to the most, then the experience of riding. Least eagerly anticipated is the chafing; in fact, it’s not where the rubber meets the road” that signifies, but where the saddle meets the butt!

Mayssa Dabaghi
Campus affiliation: PhD candidate, civil and environmental engineering
ALC history: First- time rider. Very excited!
Why I ride: It started thanks to Pardeep, with a short bike ride for fun, then another one. After that I was won over by the training group I was riding with, by the cause, and by the challenge. Now I’m riding to help fight and end AIDS and HIV. I met amazing and inspiring people on the training rides and all the related events. I received support and encouragements from friends and family all over the world. Thank you to all who have helped me and supported me!

Henry Duran Campus affiliation: I relocated from San Bernardino, Calif., for an AmeriCorps position in the early fall of last year. I am currently serving with AmeriCorps’ Community HealthCorps, in a West Berkeley community clinic.
ALC History: First-year rider
Why I ride: As an aspiring medical doctor, planning to work with English- and Spanish-speaking overweight and obese youth and families, I hope to be a positive role model for my community. I hope to inspire others in improving the health of their children and family members by undertaking such a physical challenge. Just as I have grown up obese as a young teenager and have adopted a healthy lifestyle, I believe this journey would be a positive source of motivation to everyone I work alongside in health care and in my personal life. I will be interning at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute for the summer, and will begin the Pre-Health Post-Bacc program in the fall.

Mark Fuge
Campus affiliation: PhD student, mechanical engineering
ALC history: First-time rider, excited to support a good cause
Why I ride: I learned the hard way that training for the ALC is less a battle of physique and more a battle of willpower – willpower that more seasoned ALCers have in spades!

Jonathan Goodrich
Jonathan Goodrich Campus affiliation: Cal alum and associate head of education, Hearst Museum of Anthropology
ALC history: This is my fourth ride, and it only gets better with age…at least that’s what I tell myself.
Why I ride: Being an anthropologist affords me the ability to observe and study the AIDS/LifeCycle subculture in depth. In the end, however, just like the Grinch, my heart grows three sizes because of the community happiness and glee (strange feelings for me, for sure). Alongside my Cal-ALC teammates, I love being part of this amazing experience while helping to raise millions of dollars to support people living with HIV and AIDS.

Everto Gutierrez
Campus affiliation: Cal graduate (Class of 2013!)
ALC history: First ride
Why I ride: I have recently been introduced to a different perspective in terms of AIDS. In my Art Medicine and Disabilities course, we had a talk where AIDS activists, artists, patients, family and loved ones confronted the bureaucracy because of judgment against those with AIDS. I was infuriated with the images shown of the discrimination that these individuals go through every day, for a disorder that they have no control over. I am a big advocate for stopping discrimination and instead aiding individuals by spreading awareness on a subject that has been thought of as taboo in many cultures. The time is now, let’s act together to spread the love.

Susan Hagstrom

Susan with “Elmo the Bear”

Susan Hagstrom
Campus affiliation: director of undergraduate advising, College of Environmental Design
ALC history: This will be my second ride (my first was in 2008).
Why I ride: To be part of a fun-loving, outrageous, compassionate and courageous community that is raising more than $13 million for the SF AIDS Foundation and the LA Gay & Lesbian Center. To help realize SFAF’s vision of eradicating all new HIV transmissions in San Francisco. To hang out with inspiring people and see beautiful places. To ride my bike in a red dress. To be transformed. Because people of color and low-income communities are disproportionately impacted by HIV. Because I love discovering the world on my bike. Because my students, colleagues, friends and neighbors are personally affected by HIV and AIDS.  Because I am motivated to undertake challenges that initially appear to be utterly impossible. In addition, I am a life-long cyclist and bike commuter. I acquired my first road bike when I was in my mid-40s.

Em Howard
Campus affiliation: staff, Campus Shared Services purchasing
ALC history: This is my first ALC ride.
Why I ride: I moved to the Castro in 1977, which pretty much explains my motivation. I was “brought up” by many, many drag queens and belly dancers and pretty much lost all my support network by 1988. This is my chance to think, remember, grieve and appreciate that time in my life, while dragging my old butt up and down hills on a mode of transport that I used to despise.

Sam Kimbrel
Campus affiliation: ’10 alum, electrical engineering and computer sciences
ALC history: I am excited to be doing ALC for the first time and only the tiniest bit apprehensive about making a trip he’s made many times (by plane and by car) on a bike.
Why I ride: I am amazed by the emotional support for this endeavor, honored to be doing such a great thing to support his community, and looking forward to seeing California’s majesty up close and personal from a bike saddle.

Pardeep Kumar
Campus affiliation: Post-doctoral candidate, civil and environmental engineering
ALC history: Second time
Why I ride: I was amazed to see the support and love on the ride last year.

Melissa Lewis
Campus affiliation: ’12 Cal alum, with an oh-so-gratifying B.A. in anthropology
ALC history: First-time rider, woohoo!
Why I ride: One of my favorite powerhouse ladies, Susan Sontag, wrote, “Societies need to have one illness which becomes identified with evil, and attaches blame to its victims.” I ride in hopes of helping bringing an end to the stigma and misconceptions surrounding HIV/AIDS. I also ride for all those I’ve met living with HIV/AIDS and for those who I have yet to meet. The ALC is one of the warmest and most welcoming communities I’ve had the pleasure of being part of, and this experience has made me feel as if I’m making an actual impact in the fight to end HIV/AIDS. Plus…I needed something to spice up my post-Cal student, 9-5 work routine! So, why not challenge myself both physically and mentally and take my interest in cycling up an extra notch for an excellent cause?

What I’ve learned: I’ve learned to like GU Shots, and that falling off my bike in clip-ins is not the end of the world. I’m incredibly overwhelmed by, and grateful for, the support I’ve received from my fellow Golden Bears, from the ALC community at large, and from all who have donated and helped me raise $3,000. With less than a week to go, my nerves are surfacing – but the Rest Stop festivities, cinnamon buns, California scenery, and the complete euphoria I’ll feel at that 545-mile mark, are amping me up for June 2nd!

Anita Liboff
Campus affiliation: Personal trainer and wellness coach, Recreation Sports Department (at Cal since 2005)
ALC history: This will be my 5th time doing the AIDS LifeCycle ride.
Why I ride: I come back year after year to support the SF AIDS Foundation as well as to encourage a healthy lifestyle both for myself and my clients. The ride is a wonderful combination of physical endurance, mental balance, community building and social activism — all the aspects needed for an effort towards “wellness.” I can’t wait to get on the road and share in this amazing experience with friends, family and fellow bicyclists! Go riders!

Po-Ling Loh
Campus affiliation: Just finished my 4th year as a statistics grad student
ALC history: First ride
Why I ride: I got into biking while doing an internship in the UK last summer, and bought a road bike shortly after returning to Berkeley. After some encouragement from friends, I decided to sign up for the ALC to take my bike riding to the next level. It’s been an incredible experience training with other ALCers. I’m looking forward to spending the week with 2000+ of my new best friends! :)

Dale Masterson and Pardeep Kumar

Dale Masterson and Pardeep Kumar

Dale Masterson
Campus affiliation: director, Engineering Student Services
ALC history: First time!
Why I ride: I’ve heard for several years about what an amazing experience the ALC is and I’ve finally accepted the challenge. I used to volunteer as an HIV Prevention Counselor in a free health clinic in an under-resourced urban neighborhood. This allowed me to learn firsthand the importance of access to health care and accurate information about HIV and STDs. I’m riding because there is still work to be done in getting information out about HIV and helping organizations obtain essential funding (especially in light of all the budget cuts in recent years). I am also riding because I want the physical and mental challenge this ride will provide (bike riding has been one of the ways I’ve maintained a 50 lb. weight loss from 9 years ago). In preparing for the ride I’ve met some wonderful people, including folks from the Cal ALC team, and saw many places in the East Bay that were new to me.Dale Masterson and Pardeep Kumar

Andrew Rohrlich
Campus affiliation: Proud member of the class of 2013, completing a degree in business administration and a minor in LGBT studies
ALC history:  This will be my second year on the ride

Why I ride: ALC proved to be a life changing experience for me, and by the end of my first ALC ride I knew I would be coming back to do it again. I ride because I want to help bring awareness to HIV/AIDS. I ride because I want to contribute what I can in the fight against this epidemic, in the hopes that soon we will live in a world without HIV. I also ride because ALC is an amazing community of people united in making a positive impact on the world (and I love to bike!).

3 riders

Mark Fuge, Celeste Roschuni, Susan Hagstrom

Celeste Roschuni
Campus affiliation: I have been affiliated with Berkeley since starting as a undergrad many years ago. I finally got my PhD this past August, and have most recently been affiliated with Cal as a lecturer.
ALC history: This will be my sixth time on the ride, and my fifth as a rider.  My first ride was my first year of grad school – I hope to be able to keep participating after going on to whatever job I get next.
Why I ride: This year I’m excited to share the awesome experience with a number of new riders, including my sister Hana who hopes to start at Berkeley in the next year or so. Maybe I’ll get some of them hooked!

Hana Roschuni
Campus affiliation: I am currently working as a craft bartender and studying mechanical engineering at DVC with the intention to transfer to Berkeley.
ALC history: First ALC ride

Why I ride: My cousin passed away from AIDS about 20 years ago and the advances in treatment medication since then have been tremendous. I am both excited and terrified for this ride. Excited to see California from a new perspective; excited to meet so many people fighting for the same cause; terrified because I have never attempted anything even close to this before; terrified of how much my butt will hurt after 545 miles.

Christine Shaff
Campus affiliation: alumna, and staff in Facilities Services
ALC history: This will be the 15th year this ride has been part of my life. My sister Annette rode California AIDS Ride 6 (as it was called then); we shared a car then so I took her to training rides and went to cheer her into LA.  I volunteered in SF the following year, and then rode myself – every mile to LA.  I signed up to be the roadie captain for Bike Parking for ALC 1 and have done it ever since.
Why I roadie: I roadie to support SFAF and those working to end the stigma of HIV. I also do it because I get to meet and spend time with so many fantastic people and do volunteer work I really like. To be part of a big, goofy, loving, adventuresome group is an amazing thing!

Sam Smetana
Campus affiliation: Music student
ALC history: This will be my first ALC.
Why I ride: I have been blown away by the community and passion of his fellow riders, as well as the beauty of small-town California I have seen while training. Invited to tag along by my older brother and two-time ALC participant, Andrew, I am anxiously envisioning the open road as well as the glorious finish line in Los Angeles.

Harry Stark
Campus affiliation: staff, QB3
ALC history: Fourth ALC ride
Why I ride: Six years ago, while locking my bike outside the RSF, I ran into Christine Shaff who had just returned from a week managing bike parking at ALC 6. Even though I was aware of the event and its predecessor, the California AIDS Ride, her enthusiasm piqued my interest. Online, I read personal stories of participants, and having just purchased a road bike, I was motivated to register for the following year’s event in June 2008.

I ride because I lost many friends to the disease in the ‘80s and ‘90s. I ride because I have friends who are HIV+ and who continue live with the disease. I ride and raise money for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation to support its prevention efforts, so others might not become infected. I ride because I have grown attached to the wonderful community of people who participate in AIDS LIfecycle. I ride because I am fortunate to be a part of it. I ride because I can make a difference.

It has been challenging balancing training, work, family and other obligations, but the payoff is the feeling I get when I spend a week with 3,000 people who bring the best of who they are to the ride, whether they be riders, roadies or bystanders along the road cheering us on. I especially look forward to the brownies served on Day 4 at the midway point, by three mothers who lost their sons years ago to the AIDS epidemic.

Kirstie Whitaker
Campus affiliation: ’12 grad (PhD), now researching adolescent brain development at the University of Cambridge in the UK
ALC history: This year will be my fifth ride with the Cal Team; I have raised over $15,000 for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation in this time.
Why I ride: As a Fulbright scholar I spent much of my five years at Cal exploring the culture and natural beauty of my host country. I first rode from San Francisco to LA as part of AIDS/Lifecycle in 2008. The ride not only showcased the splendor of the California coast, wine country and central valley, but also the love, kindness and generosity of spirit that this community of riders creates for seven days every year. I was hooked. I cannot think of a better way to spend my summer holiday than back in this beautiful state, raising money and awareness for such an exceptional cause. And, if that weren’t reason enough, there are few places you could see quite so many glamorous men in red dresses. That’s a sight that will keep me smiling for the next 11 months until it’s time to ride again.