Local real estate agent Gary Agner wanted to do something big, something that would help others. On Sunday, June 2, along with 2,500 other cyclists and 500 support staff, Agner begins a seven-day, 545-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles, the AIDS LifeCycle.
“I’ve never really done anything like this before,” Agner said, noting that this is not a timed race. “I’m sure I’ll get passed by everyone, but this is a ride, not a race.” To qualify as a rider, participants must raise a minimum of $3,000. Agner has already raised more than $8,000 of his $10,000 goal.
Produced since 2002 by race beneficiaries, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, the annual ride raises money for AIDS awareness and services for those living with HIV/AIDS in the San Francisco and Los Angeles metropolitan areas. In 2011, 2,350 riders and 600 volunteer roadies raised a record $13 million; last year 2,225 riders and 550 roadies raised $12,600,000.
The route passes though some of the most beautiful scenery in California, and serves as a reminder of and memorial to those who have died from AIDS. After 12 hour cycling days that begin at 6:30 a.m. each morning, and logging on average of nearly 80 miles per day, riders stay in tent camps pitched by tour roadies. “It’s a fully supported ride,” Agner said. Organizers provide meals, shower facilities and support staff to help the ride move smoothly and on schedule down the California coast.
Beginning last August, Agner began training for the ride. Every Wednesday, he logs 60- to 100-mile rides. “I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been but the best I seem to be able to average is about 11 mph. That should be enough to make it into camp each night by the scheduled time,” he said. He noted the longest ride of any day is a 109-mile section. “Others are 65 and 70 miles on average,” he said. “The shortest is only 45 miles but most of that is uphill.”
Agner is upbeat about the ride and how donations will be used. “I’m riding to end AIDS,” he said. “Every contribution made to support my ride is fully tax-deductible.”
On his website Agner notes money raised is used for medical care, mental health services, pharmacy services including an AIDS Drug Assistance Program for those living with HIV/AIDS and for HIV testing and HIV prevention.
To support Agner in his goal of raising over $10,000, visit his ride website at www.tofighthiv.org/site/TR/AIDSLIFECYCLE12/AIDSLifeCycleCenter?px=2882967&pg=personal&fr_id=1550.