Mills College alumnae and staff members Lola McCall and Chavon Rosenthal plan to participate in this year’s AIDS/LifeCycle 9 weeklong cross state bicycle ride, which focuses on raising money for organizations that provide HIV/AIDS education and services.
From June 6 to 12, participants will ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles in an event sponsored by the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.
The AIDS/LifeCycle 9 website declares the event to be a “life-changing ride — not a race,” because of the people the riders meet along the way and the experiences they have.
Designated roadies along the ride will dress up in costumes for themed rest stops, offering sports drinks, food and restrooms along with entertaining activities for the bikers.
According to third-year rider McCall, an Academic Records Specialist and 2009 English literature graduate, “You want to get to rest stop four…. 10 of the hottest gay men on the planet do a show every day. They are the same group every year.”
To get through the average 85 miles traveled each day, McCall said she uses the rest stops to break the miles into smaller quantities that trick her mind into thinking the ride is shorter than it appears.
“It is all about playing mind games with yourself,” McCall said.
Rosenthal, who works as Interim Accounts Payable Specialist, said she has prepared by completing 80 and 90-mile training rides. She will be completing the ride for the first time and believes in the event’s mission.
“This event helps to open people’s eyes to see how many various others are effected by HIV and AIDS,” said Rosenthal, who earned her Bachelor of Arts in economics in 2008 and a Masters in Business Administration last December.
The seven days of riding proves to be a demanding feat. According to McCall, days begin around 4 or 5 a.m. and end as riders come into the last rest stop between 5 and 6 p.m.
“We get out on the road by 7, but we have to wake up early to get the tents down,” McCall said. “And you have to budget extra time for the long lines.”
With 2,200 riders signed up for this year’s ride thus far, according to McCall, the ride will begin at the Cow Palace in San Francisco and end at the Veteran’s Center in Los Angeles.
Not only will McCall and Rosenthal have to find transportation home upon their arrival in Los Angeles, they also must raise a $3,000 entry donation and provide their own camping supplies and necessities.
“We have to raise money to cover the cost of our ride,” McCall said. “The organization breaks even at $3,000 if that is all the riders raise. We have to have camping permits, food, canopies, fuel for cars, three meals a day and snacks.”
On May 16, McCall and Rosenthal will be hosting a get together at the White Horse in San Francisco to raise funds. Queer burlesque showgirls, including some Mills alumnae, are scheduled to perform.
McCall called the AIDS/LifeCycle “utopia on wheels,” and both she and Rosenthal said they are grateful for the many connections they’ve made because of the ride.
“I want to help fight the disease because I can’t stand the thought of living without the people I have met on the ride,” said McCall. “It is a huge network of people that are affected.”