The second annual Bike For Life will take place Sept. 18, marking 25 years of fund raising by the Utah AIDS Foundation for Utahns living with HIV and AIDS.
Accompanying the popular (and older) Walk For Life event at Liberty Park on Saturday morning, interested cyclists can register the day of the event at 8 a.m., but many cyclists have already registered and are raising money on their sponsorship pages which they created on UAF’s website.
“Bike For Life is a powerful public awareness event and one of our most exciting new fund-raisers,” said Nathan Measom, UAF’s development director and Bike For Life program coordinator. “The route has changed from a city course to a challenging canyon course.”
There are two ride options for cyclists this year: a high-intensity 22-mile from Liberty Park to the top of Emigration Canyon and back, and a low-intensity ride, or about 11 miles. Both rides will take place on the same route where there will be hills.
“The low intensity ride is about half of the regular ride,” added Measom. “Theoretically, riders can turn around on the route and head back whenever they feel like they need to.”
Registration is free for both Ride For Life and the Walk For Life.
“Last year we had about 60 riders who raised more than $5000,” said Measom. “We’d love to exceed those numbers — so far we’re at about half that, so hopefully we can get the word out and get people registered.”
Cyclists set their own fund-raising goals, and there is no minimum in fund raising required. Participants create their own fund-raising pages from UAF’s website through the First Giving link that collects and documents online donations. The pages can be sent out in an e-mail or be directed to a Facebook page, where contributors can pledge by mile, for the whole ride, or in any way cyclists have chosen for their donations to be collected.
“We will have a van trailing the route to watch for any kind of emergency situations, as well as crossing guards along the route to report anything that may happen,” stressed Measom. “There will be two water stations along the route — one near Hogle Zoo, which is the turn around point for the low intensity course, and another at the top of Emigration Canyon, which is the turn around point for the full intensity course.”
Funds from the Bike For Life event will support the UAF HIV/STD test site, fund the purchase of condoms and safe-sex devices, and go to prevention programs for those at risk of getting HIV. They will also contribute to services for people living with AIDS, including case management, health-related workshops and the on-site food bank at the UAF office.
“Helmets and bikes are mandatory; [a] raincoat is optional depending on the weather, and we highly recommend bikers bring a water bottle,” added Measom.
Bike For Life will end at the 9th and 9th Street Festival which will be in full swing at 10 a.m. and will end at 6 p.m. in the very gay-friendly neighborhood of 900 E. 900 South.
Fund-raising incentives include a Bike For Life T-shirt for raising $40 or more, a T-shirt and a special UAF water bottle for those raising $150 or more, a T-shirt, UAF water bottle and a special UAF hat for $250 or more, and a T-shirt, water bottle, hat, and a specially designed 500 Club hooded sweatshirt as well as an invitation to the UAF’s 500 Club party, for those cyclists raising over $500.
Adam Frost, who was a founding member of Cycle Out, Utah’s gay and lesbian cycling club, will be participating in Bike For Life again this year.
“The event is fun and at the same time helps people in the local community. Plus, I get to see some friends that I wouldn’t otherwise run into,” Frost said. “I have ridden this year’s course up Emigration Canyon a couple of times in the past months and have really enjoyed it. The scenery is amazing.”
Last year, Frost said he did have a slight run-in with a motorist as the course wound through downtown Salt Lake City. “Being the first year, there weren’t as many riders as other events I’ve attended, but that comes with being a new event,” he added.
And Larry Lee, silver team medalist in bowling at this year’s Gay Games in Cologne, Germany is participating again. “My commitment to my sponsors last year was that I would ride 90 miles for the Bike For Life,” he said. “At that time, I lived in Layton. As to the course changes, I hate hills, so I am not excited about the change to Emigration Canyon. Still, it will be different and certainly a challenge.”
Lee’s children have participated in Walk For Life events for years and will support him in this year’s Bike For Life efforts.
“My goal this year is $1,200 and so far I am at $700. Anything I raise will be matched up to $1,000,” said Lee. “Most importantly, I get to help a wonderful organization that is working hard to help people impacted by HIV and to reduce the rate of HIV infection.”
For more information about Walk For Life or Bike For Life, go to the Utah AIDS Foundation’s website at uaf.org and click on either event. If you would like to contribute to a specific cyclist, go to Facebook and type in Walk For Life or look up specific names of participating cyclists.
Bike For Life will begin at 8 a.m. on the north end of Liberty Park, located between 600 and 700 East and 900 South.