Frequently Asked Questions

 

The Basics

Q. What is AIDS/LifeCycle?
A. AIDS/LifeCycle is a fully supported, 7-day bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise money and awareness in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Every year, this landmark ride through beautiful California delivers a life-changing experience for thousands of participants from all backgrounds and fitness levels united by a common desire to do something heroic. Whether you're considering your first ride or are a seasoned veteran, we want you with us on AIDS/LifeCycle. You belong here.

Q. When is AIDS/LifeCycle?
A. AIDS/LifeCycle is the first week of June every year. This year’s ride is June 1-7, 2013.

Q. What is the age requirement?
A. All AIDS/LifeCycle participants must be at least 18 years old as of the first day of the event. There is no age requirement for our training rides, but a release of liability waiver must be signed by a parent or guardian. Please contact us for more information.

Q. What is the fundraising requirement? When do I have to reach my minimum?
A. Cyclists must meet the minimum fundraising of $3,000 by Orientation Day. Roadies though encouraged to fundraise, have no minimum fundraising requirement.

______________________________________________________________________

Orientation Day

Q. What happens on Orientation Day? Do I need to attend?
A. All participants are required to attend Orientation Day, which is the day before the ride begins (Saturday) from 10am-4pm. You should arrive no later than 12pm and plan for up to three hours to complete the Orientation Day process. Please contact your Participant Representative in advance if for some reason you cannot make Orientation Day, as it is a mandatory process before you join us on the ride.

You must bring your E-Ticket (available in your participant center in early May), a photo id, and your bike (which will be stored securely overnight). At Orientation Day you will view the mandatory Safety Video, complete any outstanding donation or medical form requirements, pick up any incentives you’ve earned, and receive your registration packet with your bike frame number, helmet sticker and participant wristbands.

______________________________________________________________________

Life while in Camp

Q. What do I need to bring? What do I need for the ride?
A. A full packing list can be found in the Logistics section of our Travel Planner. You’ll need to bring clothing (for both on and off the bike), personal gear, toiletries and a sleeping bag. You need to bring your bicycle (if you’re riding) in good mechanical condition, a helmet (mandatory), water bottles or hydration pack and tools for fixing a flat tire. AIDS/LifeCycle will supply all meals, snacks and beverages during the seven days of the event. We will also provide you with the tent you will sleep in. Please DO NOT bring pets, drugs or alcohol, flame lit light sources, guns or other weapons.

Q. How do I pack? Who carries my stuff?
A. Each participant is allowed ONE bag for all their gear. Bag weight must not exceed 70lbs. Everything must fit inside or be tied to your bag. Please DO NOT use bungee cords to attach sleeping bag/pads to your gear bas as they present a danger of injury to the gear and tent roadies. All gear will be transported daily by the gear and tent team on the gear truck you are assigned on Orientation Day. If you have questions about specific gear or luggage concerns, please contact your Participant Representative.

Q. Can my friends and family visit me in camp?
A. Guests are welcome to visit camp, especially on the evening of Day 6 in Ventura when we have our candlelight vigil. All guests must check in at the Info Services tent, where they will be issued a Visitor badge. Only officially registered participants will be allowed to access camp services, including food, so if your family would like to join you for dinner they will have to bring in their own food. Only official event vehicles are permitted in campsites.

Q. What if I don’t like to camp? Can I stay in a hotel?
A. We recommend staying in camp because it's all part of the AIDS/LifeCycle experience; however, if you would rather stay in a hotel, you are welcome to do so. You will be responsible for all logistics and costs associated with your hotel stay, including transportation to and from your hotel. Please note that your bike cannot be taken out of our secure bike parking area once you arrive in camp.

Q. What is the Princess Plan?
A. The Princess Plan is an unofficial term for participants who choose to stay in hotels rather than in our camp sites. This is not a practice sanctioned by AIDS/LifeCycle and any cost for lodging or transportation is completely the responsibility of the participant. Any participant who opts not to stay in camp MUST still get a tent assignment so that you know which gear truck will transport your belongings from camp to camp. Also, please note that once bicycles are checked into bike parking at the end of a day’s ride, they cannot be removed until the route opens the following day.

Q. Will my bike be stored securely at night? Do I need to bring a lock for my bike?
A. There is an overnight security team to keep your bike safe in our secured, well-lit bike parking area so no bike locks are required! All “official” areas (rest stops, camp, etc.) on the event are safe places for your bike, however be sure to keep an eye on your two-wheeled buddy if you make any unofficial stops (like a store or coffee shop) along the route.

Q. What do I do if I have to leave the Ride early?
A. Participants who wish to leave the event prior to its conclusion should visit Participant Support in the Command Center. There, we will provide information and advice on finding transportation home. Transportation and all related costs will be your responsibility.

Q. What do I do if I have to arrive late to the Ride?
A. Orientation Day attendance is mandatory before beginning your participation in the event. If you know in advance that you will be unable to attend Orientation Day and will be joining us on the ride at/after Opening Ceremonies, contact your Participant Rep for details and instructions.

Q. Where will we sleep at night?
A. Each night, we’ll camp in a different town. Some nights, we will be at public parks. Other nights, we will be at campgrounds. No matter where we stay, our camp will be well-equipped with everything you need. We are like a giant moving city!

Q. Do I need to bring my own tent?
A. You do not need to bring your own tent. In fact, we require that everyone sleep in the tents we provide. The tents are 7’ by 7’ and can accommodate two people and their gear. You must set up your tent at your designated tent address (which you will receive on Orientation Day) so that we may find you in case of an emergency, and to reduce wear and tear at our campsites.

Q. Do I have to have a tentmate?
A. Yes. Due to space limitations each participant must share a tent with one other participant. You can choose your own tentmate or one will be provided for you. Our tents accommodate two adults and their gear comfortably. Online tent assignment will be available in April and will close in mid-May. It’s open to cyclists who have raised at least $2,000 to date, and to roadies who have submitted their medical form. It is not mandatory to get your tent assignment online, though it will simplify your Orientation Day process. If you do not complete it online, you may get your tent assignment on Orientation Day. For more details on the tent assignment process, please see our Tent Assignment Instructions.

Q. Can Roadies and Cyclists tent together?
A. Yes.

Q. Are there shower facilities?
A. All camps have hot showers and sink/mirror areas for washing up & brushing your teeth. Shower trailers are designated male, female and gender neutral, and each has individual shower stalls and semi-communal changing areas.

Q. Is there somewhere I can do my laundry?
A: We provide buckets and hoses outside the shower facilities where you can wash clothes. You must bring your own soap. Please remember that items will need to air dry, so you may want to consider how much time you have until you wear said items again. We recommend bringing laundry clips (or office binder clips) to hang your wet clothes and towels on or near your tent.

Q. Is there electricity available in camp?
A. We will provide a limited number of self-serve electrical outlets in camp at the Charging Tent (located near Info Services) for charging cell phones and other electronics. We highly recommend that you bring extra batteries or a solar charger to guarantee your electronics are charged. There are many solar and power storage devices available in electronic stores and online. Please note: Any participant's personal electronic equipment found to be plugged into any electrical supply other than the outlets provided in the Charging Tent will be removed and given to ALC staff.

Q. I sleep with a CPAP machine. How will I be able to plug it in?
A. We will arrange for your tent to be near an electrical source with other CPAP users. Please read our CPAP Machine Instructions [link to: CPAP PDF] for further details.

Q. Are meals provided? Is the food good?
A. You will be served a hot breakfast and dinner daily in camp, plus a bagged lunch and plenty of snacks. There is always a tasty variety of food--both in camp and at the rest stops. It is nearly impossible to go hungry!

Q. Can you accommodate my special diet?
A. When you register for the ride, you may choose vegetarian or non-vegetarian. Although we do our best to include special diet options (gluten free, vegan, etc.) we cannot accommodate the vast range of special dietary needs, nor promise complete meals depending on your needs. If there is something that you must have, bring it along, or plan to stop along the way (although there are portions of the route void of shopping areas). If you have significant dietary restrictions, please talk to your Participant Rep so that they can help you plan for the week. It is also very important that you include this information on the medical form you will be required to complete prior to the event.

Q. Can my friends eat with me?
A. Friends are welcome to visit, but due to limited supplies, they will not be able to eat the food provided by AIDS/LifeCycle. All guests must check in at Info Services when they arrive at a campsite, and may bring food in with them if desired.

Q. What do I do if I’m not feeling well? What happens if I get injured?
A. A full-service Medical Team will be available on the route, at rest stops, and at camp to take care of any illness or injuries incurred on the ride. You are responsible for your own prescription and over-the-counter medications.

Q. I have medications that need refrigeration. Can you accommodate my needs?
A. If you have medications that need refrigeration or special handling, please include this information on your medical form. You will need to visit the Medical Team at Orientation Day and they will arrange with you the storage and transportation of your medications.

Q. How do I get a massage?
A. Each participant may receive one massage on the Ride. Just go to the Massage Tent and sign up. There may be a wait, but it is worth it! First come, first served.

______________________________________________________________________

On the Route

Q. How long will we have to ride each day? What are the route hours?
A. The route is open from 6:30am to 7:00pm (except for the final day when the route opens at 6:00am to ensure everyone makes it to the Finish Line in time). Rest stops have specific hours of operation each day. You should ride at a comfortable pace, however, you need to reach each rest stop before closing time and arrive in camp before the route closes. If event Staff and/or Roadie teams determine that your pace is too slow, you will be picked up and driven to the next rest stop or transported directly to camp.

Q. Where are the rest stops?
A. Most rest stops are located approximately every 15 to 20 miles along the route and each stop will have food, water, electrolyte beverages and port-a-potties. Medical and bike tech services are available at all rest stops and at the lunch stop. Please note that these services are not available at the water stops.

Q. Can my friends and family visit me along the route or in rest stops? Can I bring an RV for myself and my team?
A. Due to limited space, the high volume of bike traffic going in and out of the rest stops and primarily to ensure safety, ONLY official event vehicles are permitted in rest stops and camp sites. Personal vehicles are not allowed at any of our rest stops or camp sites. We strongly discourage anyone from following cyclists along the route because it adds to traffic congestion and jeopardizes the safety of our participants.

Q. What if I can’t finish riding on any of the days?
A. This is a fully supported ride, so if you are unable to finish any of the days, you will be picked up by one of our sweep vehicles and either taken to the next rest stop or directly into camp on the SAG bus.

Q. What if I have a mechanical problem on the road?
A. One of the sweep vehicles will take you to the next rest stop to check in with the bike tech team. If it is a serious mechanical issue and they do not have the necessary parts, you may have to go directly to camp. You should always bring some cash with you in case you need to purchase tubes or other bike parts.

Q. What is the weather like?
A. The weather in California can range from cool and chilly to hot and sunny…all in a single day. It is important to dress in layers to accommodate all weather conditions while you are riding. Additionally, it is vital that you pack enough “off-bike” clothes to keep you warm in the evenings after the sun sets.

Q. What happens if it rains?
A. AIDS/LifeCycle is a rain or shine event. Bring rain gear and be prepared to ride in the rain unless the weather is deemed unsafe by the ALC staff.

Q. What time does the route open?
A. 6:30 am, except on Day 7 when the route opens at 6:00 am.

Q. What time does the route close?
A. 7:00pm

Q. Do I need to have lights on my bike?
A. While you will not be riding in the dark, we highly recommend that you bring bike lights in case of rain or heavy fog. Though not required, having lights on your bike is much safer for conditions where cars, and you, have limited visibility.

Q. How far apart are the rest stops?
A. The mileage between each stop typically ranges from 15 to 20 miles.

Q. Do I need money on the ride?
A. We recommend that you carry money and/or a credit card with you. While the food, drinks and support services on the event are free, you may want to purchase items from the Camp Store, or you may need to purchase bike parts if you have a mechanical issue. Please note: Bike Tech at all rest stops provide free services, but if any parts are needed to fix your bike, you will need to pay for them. Bike Tech accepts credit card ONLY.

Q. What is the route?
A. We don’t publish the exact route ahead of time because of the possibility of last minute changes. However, you can see a general description of the route in the Life on the Event section of our website.

Q. Where do we start?
A. The Ride starts at the Cow Palace in San Francisco.

Q. Where do we finish?
A. At the VA Center in Westwood, Los Angeles.

Q. Are there a lot of hills?
A. The route has diverse terrain that includes hills as well as flat stretches.

Q. What happens if I can’t finish?
A. AIDS/LifeCycle is a fully supported ride and any cyclist who cannot continue to ride on any given day will be transported with their bike to the next camp. Once in camp, participants will have access to food, medical, sports med and bike tech services.

______________________________________________________________________

Fundraising

Q. What is the fundraising requirement? When do I have to reach my minimum?
A. Cyclists must meet the minimum fundraising of $3,000 by Orientation Day. Roadies, though encouraged to fundraise, have no minimum fundraising requirement.

Q. How do I fundraise?
A. There are as many different ways to fundraise as there are participants and the key is finding the way that best suits your personality and style. The Fundraising section of our website contains lots of helpful information for the novice (and experienced) fundraiser, including 125+ Fundraising Tips. The Cyclist Representatives are also experienced fundraisers and are great sources of information and encouragement. Fundraising workshops are also available year round, online or in person.

Q. How do I set up my homepage?
A. When you register for AIDS/LifeCycle you will receive an email containing a username and password which you will need to log into your Participant Center. Once you log in you will be able to change your fundraising goal, send fundraising and thank you emails, add a picture or video and even keep a blog of your adventures. AIDS/LifeCycle offers several workshops (online and in person) which can help you create a dynamic homepage.

Q. What happens if I don’t raise $3,000?
A. If you have not reached the minimum by Orientation Day, you may make a donation guarantee for the remaining amount. This can be done online or in person with Donor Services at Orientation Day. Payment plans can be put in place and you may continue fundraising until July 31.

Q. Can I share my donations with my teammates/friends?
A. All donations are non-transferrable and non-refundable. This includes registration fees. When group/team fundraisers are held, donations must be separated amongst the involved participants before sending them in.

Q. Are donations tax-deductible?
A. Donations made directly to AIDS/LifeCycle are tax-deductible. NOTE: In-kind donations given to participants for the purpose of soliciting donations (such as an item for a Participant’s event, like a silent auction) are not given receipts.

Q. Will my donor receive a receipt?
A. When someone donates directly to your page, they will receive a receipt via email. If a donation is mailed in, the donor will receive a printed receipt. If you receive a cash donation and the donor requests a receipt, you may submit a check or online donation in their name with all of the donor’s contact information and a receipt will be sent to them. If you have any questions about donation receipts or need a donation receipt resent, please call either our San Francisco office at (415)487-3092 or our Los Angeles office at (323)860-7375.

Q. How do matching gifts work?
A. Company matching programs vary from company to company. Please check with your employer to find out more details. In general, donations made by employees of companies that have matching gift programs will be matched by the company and will count toward the same participant to which the original donation was made.

Q. I got a donation from someone whose company matches. Why don’t I see the match?
A. Be sure your donor submitted any needed information to their company about the donation they made and to whom it was made. Typically it takes a considerable amount of time for companies to process matches, so the sooner you can arrange these types of donations, the better.

______________________________________________________________________

Training

Q. What is the best way to train? I’ve never ridden that far. How do I begin? Are there groups to ride with? Is there a training schedule?
A. The best way to train is to ride your bike! It’s important that you start off easy, at a mileage and on terrain that is comfortable for you, and gradually increase your distance and intensity over time. Cross training is also important to prevent injuries and burn out. Your Cyclist Rep can help you devise a personalized training plan based on your current skills and abilities.

We highly recommend participating in our organized training rides, which are offered throughout California and across the country. All official training rides are posted on our calendar, and are led by our certified training ride leaders (TRLs). These dedicated volunteers will not only help you train for the Ride, but will teach you how to ride safely in a group and how to practice the AIDS/LifeCycle rules of the road. They can also offer great advice on riding gear, what to pack, how to raise the money, and more.

If there are no official AIDS/LifeCycle training rides in your area, we recommend finding local bike clubs or riding groups to train with. Always remember to ride safely, wear your helmet and obey all traffic laws.

Q. How do teams work? How do I find a team in my area?
A. Check out our FAQ’s about Participant Teams to learn how teams work and how teams provide a great support system. Be sure to check out our Team Directory to find teams near you.

Q. What kind of bike do I need?
A. Choosing a bike is one of the most important decisions you’ll make once you decide to participate in AIDS/LifeCycle. There are various types of bikes (road, touring, hybrid, mountain, etc.), all of which are allowed on the ride, provided they have brakes (mandatory) and are in good mechanical condition. You should choose a bike that’s comfortable for you and will fit both your budget and your long term cycling goals. Here's a helpful video. AIDS/LifeCycle works with a number of Community Support Partner Bike Shops who understand AIDS/LifeCycle and what our participants need in order to not only successfully complete, but enjoy their ALC experience. Check out a complete list of our Community Support Partner Bike Shops. We recommend visiting several different shops so you can try different brands and models and ultimately choose the bike best suited to you.

Q. How do I figure out my bike size?
A. A trusted bike shop can give you a good idea of what size bike works best for you. Choose a bike that is comfortable and well fit to you. Since many different bicycle brands and models vary, the best way to find out the right size bike for you is to visit one of our ALC Community Support Partner Bike Shops and ask them to determine the correct size based on the model you are considering. Be sure to tell them you’re riding in AIDS/LifeCycle so they know the distance and type of riding you’ll be doing. Be aware that all frames are not created equal and you may ride a certain size made by one brand while the same size of a different brand would not be a fit.

We highly recommend a bike fit, which often comes with a new bike purchase. Bike fits can also be purchased separately if you already own a bike or buy one used. A bike fit will help to prevent injury and assure the most comfort during riding long distances.

Q. How much should I be eating, and what types of food are best for long distance riding?
A. Proper nutrition and hydration are vital when training for, and riding in AIDS/LifeCycle. The Nutrition & Hydration section contains valuable information, and here's a helpful video.. Your Cyclist Rep can also offer advice and answer questions. And we offer workshops throughout the year led by expert nutritionists. The most important thing to remember is to eat before you’re hungry, drink before you’re thirsty, and make sure you’re peeing often (dehydration is one of the most common issues for long distance cyclists).

Q. How do I fit a flat tire?
A. Check out our Fix-A-Flat Video, courtesy of Cannondale.

______________________________________________________________________

Logistics

Q. How do I get my bike to San Francisco? Or home from Los Angeles?
A. Please visit the Logistics section of our Travel Planner for information on the different options. You must bring your bike to Orientation Day where it will be stored securely overnight and will be waiting for you on the morning of Day 1.

Q. Is there bike shipping? How much does it cost?
A. Please visit the Logistics section of our Travel Planner for information.

Q. What day should I arrive in San Francisco?
A. Orientation Day is Saturday, June 1, 2013 from 10am to 4pm. You should arrive no later than 12pm and plan for up to three hours to complete the Orientation Day process. Please contact your Participant Representative in advance if for some reason you cannot make Orientation Day, as it is a mandatory process before you join us on the ride.

Q. Where should I stay in San Francisco?
A. We have a list of hotels that are offering discounts to our AIDS/LifeCycle participants, but you may stay wherever you wish. Please visit the Logistics section of our Travel Planner for more information.

Q. What do I do if I don’t have health insurance?
A. We strongly recommended that each participant have health insurance. If you don’t have health insurance, you may be able to acquire a short term policy to cover you during the ride and training season.

Q. Will you have an interpreter for deaf or hard of hearing participants?
A. Yes, ASL interpreters are present during all stage presentations, at Opening and Closing Ceremonies and in case of emergency by request through Participant Support.