How I Roll

Pedaling around Denver in July 2021, my friend Sean told me about a bike ride that changed his life. The bicycle ride, which organizers say is more than a bicycle ride, is called the AIDS/Lifecycle. Funds raised from participants goes towards supporting the Los Angeles LGBT Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. Both organizations support queer individuals and families and aim to eradicate HIV and AIDS. 

Brandon AIDS/Lifecycle 1

With the support of 500 volunteer Roadies—including Sean—the AIDS/Lifecycle takes 2,500 bike riders from San Francisco to Los Angeles over the course of seven days. The route mostly travels the Pacific Coast Highway, providing scenic views of the ocean, beaches, and rolling hills of California. It also meanders through central California’s agricultural lands, which fills the nostrils of riders with the scents of strawberries, cilantro, and vegetables. In total, the route amounts to nearly 550 miles. 

Being a cyclist, I have participated in sponsored events and charity rides in the past. However, none have been to the scale or intensity as the AIDS/Lifecycle, which gave me pause. Could I ride all that distance? Yes. Would I enjoy it? Yes. Only knowing Sean, I was worried about not having a support or friend structure hundreds of miles from home.  

As we rolled through Cheesman Park at a leisurely pace, Sean shared why he loves the AIDS/Lifecycle and has volunteered for several years: the community. He told me how everyone who rides and volunteers becomes part of the “love bubble.” Physical and emotional support is never far from anyone who needs it. He said if I wanted community, I would find it there, especially with the individuals on Team Colorado, who train together across the state and then ride the event together in California. 

After attending a meet-and-greet with Team Colorado members in August 2021 with Sean, I was enfolded into the love bubble and was so thrilled at the prospect of training and riding and building friendships with these individuals, that I even convinced another friend, Mike, to join. The recruited had become a recruiter.

Brandon Lifecycle 2

It has now been a little two weeks since I rolled out of San Francisco on my 550-mile journey.

I am still processing all that happened between pedal strokes, team dinners, naps, and down-time at camp. The experience was incredible. Amazing.  

Life changing. 

Being on a bicycle for hours at a time provides you with ample opportunities to reflect on life: past traumas and mistakes, future ambitions, and current appreciations. The love bubble is real; throughout the seven days, I met amazing people, listened to heartbreaking stories, and made friendships that will last a lifetime.  

AIDS/Lifecyle is not just a bicycle ride: it is a community of people who love riding bikes, dressing up in silly costumes, and who are intent on raising awareness and money to eradicate HIV and AIDS while supporting those living with them.  Just as well, Riders and Roadies are living life in ways that honor those who are not with us today. The AIDS/Lifecycle is their opportunity to come together to pay tribute to the past and to celebrate the present. 

After a two-year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, AIDS/Lifecycle returned to the Pacific Coast Highway. Those who participated raised almost $18 MILLION dollars. Our next California get-together is in June 2023. I'll be there, along with Sean and Mike and Team Colorado. I hope you’ll consider joining us, too.  

This is how I roll.