Additional reporting by Brian Addison.
Thousands of cyclists began the Lifecycle Ride To End AIDS this week, a seven-day bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles which raises awareness and money to fight the disease, snaking their way down the coast to support those affected in the bookend cities.
Long Beachers are no stranger to the Lifecycle—including native and activist Tanya Times, who has never even pedaled past the century mark on a bicycle but took to the task of starting the 7-day ride yesterday.
“I’ve volunteered for the cause since the age of 16 and have lost several close friends to AIDS-related illnesses,” Times said. My goals for the ride are simple: raise enough money to feel accomplished and hit a new high in my bicycling achievements. And I get to do it all while supporting something that has been a huge part of my life.”
The 545-mile ride helps fund the HIV and AIDS services of the LA Gay & Lesbian Center and the San Francisco Aids Foundation. Riders cover an average of 80 miles a day over a multitude of terrains including coastal routes, strawberry fields, and is open to participants from all fitness level. For those that can’t power through the entire route with their own two feet there are “sweep vehicles” that transport cyclists to the next stop.
These sweep vehicles might even be more important for Times considering in April, while breaking in her new Cannondale named Isis, she fell—and fell hard. Times was transported to Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach and left with a cast bounding a broken wrist and two fractures, along with her chest, face, and arms sporting various shades of black’n’blue. On June 1, the cast was removed and replaced with a splint, which she will ride with along the coast.
“I might have to use the sweep vehicles since I just decided that I needed to do this without much training,” Times said. “Not to mention my accident, which has completely ruined my ability to keep training up to the ride. But there’s a reason I have ‘hope’ tattooed on my wrist: I never give up on it.”
Times hopes to raise $10,000, with the required minimum of $3,000 to participate in the ride already gathered; she currently sits at some $3,600 in monies raised. The remainder will be raised and donated in remembrance of the friends she’s lost to the disease. For Times, this is the answer when somebody asks, “Why in the hell would you want to ride 545 miles on a bicycle and camp every night—while your arm is in a splint?”
Times currently works at the Los Angeles LGBT Center and has a long history of being involved in events centered on fighting the disease. Her aforementioned work since she was a teenager began with stuffing envelopes at the Center in Green Bay, Wisconsin and moved onto taking part in several AIDS Walk For Life events and serving as a counselor at the Nashville Aids Project in Tennessee.
She’s currently about 40% of the way to her goal but donations are accepted all the way through the ride that ends June 7 at the Veterans Affair Center in Los Angeles. No matter what dollar amount she raises she’s committed and said she’ll ride until the disease eradicated.
“I will always ride until I get to have that dream-like conversation with someone where we ask, ‘Do you remember when AIDS existed?’” Times said.