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Since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in 1981, over 60 million people have contracted HIV and 25 million have died from AIDS. Today, an estimated 33.3 million people are living with the disease. Every 9 1/2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is infected with HIV. And in California, up to 7,000 people will become infected this year alone.
But, eye-opening statistics are often followed with jaw-dropping feats of compassion, and the Aids/LifeCycle is exactly that. A fully supported, 7-day, 545-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles with one simple goal, 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.
And we at Swirl couldn’t be more proud of our very own hero, Jordan Smith, as he finished this arduous ride for the 4th year in a row.
Jordan, a mild mannered Creative Resource Manager by day and mile-crushing machine by night, broke his goal this year by raising $11,600, making at total of $38,634.26 since he first started the ride.
Thinking about doing the ALC, next year? Read below for some encouraging words and sentiments from Jordan!
Q: What made you decide to join the ALC 4 years ago?
A: I wanted to get into cycling and as a new cyclist I couldn’t ask for a better challenge! 545 miles down the gorgeous coast of CA – how could I resist?!
Q: What keeps you coming back, year after year?
A: My first training ride was 50 miles—half way through that ride I wanted to quit. It was my team that kept me riding and training for the main event. Once I started getting more involved I quickly realized that this ride was so much bigger than just me. This ride is about my community, my friends, my brothers and sister. I ride for those who aren’t with us. I ride for those who can’t. I ride for hope. I ride for a cure.
Q: What’s a “must have” for you during this event?
A: A purpose. You have to know why you are riding because when you hit that wall and have that moment of doubt, that reason is going to be what pushes you on.
Q: Out of the 7 days of riding, which day was the hardest and which day was the easiest?
A: Every year is different, but Day 1 typically takes the cake as the hardest. I get so excited the night before I can’t sleep! Not the best way to go into an 88-mile day. The easiest day for me is Day 3. It starts with the steepest/largest incline of the ride known as ‘Quadbuster’ but after you power up that its smooth sailing! Plus, it’s the day with the Otter Pop Stop and nothing beats having an ice cold OtterPop at a dance party in the desert with a bunch of men in tutus, right?!
Q: How many people are on your team? Has it grown over the years?
A: There were 6 of us that did the 2016 ride but about 20 honorary Boo’s that have done the ride on our team in past years.
Q: How do you feel after completing the ride? Have feelings changed since your first one?
A: After every ride I feel so humbled and grateful to have participated in such an amazing journey and to have spent a week surrounded by the most kind, supportive, energetic, loving people. I feel lucky that I am able bodied enough to ride every mile. Sometimes my body tries to say ‘enough already’ but I know there are people out there that wish they could be on this ride so I push through for them. I am so fortunate to have the amazing support of friends and family, to have people that cheer me on every step of the way. Every text I get along the route renews my motivation. When I see my family and my best friend there at the finish line I lose it and start crying right then and there. I feel like I am more and more a part of the ALC community with every pedal. Every year I get to see how the work we do changes people’s lives and changes the communities we ride through. With each ride I know that what I am doing matters and I know that we cannot stop until there is a cure. I know that we are a positive force in the world and now more than ever we need more people doing good for one another.
Q: In the past 4 years of the event, what experiences still stick with you today?
A: What sticks with me every year is the love and support I receive from all my family and friends as well as from complete strangers. It brings me to tears every year when people open their hearts and wallets to a cause that I hold very close to my heart. I will never be able to thank them enough.
Q: What words of encouragement do you have for someone who might be interested in doing the ride?
A: This ride will change your life. It will challenge you mentally and physically in ways you never thought possible. You will feel pains you’ve never felt. But you will feel such great pride in doing something that changes the lives of so many people in such a positive way. You will have such joy doing something so major for the community—and you will have fun doing it. The event is SO organized and every detail is thought out. The Roadies will keep you pedaling and give you that extra push of encouragement. This is a community event that stretches the state—so many people come out in every city we ride through to show their support, it’s so motivating! Every day is an amazing adventure that you will always cherish!