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Thousands of cyclists ride in California to fight AIDs

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Posted at 10:21 AM, Jun 03, 2013
and last updated 2013-06-03 10:21:50-04

Today, thousands of cyclists will continue riding hundreds of miles to Los Angeles to raise money for HIV-AIDs organizations.

John Ramos was in the San Francisco area where the ride began.

As dawn broke, the quiet outside the Cow Palace didn't last long.

"Are you ready?!"

Inside, more than 2,700 riders for the 20th Annual AIDs Life Cycle, came together for the seven-day, 545-mile trek from San Francisco to Los Angeles. It's a high-energy send-off for an event designed to wake people up to the fact that AIDs is still among us.

"As we're riding down the coast, as we're going from community to community, it's really about raising awareness that this disease is still with us and we still have a lot of work to do," says Scott Poland, AIDs Lifecycle rider.

It's also about raising money...a lot of money.

"14.2 million dollars!"

That's just this year alone. Since 1993, the AIDs Life Cycle has raised more than $182 million for medical research and services for those with the disease. And as the "riderless" bike is wheeled through the crowd in memory of those who have died, it is a testament to these efforts that HIV is no longer the automatic death sentence that it once was.

"I'm here for future generations. You know, every child coming of age has to deal with this. And we want to find a cure. It's not just about helping those who have it, but we want to find a cure," says Todd Murray, AIDs Life Cycle rider.

With that, the ride begins - a physically grueling, emotionally taxing labor of love for 2,700 riders who share one common commitment.

"The fight is not over. We cannot stop riding until everyone with HIV gets the care they need...and until we find a cure."

It's a message that requires making a little noise. And it's ironic that something as quiet as a bicycle could make such a loud statement.