AIDS Vaccine Bike Trek
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The annual Charity Treks AIDS Vaccine Bike Trek is a 430-mile, charity bike ride through several states in the mountains and countryside of New England. The ride raises critical funds for research at the Emory Vaccine Center and the UCLA AIDS Institute, two of the world's leading AIDS vaccine research centers working to find an HIV vaccine.
The ride has taken place the second week of August each year since 2002. Up to 100 cyclists and numerous volunteers complete the ride each year. Cyclists and Crew members camp nightly in Parks and Campgrounds along the route, with daily mileage ranging between 60 and 115 miles. The route has varied over the years but has always traversed northern New England. In 2012, the route started in Burlington, Vermont and ended in Portland, Maine after five days. Riders are strongly encouraged to participate in all five days, even if they do not ride every mile.
Many have described this event as life changing. Apart from the basic mission to raise awareness and funding for AIDS vaccine research, a secondary effect is to bring people together in a common goal of hope and inclusion. Participants have included medical professionals, firefighters, tradesmen, engineers, students, retired school teachers and virtually every other occupation. They have come from all corners of the United States, Canada and Europe. Though the ride is physically challenging, the group includes well trained cyclists and those that have barely ridden across their home towns prior to training. In sharing the challenges of several days of hard physical output, the ride blends this diverse set of people into a sort of suppotive family. Each member might come for a different reason; some in honor of a loved one affected by HIV, others simply to enjoy the challenge of several days on the bike. But whatever the motivation, most describe the ride as both emotionally and physically rewarding.
Historically, none of the Charity Treks rides have imposed a fundraising minimum, though a $500 minimum is recommended. Riders pay a nominal registration fee ($250 in 2012) to cover the costs of most meals, gear transportation and insurance. Riders must cover their own travel costs and bring their own tents, if camping. Most riders and crew camp as a group in well equipped campgrounds with showers and flushing toilets. Several of the campgrounds have nice amenities such as swimming pools or lakes. Another option is to stay in hotels reasonably close to the stage end points, though they face potential good natured ribbing as taking the "princess tour". Riders must cover the cost of this option. In the event of torrential rain, those on Princess tour could suddenly find themselves popular among the camping crowd.
Charity Treks, Inc has organized several AIDS Vaccine Bike Treks in North America:
- Montreal to Maine AIDS Vaccine Bike Trek 2002, August 28 - September 1 (Raised $100,000)
- Montreal to Boston AIDS Vaccine Bike Trek 2003, August 20–24 (Raised $81,357)
- Montreal to Boston AIDS Vaccine Bike Trek 2004, August 17–21 (Raised $118,150)
- Montreal to Boston AIDS Vaccine Bike Trek 2005, August 16–20 (Raised $100,645)
- Montreal to Portland AIDS Vaccine Bike Trek 2006, August 15–19 (Raised $111,500)
- Montreal to Portland AIDS Vaccine Bike Trek 2007, August 14–18 (Raised $124,075)
- Burlington to Portland AIDS Vaccine Bike Trek 2008, August 12–16 (Raised $92,486)
- Burlington to Portland AIDS Vaccine Bike Trek 2009, August 11–15 (Raised $61,058)
- Burlington to Portland AIDS Vaccine Bike Trek 2010, August 10–14 (Raised $63,018)
- Montreal to Portland AIDS Vaccine Bike Trek 2011, August 9–13 (Raised $106,436)
- Burlington to Portland AIDS Vaccine Bike Trek 2012, August 13–17 (Raised: $82,023)
- Burlington to Portland AIDS Vaccine Bike Trek 2013, August 12–16 (Raised: $85,836)
- Burlington to Portland AIDS Vaccine Bike Trek 2014, August 12–16 (Raised: $112,846)
- Charlottesville to Washington AIDS Vaccine Bike Trek 2015, Sept. 30 - Oct. 3 (Raised: $105,885)
- Charlottesville to Washington AIDS Vaccine Bike Trek 2016
- Charlottesville to Washington AIDS Vaccine Bike Trek 2017
- Burlington to Portland AIDS Vaccine Bike Trek 2018
Charity Treks was formed in 2002 by a group of cyclists who had participated in the 2001 Montreal to Maine AIDS Vaccine Bike Trek, one of the last AIDSRides produced by Pallotta Teamworks. The original event was organized by Palotta TeamWorks but was cancelled in 2002 due to funding issues. A group of riders continued to do the ride that year despite the lack of organizational structure.
The riders and volunteers were committed to the cause of raising the public awareness about AIDS, and felt compelled to not let this be a one-time event. As a result, a number or riders and volunteers gathered together to form a volunteer organization whose purpose is to forward the cause of AIDS awareness and raise funds for vital research in the development of a vaccine. 100% of funds raised are donated to the two charitable beneficiaries; Emory Vaccine Center and UCLA AIDS Institute
- Charity Treks
- Emory Vaccine Center
- UCLA AIDS Institute
- The Hope Clinic of Emory Vaccine Center
- Positive Pedalers