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Do they do it for the ride? Or do they do it for the charity?

Let's be honest, they do it for the ride, and they do it so that the charity organizations can help fund their riding hobby.

What if I would say to you. Please donate $100 for this charity, but I'm going to only give the charity $40 and I'm going to keep the other $60 to go riding in the park with my friends?

Do you think people would actually condone that? Well, that is exactly what you're doing.

I think that's a little cynical. First of all, you're ignoring the enormous benefit this and the previous DC AIDS Rides had for people living with HIV/AIDS who actually participated in the riding. I witnessed myself the sense of accomplishment among some who felt that they were essentially given a death sentence when they were diagnosed -- that's something a ride in the park isn't going to provide. Further, there's an educational benefit a ride in the park isn't going to provide. I don't know where this particular ride went, but I can tell you that there was a whole lot of education about HIV/AIDS going on between Raleigh, NC and Washington, DC when the DC AIDS Rides occured -- again, not something a ride in the park is going to accomplish. I'm aware of the controvery around a for-profit organization running a charitable event for a non-profit, but I'm also aware that these rides are a) expensive to put on, and b) raise a HUGE sum of money -- an amount that's questionable whether the non-profit would have raised without the ride.

In short, I get your point; but I think your point way over-simplifies the situation.

Rideorcharity's comment isn't all that surprising. A lot of people are skeptical about these charity events, especially because some of the old AIDS rides did yield pretty bad returns for the participating charity. However, not all charity rides are created equal, so it is important to not treat them as such.

I know of some rides, for example, that send 100% of the money raised to the sponsoring charity, because the organizers get food, water, camp sites, roadside assistance, etc. donated. Braking the Cycle doesn't have a 100% yield, but I can say that the ride netted $300,000 for the HIV/AIDS services of the LGBT Community Center this year alone. Keep in mind that in the first 5 years of this decade under the present administration, the Center lost $1 million in federal funds.

Braking the Cycle is not a ride in which the non-profit organization is, in any fashion, exploited. Large numbers of people affiliated with the LGBT Community Center--including the Executive Director, other staff members, and individuals who receive HIV/AIDS services from the Center--participate as riders and crew.

I could go on and on about this, which is evidence enough that these rides are not simply about the riding itself. I have done many charity rides and I have done many other big cycling events. I did RAGBRAI this summer, for example. It was fun, crazy, and nothing at all like Braking the Cycle. I've done charity rides in which it was almost impossible to tell what charity is benefitting from the ride (for example, doesn't the Reston Century raise money for something?) I also participated in this year's MS150, and although I knew the ride had something to do with MS, I joined because some friends were doing it and I never really felt much of a communal spirit on the road. It was fine, but nothing more.

Braking the Cycle is different, and although I have never done any other AIDS rides, I suspect they too are different. The riders who participate are all very conscious of why they are there. The fight against AIDS is present throughout the months of training and fundraising you do for the ride--instead of having to raise a few hundred bucks to participate, the minimum for BTC is $3500 per rider--many raise $7000-$10000 each year. It is present during opening ceremonies, at each rest stop, and during the presentations that are made each night. It is present when you pull up next to a rider who is self-identifying as an HIV Positive Pedaler, who can talk to you about his experience, and what it means to him that the Center provides the services it provides. And it is present during the closing ceremonies that take place in front of the LGBT Community Center each year.

Anyway, I can babble on about this all day. I often do. There is no question that BTC--like many charity rides--is partially about "the ride." I love cycling, and BTC takes you through some beautiful areas. But you would have to be incredibly dense to not also be thinking about the charity, the cause, the fight against AIDS while doing so.

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