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AIDS/LifeCycle 11: On Day 4, gratitude is expressed to the "Roadies"

SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- The nearly 3,000 participants of AIDS/LifeCycle 11 made it to the halfway point on Wednesday, June 6, the fourth day of the bike ride to raise money and awareness for HIV/AIDS charities in California.

Sean Suydam, an AIDS/LifeCycle Team San Diego training ride leader who SDGLN has been following on his journey, said that he was unable to ride on Day 4 due to body pains and soreness and was "sagged in" to the next rest stop. This means that he was put on a special van provided by AIDS/LifeCycle that transported him to camp, where he spent the day with a sports medicine volunteer who nursed him back to health.

This experience reminded Suydam of the importance of the large volunteer force that is required to make AIDS/LifeCycle happen. The 500 non-cyclists who accompany the riders on their journey are called "Roadies" and perform much of the tasks required to move 2,250 cyclists from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

"This ride is not possible without the 500 roadies that get us down the coast," Suydam said. "They do everything: serve us breakfast, haul our gear, prep the camp sites in advance of our arrival, and pick us up in sweep vehicles if we are in trouble."

Suydam said that many of the "Roadies" do their jobs quietly and out of the spotlight, but do it because they care about the riders and the cause.

"There is even a volunteer who goes ahead of the riders to pick up roadkill that may be in the way - it's not the greatest job but he does it with pride, year after year," Suydam said.

Suydam recalled a conversation he had with Lorie Jean, the CEO of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, a few years back. Jean told him that if her organization had to pay a staff to the do the tasks the "Roadies" do it would not be possible due to financial constraints.

"The volunteer Roadies work just as hard -- if not harder -- than a paid staff would," Suydam said.

Day 4, a 97-mile ride, is called "Half-Way Day" and many participants will take a photo atop the hill that is the official half-way point.

Suydam also provided some "Fun Facts" from AIDS/LifeCycle:

- The oldest rider this year is 83 years old, the youngest is 18.

- Participants come from 44 states and 16 countries.

- The average number of calories burned per day by each rider is 3,410.

- During the course of AIDS/LifeCycle, 18,800 gallons of water will be consumed by participants.

- 44,600 eggs will be used to prepare meals.

Today, Day 5, is "Red Dress Day" and many participants will don red dresses as they ride. Suydam will provide details on this in tomorrow's update.

For more information, click HERE or follow @AIDSLifeCycle on Twitter.