This fully supported ride (five daily snack stops, hot showers, massage, hot meals, nightly entertainment- designed to encourage and support non-athletes) takes the 3000 riders 7 days, and raises money for AIDS service organizations in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Each rider must raise at least $2700 to participate, and receives training in both bicycle riding and fundraising.

This annual event, formerly sponsored by Tanqueray, started in 1994 by entrepreneur Dan Palotta. Of all the rides organized by Palotta's for-profit event promotion company, the California one is the most successful, returning on average 70% of funds raised to charity. In other states, Palotta's rides have returned less than 20% of the funds raised to charities (Florida, 1997 (10.3%); Twin Cities to Chicago, 1996 (10.6%); Texas, 1998 (14%) and 1999 (16.5%)).


In October 2001, both the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center ended their long relationship with the California AIDS ride. Citing both complaints from riders about Palotta's self-promotion (the 2000 ride featured inspirational speeches, videos, and t-shirts, not about the AIDS community, but about other Palotta events) and charges of financial mismanagement (SFAF charges that Palotta was paying for corporate expenses such as a CEO search, travel expenses, equipment rentals and tax fees for events having nothing to do with the California AIDS ride-- and in 2000 only 50% of the funds raised went to charity), both organizations severed ties with Palotta, and announced AIDS/LifeCycle, their own fundraising SF-to-LA bicycle ride to take place 2 weeks before the California AIDS ride, which will now benefit AIDS Project Los Angeles. Palotta sued the charities for breach of contract, but the judge in the case ruled in favor of the charities.

Sources: Manning, Cyril. "Holier Than Thou." Salon Magazine 1 February 2002. <http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/2002/02/01/aids_ride/> (7 February 2002)
Ness, Carol. "Bitter Feud Casts Pall Over AIDS Ride." San Francisco Chronicle 10 January 2002. <http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2002/01/10/MN148965.DTL> (7 February 2002)

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