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Bicyclists Begin Fundraising Ride to Washington

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RALEIGH — About 1,700 bicyclists left the State Fairgrounds in Raleigh Thursday morning in a race to Washington. They are not racing against each other. Their opponent is much tougher; their opponent is AIDS.

The bikers will be participating in the 4th annual AIDS Ride from Raleigh to the nation's capital.

The bikers will travel on small rural highways in North Carolina and Virginia; many of them are not avid bikers, or even athletes. They are simply people who are willing to climb a lot of hills in order to make a difference.

Janice Helms and Beth Springfield look pretty comfortable on their bikes now. But until three weeks ago, neither had really been on a bike since grade school.

In the next few days, the pair will try to ride 330 miles to raise money for AIDS. They trained by riding 30 miles each day after work, and 60 miles a day on the weekends. They say their struggle has been nothing compared to what people living with AIDS endure.

"They have so many struggles they have to face and we don't really know what that's like," Helms says.

As race day approached and they gathered with their team in Raleigh, the idea of giving up was not even in the realm of possibilities.

Each rider had to raise at least $1,800 from sponsors to participate in the race. Organizers estimate the race will raise $4 million. The money will go to two AIDS charities.

The ride is the second of five AIDS rides scheduled throughout the nation this summer.


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