Rep. Schiff Pedaling from SF to LA with HIV/AIDS Ride

Congressman Adam Schiff hasn't been able to join AIDS/LifeCycle-specific training rides, but he did the Finish the Ride event.
Congressman Adam Schiff hasn’t been able to join AIDS/LifeCycle-specific training rides, but he did the Finish the Ride event.

Congressman Adam Schiff, Representative for California’s 28th congressional district, is a triathlete with a penchant for cycling—but over the last month he’s had to step up his training in preparation for his first time riding in AIDS/LifeCycle (ALC).

A weeklong charity bike ride, AIDS/LifeCycle departs San Francisco on Sunday, with its hundreds of riders pedaling into Los Angeles on Saturday, June 7. The ride benefits the HIV/AIDS services of the Los Angeles LGBT Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.

Though Schiff’s no stranger to the saddle (meaning the bike seat), he’s never taken on distances that compare to ALC’s more than 500 cumulative miles.

Schiff said that he’s known about the ride for a long time, and from hearing friends talk about the experience he always thought it sounded like a fun challenge and a life-affirming experience. Last year, Schiff was invited to speak at the ride’s closing ceremony and found it to be “a very moving event.” He decided he’d like to take part in the ride one day, if the week of ALC were to coincide with a week when no votes were scheduled.

Just about a month ago, he found out that this was a year when that was the case. Although that made him a late addition to the ride—most participants buckle down on training starting in January, or even the autumn prior to the ride—he decided to register.

His schedule has barred him from taking part in organized AIDS/LifeCycle training rides, but Schiff has been hitting the gym and has done some rides of 45 to 60 miles on his own. He also took part in the Finish the Ride event, which he hopes will serve as preparation for the two hills dubbed “evil twins” that ALC riders pedal over in quick succession.

“I think I can do the distance, but I’m not sure if I can do it back to back day after day,” said Schiff, who is nervous about the second day of the ride, in which riders face a route more than 100 miles long.

Rep. Adam Schiff
Rep. Adam Schiff

Though he’s excited about camping each night along the route and getting to know other riders, Schiff said that if it weren’t for the cause of supporting HIV services “there’s no way I would be doing this.”

“I probably have a district that has been as impacted by HIV/AIDS as any other in the country,” said Schiff, who noted that many of his constituents have lost loves ones to HIV/AIDS and that many go to the Center for HIV care.

“I think it’s a marvelous cause,” he said.  “That was the real incentive.”

In the spirit of full disclosure, WEHOville contributing editor Stevie St. John’s previous role at the Los Angeles LGBT Center included working as part of the AIDS/LifeCycle media/public relations team. She was also an ALC rider one year.