Even though Gus Kenworthy has traded his skis for some spandex and a bike as he has taken up cycling in anticipation of the 2019 AIDS LifeCycle.

The Olympic Silver medalist has been active on social media raising money and training for the event, sharing pictures of him shirtless in a cycling bib to help entice his followers to donate for his campaign. However, his journey has been more than just showing off his sexy… bike. It’s been about the mission of the AIDS LifeCycle itself, to raise money for HIV/AIDS research and honor those who have been affected by HIV/AIDS.

The 545 Mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles proved to be quite a challenge for Kenworthy, who is more accustomed to performing aerial tricks and traveling at high speeds down a mountain than covering such a long distance via bike. Through his hard work and sore legs, he became the top fundraiser for the 2019 AIDS LifeCycle by raising more than $243,000 for the world’s largest HIV/AIDS fundraiser.

The AIDS LifeCycle ran from June 2nd to the 8th and drew more than 3000 participants for the ride. The event itself has become a staple event for the LGBT community, bringing together people of all gender identities and sexual orientations for the common goal to support HIV/AIDS research. The community support behind AIDS LifeCycle comes from the thousands of “roadies” who support the riders by providing the necessary provisions to make the seven-day journey possible, including setting up camps, providing food and water and cheering on. In addition, other organizations get involved to support the riders, including the Otter Pop Stop, and Cheer Los Angeles!

Following the completion of the ride, Gus Kenworthy shared his experiences and what the AIDS LifeCycle has meant for him…

”It’s hard to put into words what this past week has meant to me but it was quite a journey, both physically and emotionally. By the end of day two I was questioning why I ever even signed up. I was tired, my legs ached, I was bored out of my mind and all I wanted was for the ride to end.

Throughout the week things started to shift though and as we got closer and closer to Los Angeles I began to feel sad that it was coming to an end. The people I met along the way were some of the sweetest, most patient and most generous that I’ve ever known. Everyone had their own story behind partaking – but on night 6, during a seaside candle-lit vigil commemorating the lives we lost to the AIDS epidemic, it became very clear to me the real reason and importance of our participation.

I am so thankful to have been a part of this year’s ride and I’m already looking forward to next year’s (even if my ass isn’t). I pledged to raise $1,000,000 for the cause and although I didn’t complete that goal I’m going to participate every year until that dream is realized. If anybody is considering riding next year,

I genuinely encourage you to do so. For this year’s ALC I’ve currently raised over $243,000 (although there are still donations that I’m expecting and my page is still open for any of you who want to help!). My efforts exceeded the previous highest fundraiser more than threefold and I am so incredibly thankful to each and every one of you who contributed to that. Whether you donated, posted, shared, commented, bought a product or simply rooted me on, I can’t express my gratitude and appreciation enough.

I couldn’t have done this without you all! I also want to give a special thank you to all the people in all the tiny towns along the route who stood outside with signs and balloons, snacks and music – y’all were truly a sight for sore eyes every single time ❤️“

The 2018 AIDS LifeCycle raised more than $16.6 million for critical HIV/AIDS Services provided by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center. When the final numbers come out from the 2019 event, no doubt they will be even higher!

By Dirk Smith