SMART Ride

SMART Ride

The date for this annual event has passed. A new date will be provided when available.

Celebrate Life as You Cycle with SMART Ride

Ever wanted to pedal through paradise and support an important cause at the same time? Well, dust off your bike gear and get ready for one of the most inspiring and picturesque rides of your life. SMART Ride is a two-day charitable journey from Miami to Key West’s AIDS Memorial and is considered the second largest bicycle ride in the United States dedicated to giving 100% of its funds raised to those infected, affected or at risk for HIV/AIDS in Florida.

Back and Better than Ever

Returning to Florida on Friday, November 19 and Saturday, November 20, 2021 (after having to reimagine last year’s ride due to the COVID-19 pandemic), SMART Ride will celebrate its 18th anniversary with a relentless passion to create awareness around the growing HIV/AIDS epidemic and a strong determination to meet fundraising goals. SMART Ride has raised more than $12.5 million for a variety of HIV/AIDS support groups in Florida since its inception, engaging nearly 550 riders annually. Riders and crew range in age from 18 to 73.

Organizers are looking forward to welcoming riders in-person once again. “The worldwide pandemic took us away from friends and loved ones. It was reminiscent of the early 1980s where those with HIV/AIDS were so feared that they were shunned and stigmatized,” said Glen Weinzimer, founder of SMART Ride. “This year we connect, we rejoice and we celebrate life: lives lived, lives taken away. We urge and welcome everyone to join us and make the world a better, healthier place.”

This year’s theme, “To Life,” is fitting because SMART Ride and all HIV/AIDS bike rides around the country were started with the sole purpose to save lives and honor those lost. “We will celebrate a life lived as well as work to keep people healthier to live a longer life,” adds Weinzimer.

Camaraderie for a Great Cause

“Smart Ride is special when it comes to fundraising rides because 100% of the funds we raise go to beneficiaries of our choosing. Pridelines in Miami has been making a difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ youth since the early 1980s and I am proud to support them,” says David Ardelean, an annual participant in the SMART Ride. “There’s a ‘love bubble’ that happens during the ride, and that keeps me coming back year after year.”

Ardelean, who has supported the SMART Ride for many years, describes the “love bubble” as a beautiful bond between riders. “There’s a shared sense of comradery when you cycle with friends. It’s not a race, it’s a ride,” he says. And nothing enhances a memorable ride with new and old friends than Miami’s gorgeous views and landscapes.

Stunning Locations

Riders can expect stunning backdrops even on training rides leading up to the big day. Team training rides take place all across Miami, ranging from Key Biscayne’s five-mile Rickenbacker Causeway, known for its unparalleled bay and city views, to tranquil shaded paths provided by tropical hardwood hammocks found in South Miami. Coconut Grove’s Peacock Park is another popular spot for riders thanks to its beautiful canopy of trees and lovely views of Biscayne Bay. When it comes to prime team selfie locations, Ardelean credits Palmetto Bay’s Deering Estate, the grand 1920s-era home of Charles Deering and all-around cultural gem listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as a favorite. “We make it down to Deering Estate and we take group shots over on the dock every single time!”

The Start of the Ride

The festivities begin with an orientation on Thursday, November 18. The following morning, hundreds of SMART Ride participants meet at sunrise at the University of Miami’s Watsco Center to begin the two-day, 165-mile ride to Key West making stops along the way and spending the first night in Duck Key.

Covid-19 Safety Protocols

“This year, as a result of COVID-19 and for a desire to be overly cautious, we have implemented new safety protocols, including a required proof of vaccination and/or proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of the event. Additionally, our ceremonies are going to look different this year and we have worked hard to find ways to maintain the emotional impact that is part of the experience,” says Weinzimer. “A candlelight vigil will take place at Hawks Cay Resort in Duck Key, Florida, in what we believe will be a very moving, emotional and safe way to honor lives.”

Victor Diaz-Herman, CEO of Pridelines, one of the many beneficiary organizations, explains, “Paradise can exist when those living with HIV/AIDS have all the support and resources they need. The support from SMART Ride is helping to ensure that this paradise is attainable for Pridelines and those we serve.”

An Experience that Will Change Lives

Get a glimpse of this incredible experience and prepare to get excited for SMART Ride 2021. For those considering hopping on a bike, Ardelean encourages people to just “Do it!”

“You will be changed for good as a result of it. The fun people, stories and experiences you’ll have will stay with you for years to come,” he says. The SMART Ride is the perfect opportunity to experience South Florida while making an impact on the lives of so many. The journey will take you through some of Miami’s most beloved neighborhoods, including Coral Gables, South Miami, Pinecrest and Homestead. For more information and to register for SMART Ride 2021, visit thesmartride.org.

By: Gino R. Campodónico | Oct 27, 2021

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