This is the FAQ page for the Charity Treks HIV/AIDS Vaccine Bike Treks.

Please send any questions related specifically to this event that are not answered in this FAQ to david@charitytreks.org.

This FAQ was last modified on July 9, 2018.

Q.   Who is Charity Treks, and why are they organizing these Bike Treks ?

A. Charity Treks Inc. is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit company made up of volunteers interested in raising awareness and money for the cause of finding a vaccine for AIDS. Charity Treks is made up of the core organizers of the successful Montreal to Portland, ME AIDS Vaccine Bike Trek in 2002, which was organized on short notice after a previously scheduled event was cancelled. We have produced a cycling event every year since, starting in Montreal or Burlington, and ending in Boston or Portland, ME. From 2015 to 2017, we produced our first events outside of these cities, by going from Charlottesville, VA to Washington, DC.

We will continue to produce events as long as we feel that we can make a difference in the fight against AIDS. As well as raising money, an equally important aspect of these events is to raise awareness in the general population of the devastating effects of the disease, and the importance of the continuing efforts of researchers to find a vaccine and eventually, a cure.

Q.   What / When is the next event ?

A. The next event is the Burlington, VT to Portland, ME HIV/AIDS Vaccine Bike Trek 2018. It will be held from Tuesday, August 7 to Friday, August 10, 2018. On-site registration will take place in Burlington, VT on Monday, August 6, 2018.

Q.   When does registration begin, and how much does it cost ?

A. Registration begins on January 1, 2018. The registration fee is as follows:
$325.00 USD for full event riders, $100.00 for riders choosing the 1-day option and $100.00 USD for crew volunteers. Medical volunteers do not pay a registration fee.

Q.   What are these fees used for, and are there any other “hidden” costs ?

A. The fees are used to offset the costs associated with producing the event, so that 100 % of all money raised can be donated to the UCLA Aids Institute and the Emory Vaccine Center. As well, corporate and personal donations help cover the costs associated with the event. The event organizers volunteer their time because they truly believe in the cause.

There are no “hidden” costs associated with this event. We state as much as we can right from the start so there are no surprises during the event. We will provide breakfasts, lunches and suppers, as well as refreshments and water at PIT stops. Any incidental expenses are also your responsibility (ice cream or Gatorade at a convenience store, souvenirs, the odd donut here and there).

We will transport your gear (luggage, tent, sleeping bag, etc.) from one camp to the next and the hotels, cabins or campsites are paid for using the registration fees. Some of the campsites may charge for the use of showers, but this is a minimal expense.

Q.   How do I register ?

A. You can register by clicking on the “Register Online” button on our website and completing the online form at Active.com. You may also download our PDF registration form from the Charity Treks website and mail in your registration.

Event registration is only confirmed once your payment has been received. The event has a rider cap so it is important that payment be sent to guarantee you a spot.

Q.   What methods of payment can be used ?

A. Registration fees can be paid using Visa, MasterCard or American Express via the Active.com website. You can also send a check payable to Charity Treks to the address on the registration form.

Q.   What is the refund policy ?

A. Registration fees will be fully refunded if a rider cancels before June 1, 2018. Any cancellations received after this date will not be refunded, and the fees collected will be used to cover the operational expenses of the event.

Q.   What is the fundraising minimum ?

A.   We do NOT have a fundraising minimum. Yes, you read that right; we do NOT have a fundraising minimum. We believe that awareness and rider experience are just as important as the money raised. We feel that your riding effort is worth at least $500. We want you to set your own goals – your own limits – and raise what you can.

We ask that everyone who registers puts forth an honest effort to raise funds for our beneficiaries, as this is the primary reason of producing these events. We will provide guidance and fundraising letters and templates that can be used for those people not familiar with raising funds for charity.

Q.   I don’t ride but would like to get involved. How can I volunteer ?

A. We are looking for 2 types of volunteers: crew and medical. Crew consists of helping in any capacity possible, which may vary from day to day during the course of the event. You could be packing and moving gear one day, driving a sweep vehicle the next and working at camp the third. You need only be willing to help, enthusiastic, able bodied and adaptable.

Medical staff requires some medical training / background, as your assistance is specific in nature. You can assist from a medical standpoint even if you are riding. You will help with medical clearance, and be willing to assist in case of medical emergency.

Other ways to help are procuring goods and services for the event, assisting with contacting riders and crew, recruiting new riders, event promotion, contacting local officials about the event, etc. Please send an e-mail to david@charitytreks.org for more details on this.

Q.   How can I donate to the Trek ?

A. Donations for the Trek can be made via check or credit card. For checks, they should be made out to Charity Treks, and mailed to the address on the Donation Form from the website. Credit card donations can be made via secure server from the Active.com website, which processes all of our registration and donation transactions. Simply click on the “$ Donate” link on the Charity Treks website. All donations are tax-deductible, since Charity Treks Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.

Q.   How much of my donation goes towards paying expenses ?

A. None. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Goose Egg. Donation checks made out to Charity Treks will be equally split and fully donated between our two beneficiaries.

Q.   Can I donate to help with event expenses ?  Is this amount tax-deductible ?

A. Yes. Donations can be made to Charity Treks Inc. to assist in covering operating expenses for the event. These funds are separate from the funds that go to our two beneficiaries. We are a federally registered 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, which means that all donations we receive are tax-deductible.

Q.   I’ve never raised funds before. Where can I get help ?

A. We will provide you with a fundraising guide (in PDF format) that will help you with this. You will be put in contact with experienced riders and fundraisers who can mentor you and answer any questions you may have. You can also log on to our Facebook page and ask for help from other riders.

Q.   How will registration take place in Burlington ?

A. Onsite registration will take place from noon to 5:00 pm on Monday, August 6, 2018 in Burlington, VT at our host hotel (to be determined). You will meet some of the volunteers on the event, pick up your event T-shirt and jersey (if you ordered one) and have the opportunity to ask any questions you may have.

There will be ongoing Safety and Rider briefings throughout the day, and you are also required to meet with a Medical Team member to assure you are fit for the event and discuss any medical related issues.

Q.   What if I can’t make it to registration ?

A. You cannot ride or participate in the event without onsite registration and medical review. However, if you cannot make it to Burlington on time, alternate arrangements can be made for registration, but must be done IN ADVANCE. Please send an e-mail to david@charitytreks.org for more information about this.

Q.   Have group rates been arranged at the host hotel in Burlington ?

A. Yes, group rates are available for event participants. Information will be communicated in our monthly newsletter that you receive once you register.

Q.   Have group rates been arranged at the host hotel in Portland ?

A. Yes, group rates are available for event participants. Information will be communicated in our monthly newsletter that you receive once you register.

Q.   What about travel arrangements ?  How do I transport my bike to Burlington ?

A. We do not get involved with the travel logistics of participants and their gear / bikes. We will provide as much information as we can to facilitate this, but it is up to you to make the arrangements. Any reservations (hotel, car, air) should be made in your name. If you choose to guarantee a reservation with a personal credit card, you alone are responsible for that charge.

The airport to fly into is Burlington (BTV). The airport to fly out of is Portland Jetport (PWM). There are a number of alternate airports that may be used, depending on the departure point.

You will be able to ship your bike up to 5 days before the event. We will hold your bike for you and it will be available at registration.

Q.   What are we expected to bring for the event ?

A. We will be staying at campsites and/or hotels along the route, so you need everything you would need for a night of camping and any personal effects. All riders and crew must provide their own tents if they are camping; these are NOT supplied. All items, including tents and sleeping bags, must be packed in the morning prior to leaving camp. Personal effects must be packed securely to avoid loss or damage (no paper or plastic bags). We have set a 40 lb. weight limit guideline for individual gear bags, but do not limit the total number of bags. We ask that riders be considerate of the crew who are lifting them every day. Two 25 lb. bags are better than 1 40 lb. bag.

Q.   How safe are our belongings during the Trek ?

A. Any items left at camp will not be unattended at any point in time. The items will be transported to the next day’s camp and will not be left unattended. All bikes will be stored in the same area of camp in the evening and will be immediately adjacent to the camping area that the riders are using.

Q.   Can I store my belongings in my bike case ?

A. You can only store belongings in your bike box if a) it is made of a rigid plastic and closes securely, and b) you do not need these belongings until the end of the ride. In other words, it cannot be used as a suitcase. Most participants store the items that they will need for the celebratory dinner in Portland and clothes for the following day, so they do not risk getting them wet or dirty during the ride.

All cardboard bike cases will be broken down (unfolded) for ease of transport, so any items typically stored in these (tire pump, spare parts, tubes, gears, etc.) need to be packed separately.

Q.   I’ve never done an event like this before. Where can I get information on how to train for it ?

A. We will provide you with a training guide (in PDF format) that will help you with this. You will be put in contact with experienced riders and volunteers who can mentor you and answer any questions you may have. You can also log on to our Facebook page and ask for help from other participants.

Q.   How will departures take place in the morning, and at what times ?

A. Riders must depart camp within a certain time window in order for road crews to provide adequate support level. This time window will vary slightly throughout the Trek, as outlined below. These are sample times and subject to change, but it gives you an idea of what to expect.

Day 1: Riders must be ready to ride at 7:00 am. There will be a small get-together and some opening words by the organizers, then riders leave at 7:15 am.

Day 2: Riders must leave camp between 7:00 and 8:00 am

Day 3: Riders must leave camp between 8:00 and 9:00 am

Day 4: Riders must leave camp between 8:00 and 9:00 am (slower riders leave first)

Ride-in to closing ceremony is between 12:45 – 1:00 pm, with closing ceremonies from 1:00-1:45 pm.

Q.   When will we know what the route is ?

A. For safety reasons, we will only release the specifics of the route the evening before we ride it (i.e. we will release Day 2 route specific at Camp 1 in the evening). Printed copies will be distributed to all riders. The route will also have an elevation graph to give the riders some idea of the difficulty level of that portion of the Trek.

As well, the route is clearly marked by bright pink arrows that are fairly difficult to miss no matter what the background is. The goal of the crew marking the route is for the riders to not need to use their route maps to make it to camp; just follow the arrows.

If you use a Garmin or similar device, you will be able to download the route map to your device the night before the event.

Q.   What type of support will be available ?

A. We will provide everything else you need to enjoy a safe, carefree journey. We’ll transport your bags from camp to camp, provide road support (Sweep and SAG vehicles, caboose, moto), medical support, PIT stops with water and snacks, hotel rooms and/or campsites with showers and 3 meals a day. You will also get to meet and be cheered on by a fabulous crew who make it all possible.

Q.   Where are the PIT stops located, and do they all have bathrooms ?

A. The PIT stops are strategically located approximately 15-25 miles apart throughout the Trek. Some of them do NOT have bathrooms (don’t worry, you’ll know in advance which ones do and which ones don’t). Please keep this in mind as you are riding. We will be riding through small towns fairly consistently and if the urge to go strikes you, listen to your body and stop. Don’t assume there’ll be a bathroom at the next PIT. Specific PIT locations will be clearly indicated on the route plans you will be given daily.

Q.   Am I free to stop along the way during the Trek ?

A. Yes, you may stop for a rest or pop into a store along the way if something piques your interest. You must be able to do this safely, it must be directly on the route and we recommend that you alert another rider so they know you have stopped.

REMEMBER – if you stop, do NOT leave your bike unattended. If you do, LOCK IT. We are not responsible for theft.

Q.   What happens when we get into camp at the end of the day ?

A. As you arrive at camp, you’ll check in to confirm so that we can account for all riders. We ask that you do not stop abruptly and rest. It is important to do some cool down exercises to prepare your body for the next day. You will park your bike in the bike parking area.

All gear will be located in a central area. You will identify your belongings and bring them to the area that you want to set up your tent in or bring them to your hotel room. There will be volunteers / crew at camp to help you do this, so that you can have a bit more free time in the evening. You will be instructed about the camp / hotel layout and the location of showers.

Supper is generally served between 5:30 – 7:00 pm.

Q.   What happens at camp in the evening ?

A. Evening time is at the discretion of the riders. All riders will need to attend a group meeting with the organizers every night. This meeting will last about 20-30 minutes and serve to discuss the day’s events, any changes to the route and any questions that the group may have. We also use this time to celebrate the day’s achievements and prepare for tomorrow.

Q.   Do we have to sleep at camp, or can we stay in a hotel or with a friend ?

A. You are not obliged to sleep at camp. However, you must check in at the end of the day so we can account for everyone. If you chose to stay at a hotel, you are responsible to get to and from the hotel at night and in the morning. You must arrive at camp the following morning within the scheduled departure times. You may leave belongings at camp in the evening, even if you are not staying at camp.

Q.   Is alcohol allowed at camp ?

A. There is only 1 camp this year, and it is the residence of one of our long time riders (Rosanne Buck). Camps for the other nights are hotel rooms. We ask that you keep your alcohol consumption to a minimum, as it may affect your ability to safely complete the event. We also ask that bottles and caps, cans and other items be disposed of in an appropriate manner. In other words, we need to leave the camp (Rosanne’s house) the way we found them when we arrived.

It is a requirement to be of legal drinking age.

Q.   What happens at the end of the Trek ?

A. On Day 4, near the end of the route, we will have a small holding area set up where we will ask the riders to wait until all riders have arrived, so that we can ride into the park together, as a show of unity. There may also be some media presence and/or police escort, which is why we schedule our arrival. We will have brief closing ceremonies, and will have a restaurant selected for an evening dinner for those who wish to participate.

Q.   How do I get my bike back home at the end of the Trek ?

A. You would transport it the same way you did to get it to Burlington. We will provide the option of having your bike shipped back to you from the Charlottesville-area, when the gear truck returns from the Trek. Using this option means that you would not get your bike back until the Friday following the event.

There is an additional fee for this, since we are essentially driving your bike back to Charlottesville, then shipping it via UPS or FedEx back to you.