Charity Bike Ride Guide 2021

March 29, 2021 • Transportation

Charity rides are a great way to do good, get into shape, and meet some like-minded folks!

Charity rides are organized bicycle rides — usually along set routes — with a fundraising component and an organization that benefits from those funds. They’re a great way to do good, get into shape, and meet like-minded folks. They’ve also changed a lot given the pandemic, with many rides trading in-person trainings and events for a fully online experience. Others adapted to maintain COVID-safe protocols.

But, if you could use a little extra kick in the cycle shorts to get on a consistent workout schedule, signing up for one of these is really a good option. There are a few things to keep in mind though, especially as we emerge from the pandemic:

  • In more typical years, participants register for charity rides in teams. Gathering your friends (or colleagues — your employer may have a pre-existing team you can join) and signing up for a ride together means you can help egg each other on during training. Or better yet, schedule weekend training rides and start logging those pre-event miles together. This year however, many rides have gone fully virtual, and teams and gatherings are discouraged.

  • There’s usually a fundraising minimum you need to achieve to participate in a ride (and sometimes a rider registration fee). This helps the organization cover it’s administrative costs and raise money for its cause. You usually have a certain period of time to ask friends and relatives to support you.

  • Training is usually a good, if not essential plan. Most rides have training regimens posted on their websites.

If you want to ride hard, but maybe drink wine afterwards...

Most rides in and around the Bay Area require training, but you could probably pull these off with minimal prep. Added bonus: One includes wine!

Ride For A Reason (virtual) | April 24
In past years, Ride For A Reason participants biked from either Oakland, Fairfield, or Vacaville to the state capital in Sacramento, with the goal of putting eyes on funding for public schools. This year, the event was entirely virtual. Money raised from registration and sponsorship fees each year goes to school enrichment programs in Oakland.

Waves to Wine (in-person and virtual) | September 18 - 19
So about that wine: This ride to support MS treatment and research has several route options this year, including a virtual ride (using Zwift) or a solo jaunt (using Strava). The in-real-life ride runs through the rolling hills of California wine country, and although the usual rest-stop food spread had to be scaled back in order to be COVID-safe, one of the most amazing things about this ride is how well-stocked it is. Cheers!

Tour de Cure, Northern California (virtual) | October 10
Prior to 2020, the Tour De Cure — a ride raising money fund diabetes research, — began in Stanford Research Park. During the pandemic, the event went virtual, and this year, organizers have planned a virtual celebration in October.

If you’re hot to trot...

So you bought a road bike, downloaded Strava, and bought Chamois Butt'r in bulk. Well, saddle up and plan on pedaling some serious pavement in anticipation of these strenuous slogs.

AIDS Lifecycle, now TogetherRide Challenge (virtual) | now until June 30
In the “before” times, this seven day, fully-supported trek from San Francisco to L.A. was oft cited as the “gateway” to more regular biking, and for good reason. Although the route is long and challenging, the Lifecycle community is extremely welcoming and encouraging of new riders. That is still the case, even though this year’s event is a virtual 100 day challenge, not a sea of riders. Participants can register as teams or individuals, with the goal of logging 1.2 million miles collectively to honor the 1.2 million people in the US living with HIV. As part of the challenge, riders raise funds to support the Los Angeles LGBT Center and San Francisco AIDS Foundation.

California Coast Classic (in-person) | September 18 - 25
See some of the most beautiful parts of the California coast on this eight day 500+ mile ride from SF to LA. All meals are provided, but be prepared for accommodations of the rustic variety (read: tent camping). The event raises funds for The Arthritis Foundation.

If you’d rather forgo the training and get straight to the fun...

Sometimes, all you want is a bunch of bikes and bumping beats on a Friday night. Here’s how to not sign up for a charity ride, but still enjoy great gatherings of bicyclists.

Bike Party (SF, East Bay, SJ) (on hiatus) | various monthly dates

As of April, Bay Area Bike Parties had yet to return to their monthly cadence. But when they do, check them out. Here’s the set up: Once a month, roving bands of bikers — some in costumes; some with neon lights; and some towing subwoofers — take to city streets. There is a central meet up location, but the route is never planned in advance, and it’s always a slow-moving social ride.

Did we miss your favorite Bay Area ride? Drop us a line at

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