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Pedal Against Arthritis: Epic California Bike Ride Has New Twist for Charity

california coast classic highway 1Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1) at Big Sur, Calif.; (photo/Doug Meek via Shutterstock)
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May is National Bike Month, as well as National Arthritis Awareness Month. Pull a ‘one stone’ trick and sign up for this 525-mile in-person or (new this year) remote bike ride on the West Coast.

The 2022 California Coast Classic Bicycle Tour + Arthritis Challenge Experience takes riders on an epic 8-day, 525-mile cruise down the California coast this September. It’s so iconic that the charity ride actually marks the Arthritis Foundation’s largest annual fundraising event — raking in more than $1 million each go-around.

Want to ride (either down the coastal course itself or by joining remotely) and benefit the more than 60 million Americans with arthritis? Act fast — race organizers announced Thursday that 70 slots remained for the September 10-17 event. If you register by May 31, you can take 30% off registration fees with code MAY22.

Notably, a fundraising requirement for the race sponsor, the Arthritis Foundation, applies to all riders in the live race. Digital participants will be exempt. See below for details, including support available through the race organizers.

Ways to Join the 22nd California Coast Classic

This fall, the California Coast Classic spins into its 22nd year. The boutique, bucket-list bike tour showcases the unmistakable scenery of Highway 1.

And a self-paced structure means cyclists at all levels, plus e-bike riders, are welcome to ride. Presented by the Arthritis Foundation, it routinely tops the nonprofit’s annual fundraiser list.

New this year, supporters who cannot attend the in-person bike tour have a new option. The Arthritis Challenge Experience (ACE) lets remote participants choose their adventure and ride from home while still connecting with the racing community.

While race organizers expect the in-person ride to sell all 250 slots, ACE folds in any rider who misses the cut on registration or can’t make it to California.

“One of the lessons we learned from the pandemic is that there are a lot of cyclists and other athletes out there who want to support the Arthritis Foundation, even if they cannot attend CCC in person,” said Shannon Marang Cox, ride director and associate executive director of the Arthritis Foundation.

“ACE gives supporters a great new opportunity to join us and contribute to our mission while still being a part of the larger CCC community that brings great experience, knowledge, and motivation to all participants.”

Race Sponsor Builds Arthritis Awareness

Per the Arthritis Foundation, one in every four Americans is living with arthritis — more than breast cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and autism combined. Chronic joint pain is now the country’s leading cause of disability and affects more than 60 million adults and 300,000 children.

The nonprofit helps support arthritis patients by providing information and resources geared toward clinical and self-treatment, supporting field research, and promoting community connections like the California Coast Classic.

Presenting sponsor Amgen, one of the world’s preeminent biotechnology companies, consistently renders financial support for the ride and typically recruits a team of its employees to ride each year.

“We are beyond grateful for Amgen’s support,” said Marang Cox. “Amgen provides the foundation that makes the CCC possible and allows this event to continue to be the Arthritis Foundation’s top fundraiser each year.”

Ride Details, Fees, and Fundraising

The fully supported ride traces coastal roads, including Highway 1 between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The Arthritis Foundation says it chose nightly accommodations like campsites and hotels in “areas not open to larger groups.”

For ACE (remote) participants, the door to interpretation is wide open. “Choose your adventure: bike, run, walk, climb, golf, anything goes!” The Arthritis Foundation said. When you’re not on the trail, sidewalk, golf course, or anywhere else, you can join in social hours, digital channels, training challenges, and live streams from the riders’ campsite.

couple cycling on bike path

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Fundraising requirements complete the gamut of participant involvement. As a new rider, you’ll have to raise $3,500 for the cause (veterans raise $3,300 minimum). You can also join a team, start a group, or ride alone. Remote participants, meanwhile, don’t have to raise money or can set their own funding goals.

California Coast Classic spokesperson Julie Kelly, who has worked in various supporting roles for the ride over the last 6 years, said participants’ funding goals tend to be highly successful due to internal support and a long fundraising period.

“Once you register, you get access to DonorDrive. It’s a really robust platform that helps you send emails or create a landing page that you can then share with anyone as a standalone or a QR code,” Kelly explained.

“Alongside that, there’s a detailed manual from previous riders with tips, and even a Q&A session with race veterans who already have experience fundraising in the event.”

The funding period also extends 6 weeks beyond the ride itself. Kelly noted that between the scenery, the cause, and social media, most riders have success drumming up funds while they’re on the road.

For new California Coast Classic entrants, registration costs $95. Repeat riders pay $55, and ACE participants pay $39. You can use the MAY22 code for 30% off.

As of this writing, the race had garnered over $390,000 of its $1 million fundraising goal, and 188 participants had registered for the live race across 21 teams.

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