Frequently Asked Questions

RIDE 101


Why is the registration fee higher this year?

We have adopted a policy from a few years ago so that all the money you raise goes to support TPAN services and the community. We raised the registration fee to cover more expenses like the overnight camp, food, and supplies. This change means more of the money you raise as a biker, crew member, or volunteer will go directly to TPAN programs like mental health (our most popular program during the pandemic) and the Tea Room, our LGBTQ youth drop-in center. Scholarships are available for those unable to pay the higher fee. Just send an email to Deb FitzGerald at


Why did the Ride for AIDS Chicago change its name to Ride for Life Chicago?

Three years ago, TPAN changed the event's name from Ride for AIDS to Ride for Life Chicago because our mission and the people we serve extend beyond AIDS and HIV. We help people understand their HIV status, get HIV medications, and find HIV doctors, as well as address mental health issues, unemployment, housing needs, and operate a drop-in center for LGBTQ youth and young adults.

What’s the best way of contacting event staff if I have a question?

You can email or call us at any time! Meet our Ride for Life Chicago support team and access our contact details HERE.

How can I learn more about TPAN’s services?

To help you tell the story of TPAN's mission and work, we have shared insightful statistics and testimonials from people receiving services at TPAN. Get in touch with one of our event staff if you have specific questions about TPAN's work!


What is a Virtual Particpant?

A Virtual Particpant is a participant not cycling the Ride, yet who is part of our team and advocacy/fundraising experience. Virtual Particpant choose the challenge they want to take on (cycling, running, swimming etc.), a fundraising goal, a mileage count, and a program or service they are inspired by! Contact one of our event staff to learn more about how you can be a part of TPAN’s Ride for Life Chicago from home!In response to the COVID-19 crisis we want anyone to be a part of the Ride for Life Chicago, regardless of where you are or your physical ability! Contact one of our event staff to learn more about how you can be a part of TPAN’s Ride for Life Chicago from home!

What do I choose if I’m unsure of completing 200 miles?

If you are unsure about completing 200 miles, you are not alone! A lot of first-time participants have the same feeling at some point in their training. This is makes the training program very important! The peer-led training program is designed to prepare riders for tackling 200 miles. Sometimes situations arise that deter training, but if by the event date, you do not feel ready for 200 miles, you are able to move to the 100-mile rider experience. Speak with a Team Captain or event staff if you have concerns during your training. 

What does it mean to join Crew?

Our crew members are an essential part of the Ride for Life Chicago! They support cycling participants on training rides, they help ensure the safety and fun experience of cycling Riders during the event weekend, and they are an important part of our community visibility and team experiences. 

If you would like to have a hands-on experience in the Ride for Life Chicago, but cycling 100-200 miles isn't for you, Crew may be the perfect fit!  You will have ALL the online and team experiences of fundraising, alongside your peers. You will receive all the same staff support for your fundraising as your cycling and Virtual Partcipant peers.

Crew members can register as part of a Ride for Life Chicago team or as an individual. 

Would you like to speak with one of our Crew Teams Captains to learn more? Have questions about how to join Crew? Contact us!

Do I need to register if I want to volunteer on the Ride weekend?

You can volunteer in many ways. You DO NOT have to register on this site if you want to give your time and energy as a volunteer. Simply fill out the online volunteer sign-up form and we’ll contact you to find the right volunteer position for you. Feel free to contact a member of our event staff if you have specific questions about volunteering.

Is there a deadline for registration?

There is no deadline to register. However, the sooner you register as a participant the more time you have to surpass your fundraising goal, experience the fun and support of Ride peers and teams, and be a part of the overall Ride journey in advancing our mission. Register today to get started! 

If I choose to sign up for the 100-mile option what should I expect?

Those participating in the 100-mile Ride enjoy the same training and fundraising opportunities as those completing the 200-mile Ride. Everyone trains together on weekends. Riders preparing to ride 100 miles have a progressive training plan that gradually increases their distance.

I registered but forgot add myself to a Team — What do I do?

You've registered and decided to join a team or create a team? Simply contact one of our event staff and we'll update your registration.

What’s the benefit of being on a Team in the Ride for Life Chicago?

There are a lot of benefits to joining a team, especially if this is your first time participating in the Ride for Life Chicago. Both the team and individual participation options offer a great experience of fundraising and advocating for TPAN. When it comes to meeting other Ride for Life Chicago participants, being on a team can help facilitate that part of your experience! Also, when it comes to fundraising, teams can offer an additional level of support. You'll have at least one Team Captain to help guide and support your fundraising efforts. 

Can I register as a single rider/participant?

Yes, anyone may register and participate as an individual rider, without joining a team. If you change your mind or find the team that's the right fit for you, we can assist you in joining a team later! 

What if I register and can’t make the event weekend?

Life happens and situations arise that may conflict with event weekend. In situations like this, we recommend becoming a Virtual Participant. We can assist you in reaching your goal and updating your Ride participation role.  Simply contact one of our event staff.


How can I get help with my fundraising?

Your TPAN event staff is here to help!  Every Ride for Life Chicago participant will have the opportunity to create a personal fundraising plan and strategy with one of our team members, and Ride participants who join as part of an official Ride team will have the mentoring and peer support of your experienced Team Captain and teammates.

Would you like a one-on-one call or meeting to talk about fundraising strategies and assistance? Contact us and we'll make that happen!

I’d like to host a fundraiser for my Ride or Team! What things should I be thinking about?

Creating your own fundraising event is a great way to get the people around you engaged with your participation in the Ride. The first thing to think about when planning a fundraiser is how you can best convey the mission of TPAN and the Ride for Life Chicago. Our event team is here to help you strategize. Contact us to get help with your fundraising plan!

This can be a simple as:

  • Host a house party! By opening your home to friends and colleagues, you create an opportunity to share your story and ask for their support. Be transparent with your invitation - let them know it's a party for a cause! A simple wine party, with remarks from you or a TPAN Development team member, can invite friends to become your donors and sponsors.
  • Host an online fundraiser with our new Integrated Facebook Fundraising tool! (see the next section: How does Facebook fundraising work?)
  • Partner with your teammates or a fellow Ride participant to co-host an event at a friend's home or at a local business.

If you plan to host a fundraising event, there are a few questions and resources you should be thinking about:

  • Who am I inviting and asking to support our cause? Have I thought about all my contacts, like fellow alumni, former co-workers, neighbors, or even peers from my sports club or professional networking association?
  • How will you make "the ask"? Have you thought about how to tell your story? What will inspire your guests to give? Would you like a partner or TPAN staffer to help you or join you in making the ask?
  • How will people donate? TPAN can provide you with basic tools like official donation envelopes or color-printed donation forms, and our website is still the best and easiest way for people to give.

If you have a fundraising event strategy, we want to know about it! We'd love to help make it a success and support you along the way.

How does Facebook fundraising work?

TPAN's Ride for Life Chicago is integrated with Facebook fundraising, giving you an easy, fun way to invite donations to support our mission and surpass your fundraising goal! 

If you’ve never set-up or “hosted” a Facebook fundraiser before, it’s simple and can be a very effective way of sharing your advocacy and inviting donations from your Facebook contacts anywhere in the world. We recommend you begin by reading the basics and How-To overview at

To set up:

  • Log into your Participant Center
  • Be sure that you’re on the Home tab of the Participant Center
  • From there, you’ll see the blue Facebook button on the right side of the Participant Center.
  • Click the Facebook fundraising button and your fundraiser will be immediately set up!

Important things to know:

  • The Facebook link is only available once.  
    • This means that once you establish your fundraiser through the Participant Center, you won’t be able to set up a new linked fundraiser until the next event year (2020). 
    • Once your linked Facebook (FB) fundraiser is set up, you really shouldn’t have a need to close it. 
  • After you’ve set up the linked FB fundraiser, you’ll see the MORE options under the DONATE button. 
    • Click here and you’re able to EDIT your fundraiser. 
    • It’s a great idea to set the expiry of your fundraiser for June 19th.
    • You can also make any other edits to the text or header image here.

If you're prompted to confirm the non-profit beneficiary of your Facebook fundraiser, you’ll search for “TPAN” (@tpanchicago). 

Most importantly: after your Facebook fundraiser concludes, you’ll see that the donations you’ve invited via Facebook appear in your Ride for Life Chicago fundraising progress bar. So cool!

The ease and fun of Facebook fundraising is a great thing to share with your teammates and any prospective recruits or friends/family members who you’d like to invite to join our effort as a Virtual Participantparticipant. 

I just had a fundraising event! What’s my next step?

What is a Sponsorship and what are the new benefits this year? Can I meet my goal with sponsorships?

Who do people make checks payable to?

Donations paid by check may be made out to “TPAN”. 

What’s the fundraising requirement? What if I’m worried about meeting it?

Cyclists joining as 100- or 200-mile riders must raise a minimum of $1,200.

Virtual Participants and Crew members are asked to raise a minimum of $500.

We have numerous ways for you to surpass your fundraising goal! With this year's integration of Facebook fundraising, the opportunity to invite donations and sponsorships that can be paid over a full year, and fundraising support from your TPAN team members as well as your own Ride for Life teammates, your fundraising goal is within your reach. 

Joining a Ride for Life team is another way to enjoy peer support in fundraising efforts to meet your overall team goal. Having a Virtual Participant on your team is another way to share team support and have partners in your fundraising. 

Remember: Ride for Life Chicago donations paid over 2-12 months (as a monthly recurring gift) will be credited to your fundraising goal in full.

Most important: the majority of Ride for Life Chicago participants will set goals far above the required & suggested minimums, to be leaders and drivers of care and services for people affected by HIV.

We are here to help! If you would like to schedule one-on-one support or talk with event staff about ways to advance your fundraising, contact us.

What is the Pledge/Recurring Gift option? How does it help me meet my fundraising goal?

Donors can increase or spread out their contribution to our effort by setting up a monthly recurring donation over 2-12 months. Their TOTAL gift over time will be fully credited to your fundraising progress, as long as their gift is set-up through the website with an active recurring gift paid with credit or debit card.

This is a game-changer for your fundraising and for donors who may increase their total gift to our mission with payments spread out over time. The options are built into the Ride for Life Chicago donations page, for every donor.

How does this impact you as a fundraiser?

  • If you have a donor considering a contribution of $50, would they increase their support to $100 if paid as $10/month over 10 months?
  • Is there an individual or small business owner who might consider becoming a Ride for Life Chicago sponsor at the $500 Partner Level, if they fulfill their gift with monthlyy recurring payments of $42/month over 12 months?

Do you have questions about how to ask a donor for a pledge and recurring gift payment? Contact one of event staff or check out our Ride for Life Chicago sponsorship packet for more ideas!  We are here to help.

How does someone donate?

What do I do with CASH donations?

Handling of CASH donations - whether from friends, colleagues, or from a fundraising event you or your team has hosted - is very important, and we ask you to take a few easy steps to ensure that they are safely transferred to TPAN and that all fundraising is appropriately recognized in your progress.

  • Provide all your cash donors the opportunity to be RECEIPTED for their gift. Few may ask for this, but it's important to offer it. You can keep these donations separate by placing them in a TPAN donation envelope (ask your event team about these) or keeping the cash with your donor's information, like a simple business card.
  • COUNT your cash with a witness, teammate, or friend.  Whenever possible, it's best practice to have your cash donations doubly counted by a fellow team member or witness before you turn in cash.
  • EMAIL US to confirm your transfer of cash donations - whether dropping off at TPAN or transferring via check or online gift processing. It's important for us to know if these donations are your personal gift or contributions from others, so we can credit them properly. (Note: don't worry about this step if this is fundraiser event cash - see below!)
  • IF your cash donations are result of FUNDRAISING EVENT, you only have to fill out the simple online form found at It takes just 2-3 minutes. Then wait for follow-up email from us. Easy.

Where does the money go? How does TPAN put this support into action?

Your fundraising and all contributions support lifesaving care and services for more than 2,000 people every year. 

Click HERE to read more about how your donations impact lives in a profound way.

What digital content and resources are available to help me with my fundraising?

Digital resources and content are available for quick download here


What’s the difference between my GOAL and the minimum?

Your GOAL is the amount you've personally targeted in your fundraising! Your goal should be aspirational (aim high!) and challenging, because a stretch goal can help inspire your friends, colleagues, contacts, and teammates to give. People want you to succeed, and we recommend you set a goal that's higher than the minimum and perhaps higher than your first estimate. Returning Ride participants are encouraged to set a goal higher than your fundraising total last year! You can amend your goal (set it higher as you secure more donations, for example). Your goal is not a pledge or contract; it's your personal target and an example to donors and Ride participants!

The MINIMUM is the required amount every cycling Ride participant commits to raising when you register. This year, the required minimum is $1,200 per cyclist. The suggested (not required) minimum for all Crew members and Virtual Participants is $500.

Not sure how to set your goal?  Or have questions about how to edit your goal or (if you've been part of the Ride previously) confirm what you raised last year? We are here to help!  

What are some of the best ways to ask for support?

There are so many ways to ask for support! However, these are the two best ways to find support during your Ride experience:

Who is my Ride for Life Chicago support team?

Meet your event staff HERE and email us with any questions not answered here or to set up a personal, one-on-one meeting or call to talk about your fundraising strategies.  We are here to help!


I’m not very fast! Is that okay?

The Ride for Life Chicago is not a race! This is the most important thing to keep in mind. Participants may ride at a comfortable or preferred pace for completing 100- or 200-miles. There are time constraints around completing the entire 100- or 200-mile journey. Furthermore, for the safety of all volunteers, participants of the 200-mile distance will be swept to camp if they are unable to reach camp before dusk on Saturday June 18. 

How often are training rides?

Training rides will take place weekly on Saturday mornings. Training rides are volunteer led and will offer Crew member support for new or inexperienced cyclists where schedules permit. We are committed to helping you reach your training goals! Occasionally, back to back training rides will be scheduled for a Saturday and Sunday. This helps to get riders familiar with riding two days in a row.

Our schedule is available on the Calendar tab so that you can plan your training experience leading up to the big event weekend.  Click HERE to see any scheduled training rides and/or support events and add them to your calendar!

What if I get lost?

Safety is top goal for Ride for Life Chicago. We'll have plenty of crew and volunteers to make sure you have plenty of support along the route .The route consists of extended portions of Lake Front Trail, Indiana's rails-to-trail bike paths and Michigan's National bike routes, which are clearly marked for the event weekend. In addition, riders are provided cue sheets with turn-by-turn directions from Chicago to Sawyer, Michigan. Participants learn to read and understand cue sheets during the training rides (another reason training is important). Training rides are also where crew participants learn to support riders and the route. If a participant were to stray from the route or find themselves in an unfamiliar location, participant cue sheets include crew contact information where a crew team may be reached for directional assistance. The event weekend has three checkpoint areas participants must pass through to confirm their location along the route. 

Can I wear headphones while riding?

No. For the safety of all participants, the Ride for Life Chicago does not allow the use of ear buds, headphones, or any type of music device that may be worn inside or over the ears. Bike mounted speakers are okay; however, Riders and Crew must be mindful of playing loud music through areas in which we ride. 

What if I cannot complete 200 miles?

The Ride for Life Chicago offers a progressive outdoor training program, designed to support your goal of riding 200 miles over two days. The training miles gradually increase as the training program progresses. Things happen when we are preparing our bodies and equipment for a challenge like this. If your training gets derailed due to injury, mechanical/equipment issues, or any other reason, you may choose to move from the 200 mile distance to the 100-mile distance. Speak to one of our event staff for guidance with situations like this.  

What if I cannot complete 100 miles?

The Ride for Life Chicago offers a progressive outdoor training program, designed to support your goal of riding 100-miles on day 2 of the event weekend. The training miles gradually increase as the training program progresses. Things happen when we are preparing our bodies and equipment for a challenge like this. If your training gets derailed due to injury, mechanical/equipment issues, or any other reason, you may choose to move from the 100-mile distance to a 50 mile distance. Speak to a member of our event staff for guidance with situations like this.

Can I switch from Rider to Crew?

Participants are able to switch from Rider to Crew or from Crew to Rider. Please speak with a member of our event staff for guidance with situations like this. 

I’m injured and can no longer ride, what now?

Injury is never a fun experience. The most important thing is for you to get back to feeling 100% after experiencing an injury. However, there are additional ways to stay connected and engaged even through injury.

  • Join our CREW TEAM and support and cheer on cyclists on the route.
  • Sign up to VOLUNTEER either in the months leading up to the event or during the event weekend.

How many rest stops are on the route?

The official route will have 5 to7 pit stops, including lunch. 

Will there be lunch?

Yes, lunch is provided for all riders, crew, and event staff. 


How can I get training or support to better use my Participant Center?

Absolutely! You may contact an event team member to set up a 1-on-1 training, if you have not already received an invitation for a Participant Center walk-thru.

I forgot my username and password. How can I find out what they are?

Remember that your username and password are case sensitive. Click here to find your password. Populate the requisite information and you will receive an email with your username and/or password.

How can I see who has donated to me?

You can view your donors by logging into your Participant Center. 

Please log in to access your TeamRaiser event's participant center.

Once you've logged in, you'll see three tabs along the top of the Overview: Home, Email, Progress, and Personal Page. Click on the Progress tab and to view your fundraising progress and donation history. You may also download a list of your personal donations with the Download personal donation list link just above your Donation History. 

What if I don’t see all my donors in my scroll display?

If you do not see all of your donors in your scroll, first follow these steps:

  • Log out of your Participant Center
  • Exit the Ride website and begin again with a new browser. 
  • If your donor list has not fully restored, please for further assistance. contact an event team member

How long does it take for mailed or hand-delivered donations to appear on my Ride page?

Please allow for 2-3 BUSINESS DAYS for any and all donations, received checks, and delivered fundraising dollars to be fully processed and posted to your and/or your team's fundraising totals on the Ride for Life Chicago website.

This applies for all donations, made online, via mail, and delivered to TPAN. If you have questions about timing or confirmation of receipt after 3 business days, please contact us!  


Where is the best spot for friends, family, and loved ones to cheer me on or support me along the route?

The best spot for friends, family and loved ones to cheer you on is at the Closing Ceremonies of the Ride for Life Chicago. We're still selecting this year's location for the Closing Ceremony. We'll make sure you know the location as soon as it's confirmed.