‘Tis the season when glutes are a little tighter, calves are poppin’, and more and more people have “helmet head.”

The season in question: SMART Ride Training Season. Hundreds of riders across South Florida have spent months training for the annual ride through the Keys. Once again, they’ll start at MM165 and start counting down the miles to MM0 in Key West.

This year’s ride is Nov. 19-20. But SMART Ride is no joyride. Riders and organizers alike spend months preparing. In addition to adding in COVID safety protocols this year, organizers also make sure there is plenty of support for riders (medical, water stations, lodging, etc.). Riders and teams not only spend weekend mornings on endless bike rides, they also spend hours planning and holding fundraisers.

Since its inception in 2003, SMART Ride has raised nearly $13 million dollars, all of which is donated to HIV/AIDS services across Florida. Timothy Hart, captain of SFGN’s SMART Ride team, says his team uses social media to raise money.

“We have been sending emails and posting on social media. Everyone did a great job fundraising.”

More than three-quarters of a million dollars have already been raised for this year’s ride. Donald Dotzauer has led individual fundraising for several years and is atop the leaderboard again, having raised more than $56,000. One of his secrets? Just get older!

“My birthday was Saturday. I was showered with donations.”

His team, The Key West Mile Markers (KWMM), has raised more than $163,000. They run a Facebook page to keep supporters engaged. There are SMART Ride facts, donation updates, and more.

While KWMM runs their efforts like a well-oiled bicycle, Sean Conklin of Boynton Beach, is preparing for his first ride and says time flew by.

“I need a time machine! I'll hopefully get some good training during the next few weeks.”

He’s also working to get on the SMART Ride’s homepage leaderboard. In addition to traditional fundraising, Conklin held an exclusive 50/50 where only 165 tickets were sold (one per mile of the SMART Ride).

On Oct. 28, he’s hosting Karaoke For A Cause, a fundraiser at the Howlin Owl in Lake Worth.

“Many local businesses donated raffle prizes. The Howlin Owl is allowing me to take over their regularly scheduled Karaoke to raise funds with games, raffles, and a 50/50.”

Conklin says today’s work can build a beautiful tomorrow.

“I believe in building the world you want to live in, and I want to live in a world where HIV is eliminated. We need to raise funds to get to that world. Plus, cycling is fun and the Florida Keys are beautiful.”


To make a donation and learn more about who benefits from this event, visit TheSmartRide.org.

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