Uli Schackmann attempting cross-country solo bicycle ride from Alaska to Florida to find a cure by 2020
Uli Schackmann, the one-woman crusader who is preparing to ride from Anchorage, Alaska to Key West, Florida will arrive in Ft Lauderdale to initiate her journey with a “spiritual blessing” at the Metaphysical Chapel of South Florida for herself, her bike, and her traveling canine companion. The “spiritual blessing of the bike” will take place during the Metaphysical Chapel’s Spiritual Hour (11a-12pm.) Schackmann is attempting this solo cycling trip to raise awareness and funds for HIV/AIDS research with the goal of finding a cure by 2020.
Her journey will be an unprecedented challenge, both physically and emotionally, spanning nearly seven months and more than 5,000 miles. The arduous journey is symbolic of the struggle people living with HIV/AIDS face as they fight for normalcy. Schackmann will begin her journey from Anchorage, Alaska on May 8, 2017.
“I am compelled to do this because I have witnessed the intimate nature of this disease and the human response to it,” she said. “I don’t need to explain that HIV knows no boundaries. It globally impacts men, women, and children. It affects people of all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Education is essential to preventing the spread and ultimately eradicating HIV’s path. My path across the North American continent will demonstrate that, with belief and commitment, anything is possible.”
This is not the first time Schackmann has used two wheels to raise awareness for HIV/AIDS in various fundraising rides across the country for over twenty years. She has ridden or served crew for the SMART (Southern Most AIDS/HIV) Ride, a two-day 165-mile ride from Miami to Key West, Florida.
In each event, she was the rider everyone knew due to her heavy steel bike affixed with a metal pole carrying the AIDS Flag. Attached to the flag where tiny red ribbons, all given to her by friends who had lost a loved one to the disease or were too sick to ride themselves. For years Schackmann has proudly ridden with this flag.
“One year we had unseasonably, record breaking ICE cold weather and crossing almost 43 bridges between Miami and Key West with torrential rain and frigid unforgiving environment,” said Glen Weinzimer, SMART Ride founder. “Yet there was Uli, the last rider, working the hardest and riding with this enormous flag in extreme wind. Most would have given up under normal circumstances, but when you add the weight of her bicycle and the resistance of the flag as it whipped, it is a miracle what she accomplished. That is determination and a testament to her tenacity.”
She has received support from the local Florida cycling community, shops and backers alike. Bike America gifted Schackmann with a new bicycle and supplies needed for the journey including a trailer so her pup, Jackson, can join her on the adventure. Riders have joined her on training rides for company. Others have offered lodging along her route, words of encouragement, and even a celebratory meal.
amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, is devoting its considerable resources to assist Ms. Schackmann in achieving her great goal.
“Breakthroughs come from being committed to something, even if the path to achieve it is unclear,” Schackmann said. “Breakthroughs allow for sudden powerful insights that take us past our self-imposed limitations. Breakthroughs alter our sense of who we are, alter the quality of our life.”