SANTA MARIA, Calif. - More than 2,000 cyclists are in Santa Maria tonight.
They're making an overnight stop in the city during a week-long 545-mile ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
The week-long AIDS/LifeCycle began its fourth day earlier this morning in Paso Robles.
It was beautiful. We started out along the coast. It was foggy and beautiful watching the Pacific Ocean, then we cut inland and it warmed up and we got to ride through some beautiful wine country, rolling hills. It wasn't too hot today, so it was nice."
"It was beautiful," said Seth Hammac, a cyclist from San Francisco. "We started out along the coast. It was foggy and beautiful watching the Pacific Ocean, then we cut inland and it warmed up and we got to ride through some beautiful wine country, rolling hills. It wasn't too hot today, so it was nice."
Great weather greeted cyclists during their trip through San Luis Obispo County to the tip of the Northern Santa Barbara County.
It came one day after they experienced 100-degree temperatures in southern Monterey County.
"Today, hello? Santa Maria, the weather is incredible!" said Ride Director Tracy Evans.
After leaving Paso Robles, riders made their way south to Preisker Park, where set up camp for the night.
The purpose is to raise awareness and funding in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
"Our participants this year raised $16,750,000 in support of those two agencies," Evans said. "What it means is that everyday lives are being saved through the programs and services that the money raised here supports."
About 3,000 people are taking part in the ride, including 2,200 cyclists, 650 roadies, plus volunteers and support staff.
About two-thirds of the cyclists are from California. Many of them have ridden in the event for several years.
For Hammac, he's a first-time participant.
"My dad passed away 15 years ago because of AIDS and I really wanted to do it for my family and my two daughters who never got a chance to meet him," Hammac said. "I really wanted to show them that it's an ongoing epidemic and that people are actively fighting it."
He emphasized that some don't recognize there are many people who are still fighting AIDS.
"A lot of people are surprised that people still have to deal with it," said Hammac. "S we're still actively raising money that goes to services that support people who can't afford their medications and can't afford the services they need to survive with AIDS."
Tomorrow's ride will the shortest route during the 7-day long event.
It will also be "red dress day," where riders will wear bright red costumes in recognition of the red ribbon that symbolizes AIDS awareness.
"Tomorrow is a real special day," Hammac said. "We're going to honor people we've lost to AIDS and that really means something special to me in honor of my father Wayne who passed away 15 years ago."
Cyclists will start at Preisker Park and head south to Ryon Park in Lompoc.
On Friday, they'll travel from Lompoc to Ventura.
The AIDS/LifeCycle ends on Saturday in Los Angeles.
To learn more about the event, visit the AIDS/LifeCycle website.