Haas Students Saddle Up for AIDS Ride

Three Haas students pedaled with thousands of other cyclists last week and one alumnus volunteered in the 2011 AIDS/LifeCycle ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

Hari Phatak, a PhD candidate in the Haas Finance Group, pedaled with 27 other members of the UC Berkeley community on the Cal team–the biggest to date for the university. Gene Boyle, MBA 12, and evening and weekend student Andrew Hattori, MBA 13, also bicycled in the ride, while alumnus Jason Topel, MBA 09, was a "roadie" supporting the riders.

The Cal team raised more than $95,000 through their participation in the event, a week-long, 550-mile ride that benefits HIV/AIDS services and promotes HIV/AIDS awareness. In addition to Phatak, the Cal team includes three new graduates, 11 staff members, three alumni, five graduate students, five undergraduates, and one father of an undergrad.

This year the marks the ride's 10th anniversary and the 30th anniversary of the first announcement by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control of deaths from what would come to be known as AIDS.

This was Boyle's fourth time riding for HIV/AIDS. "I ride for my friends and many others who are HIV positive," Boyle wrote in an email from the road. "I ride to raise awareness about a disease which is still infecting and affecting millions of people 30 years after its emergence. I ride to raise funds for the life-saving education, prevention, and support services provided by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. I will keep riding until there's a cure."

This was Phatak's second year sitting in the saddle of a bicycle, but his third year participating in ride. In 2010, he worked as a roadie with one of the advance teams, helping to set up riders' campsites. At Haas Phatak has been studying information aggregation in markets. His dissertation focuses on how the complexity of financial decisions impacts price efficiency.

In a UC Berkeley NewsCenter article about the Cal team, Phatak said consecutive training rides were the most challenging part about preparing for the AIDS ride. "Going to school during the week made it very, very difficult to commit to riding on Saturday and Sunday," he wrote "I’m thankful for the friends I trained with for keeping up the social pressure to ride. I also owe a lot to the Recreational Sports Facility."

Why did Phatak ride? "I ride because HIV affects people I care about," he says. "While it’s not in my power to set things right for them, participating in AIDS/Lifecycle is something I can do, albeit at the margin, to show my support."

 Haas AIDS/Lifecycle participants Andrew Hattori, MBA 13; Jason Topel, MBA 09; Gene Boyle, MBA 12; and PhD candidate Hari Phatak.