Tim Johnson and Jamie Kripke inspect one of the many turtles on the Katy Trail in Missouri as Johnson's wife, Lyne Bessette, makes a funny face.

Tim Johnson and Jamie Kripke inspect one of the many turtles on the Katy Trail in Missouri as Johnson’s wife, Lyne Bessette, makes a funny face. © Eddie Medina

Two years ago, we tagged along for Tim Johnson’s epic Ride on Washington to raise awareness for Bikes Belong. This year, they’re riding to Chicago, and multi-time participant Eddie Medina is keeping us abreast of their progress.

by Eddie Medina

Have you ever wondered why Tim Johnson does his epic fundraising rides each year?

Of course there’s the main reason: to benefit People for Bikes and to bridge the cultures of bike racing and bicycle advocacy.

But if you ask him why a racer would want to ride in a fundraiser for 550 miles across the country through New England sleet or up the Midwest across baking soy fields, his answer is your mother.

“Think of your mom. She doesn’t know about a watt, but she can come out here and ride on the trail with you,” he says.

Johnson mentioned this while ripping down Missouri’s rural Katy Trail, surrounded by his wife, Lyne Bessette, friends, and fellow professional cyclists whom he personally invited to this year’s Ride on Chicago. He clearly loves riding hard and goofing off with the cyclists and staff, and this is the point.

Having, preserving, or building a place to ride with your posse (or your mom) is the reason why Tim Johnson, the cyclocross racing star who made the Nationals podium but ended up injured at Worlds, continues to expend time and energy on his annual fundraiser. As Johnson sees it, places like the Katy Trail provide a place where racers can pedal alongside non-racers, and probably have some laughs along the way.

He often refers to these cross-country epics as a “ride for more rides,” and considering the joy he takes in doing them, it’s easy to see why his efforts have been successful.

His rides on Washington, D.C., have raised have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars since 2011, and this year’s Ride on Chicago (which ends on June 2 in the Windy City) has raised nearly $100,000.

Follow the ride on Twitter at #TJROC, on Strava, and on the Web at PeopleForBikes. And stay tuned here for more updates!