The Girl With The Cowbell Tattoo

The Girl With The Cowbell Tattoo, created by Tim Shay.

by Molly Hurford

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I love my job. When “work” entails tagging along with Tim Johnson on the Ride on Washington in order to interview him for a feature, that, my friends, is one hell of a business trip. Of course, four straight 100+ mile days is going to be anything but easy, but still, I’m counting the hours until we leave. Just don’t be totally shocked if I end up penning my next column from inside of the SAG wagon, having bonked hard by the last day. Hopefully that won’t be the case, but in cycling, I’ve learned never to count my chickens before they’re hatched.

The Ride on Washington is Tim Johnson’s big project, and it runs for five days of serious riding from Boston to Washington, D.C., hitting all of the major cities (Hartford, New York City, Philadelphia and Baltimore) along the way. It’s done with the intention of raising awareness for cycling, and culminates with the National Bike Summit Reception and then visits with Congress to push for cycling advocacy. It’s a great cause and the company that I’ll be in simply cannot be beat.

I’m looking forward to the ride, but I admit, what I’m really looking forward to is spending a few days getting to know Tim better. It’s not often that us reporters get the chance to get that up-close with our subjects, and I think it’s going to make for a much better story by the end of it. (And let’s be honest: the best time to get hilarious quotes is immediately following a 140 mile ride … then again, my questions might be a little convoluted by that point too. Straight transcriptions of our conversations will be released online if deemed funny enough.) Speaking of the ride, if anyone wants to donate money for an awesome cause, Bikes Belong, you can do so here. And if you have a burning question for Tim that you’d love to have answered in my interview, please ask it in the comments!

And on the topic of reader requests, a lot of you gave me some great ideas in the comments section when I posted the article Reader Requests: What Do You Want in the Off-Season. Awesome ideas, and please, keep ’em coming! The off-season is a long stretch, and I want to do the best possible job for all of you by providing articles that you want to read, with information you’re dying to get your hands on. I’m loving the “quick interviews with the pros” suggestion that asked about what pros heights and weights are, and what they eat and how they train. That’s my favorite stuff to read as well, so you can bet you’ll be seeing more of it in coming months. Who doesn’t want to know what Trebon puts in his oatmeal, or what kind of coffee Powers drinks in the morning?

I’m just smoothly flowing from topic to topic here, so while we’re talking about coffee, I want to take a minute and talk about how incredible it’s been, now that my kitchen is all finished and I’m moved into my place in Easthampton. Coffee is a reminder, since I’ve had some great morning coffee in my new kitchen and, in this balmy March weather, sitting on my back porch. Being here, I’ve had bike ride partners almost daily, and even when I haven’t, the scenery makes the solitude all the better. And wow, the hills in the Pioneer Valley area are intense! Last week on a ride, I mentioned that, and my riding partner simply replied, “Yeah, but you’ll get wicked strong.” Note the use of the word “wicked,” first, but second, he’s completely right. Being forced to ride hills is good for me, and something that wasn’t as simple in New Jersey. Sure, we had hills, but we could just as easily ride flats if we chose. Here, you’re going to ride a hill. Get over it. (Literally.)

I talk a lot about the cycling community, but in this town, it’s all the more apparent. When the National Champion is perturbed that you didn’t call him to help move a couch in, you know you’re in the right town, and that your life is certainly going in the right direction. It’s amazing to be in a place so surrounded by friends that when you go out for a quick spin on the bike path, you pass three different people who you know.

There’s some exciting news lined up for my next column, but I’ll just say this: in 2012, I’ve already completed two New Year’s Resolutions. First, I got my coaching license through USA Cycling, and the second is an accomplishment I’ve been goal-ing for since I was five years old. I’m one incredibly happy, incredibly lucky girl, and this has been a month of realizing that, over and over again.

So, see you all soon, and check back in the next few days as I check in periodically from Tim Johnson’s Ride on Washington!

PS: If any of you noticed my intense love of using “or Bust” as a title, I refer you to my great-great-uncle’s groundbreaking work, Frisco or Bust. It’s his memoirs of his bike trip across the country. In 1923. For those of you keeping track, that’s pre-Internet and pre-cell phone. Pretty awesome, right? (Also a teensy hint of things to come.)

If you want to read more about my training, racing and editing exploits, you can find the painfully full version of events on my Twitter page.