When Tim Johnson is not racing, he’s traveling. In late May, he wrapped up his Ride on Chicago to support bike advocacy (his annual Ride on Washington will take place later in the year, smack dab in the middle of cyclocross season). His followers on social media see him in a different part of the country almost every week, either saving turtles from car traffic in the Mountain West or hitting the trails of the East Coast.
Last week, we caught up with him in New York City with Pete Webber at a cyclocross mini-camp both of them put on, called “Cracking the Code.” Last year, one of Cyclocross Magazine’s contributors attended this cyclocross clinic in Boulder, while in April, Johnson and Webber also traveled to Austin, Texas to host this clinic. For details and secrets revealed in the NYC “Cracking the Code,” be sure to keep following cxmagazine.com!
For the new cyclocross enthusiasts out there needing an introduction, Tim Johnson is one of the most successful male ’cross racers in America. Riding for Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld, he can usually be instantly recognized on the cyclocross course by his Red Bull helmet. When the Cyclocross World Championships were held in the United States for the first time, Tim Johnson took the best placing for American men. Over his long career, he has captured National Championships, US Grand Prix titles, and has even stood on the podium during the World Championships in Poprad, Slovakia. We were able to catch up with him about the clinics, his off-season, and any advice he could give to aspiring ’cross racers.
Cyclocross Magazine: You have already put on a number of cyclocross clinics across the country. What are your goals for these clinics?
Tim Johnson: Most of this is about providing the necessary skills to the participants. What’s interesting is that you have sports like golf where people see the value in lessons and classes, everything that builds on their ability. Cyclocross, and other forms of cycling, have a stigma where training means “just go out and ride your bike.” The result of this is that you have this widespread ceiling in competitive cycling and people wondering why they can’t hit that next level. Cyclocross is like any other sport where you need to understand the fundamentals, then continue building skills and fitness.
CXM: What advice would you give someone looking to do their first cyclocross race?
TJ: I would tell them absolutely nothing. That first cyclocross race is going to be fun no matter what. After the first race we can talk about skills and handling, but in ways to keep those races fun.
CXM: You’re well known in the cycling community for your Ride on Washington to support bike advocacy and People for Bikes. This May you also organized a Ride on Chicago. Besides raising money for awareness, can you explain the other goals of these rides?
TJ: A lot of the people who go on those rides are putting the miles in and training. In the end, part of that awareness is explaining the nature of bike advocacy. There is so much more to it than just painting lines for bike lanes on some road. So much of the hard work comes in the form of campaigning and lobbying, and one of the goals is to get the cycling community to understand the difficult tasks on the hands of these advocates, which is really a thankless job.
CXM: Will there be any major changes to Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld? Do you think there will be any effects on the season with Rapha Focus as a big team getting out of the picture?