Johnson tears up the cyclocross course but also focuses on raising money for cycling awareness. ©Pat Malach

BOULDER, COLORADO – On March 16, more than 25 participants will begin a challenging, 500-mile ride from Boston to Washington, D.C., as part of Tim Johnson’s Ride on Washington, raising funds for the Bikes Belong Foundation. Sponsored by SRAM and Volkswagen, the second annual event hopes to raise $100,000 and build awareness around the health and environmental benefits of bicycling. The invitational, five-day bike ride starts with a sendoff at Boston’s City Hall Plaza, continuing to Hartford, New York City, Philadelphia and Baltimore before ending at the National Bike Summit in Washington D.C., on March 20.

Cyclocross superstar Tim Johnson created the Ride on Washington after first attending the National Bike Summit in 2010. Organized in just six weeks in 2011, Johnson gathered six other riders, raising $25,000. This year, he is inviting the general public to support the mission by making pledges at In addition, the public is invited to join the last five miles of the Ride in Washington, D.C.

“The Ride on Washington is my personal passion,” said Johnson. “It is the ideal event to raise awareness for the positive impact of bicycling and the importance of having more accessibility to it. We are overwhelmed by the support and enthusiasm for this year’s event and look forward to engaging with urban cycling communities at each stop.”

Each day, participants will travel between 50-130 miles in daylight and darkness and whatever elements Mother Nature presents (last year, temperatures varied from 14 to 55 degrees). Varying surfaces from smooth, bike friendly roads to challenging city streets provide additional challenges. “We ride during typical New England spring conditions, which means our weather could be relatively warm in the morning and cold, wet and rainy in the afternoon. We have to be prepared for the worst,” Johnson continued.

The riders this year include professional cyclists and triathletes, as well as executives from the cycling, music and financial industries. Youth groups in each city will also join the festivities, including children from the School of Harlem that will ride through Central Park. To end each day, event sponsors will host receptions attended by local dignitaries and cycling enthusiasts.

“Creating safe places to ride and promoting bicycling is our mission, which is why this ride is so important,” said Bruno Maier, vice president of Bikes Belong. “We travel through major cities to draw attention to the fact that bicycling is a good solution to transportation challenges. Not only is it good for the environment, it is also good for you. With gas prices continuing to rise – perhaps to $5.00 this summer – cycling becomes more appealing. Tim Johnson is an inspiration to our organization, and his Ride on Washington enables us to bring all of these benefits to a wider audience. Lastly, we thank our sponsors and cities along the way for supporting this important initiative.”

Other participating sponsors in the event include Bicycling magazine, Breezer, Cannondale, CatEye, Firefly Bicycles, Mad Alchemy, Skratch Labs and Red Bull.

Stay tuned as Molly from Cyclocross Magazine takes part in the ride and brings back interviews and stories from the trip.