Pro Cyclist Tim Johnson Talks Ride On For Red Nose Day

Tim has long been devoted to PeopleForBikes, an organization improving cycling infrastructure and inspiring people to ride bikes. This year, PeopleForBikes is teaming up with Walgreens for a bi-coastal ride in support of Red Nose Day, a fundraising campaign to end child poverty.

Learn how these organizations are working together to make life better for kids in need—then follow along with us on Twitter as DuVine’s own Andy Levine joins the ride.

What is Ride On For Red Nose Day?

It’s a fully supported, professional-grade road cycling experience to support Red Nose Day’s mission to end child poverty. Red Nose Day is new to the United States—it’s been a huge charity event in the UK for over 30 years—and this year falls on May 25. It’s organized by Comic Relief and showcases entertainers, actors, comedians, and musicians in partnership with Walgreens. This is the first year that a cycling event has been added as a fundraising and awareness opportunity.

What makes PeopleForBikes the right group to help?

PeopleForBikes is a national advocacy organization aiming to make biking better, safer, and more accessible around the country. PeopleForBike’s “Ride On” concept started in 2011 with a five-day ride to Washington DC which ended at the national bike summit—a meeting of advocacy groups from around the country. As a bike racer, I was riding in all kinds of cities and states. The difference between places with good and poor cycling infrastructure was incredibly noticeable, but there was very little connection between bike racers and advocacy groups. I wanted to change that.

The Ride on Washington provided an outlet for making the experience of bikers better. I didn’t realize it can take advocates like PeopleForBikes 10 years to get a bike lane put in; I wanted others in the bike racing world to know that these organizations were working for us and we didn’t even know it. PeopleForBikes has since done a Ride on Chicago and Ride on Atlanta, and we knew it would work well for Red Nose Day.

What’s the Ride On For Red Nose Day route?

We developed a West Coast ride and East Coast ride. Both are four days long, setting these rides apart from the one-day norm of charity bike rides.

The West Coast ride starts in the cycling paradise of Santa Barbara, California, one of my favorite places to train. After about 400 miles, we end in Las Vegas at a huge Walgreens kickoff for Red Nose Day.

The East Coast route is a classic ride from Boston to New York City, but with a few beautiful detours. I wanted to spend more time those quiet Western Massachusetts roads around the Berkshires, so we’re heading west, cutting across to Saratoga Springs, and then entering the Hudson Valley. After one more night in Poughkeepsie, we have to make it to Manhattan to ring the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange, all sweaty and spandexed-up.

The Today Show’s Matt Lauer did a similar Boston to NYC ride a few years ago to kick off Red Nose Day’s first year in the states, and that was actually the first time I heard about Red Nose Day. It’s nice to pay some homage to that with our ride.

This ride is really special because it helps bike riding itself at the same time that it raises money for Red Nose Day.

Who’s joining the ride for Red Nose Day?

I’ll be there as an ambassador of PeopleForBikes, joined by Chef Seamus Mullen and Andrew Ference, who won the Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins. And of course, DuVine’s own Andy Levine, someone who is always looking to use his passion for something better. It’s a core group of about 20-25 cyclists, but not all are pros. There are some Walgreens store managers and other members of the organization who are pedaling on their own for this cause.

With Twitter, it’s also easy for us to post updates about where we are, so a lot of people will casually join up with us in the morning as we depart or in the evening as we near our finish city.

Why are you biking for this cause?

Matt Lauer’s ride is a great example—it’s a way to gain exposure for an excellent cause. This ride is really special because it helps bike riding itself at the same time that it raises money for Red Nose Day.

Ride On For Red Nose Day continues the philanthropic mission of people who love to explore and see new places by bike. We’re all doing this ride on behalf of others; for kids who need basics like food, housing, and healthcare, and for those who are supporting our riders with donations.

How can I follow Red Nose Day’s events?

NBC is airing a Red Nose Day Special on May 25. You can also follow along on social media: hashtags like #RideOn4RedNoseDay will be buzzing with ride updates, or follow the @RedNoseDayUSA account.

How can I get involved?

Red Nose Day has lots of ideas for fundraising, but for those who want to help by getting on their bikes, you can organize your own group ride or spin class to benefit Red Nose Day. It’s also as easy as buying the things you normally need from Walgreens: every store in the country will be selling red noses to donate money and sharing profits on purchases between now and May 25.

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