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Bicyclists ride to DC to promote riding, infrastructure

Posted by Johanna Kaiser  March 16, 2012 04:10 PM

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(Ed Medina/Boston Globe)

Tim Johnson, center in black holding bicycle, stands on Boston City Hall Plaza with a group of cyclists at the start of the 2012 Ride on Washington, a 500-mile ride to Washington, D.C. The ride raises money for the Bikes Belong Foundation, a group that advocates for bike safety and children's bicycle programs.

Friday was not a good day for a bike ride. The air was cold, the sky was gray, and rain was on the way. But for one group of bicyclists, the prospect of little wind and rain only added to their fun.

“It will make for some epic stories,” Jeff Brown, vice president and market manager for Entercom Boston, said as he and about 20 others gathered at City Hall Plaza in the morning to begin a five-day, 500 mile trek from Boston to Washington D.C.

The group of bikers will be traveling the same streets used by cars, trucks, and pedestrians in cities and towns along the East Coast to promote biking and to raise money for the Bikes Belong Foundation, which advocates for biking and biking infrastructure.

“I’ve done a lot of distance rides in my life, but this is a special one because of its message,” Bruno Maier, vice president of Bikes Belong, said as he prepared to hop on his bike.

About 500 riders will join Brown and Maier along the way as the riders travel between 50 to 130 miles for 8 hours a day uphill, downhill, and in whatever the weather brings.

The tour stops in Hartford, New York City, Philadelphia, and Baltimore before reaching the National Bike Summit in Washington D.C. Tuesday.

Tim Johnson, a Topsfield resident and six-time national cyclocross champion, who started the event, admitted the ride was “slightly ridiculous” and said he wouldn’t be surprised the group got a little lost at some point.

He was excited to see people concerned about fitness, transportation, and the environment on bikes and supporting cycling together.

“We want to be on our best behavior. The whole point of the ride is to show you can ride anywhere,” Johnson told the riders before leading them down Cambridge Street.

Along the way, riders will be followed closely by a caravan of vehicles offering support and first aid, and portable kitchen cooking up food like sushi rice cakes and waffle sandwiches from scratch.

All food will be prepared by Dr. Allen Lim, who worked with Tour de France riders including Lance Armstrong, and there will be a lot of it. Everyday during the journey riders will consume up to 5,000 calories per day, double the regular daily intake, and about 15 pounds of fluids.

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