Tim Johnson’s Ride On Washington was the absurd brainchild of Tim and world famous announcer and bike advocate, Richard Fries. The goal was to ride from Boston to Washington, DC (~480 miles) in five days, arriving on the first day of the National Bike Summit, raising money and awareness for Bikes Belong along the way…
By the time Firefly launched on February 17th, we had already decided to donate a frameset to the ride (the ride’s taking donations until March 31st, every $50 gives you one chance to win a Firefly stainless steel frameset!). Promising a free frameset before we even launched was a risk, but it was one that we were proud to take. We believe the cycling industry has a basic responsibility to give back to the dedicated people who support it.
What we didn’t plan was the controlled chaos that went into having a frame ready to show off and take on the longest test ride of my life on March 4th. After five weeks of all-out work setting up the business, brand, and shop, we had barely finished enough tooling to make a bike on February 23rd, just in time to make some test cuts on sample tubes before Jamie and Tyler flew to NAHBS. When they returned on the 1st, with 3 days until the ride, 001 was still a pile of uncut tubes in a window box. It took some creativity, but at 5pm on the 3rd, 001 was finished and all dressed up for its photo shoot.
A few hours later we introduced it to the world at the ride’s opening party at the always impressive Ride Studio Café.
And then it began. Leaving at 7am on the 4th, I used the 5 mile ride from home to City Hall in Boston to make sure nothing was loose. I used the next 475 miles to DC to get to know 001 like I’ve never known a bike before. The bike was perfect, and the ride was spectacular. We rode into NYC at 9pm on a Saturday night after 140 miles, we rode through 40 degree downpours, I tried a KFC Double Down, we rode across the Brooklyn Bridge in 30mph crosswinds, and Tim and Pete Smith managed to get us a police escort to cross the mile-long, restricted-access RT. 40 bridge over the Susquehanna River in Maryland (wish I had pictures of that, instead, check out the treats we had at the factory on day one. Treats!).
More important than our dizzying adventures on the road, though, was the immense support we had from Boston to DC and through the National Bike Summit. In Peter Bell’s words, we heard more cheers than jeers while riding. Over 100 people joined us for sections of the ride. Two delicious restaurants, one world famous brewery, and one brand new and beautiful bike shop hosted receptions along the way, where hundreds of people came to meet Tim, hear about the ride, and show their support for cyclists everywhere. At the Bike Summit, thousands of advocates from North America came together to inspire and teach each other before meeting with the country’s law makers to develop and support pro-bike laws and programs around the country.
The whole thing left me feeling warm and fuzzy (figuratively, literally cold and limping), and wanting more (fuzziness, not coldness). As many others have said, and Richard paraphrased each night of the trip, riding fixes everything. It’s true, and it drives us every day to make and ride bikes, and what makes us proud to support Bikes Belong.
Special thank you to Tim and Richard for letting me and Firefly be a part of the ride. Thank you to Matt Simpson of Pedros, Jeremy Dunn of Rapha, Pete Smith of Mad Alchemy, Peter Bell of MetLife, Butch Balzano of SRAM (pictured above cleaning bikes at 10pm on a Saturday night in front of the Hudson Hotel in Manhattan; he’s incredible), Chip Baker, David Wilcox, Dave Chiu (who gets credit for most of the photos you see here) and everyone else who rode with us, donated, and helped make the ride happen. Can’t wait till next year.