Imagine biking nearly 400 miles in four days through the mountains and deserts of Nevada and southern California, burning through as many as 20 bottles of water each day during your eight to 10 hours on two wheels – just for fun.
It’s not a spin class gone horribly wrong. It’s one of two long-distance rides hosted by professional racing cyclist and bike enthusiast, Tim Johnson to raise money and awareness for this year’s Red Nose Day event, called Ride on For Red Nose Day powered by Walgreen’s and PeopleForBikes. Some 20 riders joined Johnson and a support team on their desert trek, with another 400-mile event on the East Coast between Boston and New York drawing 25 enthusiasts in front of the support team led by the all-new Volkswagen Atlas.
“This is the first year that a cycling event has been added to promote Red Nose Day” said Tim Johnson “These rides are a great example of the motivation the cycling community can inspire in others and it was great to have Volkswagen come on board and provide support vehicles for the ride”.
Since its launch in 1988, Red Nose Day, a project of the Walgreens Boots Alliance Fund, has raised over $1 billion globally in an effort to end child poverty. This year, the incorporation of Ride On for Red Nose Day helped raise over $180,000.
While Red Nose Day has always used comedy as its main source of attention, Johnson thought cycling could pair well with the cause. “I wanted to explore cycling because it was an activity that was nationwide and allowed a lot of different people to be involved,” he said.
Each of the riders raised a minimum of $5,000 for the pleasure of punishing themselves for four days; a select few riders signed up for both events. The groups had a full support team in four Volkswagen chase vehicles and a chef to ensure their meals provided the right mix of nutrition. The western terrain made for some “touch and go” exertions, but Johnson said the riders were up for the challenge.
“I tried to create a fun ride that people feel great about supporting,” he said. “It’s a dream scenario for people who would consider themselves enthusiast cyclists.”
After some 38,518 feet of climbing, the event set a new high mark for Red Nose Day efforts, one that Johnson says was more than just a fundraiser.
“For me, the best part of the rides was the opportunity to witness a couple of specific riders. Not everyone was a professional rider, and some of them really dug deep and fought hard to get to the finish line. When you get to witness that effort next to you, hour after hour, I can’t think of anything more inspiring.”