Rebecca Rusch is known for her mountain biking prowess. She is a powerful competitor who rides in 24-hour races, marathon races, fast races, slow races, big races and small races all over the mountain biking circuit. She is known as one of the best female mountain bikers in the country, if not the world.
But this week she has ditched her studded bike tires and rock hopping, for skinny tires and city streets. She, Greg Martin (Director of the Wood River Bicycle Coalition) and about 25 other bicycle enthusiasts are making the 500-mile trek from Boston to Washington D.C. on their road bikes. They are participating in the second annual Ride On Washington, an invitational fundraiser created by cyclo-cross professional, Tim Johnson.
“The purpose of this ride is to bring awareness to the non-profit organization, Bikes Belong which focuses on bike safety projects and children’s bicycle programs, and the National Bike Summit in Washington D.C., where the ride ends,” Rebecca said in an interview before leaving the Valley on Thursday. After finishing the 500-mile ride, Rebecca and Greg will take part in the Bike Summit, which brings together lawmakers, policy-makers, Congressmen and bicycle enthusiasts. The main focus of this year’s Summit will be a federal transportation bill set to be voted on at the end of March, which will ultimately cut all federal funding to non-motorized transportation. Bicyclists and supporters of this cause will be asking legislators to reconsider an amendment that will bring that funding back into the bill.
A few photos courtesy of Rebecca Rusch from the start of the 2012 Ride on Washington. Left: Checking out the NYC traffic. Center: Riders take a break to cheer on the runners. Right: The bike access back East looks a little different.
As the only two participants from Idaho, Rebecca and Greg will also be meeting with Idaho Representatives to address, as Rebecca said, “why cycling is important and why they should support things like bike lanes and bike paths.” They will also discuss the long-debated Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act (CIEDRA) issue, which would designate the entire area north of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA) as a wilderness area, closing famous Sun Valley, rides like Fisher Creek to all motorized transportation including mountain bikes. “We know these are big issues to tackle after a long ride but we hope that the more we all speak up, especially with CIEDRA, they more willing these lawmakers might be,” Rebecca said.
The five-day ride started Friday with the first leg taking the riders from Boston to Hartford, Connecticut. The weekend continued through the city streets of Hartford, New York City and Philadelphia, a celebration in each city hosted by the likes of Cannondale and Bicycling Magazine. Bicyclists are encouraged and expected to join them throughout each city. “I am excited to see what cities like this offer in terms of access and biker safety,” Rusch said. The access and the view from this route are definitely different from any of her typical 500-mile rides.
Today, Rebecca and Greg will be riding the 127 miles from Philadelphia to Baltimore, their last stop before arriving in Washington for the National Bike Summit. To learn more about their mission or to donate to their cause, visit here. “It’s the perfect way to get to Washington and get some training,” she said.
The ride on Washington rolls on. (Photos courtesy of Rebecca Rusch.)