Jonathan Carney will be one of 36 new bicyclists hoping to improve tree research and education later this month at the STIHL Tour des Trees, the country’s largest fundraising event for the Tree Research and Education Endowment Fund.
Carney, 25, works for Washington, D.C.-based Casey Trees, a nonprofit that works to protect the tree canopy in the greater Washington, D.C., area. He and a co-worker plan to ride 585 miles in one week in the tour and stay for an industry conference not far from the finish line in Toronto.
The former Silver Spring resident, who now lives in Adams Morgan, said he bikes to and from work every day and rides sometimes 70 miles for fun on the weekends. Carney said he ran cross-country in middle school, high school and college, but decided to switch to cycling, an endurance sport that’s “less hard on the legs.”
Carney said he tends to ride road bikes and bikes that are a hybrid of racing and non-racing styles.
This is not his first race, but Carney said this is the first industry-based race he has participated in — and certainly the first one he’s “getting paid to go and do.”
“It’s a way for people who ride for tree companies to get exposure and the tree fund arboriculture world to have fun and race each other,” Carney said.
Carney said he and a fellow co-worker will head to his father’s house in West Virginia on Friday. From there, his dad will drive the two to Buffalo.
The tour is supposed to roll out of Niagara Falls on Sunday and finish Aug. 3 in Toronto, where the International Society of Arboriculture conference will take place Aug. 4 through 7.
The conference is for industry professionals to do outreach, share knowledge and network, said Mary DiCarlo, development and communications manager for the TREE Fund. The TREE Fund was created in 2002 to research and educate how to keep trees alive in places where trees are constantly effected by construction, pollution and improper care, she said.
DiCarlo said the tour started in 1992, when 13 arborists rode from Seattle to Oakland in a week, raising $89,000 that was given to the society’s research trust. The tour, she said, has continued every year since.
Last year’s ride, she said, raised about $650,000.
On average, 65 percent of the cyclists have ridden in the tour before, DiCarlo said.
“We’re trying to reach out to the industry to bring new people in and we’re really excited about the number of professionals that joined the ride this year,” DiCarlo said.
While he has not prepared much for this ride, Carney said he is excited for the working vacation.
“I get to see a part of the country I’ve never seen before on a bike,” Carney said. “I’m just excited.”