Strap on your helmet. Grease up your chain. Yesterday was the official start of the National Bike Challenge, a new nationwide feature of Bike Month, sponsored by the country’s leading bike organizations.
Through August, cyclists from around the country will be competing to log the most miles in an online tracking system. The challenge is sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists, Bikes Belong, Endomondo and the Kimberly-Clark Corporation.
Florida retiree Leonard Wright is the man to beat in the first National Bike Challenge. Photo: Bike League
The challenge pits cyclists (and teams of cyclists) across the country against each other for a friendly, and healthy, online competition. Smart phone users can take advantage of Endomondo’s automatic tracking system to log their miles. The big competition is in May — Bike Month — where the goal is 10 million miles from 50,000 cyclists.
The League of American Bicyclists has been working with cycling groups around the country to promote the event, and local competitions are proliferating. During the pre-challenge competition, 12,000 cyclists from 500 cities logged 1 million miles, according to the League.
One participant sure to make a splash is 66-year-old Sebring, Florida retiree Leonard Wright. Wright told the Bike League cycling has transformed his life since he began at 250 pounds in 2007, huffing and puffing after a quarter-mile ride. Two days in to the competition, he has already logged 220 miles.
“I’ve been riding for years, and I was looking for something to get me motivated,” he told the Bike League. “When I saw the National Bike Challenge, I thought, ‘This is something I can do.’ And anyone can do it. I’m involved with a number of other senior physical fitness groups and I always encourage people to try biking because it’s so easy.”
Endomondo tracks participants’ travel savings, calories burned, and all kinds of cool information and makes it available to participants. (During the warm up period, participants burned a collective 30 million calories.) Best of all, the challenge is free for all participants and local bike organizations. There is even an added fundraising perk for local groups, because the design of the program allows groups to sell local sponsorships.
Your very own Streetsblog writer Angie Schmitt has been competing in the Challenge but has only logged a pathetic six miles for the Bike Cleveland Board team. So pick a more worthy foe and get riding!