National Bike Challenge

National Bike Challenge

The National Bicycle Challenge in the U.S. began on May 1 and ends September 30.  The idea is to ride your bike more miles and the challenge offers a commitment device to help you do it.  To get committed to your bicycling goals, hop on over to nationalbikechallenge.org and create an account with your email address. Then,  you can log your miles manually or sync with one of these three apps:

Desert RideAs you log your miles and earn points, you can see where you stack up on the leaderboards with other participants across the country. You can also enter as a team,  workplace or school to encourage your friends and co-workers to get involved as well.

While it’s a logging contest to see how many miles you and your competitors can pile up, it is also a community of people that just want to share their love of bicycling.  The Challenge aims to unite 100,000 riders to pedal 75 million miles from May 1, 2016 until September 30, 2016. Now in its fifth year, the Challenge is organized by PeopleForBikes with sponsorship from Kimberly-Clark’s Cottonelle Brand this year.

Getting an App

To make logging your miles easy,  you may want to get one of the three apps mentioned above.  I chose the Endomondo app (“Running and Walking with Endomondo”) for my iPhone because it has a five-star rating and more reviewers than the other apps.  Like the other apps it uses the phone’s geographic positioning technology to track information about your rides.  It requires you to initially set up an account either using your Facebook credentials or your email address and a new password.  Next you choose the sport you are involved in and click “Go.”  Take your ride, with your phone of course, and click “End” when you are done. You can then see where you went on a map (you can also follow along on the map during your ride).  That’s the “Basic Workout.” Before your ride you can also:

  • Set a goal (distance, time or calories burned)
  • Follow a Route (find a route and use the app to follow it on your ride)
  • Beat Yourself (see if you can do better than a previous ride)
  • Interval Training (set up a pre-defined combination of sprints and rests)

The app will then help you carry out your plan.  The free version of the app will bug you with advertisements.  If you want to get rid of them and add some motivational features,  you can upgrade to your voice of a variety of  premium accounts for a fee.

Connecting the App to the Challenge

cyclistsTo use your app to provide your ride information to the National Bike Challenge, log into your account on the challenge website.  Click “Manage Settings” in the left side menu then scroll down the page to find a list that includes the three apps.  Click the “Authorize” link next to the app you want to use.  You will go to the app’s website.

Once you log into your account with the app,  you will be asked if you want to share your information with the National Bike Challenge.  Agree to do that and your ride data will be automatically transferred from Endomondo to the National Bike Challenge.

If you choose not to use an app, or like to record your rides with an app that is not supported by the National Bike Challenge, you will need to enter your miles manually.

PeopleForBikes

PeopleForBikes began in 1999 as Bikes Belong.  The organization advocates for bicycling on a national level, offers a strategic center to ensure collaboration between each piece in the bicycling movement, and has the ability to support local efforts through financial, community and communication resources.

Their vision is:  “a place where one bike lane leads to the next. Where trails, bridges, and underpasses lead safely to exactly where you want to go. And regardless of your bicycling experience and fitness, you can pedal smoothly across town.”

Toward that vision they have developed some goals:

“By 2025, we want the total number of annual bike rides that Americans make to grow from 4 billion (the current figure) to 20 billion. That’s 5X. Better bike infrastructure and safer, more appealing riding conditions will make this happen.

“By 2025, we want the number of protected bike lanes in U.S. cities to total 1,000 or more. As of today, about 200 of these lanes have been built, and most are well used and appreciated by riders of all ages and levels of experience.

“We envision five times the mileage of singletrack riding to be available and a 5X leap in the number of bike parks that provide dirt riding options for kids and kids-at-heart.

“We are focused on getting 5X the number of Americans to stand tall on behalf of bicycling. PeopleForBikes recently passed 1 million supporters, so we’re talking about 4 million. That’s a major movement with major political clout!”

Conclusion

If you are the kind of person that needs a little competition to motivate yourself,  the National Bike Challenge is perfect for you.  Sign up now, get out there and start riding!

If you don’t have a bicycle,  head down to your local bike shop and get one.  We don’t recommend getting a bike from a big box store, because they are typically not well built and will cause you problems.  Don’t have a local bike shop?  Look for quality bikes online at places like REI, Nashbar, Backcountry or even GearTrade.

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