The National Bike Challenge runs from May 1st through September 30th, and Allen County is defending its title as the Top Bicycling County In Kansas!
The National Bike Challenge is a program, sponsored by People for Bikes, that works to get more people on bike more often. The Challenge does this by encouraging a bit of friendly competition, by using a point system to rank riders, cities, states, and teams.
2014 National Bike Challenge Recap
In the 2014 National Bike Challenge, Allen County emerged as the top bicycling county in the state of Kansas, and one of the top in the nation.
Our “local challenge”, hosted by Thrive Allen County, was ranked #3 in the entire nation in 2014. We had 80 riders who collectively pedaled over 32,000 miles. We had 3 of the top 10 cities in the state (Iola was #1 in Kansas among cities with 5000-50000 residents, Humboldt was #5 in Kansas, and La Harpe was #8 in Kansas). Nationally, Iola ranked #9 in its class and #58 among all cities.
Our results were impressive, particularly for our very first year of participation. This year, we want to do even better!
How To Sign Up For The National Bike Challenge
Signing up is easy. Just go to NationalBikeChallenge.org, click “Join Now”, and enter your name, email address, a password, and your home zip code. That’s all that’s needed. For convenience, you can also connect to your Facebook account (which makes logging in as easy as clicking “Facebook Login”).
How To Log Your Miles
To log your miles after a ride, just log in to your account at NationalBikeChallenge.org and click the “Log Miles” button. You can choose to classify your miles as “recreation” or “transportation”. Enter a number, click “Log Miles”, and you’re done.
If you have a GPS cyclocomputer, such as Garmin device, or a smartphone, logging your miles can be even easier. For smartphones, we recommend the Strava app, but the Challenge also supports Endomondo, MapMyRide, and Moves. To use a GPS device, you’ll need to set it up to upload your rides to an online service such as Strava. For a smartphone, you just use whichever app you prefer, and log your rides normally.
On the National Bike Challenge web site, you can set up automatic syncing between the Challenge and your chosen service. Go to “My Account”, then click “Edit Profile, scroll down, and you’ll find a section for “Authorized Apps”. Select your preferred app and follow the prompts to get connected.
This may sound a bit complicated, but you only have to do it once. Once you’re connected, syncing of miles happens automatically. Just record your ride as you normally do, and your miles will be posted to the National Bike Challenge as if by magic. It’s easy!
How Does The Point System Work?
The National Bike Challenge point system gives you 20 points for each day that you ride your bike at least one mile, plus 1 point per mile.
So, for example, riding 30 miles would get you 50 points (20 points for the ride, 30 points for the miles). But here’s the part that’s easy to miss: You don’t have to ride big miles to rack up the points.
Taking another example, suppose someone rides three days during a week, but only a mile each time. That’d be 21 points per ride, but 63 points total. Just 3 miles, but more points that the person who rode 30 miles all at once.
Ride often, even just for a short distance!
What’s Our Goal?
Last year, we started with what we thought was an aggressive but reachable: 25 riders and 10,000 miles. Turns out we wildly underestimated Allen County. After we eclipsed the initial goals in a flash, we bumped them to 50 riders and 20,000 miles. Again, it wasn’t long before that was deemed too modest. In the end, we settled on a goal of 75 riders and 30,000 miles. We finished the 2014 Challenge with 80 riders and 32,500 miles.
So this year, what say we double last year’s goals?
In 2015, we’re shooting for 150 riders and 60,000 miles!
If you participated last year, you’re still signed up. Just log in and start recording those miles. If you’re new to the game, now’s the time to join in on the fun.
And incidentally, when we reach 134 riders, we’ll be crossing a very impressive threshold. With a county population of 13,305, 134 riders would be just over 1%, so 1 out of every 100 people in the county will be taking part in this program. To put that into perspective, the top Local Challenge in 2004 was the Fox Valley Bike Challenge, out of Wisconsin, with a participation rate of 0.78%. A participation rate of 1% is unheard of, so we’ll be not just the Top Bicycling County In Kansas, but the Top Bicycling County In the USA!
National Bike Challenge Kickoff Event
On April 30th, at the Allen County Farmer’s Market, we held a little kickoff event. A few speakers talked about the Challenge, and about the many ongoing rides and events planned for the summer. An additional 10 riders signed up!
Here are a few photos from the event:
Note the new banner — several of these will be going up along our trails to help reach people who may not have heard about the challenge.
Get Together and Ride
Riding with other folks is always a good time, and there are lots of bike rides and events scheduled for the summer, including:
- The Tuesday Evening Dairy Queen Ride rolls out from Humboldt each week, riding the Southwind Rail Trail to Iola for Hot Eats and Cool Treats at the Iola DQ. 6pm form the Humboldt Trailhead.
- The Thursday Night Ride has been an Allen County fixture for more than a decade. It takes off from Cofachique Park each week at about 6:30pm for a ride on the Southwind Rail Trail.
- A new ride is planned for the Lehigh Portland Trails, likely on Wednesday evenings. Watch for details soon.
- A new event, the Portland Alley Pedalfest, if being planned for mid-September, featuring bike rides, a music festival, food, drink, expos, and lots of bike-themed fun.
- There are lots of bike rides and events on tap for elsewhere around Southeast Kansas and the rest of the state. Check out our list of bike events to find the ones you’re interested in.
Ride to Work, Ride to Play, Ride Tomorrow, Ride Today!
The whole point of this program is to get more people riding bikes, because we believe that people who ride bikes are happy, healthy, and fit, and communities where people ride bikes are great places to visit and to live.
If you’ve not already done so, get yourself signed up at NationalBikeChallenge.org, start riding, and start logging those miles. Whether you ride for fun, for exercise, or for transportation, every mile counts!