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A reflection on the Society in 2021, and what’s ahead for 2022

Spotted in the Santa Monica REI

Hello, three speed lovers! 2021 is just about done, so now is a good time to look back at what worked and what didn’t with the Society of Three Speeds.

The good:

  • There were two challenges in 2021, both featuring mail-in reporting. After the success of Three Speed October 2020, I decided to do both the April and October Challenges with the official reporting journals. 31 people registered for the April challenge with 23 completing. Two dozen registered for Three Speed October, with fifteen completing. (And yes, I still need to get out October prize packs!)
  • We welcomed 56 new members to the Society this year. This is almost twenty more than we got in 2020! The majority of new members came from the US, with ten from the UK, five from Canada, two from Germany, and one each from Sweden, France, and Japan.
  • New membership kits and logo! I redesigned the logo from the 2019 airway beacon atop Rocky Butte (not a “lighthouse”) to the simpler, cleaner “upside down trigger” that is an homage to the mid-century Great Northern Railway (US) logo. The new kit featured the logo on patches, stickers (incl. a reflective one!) and a lovely enamel pin made by Falls Creek Outfitters.
  • We got a ride in. After the drought of rides from the onset of pandemic in March of 2020 (thankfully the 2020 pub crawl was in January!) it was nice to have at least one ride this year.

The not-so-good:

  • Participation in the challenges declined. After the good start with the “mail-in challenges” with Three Speed October 2020 then continuing with the explosion of interest in the Midnite Bicycle League 2020 Challenge, this year’s participation was honestly a let down. We had sixty-three people who registered for Three Speed October 2020, more than the registration of this year’s April and October Challenges combined. I realize that restrictions relaxed this year and people were more into hanging out with others, but I was really hoping that the momentum would carry through. It didn’t. Creating and administering these challenges takes a good deal of work, so the declining numbers was disheartening.
  • And interest in rides was not there, either. We had five people for my July ride. We had even less register for the October ride, so I made the hard decision to cancel it. While I’m really happy that we have a (small) core of folks who will show up for my Three Speed Rides, it’s not a sustainable number.

But fear not folks. I do still love this Society and have ideas for 2022. The big theme will be “Less is More”. I’ll be scaling back the number of events I do, yet making the events I do bigger and more important:

  • Just one challenge. I’m going to stick with the October challenge as it’s the longest-running (since 2016) and the most successful overall. Yeah, I’ll miss the April challenge, but I really need to concentrate my energy on one thing.
  • One ride, one event. It’s clear that doing a few small rides isn’t sustainable. So I’m going to only have one ride, most likely also in October. This will be a repeat of the “day-tour” route introduced in April of 2019: a ride from central Portland to Oregon City. It was a lot of fun, and a good route. I want to make this more of an event to encourage three speed enthusiasts from around the Pacific Northwest to attend. I’m also going to try to have a few other events around it that weekend, to make it more of a weekend-long event than a standalone ride.
  • Three Speed Camping? While I’d love to just say “We’re doing a local ride in 2022!” the lack of participation the last time I did this (pre-pandemic) gives me pause. I’d like to revisit the idea of the whole “camping merit badge”. Maybe I’ll organize a “three speed camping weekend” sometime in summer where anyone, anywhere can participate. Maybe I’ll wait until after the big three speed weekend in October happens, meaning this won’t happen until 2023. I’m going to have to meditate a bit on this one.

And I’d like to thank all of you, especially the 340 Society of Three Speeds members worldwide, for being here. We’re only a year away from the tenth anniversary of this club. I thank you for your support. Now get on your three speed and ride!

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