Three Speed October

threespeedoct2016stickerflatStarted in 2016, the Three Speed October challenge is a way to not only get folks out on their three speeds, but to get them excited about them!

The premise is simple: Ride your three speed during the month of October! Here are the basic stipulations of this challenge:

  1. Ride a three speed bicycle
  2. Three times a week during a calendar week (Sunday through Saturday)
  3. At least three miles (5 km) each trip
  4. For at least three weeks during the duration of the challenge
  5. During a five-week period that centers around October (check for details as October approaches)
  6. At least one ride a week should be for utility/errands/commuting

And those of you who successfully complete the challenge will get something! If one isn’t a member, successful completion of the challenge will qualify for a discounted SoTS membership.

Rides need to be documented! You can document through your blog, or post on Instagram, tumblr, or flickr. (Facebook entries DO NOT COUNT.) Or, you can email me or mail me accounts of your trips. You should include AT LEAST ONE photo of your three speed from one of your trips! In the trip account, you should include:

  1. Date
  2. Distance of trip
  3. Location
  4. Describe the trip. What was it like? What did you do? Where did you go?
  5. If it was for utility, what specifically? Grocery shopping? Dentist appointment? Ride to work?

PLEASE NOTE: Starting in 2017, there will be some sort of “online registration form” for the challenge. It was a headache trying to keep track of everything in 2016. Live and learn!

Okay, simple enough! But you’ve got questions. You want details. So here goes:

  • Why October? For many in the northern hemisphere, it’s the last good month before cold and unsettled weather really settles in. For some, this will be the last time they regularly ride a bike before spring. Or, if you live in a place like Phoenix, it’s the first tolerable riding weather since April! And if you live in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s spring. In any case, it’s generally an OK time to be riding a bike wherever you are on this planet.
  • Why three speeds? If you are already here do I need to answer that? Okay, it’s because three speeds are totally reasonable and practical bikes for many an application. This challenge is to encourage you to think about them in this way, rather than a “show” bike for your Tweed Ride.
  • Is this just limited to three speeds? Well, yeah. A three speed internally geared hub is what should be ridden for this challenge. We’ll also accept four and five speed internally geared hubs, hubs that were available from Sturmey-Archer by the mid-70’s. But no more or less speeds than that! To be clear, it doesn’t have to be a Sturmey-Archer hub, it can also be a Sachs, Sram, Shimano, SunTour, Hercules, or (insert brand here.) But it can only have three, four, or five speeds!
  • Any exceptions? We’ll allow Bromptons that have that infernal Sturmey-Archer with deraileur combo, but that’s it. And if you use a Brompton, you will need to disable the control of the derailleur, and provide proof of it. Sorry, it’s too easy to cheat otherwise.
  • What if I ride less or more trips in a week? You’ll need to hit three trips in a calendar week to qualify. If you ride any less, it won’t qualify. If you ride more, great! But you can’t use “extra” trips towards another week.
  • What if I ride more than three miles in a trip? That’s great as well, but all that matters is hitting three miles in a single trip. You can’t use “extra miles” towards another trip. To be clear, you need to ride three separate and distinct trips in a week. They don’t have to be on a different day, but you can’t just do a nine mile ride and take a one hour coffee break at the third and sixth miles.
  • I don’t have a cycle computer/Strava/GPS. How will I know if I’ve done three miles? You can use a mapping program before or after the ride to figure out distance. We recommend using Ride With GPS. If not, just figure out a rough estimate of mileage.
  • What if I try to ride three times in a week, but something comes up and I can’t do it? Can I ride an extra trip or two in the following week to make up for it? For the most part, no. There will be five full calendar weeks in the challenge, so if you “biff” one week, there is still time to complete three other weeks. (Of course, it’s best to not wait until the third week to start the challenge for these reasons.) If for some reason something happens that you can’t somehow complete three full weeks of challenge in this span, you can file for a “hardship” exception. You’ll need to get it approved by me first though. I’ll only make the exception if: a) Something personal comes up that doesn’t allow you to complete the challenge in the aforementioned timeframe, b) Weather related issues and c) Bike related issues. You won’t get a pass if you forget to follow through or you get too busy with other things in your life.
  • Well yeah, what about the weather? What if the weather simply sucks, we get a blizzard, etc? Yeah, I know that winter can come early in certain parts of the world. For those of you who live in early winter locales (like, say, Winterpeg, er, Winnipeg), try to do your three weeks of riding during the first three weeks of the challenge timeframe. If something weather related comes up that prevents you from fulfilling the challenge in the time constraints given, contact me and we’ll see about the “hardship” exception. But the weather has to be something real. It can’t just be “well ,it sprinkled a bit today”. The British rode their three speeds through all sorts of miserable weather, a little rain ain’t going to kill you. Just get out your rain cape and brake before you need to stop!
  • What if my ride starts Saturday night and continues into Sunday morning? Well, then it will be considered for the week that the Saturday falls in.
  • Can I do more than one ride a day? Yes, with these stipulations: 1) There must be a gap of at least three hours between the completion of the first ride and the start of the second ride and 2) It can’t just be a three (or more) hour break on a longer ride, the two rides need to be unique. If you are unsure if what you are doing qualifies, check in with me. But try your darndest to make those two rides unique!
  • I don’t typically bike commute to work because my job is too far away, and I wouldn’t have time after work to do a ride. How can I participate in this challenge? Starting in 2017, I will allow “Weekend Three-Speed Warriors” to complete. You can use Friday night, Saturday, or Sunday to complete the ride. (If you have a non-standard work week, whatever your days off can work too.) If you can only ride Saturday or Sunday, you can complete two rides in one day. See “Can I do more than one ride a day” above for details.
  • Why the weekly utility trip? Well, we’d like to showcase the fact that three speeds are practical bikes! And it’s easy to take three “fun rides” of three miles in a week on your local bike path. But we want to make you “use” your bikes for good too! So hit up your dentist, pick up your prescription, pick up some WD40 from the hardware store, ride to work, ride to school, ride to jury duty, etc. If for some reason, you can’t do a “utility” ride, don’t sweat it. But at least try.
  • Does the ride have to be a “standalone” ride, or can it be incorporated with another ride? Whatever ride that incorporates a three speed  and is at least three miles counts! So if you decide to do a “club” ride or a gnar MTB adventure with friends, or on a 200K brevet, or on a coffeeneuring adventure, it doesn’t matter! In fact, I’d love to see you do the 200K brevet on a three speed!
  • Ok, I completed the challenge successfully! What do I get? Everyone who successfully completes the challenge will get a small award, probably a sticker and/or button. Those folks who are not already members will qualify for a discounted rate for Society of Three Speeds.

Okay, simple enough! Really, I tried to make this challenge not that hard. If that doesn’t satisfy ya, feel free to pull three centuries a week on a three speed!

Full details of the upcoming Three Speed October challenge will be published on the blog in September. Stay tuned!