Started 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:
- Ride a three speed bicycle
- Three times a week during a calendar week (Sunday through Saturday)
- At least three miles (5 km) each trip
- For at least three weeks during the duration of the challenge
- During a five-week period that centers around October (check for details as October approaches)
- At least one ride a week should be for utility/errands/commuting
And those of you who successfully complete the challenge will qualify to get something! If one isn’t a member, successful completion of the challenge will qualify for a discounted SoTS membership.
For 2019, the Three Speed October Challenge will run from Friday September 27th to Sunday November 3rd. All times local.
You will need to sign up! Full sign-up details will be posted here sometime during September 2019.
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 in most places 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 cannot use the derailleur at all. If it’s too tempting, disable the derailleur. And note I said “disable” the derailleur. You don’t have to remove it, just make it unworkable.
- What if I ride more than three trips in a week? Great! And you should. But these trips don’t count towards anything. 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. And 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 do a nine mile ride and take a one hour coffee break at the third and sixth miles.
- Can I do more than one ride a day? You can do two in one day, 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! And no, you cannot do three rides in one day.
- 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 (plus a weekend) 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.) However, there will be a make-up day at the end of the challenge if all else fails. You can only do one ride on this day to make up for a missed one. If that doesn’t work, you can file for a “hardship” exception. You’ll need to get it approved by me first though. I will 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 (see below) and c) Bike related issues (as in a breakdown). 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? 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? It will be considered for the week that the Saturday falls in.
- I don’t typically bike commute to work because my job is too far away, and I wouldn’t have time after work during the week to do a ride. How can I participate in this challenge? I allow “Weekend Three-Speed Warriors” to complete. You can use Friday, Saturday, and/or Sunday to complete the ride. And this is the Sunday following the Saturday, so it has to be the consecutive days of one weekend. For example, the first weekend you can do the challenge is Friday October 6 through Sunday October 8. The Sunday the 1st won’t count towards it. ( 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.)
- I do bike commute to work. Would each individual segment (one to, one from) count as a separate ride? Or would the commute count as one ride? The commute will count as one ride. Though this is in your favor if you have a commute less than three miles, hopefully each segment is at least 1.5 miles, so you can hit that three mile threshold easily!
- 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, ride to your parole officer, 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 incorporates a three speed and is at least three miles qualifies! So if you decide to do a “club” ride or a gnar MTB adventure with friends, or go 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!
- 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, use a paper map to figure out a rough estimate of mileage.
- Ok, I completed the challenge successfully! What do I get? Everyone who successfully completes the challenge will be able to get a small award, probably a sticker and/or button. This is not free, and will cost anywhere between $10 and $20. 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!
Do you still have questions? Email me.