Three Speed October

The Three Speed October challenge is returning in 2021! The dates will be September 26th through October 31st. Read the info and register via Etsy.

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:

  1. Ride a three speed bicycle
  2. Three times a week
  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 the month of October

And those of you who successfully complete the challenge will qualify to get something! If you are not already a member, successful completion of the challenge will qualify for a discounted SoTS membership.

For 2021, the Three Speed October Challenge will run from Sunday September 26th to Sunday October 31st. All times local.

You will need to sign up! See the bottom of the page. When you register you’ll be sent an Official Reporting Journal. You’ll record your rides in the journal and send it back to me (you pay postage for shipping to me). You’ll get the journal returned to you when I ship the prize pack.

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

The details

  • 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? Mostly. 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. If you do have a Brompton, you must promise and make every effort to NOT use your derailleur during a ride.
  • How do you define a week? For the 2021 Challenge, the week starts on Sunday and ends on Saturday, just like on the calendar. There are five weeks that will happen during the challenge. The fifth and final week (starting on Sunday October 24) will have eight days, ending on Sunday October 31st.
  • Do my weeks need to be consecutive? No. They can be consecutive weeks, or you can ride the first, third, and fifth weeks during the challenge. Or, they can be the first, second, and fourth weeks. You just need to ride three weeks out of the five.
  • 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, each ride on a different day.
  • Can I do more than one ride a day? No.
  • What if I try to ride three times in a week, but something comes up and I can’t do it? Can I make it up somehow? Yes! The Make-Up Period is from Sunday October 17th through Sunday October 31st. You can use this period to make up missing rides from the previous weeks, but only if you have attempted three weeks of rides by this point.
    • You can use this make-up period to make up any missed rides from a previous week. For example, if you have one week where you missed a ride, you can make it up during the Make-Up Period.
    • If you have two or more weeks where you missed a ride, you can make it up here as well.
    • Heck, if you have a week with one ride, you can do two rides during the Make-Up Period.
    • But you must attempt three weeks before you make up rides. You can’t miss a ride during your Week One and then decide the next week to “make up” a ride. You must attempt three weeks first before you make up any rides.
    • You can only do one ride a day during the Make-Up Period.
    • If you start your challenge during the first week possible, the week of September 26, you can start your make-up period on Sunday October 17th.
    • If you start your challenge during the second week possible, the week of October 3, you can start your make-up period on Wednesday October 20th.
    • If you start your challenge during the third week possible, the week of October 10, you can start your make-up period on Wednesday October 27th.
  • A word about weather: 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 Winnipeg), I urge you 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. 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 on Saturday night and continues into Sunday morning? It will be considered one ride for the week that Saturday is in. And please remember that times are local to you.
  • I 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!
  • Does the ride have to be a “standalone” ride, or can it be incorporated with another ride? Whatever ride incorporates a three speed bicycle 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? For 2021, everyone who successfully completes the challenge will get two stickers and patch. This is not free, the prize pack will cost $25, plus shipping/handling.
  • Do I have to already be a member of Society of Three Speeds to participate? No. You do not have to be a member! Though we’d love it if you would. And to incentivize it, you can get a membership at the discounted rate of $20 if you participate! You’d purchase the membership at the same time you register for the challenge, and the membership pack will be sent the same time as the prize pack. See the bottom of this page for the links.
  • I tried my best, but could not complete the challenge. Do I get anything? As long as you do one ride, you’ll still get a sticker. You’ll still need to send me your Official Reporting Journal.
  • I know that the challenge is about “mail in reports”. Can I still blog about it, post to social media, share my photos on flickr? Heck yeah! I’ll try to share as much of it as possible. Here’s the protocol:
    • Instagram, Tumblr, Flickr: Tag your pics #3spdoct21 and either tag or mention me so I know. Do not tag them #3spdoct2021, #threespeedoctober2021, #threespeedoct2021 or any other tag. The correct tag is #3spdoct21
    • Blog: If you do blog it, email me at to let me know.

What’s Changing for the 2021 Challenge

  • The weeks are all calendar weeks (Sunday through Saturday) with the final week having eight days (ending on Sunday).
  • The Make-Up Weekend will be a lot more liberal, and a lot longer. The Make-Up Period can start as early as Sunday October 17 and goes to the end of the challenge. You can make up any missed days from previous weeks. See full info about the Make-Up Period for details.

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.

Register for the Three Speed October 2021 via my Etsy shop.

Updated 18 October 2021