Three Speed October 2019 is coming! (Sept 27-Nov 3)

Hello, friends of Three Speeds! After taking a break for 2018, the Three Speed October Challenge is on for 2019!

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 2019, the Three Speed October Challenge will run from Friday September 27th to Sunday November 3rd. All times local.

You can find all the tl;dr rules here.

While the basics of the event remain the same, there are some tweaks and revisions to the 2019 Challenge:

  •  Starting with the 2019 challenge, you do not have to follow a traditional calendar week. It just has to be a seven day period.  For example, if you started your first ride on a Wednesday, your week ends on the following Tuesday. But most importantly, weeks cannot overlap. So if you start one week on a Wednesday, your next “week” can’t start until at least the following Wednesday. You just need to fill up three non-overlapping “weeks” during the duration of the challenge. (And yes, there can be gaps. The weeks don’t have to butt up against each other.) The first full week you can do is Friday September 27 through Thursday October 3rd. The last full week you can do is Monday October 28th through Sunday November 3rd.
  • The final weekend of the challenge, Friday November 1st through Sunday November 3rd, is designated as a Make-Up Weekend. During this “make up weekend” can only do one ride and one ride only to make up for a missed one for any previous “biffed” week. So you’ll still need to ride two rides during a previous week. Please note you can still do part of a regular week during this time too, if your final week happens during November 1-3.
  • In the past I allowed the possibility of doing two rides in a day. Since I made the calendar more flexible, I’m taking that away. So, you need to ride three separate and distinct trips in a week, each ride on a different day.

The prize pack for this year will consist of my new Three Speed October design that you see above. There are stickers, and there will be patches! These will be awarded to those who successfully complete the challenge. (Please note that there is a fee for getting the stickers/patches.)

And starting in 2019, there will be some bonus prizes! What can you do to get these bonus prizes? Well, I’ll be awarding one for each of the following:

  1. Longest single ride. This one is pretty straightforward. (Must be contained to a 24 hour period.) If two or more people tie, see tie-breakers in item four below.
  2. Best write up of your ride(s). Make them interesting!
  3. Best photo. Must include in photo a bike you rode. If you are posting pics to Instagram or flickr, tag them with #threespeedoct2019 and make sure I know about them!
  4. Most bikes used during the challenge. The maximum amount you can do is nine, one for each ride. (Sorry, you can’t switch out bikes during a ride to get more bikes in.) If two or more people tie, tiebreakers will include, in this order:
    1. “Naked” hub gear bikes will win over any bike with an attached derailleur (like a Brompton.) (Note: this does not include derailleurs used strictly as a chain tensioner.)
    2. Pure three speed hub gear bikes will win over four or five speed hubs.
    3. Age of bikes, i.e. older bikes win over newer.
  5. If you are mailing in your Challenge Reports, a prize for most interesting package.

And what is the prize pack for 2019? Take a gander at this years design! It will be available in both patch and sticker form. These prize packs will cost between $5 and $20, depending.


Okay! You want to do this? Please fill out the Google Form below. Once you fill in this form, you’ll get the submission forms emailed to you! These Submission Forms will be sent after October 4, 2019.

The deadline for reporting your rides for the Challenge is 11:59 PM Pacific Time on Friday November 15 2019.

Don’t want to fill out online forms? You can submit reports via Post! If you want to do this, please get in touch first. You can email me at Or send me a letter or postcard to:


P O BOX 14185


Do you have questions about the Challenge? Please drop me a line or comment below.



A mid-June SoTS update

From the Three Speed Ride on Wednesday June 5, 2019 at Sellwood Park.

Hello friends of Three Speeds! It’s been awhile since I checked in here. It’s been busy times around these parts. Right now, we are in the midst of Pedalpalooza, Portland’s month-long celebration of bike fun. I’ve led or co-led (or will lead or co-lead) about ten events total this month, so I have a LOT on my plate!

But no better time than now to check in with everyone out there about three speeds and the Society. So without further ado…

  • Three Speed Adventure April wrap-up: As we speak, the patches for the event are in process, and I should have them soon. I’ll be getting out prize packs sometime between now and mid-July. I want to get them out as soon as possible, but with Pedalpalooza and a trip to Vancouver next week, let’s err on the side of caution. You’ll get those packs so long as you a) completed the submission form and b) paid for your prizes. If, somehow, I’ve missed you and/or you’ve totally spaced, please get in touch ASAP!
  • I’m also going to write an official Wrap-Up post talking about those who participated. But that may not happen until July because of all the busyness.
  • I’ve got mixed feelings about the scheduled Willamette Valley Three Speed Tour that’s supposed to happen Sept 13-15. There hasn’t been much interest expressed in this tour and I’m not feeling as motivated either. I’ll release an “official statement” by mid-July on whether it’ll go further.
  • I’d like to do a Three Speed Ride in October, to coincide with Three Speed October. News about that will be forthcoming.
  • Also, I’m not ruling out leading a Three Speed Ride in another city (most likely somewhere in the NW.)
  • For those of you who are all “Hey, I’d like to do something in (insert your city here)!” Please do! We need more Three Speed Rides, Socials, Bar Crawls, what have you. Please note that I don’t have the bandwidth to create Three Speed events out of my area. But if you do, get in touch with me as I’ll definitely help in whatever capacity I can.
  • I still haven’t gotten around to breaking the SoTS memberships into a Basic and Enhanced price/level. So, they are still $20 plus shipping, and that also gets you a year of Postcard Club. I WILL change this soon (most likely by the end of the month), so if you want to get the best price on the membership, the time to act is NOW.
  • Finally, I had a good turnout for last Wednesday’s (June 5th) Three Speed Ride. About 20 of us rode from the Vera Katz Statue on the Eastbank Esplanade, crossed the Willamette via Tilikum Crossing, south along the Willamette Greenway, and then back across the river via Sellwood Bridge into Sellwood Park where we enjoyed a snack and beverage. Here’s to more rides. Below is a gallery of some of the bikes from the ride.

Bonus weekend for Adventure April: May 3 through 6

Hello friends. This nice weather is making me feel generous. We’ve had a good showing for the Three Speed Adventure April Challenge. But maybe you didn’t have a chance to participate? Or you did, but there’s a challenge or three that you didn’t do, and really wish you could have?

Well, you are in luck. For this extended weekend of Friday May 3 through Monday May 6, I’m allowing you to participate in the Challenge! Basically from now until Monday May 6 at 11:59 PM your local time, you have a chance to complete any and all the challenges. And if you do, you will qualify for the prize packs!

You’ll still need to register, and you’ll still need to fill out forms. All that can be found here.

Now get to work!

Three Speed Adventure April 2019: The home stretch!

Hello folks! We are winding down to the “home stretch” of this year’s Three Speed Adventure April Challenge. We’ve got a full weekend plus a few more days until the month ends. So you still have time to work on the challenges!

And a brief reminder of what it entails: The Three Speed Adventure April Challenge consists of five separate challenges:

  1. Ride your three speed at least fifteen miles (25 km) in one ride.
  2. A climb of 5% or more grade, with a cumulative elevation gain of at least 100 feet (30 m).
  3. A bit of unpaved/dirt action, of at least a cumulative one half mile (1 km).
  4. Coffee outside via three speed.
  5. A bike overnight or bike camping trip by three speed.

You have until 11:59 PM local time on Tuesday April 30th to complete the challenges. (You can do your overnight on Tuesday April 30, but other challenges must be done prior to midnight.)

And to remind you of what you can get for completing challenges:

  • Complete at least one challenge, qualify for the sticker
  • Each challenge completed qualifies you for the corresponding one inch button (badge) for that challenge
  • Complete three or more challenges, qualify for the patch!
  • Not a member of Society of Three Speeds? Do at least one challenge to qualify for discounted ($15 plus shipping) membership!

Here is what it’ll break down for price:

  • Stickers. Get two stickers for $2, plus shipping. This option is ONLY open to folks from outside the US.
  • Stickers and buttons. Get the two stickers, plus one button for each challenge you complete for $7 plus shipping.
  • Stickers and patch. Get the two stickers, plus one patch for $10 plus shipping.
  • The whole shebang. Get two stickers, one patch, plus button for each challenge you complete for $15 plus shipping.

Please note: Buttons are not cheap to ship! This is why I’m offering some non-button options. Are you from outside the US? Getting the non-button options will significantly save $$ in shipping costs.

And please remember, to do this challenge, you must first register via Google Forms. When you do, I’ll email you the form to fill out for the challenges. You must fill out the Challenges form to qualify, even if you “share” your challenges elsewhere in the Internets. You’ll have the whole month of May to report, but the sooner you do, the better. Find all that info here.


So, how is the Challenge going! Good, so far! We’ve had seventeen people register, and eleven of those folks have reported completing at least one challenge. The people best documenting their challenges on the internets are (still) Happy Little Three Speed Bicycle and 3 Speed Seattle. Both of them have completed the overnight challenge–by camping! Congratulations! Cleotalk aka Ride Internal on tumblr also has been reporting. The tag #threespeedadvapr2019 turns up some stuff, but alas, it’s mostly me on there.

As for me? Well, last Saturday’s Three Speed Day Tour hit up four of the challenges, and yes, that’s by design! I still need to do the Overnight to get them all. I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to before the challenge closes down, but who knows?

Three Speed Day Tour Report

Saturday April 20th was a good day to be on a three speed. It was a mix of sun and clouds, a high in the low 60’s F. Myself and nine other riders (plus one dog!) departed from Ford Food and Drink in SE Portland after 10 AM. Our destination: Oregon City.

It was a sixteen mile ride to Oregon City. The first half of this was mostly on low trafficked streets in Portland, the second half was mostly bike path in Clackamas County. The Trolley Trail is a pleasant way to ride. We stopped around mile 9 at Rivervilla Park along the Willamette where we fulfilled two of the five Three Speed Adventure April Challenges: Coffee Outside and the Climb. Yes, it’s a short but steep pitch from the river back up to the Trail.

We had an extended break in Oregon City. First, we toured through downtown and took a ride up to bluff level via the (in)famous Oregon City Municipal Elevator. We cruised along the Promenade and climbed a small rocky outcropping to get a magnificent view of Willamette Falls, largest waterfall (by volume) in the Northwest. After this we had food and drink at the Highland Stillhouse, a Scottish Pub.

After our final viewing of the falls, we bombed down busy 99E back into downtown Oregon City. We rode back the same way until the Clackamas River crossing, then took the I-205 bike path. If I was going to do this ride differently, I probably would have taken the Trolley Trail back. But I like a good “loop” route, and trying to loop back via the west side of the Willamette is not ideal, with busy roads and some serious hills. The 205 path is serviceable, but lacks scenery, and like most “bike paths paralleling a freeway”, gets noisy. But it was pretty fast going.

We eventually got back into Portland proper. We had hit three Adventure April challenges so far (we completed the Distance challenge of 15 miles by the time we hit Oregon City), so time to complete a fourth one: Unpaved. We did so via SE Cooper Street between SE 62nd and SE 72nd Streets, a full half-mile of continuous gravel road, maybe the longest such continuous one in the city? (As far as I know, at least. And no, I’m not counting Leif Erickson Drive.)

After that, the few of us remaining (meaning myself, Emee, and Maria) ended the endeavor in the Montavilla neighborhood, where we enjoyed beer at the eponymous brewpub. My cyclometer read 33 miles by the time we stopped. A good long ride on a three speed!


Ok, since you are going to ask, here’s the bicycle breakdown (as far as I know):

  • Three Bromptons
  • One Linus
  • One Raleigh Grand Sport with S-A two speed hub
  • One Rudge Sports
  • One Raleigh Sports
  • One Raleigh Superbe (mine)
  • One Ross three speed
  • One mountain bike conversion

Three Speed Adventure April: The climb challenge

Loaded bicycle leaned up against roadside stating "8% grade". Bucolic landscape in background, road going down a hill, trees in distance.
During my tour of Wisconsin in May 2015, I rode a loaded touring three speed up a few hills with 7 to 8% grades!

Hello all! So far, I’ve seen the successful completion of the “Climb” challenge by two people: Happy Little Three Speed Bicycle and 3 Speed Seattle. Happy Little Three Speed brought up some points about the challenge, so I just wanted to address them.

Let me just review what the Challenge is: A climb of 5% or more grade, with a cumulative elevation gain of at least 100 feet (30 m). 

I wrote up this particular challenge because there’s the idea that we three speeders don’t like climbing hills. While there’s truth to that, esp. since the lowest gear one can safely get with a three speed is in the high 30’s.* But three speeds can climb! You just can’t spin like on a touring bike. I figured that 5% is the starting point of what many people think is a “real hill” and 100 feet of elevation gain is enough to feel it.

I also realize that it’s not easy for people in flatter areas to find one hill with 100 feet of elevation gain, so I amended the challenge thusly: If you can’t find a hill with that much gain, you can stitch together two or more hills in a single ride with at least 5% or more grade, or just go up and down the same hill until you hit 100 cumulative feet.”

So the plan breaks down like this:

  • Plan A: Find a hill with at least 100 feet of elevation gain, with a grade of 5% or more.
  • Plan B: If that doesn’t work, stitch two or more hills of 5% or more grade on a ride, so long as the cumulative elevation gain is 100 feet or greater
  • Plan C: If A and B don’t work, find a hill of 5% or more grade, and go up (and down) it until you hit 100 feet of cumulative elevation gain.

So I’m giving you a few ways you can successfully complete this challenge. Please remember that this challenge must be done during a single ride, you cannot add up cumulative elevation gains from multiple rides.

But yes, you can combine this challenge with another challenge! If this challenge happens during a 15 mile (or more) ride, you’ve just knocked off two of them! Make tea at the top? Three. Was there a half-mile of unpaved in there? Four! Was this all on the way to the campground for the night? Grand slam!!!!!

Alright folks, you still have about 2/3’s of April to finish. Have questions about the Challenges? Please get in touch! 

And below is photos from 3 Speed Seattle’s Climbing Challenge.

*Yes, I know people have achieved lower. But I’d be scared of destroying the hub below the recommended 2:1 ratio. And I’m not a lightweight person, so it’s probably safer for lighter folks.