It’s DO OR DIE Time for the Three Speed October Challenge!

Hello, friends of Three Speeds! Today, Friday October 18th, is technically the LAST DAY you can START this challenge and complete it in time. So, are you on the fence? Now is the time to decide.

I’ve gone over how “the calendar” works in exhaustive (hopefully) detail in this post here. Please check it outHere if you have any questions.

But wait! Maybe you read this post on Saturday October 19th, or show up on my Seattle Three Speed Ride, and still want to do this! Guess what? You still have a chance if you do this:

  • Start the challenge TODAY, Saturday October 19 and do a ride TODAY.
  • Do a ride on Sunday October 20th.
  • Both those rides count toward week one, which would start on Monday, October 14th. This means you only filled in two rides in the first week. This is okay, but keep on reading…
  • Complete week two and three successfully, meaning all three rides for each week.
  • Commit to riding a Make Up Ride for the first week during the Make Up Weekend of November 1-3. (You can also do regular rides towards Week Three on other days that weekend.)

So lovers of Three Speeds: You still have time.

Right now, I am in Seattle enjoying the damp weather and getting ready for tomorrow’s ride. Hope you can join me!


Three Speed October 2019: My Week Three, Ride 2 (Mon 14 Oct)

On the ride in.

One ride away from completing my personal Three Speed October Challenge. Don’t worry folks, I’ll still be (mostly) riding my three speeds through the rest of the month!

I took out the Robin Hood path racer project again. I don’t ride this bike as much as my superb Superbe, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t love it. It’s just set up as a sportier (read: less capacity) bike. With its sexy Lauterwasser (the Soma repro) handlebars, it definitely looks like a fast bike. Nevermind that it’s still the same 20-30 HiTen steel as practically every other British three speed!*

I haven’t really done many changes to the bike since I built it up about two years ago. The only thing that’s been replaced (besides the chain) is tires. I’ve had four different sets since I built it up:

  • Schwalbe Delta Cruisers in cream. These were “hand-me-downs” from the Superbe.
  • Grand Bois tires. Yes, Grand Bois. 650A is still a common size in Japan, and Grand Bois is supposed to be the “best”. So I mistakenly took the advice of someone off the internet and located a pair of these impossible-to-find Japanese tires.** Yeah, they are the most supple tires you can find for 650A, but they were expensive (I paid $60 each) and yet were somehow narrower than any other common 26″ x 1 3/8″ tires, 32 mm wide. (Most common is 35-37 mm). They probably would have been the cat’s knees if they were the same width as Col de la Vies (40 mm), but at that narrowness the higher pressure I had to keep them at negated most of the benefits. I had them on for a couple months, then managed to compromise the sidewall on the front. So much for that.
  • Sunlite Nimbus tires, which I believe are just relabeled Kendas. I had a set on the old Rudge (found in a free pile) and liked them fine. In fact, I think they are probably the best of the cheap tires in this size, especially with their “hybrid” tread.
  • And now, Panaracer Col de La Vie. I like these tires, but decided they’d be better off on the sportier three speed vs. the more utilitarian Superbe.
The forelorn “bike corner” at the hostel.

Today’s ride was actually an honest-to-goodness commute. Most of my work happens at home, but on Monday October 14 I happened to cover a shift at my old job, the hostel. Yep, I stayed on the payroll and work an occasional shift (at best, once a month). Part of it is to keep those long-standing side-benefits of working at a hostel going. (Like staying for free at other hostels.) But part of it is to also remind me of why I left. There’s always the part of me that looks back on things and says, “Maybe that wasn’t so bad.”*** So I start to think, maybe I should have stuck around. Going back every once in awhile convinces me that I made the right decision, and sticking around for even two days a week would’ve been too much.

In any case, it was a nice 3 mile ride to work. A beautiful October day, sunny and in the mid-60’s. Fall has been really poppin’ here in Portland, and I paused at Laurelhurst Park to admire the color display.


Work at the hostel was, ehh. But I got to hang out with Blackie for a little bit, that’s all that matters!

The ride home was nice. It was a pleasant but cool evening, about 47F when I left the hostel. The bright B+M headlight powered by a Sanyo dynohub lit the way home.

Overall, six miles of riding today.

The ride home.

*Yes, I know about the fancy Lentons, Clubmans, and the like with their light 531 tubing. But let’s face it, 99% of the old British three speeds we see here in the US aren’t going to be that!

**Norther Cycles in North Portland was coincidentally placing a direct order with Grand Bois when I was searching.

***However, this hasn’t been the case for looking back at the five years at the house in Woodlawn. If anything, each passing day makes me realize how bad it all was.

Three Speed October 2019, The Monday Report: Oct 14

Hello folks! Welcome to another Monday during this beautiful Three Speed October. How’s everyone doing out there? But first, this important note:

This is the last week you can start the Three Speed October Challenge. In order to complete the Challenge by the end date of Sunday November 3, your first week must start on Monday October 14th. This also means your second week starts Monday October 21st, and third week Monday October 21st. Please note that your first ride doesn’t have to be on Monday October 14th. You can do your first ride as late as Friday October 18th. So this means Friday October 18th is the DO OR DIE date. See this post for more details.

Also, since it has been asked: If you decide to start the challenge NOW, but have done rides on three speeds in the past couple weeks, YES you can use these rides towards the challenge! Also, I will keep the registration open until Friday November 8th, so if you didn’t get around to registering, or figured you had enough rides to qualify, you can still get in on the action!

Okay, let’s get on to things. As of noon on Sunday October 13, 2019, we have:

  • 42 people who have registered for the challenge
  • 20 people who have completed and reported their first week
  • 7 people who have completed and reported their second week

I’m not going to share every bit of each report, but here’s some things that stuck out:

Enjoying week one, no spandex, gentle pace, makes a nice break !

Dave in Thunder Bay

A report from the aforementioned Dave (and Bev) in Thunder Bay:

We started week two with a change from our “around town” rides. We transported our bikes by vehicle to the hamlet of Silver Islet, a small seasonal community of rustic cottages located at the end of the Sibley peninsula outside Thunder Bay. Silver Islet was the site of a rich silver mine that operated in the 1870 to 1880 period (more information is available here: ).

After the closure of the mine, the community continued as a base for fishing and forestry, eventually becoming a summer cottage community. In the early days people and supplies arrived by ship from Prince Arthurs Landing/Port Arthur, now part of the city of Thunder Bay. There was no electricity or telephone connections to the town site until the 1990’s, although a highway was built to the hamlet in 1940.

A relatively short ride of 6.2 km (3.8 miles) with a 69m (226 ft.) elevation gain, essentially the main (only) road through the hamlet with a return loop along the highway. Even so, standard gearing had us grinding to a halt on some short steep climbs and relying on the “24 inch” gear:

However, “what goes up must come down” and we were able to use third gear on the last downhill, reaching 47.6 kph (on the Humber) without spinning out!

We encountered a brief rain shower near the end.

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1950’s Humber roadster, Dave’s bike for the ride.

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1973 Raleigh Colt, Bev’s bike for the ride

And Tim in Springfield, Ore. has some pics of his first week:

We’ve got some reports from 3Speed Seattle:

Three Speed October 10/7

Week Two, Ride One

Miles: 4

Monday, and it’s the start of my “weekend.” Which means time for me to head to the pool to get in some lap swimming time. My usual pool is the Evans Pool at Green Lake, which means I have to bicycle up Stone Way Hill (5% grade). Living at the bottom of Stone Way, I have to bike up said hill alot. 

After my swim, I decided to add in a nice, leisurely ride around the lake before heading home. From the cloudy, windy weather, this might be my last non-raining day for awhile. 

Three Speed October 10/8

Week Two, Ride Two

Miles: 8

On Tuesday nights, I frequently make my way from my place up to a pizza place on Aurora Ave to hang out with friends. This requires climbing Stone Way, circling half of Green Lake, and then climbing again. 

Despite the weather getting pretty cold lately, I knew I would over-heat trying to gain elevation, so I stuck to a t-shirt for the ride up. I brought a sweatshirt to throw on for the downhill trip home, though! Got to catch a lovely sunset over Green Lake

Three Speed October 10/9

Week Two, Ride Three

Miles: 8

A bright, sunny October day meant a good day for me to bicycle to Ballard to visit my Captain. Of course, no matter how good the weather is, biking through Ballard itself is always a mess due to the “Missing Link” of the Burke-Gilman trail. I’ve finally given up on risking my life on Shilshole Ave and instead go two blocks up onto Leary Way, which is equally industrial but is 4 lanes, so the drivers are less homicidal. 

A bunch of road construction means that Ballard is even more of a nightmare to ride through then usual, but I finally managed to make it. Then, on my way home, I paused at the grocery store to pick up a little friend. 


And to close it off, here’s a selection of Instagram posts:

Three Speed October 2019: The rest of my second week

It’s been exciting times around the SoTS HQ this Three Speed October: Forty people have registered so far, about 10 have reported their first week. I’ve been pretty much been riding my Raleigh Superbe since the start of the Challenge, so it’s been pretty easy for me to get the requisite three rides a week in.

My Week Two started on Friday October 4, but my first ride wasn’t until Saturday October 5th. This was the Three Speed Ride as reported here.

Since then, I’ve completed two more rides towards Week Two:

  • Sunday October 6: Emee and I did a 5 mile round-trip on a gorgeous evening. First, dinner at Nicholas Restaurant (the one on NE Broadway) for their great Lebanese food. Then across the street to pick up groceries at New Seasons Market Grant Park.
  • Monday October 7: A 4 mile pre Coffeneuring Challenge practice run right around dark. A slice of pizza and a mocha at Albina Press on SE Hawthorne to do a little drawing for #inktober2019 (Multi-tasking. 😁) There’s not a lot of “late” (past 6 PM) coffee shops in town, so I was happy to find out that Albina Press stays open until 8! 

Alright, so how is everyone’s Three Speed October Challenge going? Let’s see your reports! Oh yeah, everyone should also attempt the Coffeeneuring Challenge, especially on their three speeds!

Ride Report: Three Speed Ride, 5 Oct 2019

We had ourselves a good little Three Speed Ride this past weekend. Eleven folks total (including myself) showed up on this beautiful (65F and sunny) early fall day.

The route was a pretty “classic” one: from Kenton to Kelley Point Park, then to St Johns, all within the North “Quadrant”. We used the Columbia Slough levee bike path west from Kenton (which was pretty rough around the wastewater treatment plant), then west along Marine Drive. The truck traffic was pretty chill today. At Kelley Point, the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers, we had our tea break.

More Marine Drive riding to get to Chimney and Pier Parks, then into the heart of St Johns for the end. My preferred end spot, Gracies Apizza, was not open yet, so we opted for the marvelous assortment of food and beer at the St Johns Beer Porch conglomeration of food trucks. Fourteen miles, and the ride was a wrap!

Some of us hung out for food and beer, then myself, Emee, and Tarik Saleh went to Cathedral Park underneath the St Johns Bridge to hang out for a bit. The sun set, and we rode back along N Willamette Blvd towards home.

That’s it for Portland three speed rides for 2019. But don’t forget, the Seattle ride is on Saturday October 19th! I hope to see some of you Emerald City three speeders there!

Three Speed October 2019: The Monday Report for October 7

Hello, friends of Three Speeds! I’m going to try to post these updates about this year’s Three Speed October Challenge every Monday for the remainder of it. Wish me luck!

Since I last checked in, a full week of the Challenge have passed, which means people have completed the first week. As of now, we have forty people who have signed up for the challenge, yay! And we have had nine people who have successfully completed their first week. At least, that’s how many have reported it. So, if you haven’t filled out the form for the first week (you should have received one if you registered), now is a good time to do so. But please note: Please DO NOT FILL OUT THIS FORM unless you have COMPLETED the week. That means: doing three rides. Wait until you’ve done your three and fill out the form. This makes it much easier for me to keep track of things!

And if you have filled out the form for Week One, you should have received via email the form for Week Two. If you haven’t received the forms, please get in touch.

Alright, let’s see what’s up:

Woo hoo! scottjoseph9 is the first person (other than me) to complete and record their first week of the challenge!

This is a fun way to track my activity! I ride my vintage 3 speeds to work year-round several times per week.


And, Beverly in Ontario is the second person to complete the first week of the challenge. Yay!

in Meanwhile, in New Mexico, the Happy Little Three Speed Bicycle Blog ponders if he should participate in the challenge:

I’ve gone back and forth about whether I would sign up or not.  I keep leaning toward not for two reasons.
One, I almost always commute to work, every day, and since I switched up the happy little single speed to the happy little three speed, I’ve done that ride almost exlusively on three speed bicycles, though occasionally I’ll pull the touring bike down and ride it.  If you throw in all the riding I do for grocery shopping, I cover about 70 – 80 miles by three speed a week.  (This past week, the old Raleigh as developed some rattling and rubbing noises.  I think they might be coming from the sheet metal pieces that slide in on either side of the rear sprocket, but I’m still working on it.)
So, it’s not so much a challenge, but a matter of documenting my riding, and I’m feeling too lazy to do that.  Still, it’s a sweet patch that’s being offered.
Two, I’ve been short-handed at work and doing the work of two people for the past couple of months.  Let’s face it – I’m just a little bit tired and don’t feel up to taking photographs and writing blog posts.

Happy Little Three Speed Bicycle

Then comes around and decides to do it, while adding a sub-challenge for himself:

I think, for a personal challenge, I’ll ride the 1952 Raleigh every day, except for grocery shopping.  It won’t fit the trailer hitch I use for groceries, so it will have to be the Happy Little Three Speed for that.

Happy Little Three Speed Bicycle

Shanejsours has gotten in a ride:

Took my ‘68 DeLuxe Racer out for a spin today along the canal for the first ride of Three Speed October.

Shane’s 1968 Schwinn Deluxe Racer

3 Speed Seattle has gotten in a couple rides.

First ride of 3 Speed October, go! As is typical for a monday, I had to ride from my place down to King Street Station to catch the Sounder train so I could go visit my grandmother. The city has been busily putting in more bike lanes, to the point that I can go from my place to the train station almost entirely by bike lane or cycletrack. Of course, the new sections of cycletrack are only helpful as long as people don’t park their cars in them.


More errands to run on a Wednesday afternoon. First to the local library to drop off some books, then to the Grocery Store for food. The pumpkin displays make a nice colorful backdrop. Really starting to feel like fall around here!


To close this report out, a trio of images from Instagram:

Keep those reports coming in, and if you are putting stuff on Instagram, make sure you tag it as #threespeedoct2019

See you next week!