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.


The first day of Adventure April is over. There are still 29 more days to go.

87a72662-f24b-49dd-8746-6fd2a3e51350Hello friends! It is Tuesday, April 2nd, the second day of this year’s Three Speed Adventure April Challenge. So far, eight fine three speeders have signed up!

And we have our first report of the event (sort of) by Happy Little Three Speed. To answer the questions brought up in that blog post:

  1. It’s not about average grade, it’s about actual grade. So, look at the grade chart on the bottom of the map. Whatever section is 5% or greater is good for the challenge. And if the hill isn’t long enough, ride back down, ride back up, rinse, lather, repeat until you have enough.
  2. The distance challenge (15 miles or more) can have stops in it, like for lunch. The total ride just needs to be at or greater than 15 miles.

Okay! I hope more of you accept the challenge. Remember, you still need to sign up for the challenge and adhere to the rules. You can do that over here.

Finally, since someone asked: Yes, it HAS to be a three, four, or five speed internally geared bike. No, you can’t ride a single speed. This isn’t the Society of One Speed!

Announcing Three Speed Adventure April 2019!

The Robin Hood path racer project at Mount Tabor. See, a three speed can climb a hill!

Hello friends of Three Speeds! I skipped Three Speed October in 2018 so it’s been a year since the last challenge. And yes, it’s time for another challenge!

Announcing Three Speed Adventure April 2019!

This challenge is about doing things with/on a three speed bicycle that some people would unfairly consider “beyond its abilities”. These bikes are more able than even some seasoned three-speeders think! This challenge is open to any three speed internally geared bicycle, of any year, any country, any. Four and five speed internally geared bicycles also welcome to participate. No derailleurs.

The overall challenge consists of five different sub-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’ll find every little detail about the challenge here. 

And unlike Three Speed October, it’s about quality not quantity. You can do all the challenges individually, do them all together, or in any combination you see fit!

I’ve done this event in 2017 and 2018. The basics have remained the same since then. Here’s what’s pertinent for this year’s event:

  • The Three Speed Adventure April challenge will occur during the full calendar month of April, which in 2019 is Monday April 1st through Tuesday April 30th. So your ride(s) can happen anytime in April. (If you are doing a bike overnight, I will be so gracious to allow you to start one on Sunday March 31st, or end one on Wednesday May 1st. HOWEVER, any other challenges MUST happen within the month of April. So, if you do a bike overnight that overflows into the adjoining months AND want to add other stuff like Coffee Outside or the Climbing Challenge, they HAVE to be within April.)
  • You’ll have all of May to submit the reports of your challenges. Deadline for submission is 11:59 PM PDT on Friday May 31, 2019.
  • Find the forms onerous? Don’t do the internet? You can submit your challenge reports by mail! Please get in touch with me first (either by email or by post, address below). You will still have to submit the same report information that you would if you do online. You’ll also need to send me a pic of the bike (or bikes) you’re using, and if you can’t do that, you’ll need to send me a drawing instead. (And I don’t care that you “don’t know how to draw”.) You can submit postal reports individually or together. Reports will need to be postmarked no later than Friday May 31st.
  • Prizes! You qualify for a one-inch button for each challenge you do. If you hit at least three of the sub-challenges, you’ll qualify for something special (to be determined). If you can do all five, great! But you won’t get something else beyond five buttons and the something special. Please note: It will cost between $5-15 to get the prize pack, plus shipping.
  • Anyone who completes at least one (and any one) of the challenges will qualify for a discounted Society of Three Speeds membership! For 2019, this discount price will be $15 plus shipping. Get in touch with me directly to get info on purchase.

Okay! Looking forward to your participation! Please fill out the form below if you want to participate. The form will be open until May 1st. Once you complete the registration form, you’ll be sent the Challenge Completion form during the first week of April.

Email me if you have questions. Or write: Shawn Granton, P O Box 14185, Portland OR 97293

Posting your challenges to the internet? Please tag with #threespeedadvapr2019

Three Speed Plans for 2019, a calendar and a road map

2019 promises to be an exciting year for Three Speeds! Whether you live in the Pacific Northwest or are somewhere else in the world, we’ve got some three speed fun for you! So mark your calendars (or just link to ours).

Full details on these events will happen within the month or two before the event. But the dates have been set!

  • April 1-30: Three Speed Adventure April (worldwide). Just like the past couple years, there are five separate challenges to complete: 1) Ride a three speed at least 15 mi/25 km 2) climb at least a 5% grade for 100 ft/30 m 3) unpaved/dirt for 1/2 mi/1 km 4) coffee outside 5) bike overnight. Registration will open up in March. Full details here.
  • Sat April 20: Three Speed Day Tour (Portland). A 25 or 35 mile ride, mostly along bike paths, to Oregon City and back. Full details and how to register for the ride here. Come on down!
  • Wed June 5: Three Speed Evening Ride (Portland). Our annual Pedalpalooza ride, a 10 mile romp after work. This is our one “open” ride for the year, meaning any bike is welcome. Full details TBA.
  • Sept 13-15: Willamette Valley Three Speed Tour (Portland). A multiple day ride southward using (mostly) the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway. This will be a self-supported camping tour. We’ll ride 35-50 miles a day and camp in campgrounds. Full details TBA.
  • Sept 27-Nov 3: Three Speed October Challenge (worldwide). Ride your three speed at least three miles, three days a week, for three weeks. Registration opens in September. Full details here.

Oh yeah, that image above is a new Society of Three Speeds postcard! All members who have either purchased the new 2019 Membership Kit or those who are in Postcard Club will get one! Want in? Become a member or renew your membership! Buy it here.

Hope to see you out there!

Three Speed Adventure April prize packs are HERE, finally!

Hey folks! I emailed a bunch of you about this, but there’s always a chance you didn’t get. And if you participated in either the 2017 or 2018 Three Speed Rides that happened in April, you qualify for Challenges 1 through 4.
After much procrastination, I have finally gotten around to getting the prize packs for both the 2017 and 2018 Adventure April challenges done! Woot! And if you have completed some of the challenges, you qualify for the prizes!
​A word about the prize pack: Basically, it’s a “merit badge” for each challenge you completed. These are one inch buttons depicting the challenge. So you get one for each challenge you completed. Alas, no patches, since the participation has been light (just 10 for this year), and I can’t justify the expense right now.
Also, the design is the same for both years. If you did Coffee Outside in both 2017 and 2018, you’ll get the same button, but twice.
So, if you would like the prizes, this is what you will need to do:
  • Paypal me at the appropriate cash for buttons plus shipping.
  • Each button is $1. You get one button for each challenge you complete for each year. If you did Distance-Coffee in 2017 and then Climb-Rough Stuff-Coffee in 2018, that’s $5 total.
  • Shipping is $4 for US, $10 for Canada, $14 for anywhere else. Please add this to the button cost.
  • Unfortunately, buttons have to go first class package, and that’s expensive. I’m not trying to make money off of this, but if I try to “sneak” it by with postage for a first class letter and it gets returned, I’d be eating the additional shipping cost. And yes, this has happened to me.
  • Either in the notes when you Paypal me, or in a separate email to this address, include your mailing address, and what buttons for what year.
  • I’m trusting you to tell me which challenges you have completed, but if you have forgotten, let me know and I’ll figure it out.
  • If you don’t have paypal, I can send an invoice via PayPal that you can pay with a credit card.
  • Oh yeah, I also can accept payment via Square Cash. Let me know if you want to do that.
  • If you don’t want to do Square Cash or PayPal, get in touch and we can figure something out. Be advised I don’t like taking personal checks.
  • If you live in Portland, we can arrange a pickup for cash so you don’t have to pay shipping. Please note that this pickup is either going to be at my work on SE Hawthorne or at my house in NE (Woodlawn), at a time that works for me. I’m not going to deliver buttons, my life is too hectic.
  • Also, if you live in Portland, I’ll have the buttons at the Three Speed Ride this Wednesday June 27, and also the Sunset/Moonrise Ride on Thursday June 28.
  • And if you just don’t want the prize packs, that’s fine.
If you have any questions, please let me know. Thank you for participating!

Three Speed Adventure April Challenge: Reporting Deadline Extended to May 25


Hello folks!  Eighteen folks “signed up” for the Three Speed Adventure April Challenge. Technically the deadline to report the rides was Friday May 18th. But so far, only seven of the eighteen have reported these rides. So I’m giving y’all a little more time!

If you have participated in the Three Speed Adventure Challenge, you have until the end of day (your local time) on Friday May 25th to fill out the report. It doesn’t matter if you only did one challenge, all five, or something in between, please fill out the form. It’s great that you blogged or Instagrammed your adventures, but please remember you need to fill out the form by deadline to qualify in the results and be eligible for the prizes!

If you have registered, you should have gotten the form emailed to you. If you did register via the Google Form shown below and for some reason HAVE NOT gotten the form, email me at

If you have done the challenge and have not registered, please register via form below. If you are having difficulties, please email me.

Okay, let’s see your reports!