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 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