A Three Speed Year in Review: 2019

Hello, friends of Three Speeds! It’s been an eventful year ’round the SoTS HQ. With bike rides, challenges, and membership kits, it’s one of our biggest years yet. How did it shape up? Here’s a blow-by-blow of the milestones:

  • January: We had a modest Three Speed Get-Together at Montavilla Brew Works. A half-dozen people showed up, and of course we chatted about three speeds!
  • April: A big month. The Three Speed Adventure April Challenge took up a good deal of my time. About 20 people participated. I also led my first Three Speed Day Tour to Oregon City. This was a smash, with ten people joining me to see the fabled Willamette Falls. And finally we had our first Sturmey Archer AW Hub Overhaul workshop at the Community Cycling Center. Patrick Loftus showed about ten people how to fix this fabled hub.
  • June: As has been my custom since 2012, I led a Three Speed Ride during Pedalpalooza. We had a good crew of 20 turn out, and I led them from the Vera Katz Statue to Sellwood via the Willamette River Greenway. It was a fun time, but since this was my “any bike can join ride”, there was less than half on three speeds.
  • October: Another big month! This was the time of the Three Speed October Challenge. This year we had about 30 people successfully complete the challenge, a record! On top of that, I led a Three Speed Ride here in Portland and my first “out of town” one in Seattle.

And I’ve done a brisk business in new memberships. This year we’ve welcomed about 60 new members to the club! We now stand at 245 members from all over the world.

It was an exciting year, and more excitement is on the horizon for 2020…

Three Speed October 2019, The Monday Report for Oct 21

Hello folks! We are closing in towards the end of the challenge. Meaning: if you haven’t started already, it’s too late. There’s not much of a report for this Monday. Not that things aren’t happening (they are!) But since I’m traveling sans laptop, it’s hard for me to write something really extensive and intensive. You’ll get a better report next Monday.

For now, here’s a few details. As of 7 PM Pacific Time on Sunday October 20, we have:

  • 46 people who have registered
  • 24 people who have completed Week One
  • 16 people who have completed Week Two
  • 5 people who have completed Week Three, meaning we have five people who have successfully completed the challenge!

For those of you who have completed the challenge; I’ll be sending the info on prize pack ordering later this week.

For everyone: Keep on filling out those forms! I won’t be able to send/resend forms until I return to Portland (the earliest date will be Wednesday). But for pretty much everyone who has registered for the challenge (except Recycled Android), you should have gotten an email sent with the form for Week One. Check your junk/spam if you haven’t seen it, especially if you have hotmail, yahoo, or aol addresses. If you can’t find it, let me know.

And: If you registered and haven’t done a ride yet, you won’t be able to complete the challenge. So let me know that you are out, so I don’t keep on nagging you.

Everyone: Ride your three speed, challenge or not!

Three Speed Ride Seattle 2019 Report

Ah, Seattle. You always seem to be wet, at least when I visit. (Unless it’s in the middle of summer.) This weekend has been a pretty wet one, and of course it was a decent steady rain when I got up this morning. Will anyone show up to my silly ride?

And amazingly, people did show up! Nine total, including myself. We even had surprise out-of-town guests Andy and Vince from Portland. Plus Kris who came on up from Olympia. The ride was split fairly evenly between three speeds and non. Kris had a lovely “Orbit” bike from Leeds, Ed had their Hercules, Vince his MTB three Speed conversion, and Blair his Raleigh Superbe. There was also a good number of rain capes.

We went up our only real hill of the day, two blocks of steep by Volunteer Park. Then a descent down Interlaken to the University Bridge, and then we’d hop on the Burke-Gilman trail and head west.

We had a pause at the PCC Market in Fremont for provisions at our picnic/tea stop. We continued west on the Burke-Gilman to the bitter end, Golden Gardens Park. This beach provided a great view of the Puget Sound. Also, it had picnic shelters. Of course, the rain stopped right before we got to the park, almost to spite us. (And it would remain dry for the rest of the ride.) Tea and coffee was made and consumed, along with some pastries and other snacks.

Andy and Vince broke off here (Blair broke off before the U Bridge) so then there was six of us. We headed back east, toured Hiram Chittenden Locks, the busiest such structure in the United States. Then eastward along the Ship Canal Path to the Fremont Bridge (saying adieu to Andreas and Kris). Four of us made it to Fremont Brewing for beverages.

Despite a crappy forecast, the ride was a success! 18 miles total. I definitely want to do another Seattle Three Speed Ride in 2020. But it might be late spring or summer instead. Keep your eye out for details!

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, 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: https://www.ontarioparks.com/parksblog/sleeping-giant-silver-islet-mine/ ).

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 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!