The 2019 Challenge is over! Stay tuned for info for the 2020 one.

Started in 2016, the Three Speed October challenge is a way to not only get folks out on their three speeds, but to get them excited about them!

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 will need to sign up! See form at bottom.

Okay, simple enough! But you’ve got questions. You want details. So here goes:

  • Why October? For many in the northern hemisphere, it’s the last good month before cold and unsettled weather really settles in. For some, this will be the last time they regularly ride a bike before spring. Or, if you live in a place like Phoenix, it’s the first tolerable riding weather since April! And if you live in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s spring. In any case, it’s generally an OK time to be riding a bike in most places on this planet.
  • Why three speeds? If you are already here do I need to answer that? Okay, it’s because three speeds are totally reasonable and practical bikes for many an application. This challenge is to encourage you to think about them in this way, rather than a “show” bike for your Tweed Ride.
  • Is this just limited to three speeds? Mostly. A three speed internally geared hub is what should be ridden for this challenge. We’ll also accept four and five speed internally geared hubs, hubs that were available from Sturmey-Archer by the mid-70’s. But no more or less speeds than that! To be clear, it doesn’t have to be a Sturmey-Archer hub, it can also be a Sachs, Sram, Shimano, SunTour, Hercules, or (insert brand here.) But it can only have three, four, or five speeds!
  • Any exceptions? We’ll allow Bromptons that have that infernal Sturmey-Archer with deraileur combo, but that’s it. If you do have a Brompton, you must promise and make every effort to NOT use your derailleur during a ride.
  • How do you define a week? 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. Weeks cannot overlap, so your next “week” won’t start until the following Wednesday. You just need to fill up three non-overlapping “weeks” during the duration of the challenge.
  • What if I ride more than three trips in a week? Great! And you should. But these trips don’t count towards anything. You can’t use “extra” trips towards another week.
  • What if I ride more than three miles in a trip? That’s great as well, but all that matters is hitting three miles in a single trip. And you can’t use “extra miles” towards another trip.
  • To be clear, you need to ride three separate and distinct trips in a week, each ride on a different day.
  • Can I do more than one ride a day? No.
  • What if I try to ride three times in a week, but something comes up and I can’t do it? Can I make it up somehow? Yes! 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.
  • What if all else fails? Or the weather turns? If you’ve successfully completed two weeks but certain things happen to cause you to miss completing the final week, you can file for a “Hardship Exception”. I will only consider the exception for:
    • A personal issue (medical, death in the family, jail, etc)
    • Real weather issues (see below)
    • Bike issues (mechanical failure, crash, spontaneous combustion, etc )
    • You won’t be considered for a Hardship Exception if you forget to follow through or got too busy with other things in your life.
  • A word about weather: I know that winter can come early in certain parts of the world. For those of you who live in early winter locales (like, say, Winterpeg, er, Winnipeg), I urge you to do your three weeks of riding during the first three weeks of the challenge timeframe. If something weather related comes up that prevents you from fulfilling the challenge in the time constraints given, contact me about the Hardship Exception. But the weather has to be something real. It can’t just be “well, it sprinkled a bit today”. The British rode their three speeds through all sorts of miserable weather, a little rain ain’t going to kill you. Just get out your rain cape and brake before you need to stop!
  • What if my ride starts on the last day of the week and continues into the next week? It will be considered one ride for the week that it started in.
  • I bike commute to work. Would each individual segment (one to, one from) count as a separate ride? Or would the commute count as one ride? The commute will count as one ride. Though this is in your favor if you have a commute less than three miles, hopefully each segment is at least 1.5 miles, so you can hit that three mile threshold easily!
  • Does the ride have to be a “standalone” ride, or can it be incorporated with another ride? Whatever ride incorporates a three speed bicycle and is at least three miles qualifies! So if you decide to do a “club” ride or a gnar MTB adventure with friends, or go on a 200K brevet, or on a coffeeneuring adventure, it doesn’t matter! In fact, I’d love to see you do the 200K brevet on a three speed!
  • I don’t have a cycle computer/Strava/GPS. How will I know if I’ve done three miles? You can use a mapping program before or after the ride to figure out distance. We recommend using Ride With GPS. If not, use a paper map to figure out a rough estimate of mileage.
  • Ok, I completed the challenge successfully! What do I get? Everyone who successfully completes the challenge will be able to get a small award, most likely a sticker and/or patch. This is not free, and will cost anywhere between $5 and $20. Those folks who are not already members will qualify for a discounted rate for Society of Three Speeds.

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.) 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.

Okay, simple enough! Really, I tried to make this challenge not that hard. If that doesn’t satisfy ya, feel free to pull three centuries a week on a three speed!

Do you still have questions? Email me.