Monday, January 2, 2017

National Bike Challenge 1/2/17 Update

2017 National Bike Challenge-blog post by Peter Grasse 1/2/17
Looking for a great way to get your company, club, and/or community riding?  Try the 2017 National Bike Challenge. The National Bike Challenge dates back to 2008 when Rob Gusky and co-workers at Kimberly Clark started biking to work when gas was $4/gallon.  They tallied their rides on a whiteboard.  Pretty soon they were using a spreadsheet, and eventually a website.  In 2011, this program went public with the Wisconsin Bike Challenge, and in 2012, became the National Bike Challenge with collaboration from two national biking organizations:  the League of American Bicyclists, and PeopleforBikes.  The concept was simple:  from May 1st to September 30th ride your bike, earning 20 points for each day you ride, and 1 point for every mile you ride.  The competition was organized in non-orthogonal matrices (scientists and engineers started the Challenge) enabling multiple competitions within the Challenge.  Companies competed against other companies.  Within a company, worksites competed against other worksites.   State advocacy groups competed against each other, and communities vied for top spots.

Various large companies like Trek, Kimberly Clark, HDR, 3M, and others recruited hundreds of riders at multiple worksites.  At 3M, for example, over 3000 riders were registered in 2016 at over 150 locations worldwide.  Grassroots organizers within companies recruited riders for the Challenge.  The unique point structure leveled the playing field for the participants.  Those making daily short rides could be competitive with those making weekend long rides.  Every kind of ride counted, except trainer time.  Rides with kids, errands, commutes, races, trail riding--they all count. Companies found it was a great employee engagement tool, and many riders reported that Challenge participation was a key factor in their weight loss.

Unfortunately, success caught up with the Challenge in 2016.  It's website, having grown through the years, was not robust enough for the volume of participants, and required extraordinary resources to keep it running.  Many riders gave up in frustration.  Support seemed unresponsive, but only because resources were prioritized to patch the leaky boat, rather than respond directly to all the issues. 
Volunteers from Thrivent, Kimberly Clark, Wells Fargo, and 3M are working to rebuild the Challenge website from the ground up into a robust, enterprise level platform.  The League of American Bicyclists will be the administrator of the Challenge.  Official sponsor announcements will be forthcoming.  Development resources are limited, and some prioritization was required.  Strava has been selected as the platform for registration and logging.  The National Bike Challenge website will pull data from Strava and organize into leaderboards with the familiar 20 point/day, 1 point per mile scoring system.  A non-premium (free) Strava account is needed to participate.  Rides can be logged manually from Strava phone app or Strava website, or recorded by Strava phone app or gps device.  There are methods to connect other accounts such as Endomondo, Training Peaks, RideWithGPS, etc. to Strava.

Strava Clubs will create the non-orthogonal matrices that will form the basis of the competitions.  More details about how to set these up will be in future posts.  An open Strava Club, "2017 NBC Testers" is available for riders to get familiar with Strava logging.  Anyone can join at : https://www.strava.com/clubs/2017_NBC_Testers.  This group will be used to test the new platform as it is developed. 

The new National Bike Challenge website is currently unavailable.  http://nationalbikechallenge.org, will give you a link to our Facebook page, where we will try to keep our status current.  You can contribute to the Challenge at https://www.generosity.com/community-fundraising/build-a-better-national-bike-challenge.  You can also follow the Challenge on Twitter at @NatlBikeChallen.

Peter Grasse retired in May 2016 from 3M Company(St. Paul MN) as an R&D manager after 32 years.  For the last 5 years, he was a year round bicycle commuter.   Contact him at petergrasse@gmail.com to help make the 2017 Challenge the best ever.


4 comments:

  1. Excellent! Thank you for your continued work, it's really gotten Lincoln Ne up and riding...

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  2. Glad to hear about the progress! I'm a little sad to hear that Strava will be a required piece, although totally understand how that helps simplify things. I use MapMyFitness to track my rides because that earns me credit with my employer's wellness program. (Incidentally, I work for HDR - it was a fun surprise to see your shoutout in the second paragraph! :) )

    Unfortunately, without a 3rd party app that's only available on Android phones (called Sync My Tracks), there's no easy way to sync Strava with MapMyFitness, so I'd either need to record my rides in both apps simultaneously, or not get points in the Challenge this year. :/ I really hope it's possible to develop a cross-platform syncing system (or else accept MapMyFitness data in native format) to allow more people to participate.

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    1. Please consider using Tapirik (https://tapiriik.com/). It was written to keep multiple fitness tracking apps synchronized. A number of people I know swear by it. For $2/year, they keep all your accounts in synch, or you can sysnch manually as often as you like.

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  3. Last year I tried to manually sync my preferred app to Map My Ride but it was a miserable task that I simply was not willing to keep up with so i wrote the challenge off. Over the winter I worked on getting my stats into mapmyride so that I could participate this year but now find that you will no longer work with mapmyride. While I am happy to be able to get mapmyride off my phone as it is a mess I am not happy that you have once again decided to dictate that I install another app that I did not like when I looked and decided which fitness app I would use. Welcome to the National Bike Challenge where THIS week we will be doing THIS. Keep up though, we plan to yank the rug out from under you soon....

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