National Bike Challenge: We are the Champions!

Wisconsin came out on top this year in the 2014 National Bike Challenge, which ended September 30th at midnight. With 7,850 people riding 3,942,771 miles between from May through September, all that pedaling adds up to about 214 million calories burned and nearly 3.6 million pounds of carbon that didn’t go into the atmosphere. That left a lot of money left over, as the riders saved over $2.2 million that they would have spent driving. Special kudos to Mary Catteron from Appleton for finishing top female rider in the country with 9,863 miles. Way to go all you Badger State Bikers!

Last year Wisconsin lost to Nebraska and Vermont in the final week. While both our rivals put in a valiant effort and outrode us in the final month, our lead was too great to overtake this year.  As you can see by the chart above, none of the top three have anything to feel bad about in this close race. The podium finishers stand head and shoulders above the next nearest states.

The National Bike Challenge started in Wisconsin five years ago with support from Kimberly Clark. Now in its third year nationally, the Challenge saw a 36% increase in riders and 25% more miles pedaled over last year. More than 470,000 Challenge riders pedaled 23 million miles. The number one overall rider nationally was Eric Nordberg from Topeka, KS, who rode an astounding 18,152 miles!

The top Wisconsin rider was John MacDonald from Elkhorn, who rode 10,591 miles to place 8th nationally. As mentioned above, the top female rider in Wisconsin was Mary Catteron from Appleton. The Bike Fed’s own Beth Pickard finished an impressive 6th place in the state, with 3,692 miles. I managed a respectable 184th place finish with 2,441 miles, near the front of the pack but well behind the leaders, just like I used to do racing.

Check the website Leaderboards to find out how your team, workplace or community finished.

It is great to see a fun competition started in Wisconsin has turned into a wonderfully successful way to encourage people across the country to ride more. Special thanks to the Challenge pioneer and spiritual leader, Rob Gusky, from Kimberly Clark and Fox Cities Cycling Association. Rob not only leads by example riding over 2,700 miles, but he has taken a national leadership role as a board member for the League of American Bicyclists!

The staff at the Bike Fed spent a significant amount of time getting our state challenge going and promoting it, which we could not have done without the support from our generous sponsors below. Finally, I would like to thank everyone who participated in the Challenge. Even if you used the handy new apps like I did, it still took some extra effort on all your parts to put Wisconsin back on top. Please put any suggestions you may have about how to improve the Challenge for next year in the comments below.

I don’t know about you, but I have no plans to ride less just because the Challenge is over for this year, but I am looking forward to a possible winter challenge again once the snow starts falling!








About Dave Schlabowske, Deputy Director

Dave was the first full-time staff member hired to open the Bike Fed's Milwaukee office 15 years ago. A former professional photographer and life-long Milwaukee resident, Dave likes wool, long rides, sour beer, and a good polar vortex once in a while.

5 thoughts on “National Bike Challenge: We are the Champions!

  1. Suggestion for improving the Challenge: This story (and every other story that will ever be written about the challenge) is all about the miles – miles this, miles that, more miles than last year, top riders and top states rode X number of miles, etc. But the challenge leaderboards are all about the points – not the miles. If you add up the miles of three people above you on the leaderboards and it comes out to fewer miles than you rode, there’s something wrong with the points system – unless the challenge is completely about riding more often, and not about riding more miles. I know part of the challenge is to get people to ride more often – but 20 points a day caused a really wonky ranking of riders on the leaderboards. Example – some people rode 2 “sport” miles a day (not commuting) 30 days a month and earned 660 points for 60 total miles that month – and if that’s an accomplishment for them personally, that’s great! (If they just did it to rack up points, then shame on them, or shame on the people who came up with the rules, I guess.) But, others rode 20 miles a day 16 days a month and only got 640 points for 320 total miles (5 times as many). That’s a difference of 100 points throughout the Challenge. That’s just not an equitable system IF you really care about the number of miles we rode. I don’t know exactly how many points per day would be fair, but maybe someone can study the data and figure something out. Or maybe (probably) that’s just too hard and the Challenge should simply go back to having two leaderboards (or sortable leaderboards) – one for points and one for miles, and/or one for sport riders and one for transportation riders/commuters. It was done that way in previous years, and gave us an opportunity to compare apples to apples. Otherwise, why talk about how many miles we all rode? Why not talk about how many days we got out and rode, even if it was only for 2 miles a day? I hope that makes sense. It was just a lot more fun when we could compare ourselves to (and compete with – just for fun, or course) other riders with similar riding habits. And bring on the winter challenge! But, be sure to keep it on a regional or state-by-state basis. I don’t expect Wisconsin to stand a fighting chance against Illinois in the Winter. This isn’t football, you know 🙂

    • Thanks for the thoughtful suggestions John. I think everyone agrees there are some quirks with the point algorithm that need adjusting. We will be talking to the folks at the League of American Bicyclists, and carry the suggestions from our Bike Fed members to them for next year.

  2. How are we celebrating? How our we leveraging this success for better bike infrastucture? That’s what I’d like to know! Great job Wisconsin!!!

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