Can anyone keep up with Leonard Wright? That was the question at the end of the pre-season for the National Bike Challenge.
By the time the flag went up on May 1, the Challenge had already drafted 12,000+ riders from more than 500 cities who logged a staggering 1 million miles. At the end of April, Wright was way out front of the rest of the pack, racking up more than 5,000 miles in less than three months. Will the 66-year-old from Florida continue to dominate, we wondered, as we rolled into the real-deal competition on Tuesday?
Well, Leonard is still on top, but a surge of new riders threw their helmets in the ring — and it’s anybody’s game.
Just four days in, the team is looking strong. If the NBC were the NFL we’ve already dashed past the 30 yard line, headed to the goal post of 50,000 riders. On Wednesday alone, more than 1,550 riders registered in a single day and, as we close the work week, we’re bumping up on 18,000 participants.
So who’s on top?
- In the individual arena: Wright’s morning spin kept him atop the leaderboard today, but two competitors from Columbus, Ohio — Evan Schieber and Mike Grote — are right off his back wheel. Ohio is also on top when it comes to women riders: Katie Schanz from Cleveland is leading the ladies with more than 220 points.
- Among teams: Trek Varsity is out front but the Kamikaze Squirrels are nipping at their toe cages, just 10 points behind as I write this post. And with teams like the Front Range Freaks, the Leg Breakers, and the Henry Street Pirates, it could get cut-throat.
- In the race among states, some major surprises: Since the Bike Challenge made its pilot run in Wisconsin last year, the safe money in the national race was clearly on the Badger State. But, sharpen those teeth, cheese-lovers, because, right now, the Maple State is planted firmly in your path. Vermont has claimed the #1 spot among states. But the top two, better watch their backs. There’s another dark horse, galloping up the ranks. Nebraska isn’t far behind at #3.
- For civic pride: The Cheese Heads take the cake. Six out of the top 10 communities are in Wisconsin, but there’s plenty of momentum building in cities across the country. Bike Pittsburgh, for one, is looking to paint the challenge black and yellow, rallying hundreds of riders for the Steel City. Which leaves us with another question as we close the first week: Can BikePGH get this guy to switch helmets and join their team?
How will the drama play out? Stay tuned, Challenge fans. And, if you’re not part of the excitement yet, join the National Bike Challenge today!
Carolyn SzczepanskiCarolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.