Rob Gusky is an engineering technical leader at Kimberly-Clark Corporation — and the idea man behind the National Bike Challenge.
For me, this all started in June 2008 when gas prices in Appleton, Wisc., topped $4 per gallon. I’m the kind of person who has to take action when confronted with a challenge. I wanted more control of my own destiny when it comes to how much I money I pay to simply drive the 17-mile roundtrip to work. When some friends started biking to work and keeping track of their rides on a whiteboard, I was in.
I kept at it through the fall as the days got shorter and temperature dropped. By December 2008, gas prices had plummeted below $1.75/gallon and my area of Wisconsin was experiencing the snowiest December on record with more than 45 inches. By that time, though, I was having a blast. I had lost weight and was feeling great.
I was hooked.
I work as an engineer at Kimberly-Clark, a global company with more than 50,000 employees. I did some research and determined that there were already bike commuting programs at KC’s locations in the UK and Korea. After some emails, we agreed to the basics of a bike challenge and the Get Up & Ride program was born.
The program grew and last year KC logged over 350,000 miles. Based on the success of the program, KC partnered with the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin and Endomondo to develop an external pilot program and offer this free to all Wisconsin residents in 2011.
One of the most satisfying parts of the challenge is seeing the positive impact it’s had on other people at work and in my community. Aside from the obvious health and environmental benefits, it’s helped bring people together and form a broader community of cyclists. We started a bicycle advocacy group this past winter, working to improve cycling conditions in our area. It’s been fun to work together and plan some interesting events, including our Moonlight Ride coming up in May.
I hope everyone enjoys this year’s National Bike Challenge. If you haven’t registered yet, you can quickly do it at www.nationalbikechallenge.org.
May is National Bike Month and this year’s theme is One Ride, Many Reasons. To highlight and celebrate the many benefits of bicycling, throughout May we’ll bring you the personal reflections and inspirations of a diverse collections of bicyclists from coast to coast with our daily 31 Days, 31 Reasons blog feature.