We did it! With three weeks left in the online competition, the National Bike Challenge hit its goal of 10 million miles this morning.
I had already biked into the office and, like other participants around the country, was eagerly watching the website counter as we approached eight digits. Out in Denver, though, Amy Schiebel was riding three miles to work on her Electra cruiser — and pushed us past the 10-million mark just after 7 a.m. Mountain time.
Excited by our collective accomplishment, Schiebel was happy to share her (colorful!) story and thoughts on the Challenge.
What’s your bike story — why and when did you start riding?
I have only recently started riding bikes in the past 2-3 years. I rode some as a kid but not like I do now. My dad has been an avid biker for years and years and tried to get me to ride but I never would. I was working from home and didn’t have much of a social life and decided it was time to finally get off the couch and do something productive. My cousin works for Bicycle Village in Aurora, Colo., and they sponsor a weekly cruiser ride on Thursdays through the summer here in Denver, so I joined in. It only took one time to get me hooked. I’ve been riding that cruiser ride now for three seasons and, from there, have branched into many others. Since starting to ride, I have lost close to 40 pounds, too! Up until two weeks ago, my entire National Bike Challenge has been completed on a cruiser bike!!
Tell me a bit about your cycling habits; where and how often do you ride?
I try to ride every day. I live about three miles from my work, so riding into work is a must for me. I feel super guilty on days that I don’t. During the winter I do my best to ride every day too, even if there is snow on the ground or falling from the sky! My extra curricular riding is all over the Denver Metro area and sometimes to mountain towns, too.
What do you love most about biking? What keeps your wheels turning?
I love how biking makes me feel. Getting on a bike early in the morning not only wakes me up for the day but gets me in a better mood. Then, riding home after a hard days work, it relaxes me to feel the wind through my hair and on my skin. With the amount of weight that I have lost over the past few years and most of it due to biking, that motivates me to keep going and keep that weight off!
Why did you join the National Bike Challenge?
I always like a friendly bike competition and love the program with Endomondo that tracks everything for me. It’s a good way to have that friendly competition between friends and even with my dad! I was so happy when, in June, I actually beat him for miles!!
You’re known locally because you put an emphasis on fun; how do you express the joy of biking?
I am highly involved in numerous cruiser clubs in the Denver Metro area. As previously stated, I first joined Governor’s Park Tavern Cruiser Club. From there I was introduced to the nation’s biggest cruiser club the Denver Cruiser Ride where each Wednesday night throughout the summer is Halloween. There is a new theme and start bar location each week. Then everyone converges at the Capitol in downtown Denver for what is called the Circle of Death (mass chaos of thousands of people in costume, on bikes, riding in circles!)
I also take part in the Golden Cruiser Ride on the last Tuesday of each month through the summer. My total round trip for that ride is 40 miles and close to 900 to 1000 foot elevation change, and always on a cruiser bike! I participate in New Belgium’s different rides throughout the summer also, from Tour de Fat in two local cities to their Urban Assault Race around town. A group of friends and I have made it a yearly vacation to go to Crested Butte for their Bridges of the Butte bike weekend. It’s three days of different bike races, from a chainless race down Keebler Pass to a 24-hour Townie Tour raising money for Adaptive Sports Center. This summer I rode over 100 miles on my cruiser in three days. There are many other smaller events that I participate in sponsored by many bike related clubs and charities.
I also like to light it up! Pretty much all of my bikes (total of seven!) have at least one to five strands of LED light wire on them. And that’s in addition to the spoke lights and other fun features like giant pinwheels on the front of my basket!
Is it exciting to be part of a collective effort that has pedaled 10 million miles?! Has this experience inspired you in any way?
I’m excited by how many people are involved in just this one little program and how many miles have been completed in such a short time! It’s fun to see so many people outdoors, getting in shape, living healthier lives and cutting back on pollution. This makes me want to get everyone I know involved with biking!
There’s still time to get in on the fun! 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.