Americans Unite to Bike 20 Million Miles

National Bike Challenge engages thousands of businesses and U.S. residents

May 02, 2013, 16:31 ET from League of American Bicyclists

WASHINGTON, May 2, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- There is still snow on the ground in Atlantic Mine, Michigan. But that hasn't stopped Keren Tischler and Curt Webb from hopping on their bicycles nearly every day for trips to town, work or just for fun. 

What got this couple riding their bicycles? The National Bike Challenge.

Tischler and Webb's persistence has pedaled their tiny community of Atlantic Mine to the top 10 list of the National Bike Challenge's warm-up period, putting the pressure on cities of all sizes to try and catch up. They have  already logged nearly 1,000 miles between the two of them.

Now in its second year, the National Bike Challenge continues its mission to inspire and empower millions of Americans to ride their bikes for transportation, recreation and better health. The friendly, online competition -- sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists and Kimberly-Clark Corporation -- started on Wednesday, May 1, and runs until September 30, 2013.

The goal: To unite 50,000 bicyclists to ride 20 million miles in communities across America.

The Challenge is simple, free and open to everyone in the United States. Sign up as an individual or as a team, log your miles, share your stories and encourage others to join you. Users can download the free, GPS-enabled Endomondo mobile app to record travel distance and automatically upload their miles. Riders will compete for prizes and awards from sponsors Sierra Nevada and Scott Natural on the local and national level.

In 2012, the Challenge engaged 30,000 individual riders, 9,000 workplaces and 500 communities to ride 12 million miles. We're already looking at breaking those records in 2013.

Even before the official start, the Challenge has engaged thousands of participants, like Tischler and Webb. During the warm-up period, over 10,000 residents from more than 2,000 communities nationwide registered. Collectively, they logged more than 1 million miles and burned more than 37 million calories.

Tischler and Webb have helped put a dent in those mileage numbers -- despite Atlantic Mine's notorious lake-effect snow. "The National Bike Challenge, as you can see, has been a motivator for us, it's like having a bike buddy to ride with in challenging conditions," Tischler said. "Our community is in the early stages of bike friendliness.  We want to advance the mission of the League of American Bicyclists at the local level, so that others in our community can feel safe making the choice to go by bike."

Not everyone can commit to logging so many miles, but The National Bike Challenge can be a motivator for bicyclists at all levels.  For example, 88-year-old Val Roemer of Menasha, Wisconsin, has been biking recreationally for more than 70 years and is excited to be a part of the 2013 Challenge. "Biking is wonderful exercise, plus you're getting fresh air and seeing things you don't see from a car: birds, the colors of the trees, and flowers," Roemer said.

The Challenge is inspiring individual riders like Tischler,  Webb and Roemer, but it's also spawning competition among communities and businesses, as well. Recognizing the tremendous resource to boost employee health, more than 3,100 companies and nonprofits have already signed up for the 2013 Challenge, including Kimberly-Clark Corp.UPS, Target Corp., Facebook, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and Microsoft Corp. 

The race for top community will likely not end at Atlantic Mine. Lincoln, Neb., is leading in the largest communities' ranks, with more than 35,000 miles logged. Lincoln's third place finish last year left Challenge participants wanting more.

"We are also lucky to have a populace that is very supportive of the Challenge and are looking forward to ending the Challenge in September giving the rest of the nation a real run for their miles!" said Damon Hershey, of BicycLincoln

Mette Lykke, co-founder of Endomondo, said she is once again looking forward to the Challenge this summer.

"With our fitness tracking mobile app and social network, Endomondo is proud to again support the National Bike Challenge in 2013 and looks forward to making it fun for people to saddle up and pedal their way to work," Lykke said.  "Transportation cycling is a very popular activity amongst our European users and we know there's much to be gained when people in the United States bike every day, too."

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SOURCE League of American Bicyclists