Wisconsin Bike Challege: Keep it Fresh, Keep it Fun

This guest post, written by Doug Poland, a great friend of the Bike Fed and attorney at Godrey and Kahn, points the way to enjoying your commute and maintaining an upbeat attitude about the 2012 Wisconsin Bike Challenge. Thanks to his promotion of the Challenge, they are in the number #1 spot on the Wisconsin leaderboard for businesses under 1,000 employees and in the #2 spot on the national leaderboard for businesses with under 1,000 employees. I’ve asked Doug to share what approaches he’s taken to promote the Challenge and bicylcing in general in the workplace and to write about why G&K support and encourage his efforts.

Nearly four weeks into the Wisconsin Bike Challenge, the 57 secretaries, paralegals, office administrators, staff, and attorneys at Godfrey & Kahn who are participating in the Challenge are having a great time.  After starting the challenge with a good amount of rain and gray skies, we finally have been rewarded with the kind of warm temperatures and sun that bring cyclists out in droves throughout the state.

Next time you bike to work, keep your ride fun and stop and talk to the burro.

Although those of us participating in the Challenge are riding because we love it, we have discovered an additional motivation for getting on our bikes in the morning: protecting our positions on the state and national leaderboards.  The 24 G&K employees who rode in the Wisconsin Bike Challenge last year made a respectable showing, but we are pleasantly surprised to find ourselves doing very well in the overall standings.

In the first month, we are in 11th place among all workplaces in Wisconsin and 34th nationally, and in first place among “large businesses” in Wisconsin and second nationally. So how did we more than double the number of employees participating in the Challenge over last year and dramatically increase our total mileage? Here are a few ideas that have worked for us and that might help you increase the participation of employees in your own workplace.

  • Plant the seed.  Have an experienced and enthusiastic bicyclist in your workplace take charge of the effort to recruit employees to participate.  Yes, it takes some work to send around e-mails and walk other employees through the registration process and the – shall I say, quirks – of the Endomondo site. But that hands-on effort to make it easier for people to register and participate will pay off.
  • Make it easy to ride and log miles.  For those bicyclists who might not have much experience bicycling generally or riding to work, consider helping them to identify a comfortable route to ride to your workplace, and perhaps even ride it with them. The Endomondo app (which is available for just about any type of smartphone) makes logging miles a snap: just launch the app and press the “start” button when you begin your ride; press the “stop” button when you finish; and then press the “done” button to automatically upload the data for your ride to the Endomondo and Challenge sites.
  • Be a cheerleader.  I have heard it said that cycling is a momentum sport, and I have found that to be true.  Getting other employees in your office started is the first step, but consistent encouragement will keep them going.
  • Appeal to your co-workers’ competitive spirit.  We are competitive by nature; how else to explain our addiction to spectator sports and reality TV shows?  Nothing will motivate your co-workers to get on their bikes and accumulate miles as much as the thought that the person in the next office might pass them on the leaderboard, much less the bike path.  Consider sending occasional e-mails to the participants in your workplace identifying where your workplace stands on the leaderboard and perhaps the top three individual riders. I also offered last year to buy lunch for anyone in my office who rode more miles than me. (I ended up buying two lunches.
  • Keep it fun!  Above all, riding your bike is fun.  You can help to make participating in the Challenge even more fun and enhance the camaraderie of the riders in your workplace by organizing events such as lunches, happy hours, or group rides for your co-workers, or use the message boards on the Challenge site to coordinate events with riders from other teams and workplaces. I also send around weekly e-mails to Challenge participants in my office with links to humorous cycling videos on YouTube. Who among us hasn’t seen the MC SpandX “Performance”, Sh#t Cyclists Say, or Portlandia “Bicycle rights!” videos? I will bet that 90% of your co-workers participating in the Challenge haven’t. But I can guarantee that they will laugh at them. So get on your bike, encourage your co-workers to do the same, and enjoy the rest of the Challenge.

Take the long way home, just for fun.


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.

7 thoughts on “Wisconsin Bike Challege: Keep it Fresh, Keep it Fun

  1. Doug,
    Great advice! Sometimes we, as adults, even need some “tricks” to get us to do the right thing. In my eyes, anything that gets more people on bikes is great. Thanks for this post.

    • It is pretty easy to log your miles manually on the Endomondo website. While the smartphone ap makes it easier, it is not necessary.

  2. I have a smartphone but I actually find it more convenient to enter my miles manually on the Endomondo website.

    I already know the distance for my commute, and when I go out for a long ride, I just estimate. “Ehh, it was about 25 miles”. Most of the points are for just getting on your bike anyway.

    • Sure Jaime, it would be relatively simple and quick to input your miles using Endomondo’s interface. Did you sign up for the Challenge and create an Endomondo account yet?

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