Nationwide - June 13, 2012 - When Heather Towers started commuting by bike last year, she just hoped to save a few dollars in transportation costs. But, with the help of the National Bike Challenge, the Maryland resident discovered so much more: better health, new friends and increased connection to her community.
"I've experienced better cardiovascular health, energy, and overall strength," Towers says. "For someone who used to get the majority of my fitness in a gym, cycling is so much more fun! It's liberating and exciting -- every day brings a new adventure on my bike."
Towers is just one of more than 26,000 riders who logged nearly 4 million miles during the first month of the National Bike Challenge, which kicked off on May 1. The friendly, online competition (sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists, Bikes Belong, Endomondo and Kimberly-Clark Corporation) is a new, nationwide initiative to inspire and empower millions of Americans to ride their bikes for transportation, recreation and better health. So far, participants have burned more than 100 million calories -- and they're not nearly done yet.
The goal: Unite 50,000 Americans to ride 10 million miles by August 31, 2012.
"We've been inspired by the astounding number of participants and their remarkable enthusiasm in the first month," says Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists. "With nearly three months left, we're calling on all Americans -- from New York City to Miami, from Denver to Los Angeles -- to join the fun. We want to see 50,000 riders in the Challenge, each with a story like Heather!"
The Challenge is simple, free and open to everyone. Sign up as an individual or as a team, log your miles, share your stories and encourage others to join you. Already more than 100 participants have won great prizes in the monthly drawings and there's still plenty of time to get in the running for two Grand Prizes: A trip through California wine country from Trek Travel and a trip along the White Rim Trail in Utah from Western Spirit Cycling Adventures .
For Towers, the prizes aren't the only incentive to ride. "Before the National Bike Challenge, I didn't have a way to capture information about my effect on the environment or my distances traveled," she says. "The Endomondo app helps me realize the multitude of benefits (calories burned, carbon dioxide and money saved) that I'm gaining with each mile -- and this just encourages me to ride even more."
The Challenge also offered Towers the chance to connect with cyclists from coast to coast. "The group aspect of the Challenge has been the most wonderful part," she says. "I've gained knowledge from so many more experienced riders and shared inspiration and encouragement with others, too. I absolutely love the camaraderie of the Challenge and I would not be doing as well as I am today without this group dynamic."
In May, riders in Vermont, Wisconsin and Nebraska pedaled their states to the top of the leader board (based on points per 1,000 riders). Not surprisingly, Burlington, Vt.; Madison, Wisc.; and Lincoln, Neb., topped the list for communities, as well.
"The National Bike Challenge has motivated more than 1,000 Vermonters to ride more this year and it's been a great inspirational activity for us," says Chapin Spencer, executive director of Local Motion, a bicycle advocacy organization in Burlington, Vt. "Yes, we're in first place by state and by region right now, but nothing would please me more than having countless other states and regions nipping at our heels. Give us Vermonters some competition!"
In addition to encouraging individual riders, the Challenge provides a free and engaging wellness tool for businesses. In May, more than 8,200 workplaces registered, and Trek Bicycle Corporation, Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Specialized Bicycle Components, and Ingersoll Rand rose to the top of the workplace ranks.
"At Trek, we're always looking for new ways to engage our employees and be the healthiest company on the planet," says Marcus Gagnon, Health and Wellness Coordinator. "The National Bike Challenge has been huge! This is an awesome platform for any company to promote health in a fun and rewarding way, and to share the many benefits of cycling."
About the National Bike Challenge Partners
About the League: The League of American Bicyclists promotes bicycling for fun, fitness and transportation, and works through advocacy and education for a bicycle-friendly America. The League represents the interests of America's 57 million bicyclists, including its 300,000 members and affiliates. Learn more.
About Kimberly-Clark: Kimberly-Clark and its well-known global brands are an indispensable part of life for people in more than 175 countries. Every day, nearly a quarter of the world's population trust K-C's brands and the solutions they provide to enhance their health, hygiene and well-being. With brands such as Kleenex, Scott, Huggies, Pull-Ups, Kotex and Depend, Kimberly-Clark holds the No. 1 or No. 2 share position in more than 80 countries. To keep up with the latest K-C news and to learn more about the company's 140-year history of innovation, click here.
About Endomondo: Launched in 2008, Endomondo is a social sports and fitness network that enables people worldwide to engage around their passions for living active lives. Endomondo turns the mobile phone into a personal trainer and a social training partner and has 9.4 million users worldwide. Learn more.
About Bikes Belong: The Bikes Belong Coalition is the U.S. bicycle industry organization dedicated to getting more people riding bikes more often. Bikes Belong works to increase federal bike funding, awards grants to support innovative bike projects, promotes bicycling and its benefits, and backs crucial national partnerships. The 501(c)3 Bikes Belong Foundation focuses on improving bicycle safety and enhancing children's bike programs, and hosts the Green Lane Project, Safe Routes to School National Partnership, and PeopleForBikes.org. Learn more.