MARQUETTE - Area drivers may begin noticing an influx of cyclists on the roads in the coming weeks, as three area businesses have partnered to host a summer-long biking challenge.
Originating with Marquette's Switchback Gear Exchange and Outfitter and branching out to include Crossfit Marquette and the Quick Stop Bike Shop in Marquette, the "Ride More Challenge" asks its participants to log more miles on their bikes than in their cars.
"Riding your bike is fun, it's good exercise, and the idea is to ride your bike more," said Lindsay Bean of Switchback. "You save money by not putting gas in your car and it's better for the environment. There are a lot of reasons (to participate), not the least of which is riding your bike is fun."
Switchback Gear Exchange and Outfitter employee Lindsay Bean rides along the Lakeshore Boulevard bikepath Thursday afternoon with her dog Ryder in tow. Bean organized the Ride More Challenge‚ which asks its participants to ride their bikes more miles than they drive their cars. (Journal photo by Matt Keiser)
Bean said the challenge originated as a personal endeavor, but then she began wondering how many other people might want to give it a try.
Riding from the first week of June through the first week of September, participants can log the miles they put on their bikes and their cars.
Anyone who logs more miles on their bikes will receive a free T-shirt at the end of the competition. Special prizes will also be given to the top male and female competitors who have the biggest difference in bike miles versus car miles.
Registration is free and was scheduled to end today, but has been extended through June 15 at any of the three participating businesses. The program will run on the honor system.
Registrants receive 10 percent off a bike computer at Quick Stop, which begins at about $25. The computers keep a log of miles traveled, speed and other things.
Quick Stop owner Phil Ott said he saw the challenge as an opportunity to show people a way of life that's pretty normal for him and his employees.
"Everyone here rides their bikes and commutes to work every day," Ott said. "A lot of us don't even own cars. It's just something we thought would be a pretty cool thing, to try to challenge other people in the community to see if they can ride as much as we do, see who can ride more than they drive."
Bean said there are exceptions for special circumstances during the challenge, such as people who are planning long trips over the summer.
"We've also taken into account the fact that people may need to travel," Bean said. "If you go on a trip where one way is more than 50 miles, you can divide those miles by the number of passengers in your car, so there's some incentive there to carpool. I understand it's summer and one big trip could kill it for you."
Crossfit Marquette owner Kip Hartman said commuting to work on a bike fits right in with the lifestyle his business tries to project and is a great way to continue the Marquette tradition of being a bikeable community.
"People who have been biking for a long time, people who are kind of teetering between, 'Should I ride to work or should I take my vehicle' and people just getting into it, - it hits all aspects and capabilities of bikers," Hartman said. "The area we live in is great in the sense it's very involved. ... We're trying to have a challenge to showcase the community involvement with its bikeability."
All three businesses stressed the importance of practicing safe biking during the challenge.
Participants will receive literature on safe biking and links to websites offering safe biking tips can be found on the "Ride More Challenge" Facebook page.
People participating in the event must follow safe biking practices or risk being eliminated from the challenge, Bean said.
For more information on the challenge, stop in at any of the three businesses involved or check out the "Ride More Challenge" Facebook page.
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.