Get Up & Ride National Bike Challenge Offers Opportunity to Log Miles, Win Prizes, & Get Healthy

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National Bike ChallengeWhen 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.”

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