Easier commutes. More exercise. Time with friends. Metro Atlantans had a range of reasons for participating in this year’s Biketober: 2017 Atlanta Bike Challenge. For Decatur resident, Dave Mathews, it was to raise awareness for safer roads in honor of fallen bikers.
For more than two years, Dave has participated in the annual bike challenge with colleagues who support Bike Friendly Atlanta (BFA), a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness for cyclists struck and killed by a vehicle. “Ghost bikes” are memorials created by the organization to represent fallen cyclists.
The 2017 Atlanta Bike Challenge began Oct. 1 and after a few days, Dave’s team was at capacity, so a second team formed. Ranging from professional bikers to novice athletes, the team members woke up each workday of October to ride and log their miles throughout the metro area.
“Our organization travels throughout the Southeast in hopes of promoting our cause and creating a safer environment for all cyclists,” said Dave. “We’re always open to new challenges and welcomed the opportunity to participate again in this year’s Atlanta Bike Challenge.”
As a professional tennis player, Dave uses biking as cross-training. And along with other colleagues on his team, Dave will bike about 4 to 5 days a week. While the activity levels range, Dave insists that no interested rider is left behind regardless of skill level.
“Some members of the team ride about 1,300 to 1,400 miles a month as part of their commute,” said Dave. “But whether you’re a cycling enthusiast or a casual rider, speed won’t dampen my enthusiasm to bike each morning.
Whether you choose to bike for exercise or time with friends, consider biking as a clean commute option to help reduce traffic while making it a bit easier for everyone to breathe!
Whether or not you are participating in the Atlanta Bike Challenge with the explicit goal of getting healthier, here are some helpful tips to keep you moving through Biketober!
- Drink lots of cool water. When cycling, drink before you get thirsty. Sip on the water and electrolyte drinks, even if it’s not hot outside on those hot days.
- Take breaks. This sounds like common sense, but it is important.
- Dress appropriately.
- Hydrate and replenish after each and every bike ride.
- Check the weather: Determine what type of gear and clothing you should pack for your ride. Remember that bike lights will always make you more visible in the rain
- Wear a helmet.
- Ditch the headphones. It’s important to be aware of your surroundings when riding. Listening to headphones will block out ambient traffic noise. Consider a small portable stereo if you want to listen to music.
Pack a Snack
- Powered by the Peel: Bananas are snacks ready to roll; they are famous for their potassium and contain carbohydrates that may enhance your muscles' abilities to use the fuel efficiently.
- Peanut Butter Jelly Time: PB&J's are perfect pocket fuel. The bread and jam (or honey) provide carbohydrates and the peanut butter offers protein and fats. Allergic to peanuts? Try almond butter if you can tolerate tree nuts or sunflower butter if not. Swap a tortilla for bread to prevent having a squashed sandwich. Cut your sandwich into quarters and have one piece at 15- to 20-minute increments.
- Trail Mix: Dried fruits and nuts are a concentrated source of carbohydrates. Dried apricots, prunes and raisins have the added benefit of potassium. Mix your favorite fruits with nuts and seeds to keep your body supplied with energy, vitamin E and magnesium. If you have a heavy sweat rate, you may want to choose salted nuts and seeds.
- Water Works: In general, if you're planning to bike for an hour or less, water is the best way to stay hydrated and to prevent drinking the calories you just burned. If you're going to be rolling for more than an hour, have a heavy sweat rate or the weather is exceptionally hot, consider having two bottles with you — one for water and one for a sports drink. You may purchase a sports drink for the sake of convenience, but making your own with black or green iced tea, a splash of juice, some sugar and a pinch of salt is easy and provides an added antioxidant boost. Take sips of fluid often to maintain hydration and alternate between the two drinks if packing both.
Track your progress at ATLBikeChallenge.com and make sure to celebrate the strides your making.
To make the Atlanta Bike Challenge: Biketober! A fun experience, here are just a few things to keep in mind as you plan your rides.
Ride with confidence - Don't worry about holding up other traffic. Being more visible and taking a primary position is the best way to stay safe. Only let people pass when you feel safe (the law is on your side!)
Grab a bike buddy – One thing you can do that is guaranteed to make your bike commute a better experience is to find someone to share it with you! Even if you just meet up halfway, having someone else to share the joys and experiences of the road with can make bike commuting feel like you’re on an adventure and not headed to/from work!
- Stopping – make sure you can stop quickly and safely if you need to.
- Turning – practice turning quickly and confidently to avoid objects or make a turn while riding at speed.
- Observation – practice looking over your shoulder and to your right and left while riding.
- Riding with one hand – lift one hand at a time off the handlebars and repeat until you can control your bike with either hand (this is so you can learn to signal turns with your hands)
Dress normally - If your ride is less than 30 minutes (~4 miles), chances are you can just ride in your normal work clothes. Unless you want to ride fast, you can just cruise into work on your bike - no sweat! This will save you time and hassle, and if you find yourself a bit sweaty you might be amazed how simple it is to clean up with a few handy wipes.
Pro tip: roll rather than fold your work clothes to avoid creases.
Find the best route - Don't just take the route you would if you were in a car; try looking for routes through quiet neighborhood streets or other parallel/alternatives routes where traffic is naturally slower and safer. Adding a little bit of distance in exchange for a more comfortable ride is almost always worth it!
Keep your cool - Learn to keep calm and not to react to angry or impatient drivers-keeping a cool head will maximize your safety and make the commute less stressful and in the end a much better experience.
Check your Progress at ATLBikeChallenge.com.
Maybe you were sitting in your car this morning, stressing about the cars all around you, wondering how you ended up in this routine. Maybe you were thinking about that New Year’s resolution that faded away in March or April and want to find a way to finish the year strong. Or, maybe you’re just looking for an excuse to enjoy a little more of that crisp air and appreciate Atlanta’s canopy as it begins to don the warm autumnal hues. Well the Atlanta Bike Challenge: Biketober is your chance to challenge yourself and your friends to ditch the car and make cycling a part of your daily routine.
The #AtlBikeChallenge is a fun and free bike competition hosted by Georgia Commute Options to promote bicycling as a healthy and clean commute alternative from Oct. 1-31. You don’t have to be an avid cyclist to participate, riders new and old will be joining social teams to compete for a chance to win exciting prizes like tickets to see the Hawks, two Southwest Airline tickets, a week of free Good Measure Meals or even a trip to Italy or San Francisco.
Participants are encouraged to create teams with their coworkers, friends and family; people who can encourage each other to stay motivated throughout the month. You and your team will earn points for every mile you ride, every day you ride and for every person you encourage to sign up.
Teams will compete against nine others in a pool. After the third week of Biketober! The top teams from each pool will face off in an exciting Final Sprint, a playoff to determine the top Biketober team in the region.
Go to ATLBikeChallenge.com to find out more and to register. Make October the month that you give a clean, healthy commute a try- Get out and ride!
Also check out some of these tips to keep you riding throughout the month: