Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Life Is A Series Of Challenges

That title sounds rather philosophical, but I mean it literally.

Within the next few months, we've got:
The YP Bus Challenge is happening now. And it might even overlap with the Bicycle Commuter Challenge. The Corporate Cycling Challenge is in August.

YP Bus Challenge

This one started Saturday, April 18, where it was to be kicked off at Earth Day Omaha event, but the threat of bad weather has postponed the Earth Day celebrations until Saturday, April 25.

The idea behind the YP Bus Challenge is to get the 40 and under set up to speed on how to utilize Omaha's Metropolitan Area Transit (the bus). Teams will log rides for three weeks, and the three teams with the highest average number of trips taken will win prizes. The participants will also provide valuable feedback on their experiences to help makes the transit system more relevant and efficient. Three weeks may also be enough time to change people's habits so they stick and folks might be more likely to ride the bus in the future.

I formed a team called The UP Hi-Railers. The idea was to stack the team with daily bus riders, of which UP has many. I had no problem finding four of them. I, being only a one trip per week rider, felt the challenge. Not wanting to be a weak team member, I bought a 30 day unlimited ride ticket and have committed to at least two trips per day. I can't completely give up the bike commuting, so I have some ideas on how to keep it interesting.

Here are some ways to log rides on the bus, but still enjoy the cycling:
  1. Bike to a random bus stop and wait for the bus. This isn't much fun, since some routes aren't very frequent.
  2. Bike to a transit center and grab the first bus going downtown. I did this Monday with decent results. It was weird riding five miles in the wrong directions.
  3. Bike to a bus stop that's in the general direction of my destination, and that has a shelter. Sit down and relax.
  4. When leaving work, go to 16th Street and take the first bus going in any direction. Exit the bus after 10 minutes and then try to figure out how to get home. This could be fun.
  5. Take the bus to the Keystone and then ride home. I did this today using the #4/#14 and cycled from 90th and Maple. The weather was gorgeous, so I enjoyed a sweat-free leisurely ride in my office clothes.
  6. Ride the bus to lunch. I did this today, meeting my wife at one of our favorite midtown restaurants. I then hit the Midtown Transit Center and grabbed the first bus back downtown. Bringing the bike helped me stay flexible and move to the stops/transit center more quickly.
  7. To rack up more trips, I could bike to a stop. Ride the bus for a few minutes. Exit the bus and bike to another stop. Repeat.
  8. Bike to a bus stop. Ride the bus. Exit the bus and sprint ahead of the bus, boarding same bus again. This is likely to annoy the driver (and passengers), and is not advised.
Despite these attempts to score well, I don't think our team can win. The team called OBRUA is either cheating (just kidding), or is super-committed to doing everything by bus. The are way out ahead of the number two team. You can see the leader board here. Some of our team are not logging in real time, but will probably submit a week's work at once. I think it's possible we could take second or third. Certainly, the winning teams won't be logging simple work commutes. It will take extra rides to stay ahead.

Using the unlimited ride card really changed my habits and thoughts about the bus. I logged a five block ride the other day. If I had to pay a dollar and a quarter for that, it would have seemed preposterous. Having the free pass totally changed my idea of what one can do with a bus. The 30 day card costs $50, and for someone who wants or needs to use the bus a couple of times a day, it's really worth it. Under normal conditions, I ride the bus once a week, so it wouldn't be the best use of the money. One of my reasons for cycling to work is to save the gas and parking expense, and replacing that with a $50 bus pass would certainly eat into the savings.

If I were to get rid of one of our two personal vehicles (not counting my son's car) and didn't have to ferry my daughter from time to time like I do, then I would absolutely buy the pass each month.

Bicycle Commuter Challenge

All I know of this one is that it starts in May. It will be interesting if it overlaps with the YP Bus Challenge. I suppose that's the cool thing about multi-modal bike/bus commuting, in that I can do both with proper planning and record keeping. I don't think I can count the miles that my bike is being carried by the bus as bike commuter miles, however. That'd be nice, huh?

This is usually initiated with a Mayor's Ride in conjunction with National Bike To Work Week. I'm thinking it might be fun to show up for this in a suit and tie, as suggested by EB, perhaps with a briefcase on the rack. Do you think this would be seen as the joke it is, or taken seriously by people who take everything seriously?

Corporate Cycling Challenge

This is really just a fun group ride. Routes are usually at 10, 25, and 45 miles.

It's not too late to sign up for the YP Bus Challenge. You don't even need a full team. Watch the local bike blogs for more information in the future for more information on the other challenges.


munsoned said...

Yeah, I'd have to do some major wrong way riding to make a consistent bus commute worth it. I live 2.5 miles from work.

Last year, for the Mayors ride, a guy showed up on a very euro commuter bike and wore a full business suit. It was great, cooler weather so I don't think he got too sweaty.

brady said...

Until you mentioned it, I practically forgot about the upcoming Commuter Cycling Challenge. You aught to quite well this year starting right out of the gate.

As for the YPBuschallenge, the UP Hi-Railers is doing a lot better than the rag-tag group that I'm in. Looks like we're already mailing the rest of this season in to qualify for a higher draft pick next year.

Before the YPBC ends, let's grab a downtown circular & do lunch to rack up a couple more bus commutes.

Happy Earth Day, Redd.

RD said...

NPS, will be on board of the cycling challenge.. yes sir....
I also have idea for kicking off the bike week stay posted.

Scott Redd said...

Munson: Those heavy Dutch bike are cool, but the reality of hilly Omaha City rules them out for serious commuting, in my opinion.

Brady: I'm thinking Mother India, Victor's, McFoster's, or some midtown destination might be cool. I don't think there are currently any lunch-time circulars any more.

RD: I can hardly wait to see what you're scheming up. I hope it's legal. :)

Before the YPBC started, I began riding the bus some last week. In part due to the fact I had the 30-day card and wanted to "get my money's worth," and also to go easy on the left knee that I injured on the way back from the Shenandoah trip.

As a result, I'm feeling the slack pretty bad. I'm not a particularly fit rider, but riding every day really seems to make a difference. Stop riding every day for a week, and you feel the lag when you start back up.

I rode Brady's bus this afternoon to 90th and Maple for a seven mile ride home and definitely felt the lag.

Oh well, it's just incentive to keep up with some longer rides even during the Challenge, even if it takes a little longer to get home.

The knee's improving, by the way. I think holding back a bit is helping.