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Competition is Fierce in Team Bike Challenge

Cyclists take to the streets of San Francisco on Bike to Work Day 2014.
Noah Berger

Over 1,300 groups of novice and experienced cyclists have opted to extend Bike to Work Day into Bike Month by participating in the 2014 Team Bike Challenge. The good-natured competition pits groups of Bay Area bicyclists against one another as they log their daily mileage and bike trips taken throughout May.

Some competitors are riding in groups of up to five colleagues, friends or neighbors – and some major corporations have assembled teams of hundreds to compete at the company level. And it’s all in the name of good health, fitness and friendly rivalries. For many riders, it’s simply a fun way to get outdoors or to meet personal exercise goals with support from friends. For some, it’s all about the much coveted bragging rights. Teams receive virtual medals when they meet mileage landmarks – biking enough miles to burn off a burrito’s worth of calories, for example. 

In first place so far is the United Velo team, whose member Mitchell Lindsay, a manufacturing engineer from Livermore, is also the leading individual rider. He rides 41 miles to work, from his home in Livermore, through Pleasanton, Sunol and Calaveras Canyon to end up in Milipitas. 

“For me it is a great way to increase my cycling fitness for the summer, and I get to spend time with good friends who are all great cyclists,” said Lindsay, who as of May 22 had logged 988 miles, or 42,501 calories burned. United Velo is at the top of the pack with a whopping 4,799 miles logged.

Dave Murtha, the third place individual rider as of May 22, rides on the beautiful Bay Trail each morning. He works at the Port of Oakland, which is competing in the company challenge, but he is also striving to meet his personal goal of 900 miles by the end of the month. With 756 miles logged, he’s not far behind. 

“Bike to Work Day a few years ago made me realize that commuting by bicycle would be very realistic for me,” Murtha said. “I love how riding my bike makes me feel better. I have more energy.” 

Leading the company challenge are Apple Inc. and Tesla Motors – whose employees seem to have temporarily traded in their electric vehicles for bikes this month.

The annual Team Bike Challenge is one of hundreds of Bay Area events happening during National Bike Month. MTC – whose employees are known to participate in the team challenge – supports Bike Month by sponsoring the regional Bike to Work Day event.

 Natalie Orenstein

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