OAKLAND, CA — With only three days left until the close of the month-long Team Bike Challenge, a half-dozen teams in the North Bay are pulling ahead of the pack and vying for the top honors in the annual Bay Area-wide competition to bicycle the most for commuting, shopping, errands and play.
“We have a competitive dynamic going on this year, in which the top half-dozen teams are all from Sonoma and Marin counties,” said Andrew Casteel, executive director of the Bay Area Bicycle Coalition, which worked with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) to organize the competition. “In fact, two of the teams are from the same company in Santa Rosa – Marmot Mountain.”
As of Thursday, May 28, the over 2,200 participants in Team Bike Challenge had collectively logged some 210,000 miles. The standings shift daily as teams self-report their rides and score points. Now at the top of the pack and racing to the finish line, in order of their scores, are:
1st place: Full Tilt ( Marin County employees) – 536 points
2nd place: Team Tour De Turtle (Santa Rosa/Sonoma County, Marmot Mountain) – 522 points
3rd place: Outspokin (Santa Rosa/Sonoma County, Marmot Mountain) – 503 points
4th place: Eco Leaders (Santa Rosa/Sonoma County, law firm of Kelly Jackson & Christianson, LLP) – 500 points
5th place: Tamiscal Firebirds, 453 points (Larkspur/Marin County, staff and students of Tamiscal High School) & Team XYXXX (Novato/Marin County), 453 points
“Our entire team hasn’t missed a single work day (of cycling) this whole month. We all ride to work every day,” said Daniel Mora, who works in shipping and receiving at Marmot Mountain and rides on Team Tour De Turtle, which has five members and was in first place earlier this week. “Before Team Bike Challenge started, I had a bike but I never fixed it. It was in the garage – the tires were old, it was just sitting there.”
For Mora, the month-long experience has been life-changing. “I’m going to keep riding even once the challenge is over,” he said. “This month started with a couple rainy days, and we all rode to work in the rain. If I can do it in the rain, I can do it all the time!”
Top teams in each of the nine Bay Area counties are (as of May 28):
Alameda – Ptown-Bikers (416 points)
Contra Costa – PeopleSoft Pedal Pushers (379 points)
Marin – Full Tilt (536 points)
Napa – The Glassy Wheeled Sharpscooters (401 points)
San Francisco – GeoEx Varsity (330 points)
San Mateo – BIOTECH (383 points)
Santa Clara – Bone on Bone (423 points)
Solano – Quadsafire (430 points)
Sonoma – Team Tour De Turtle (522 points)
In all, a record 521 teams signed up for the annual Bay Area-wide contest, in which groups of friends, coworkers and neighbors band together and pledge to bicycle to the maximum extent possible during the month of May. In keeping with the friendly nature of the event, teams tend to pick whimsical names, or monikers that play off their company’s name or line of business; included in this year’s crop are the Bikercrats, self-described as “Oakland Public Works Environmental Services desk jockeys” (and whose motto is “we’ve got a form for that”), and the i-Riders, pedaling for Apple Inc.
“The Team Bike Challenge has continued to grow every year since it began in 2006,” said Casteel. “We have over five times the number of teams we had in our first year.”
Participants earn points every time they ride, with novices and “big wheels” – company executives, local elected officials or journalists – getting extra credit for their rides. The teams sign up at the Bike to Work Day Web site (http://btwd.bayareabikes.org) where they also can track their bike trips as they compete against other teams. For the first time, contestants this year logged in the number of miles covered. While they don’t earn points for distance, the feature adds another dimension to the competition. “Even if a team doesn’t win, they can feel good about the miles they covered and the amount of carbon they removed from the air,” said Casteel.
In a related event, the Company Bike Challenge has returned for its second year, with companies vying to amass the most teams and points. As of May 28, Apple Inc. of Santa Clara County was heading the pack of large companies, with 5,588 points; Marmot Mountain LLC of Sonoma County was first among medium companies, with 2,182 points; and among small companies, WRA environmental consultants in Marin County was leading with 731 points.
The region’s overall top-scoring team will earn the privilege of placing a bike rack in a public location of the members’ choice. Top teams in each county will also be recognized, as will the top team in each of the three Company Bike Challenge size categories.
Team Bike Challenge is an outgrowth of the Bay Area’s Bike to Work Day promotion, which MTC sponsors. To track team standings, go to: http://btwd.bayareabikes.org/tbc_standings. The grand prize winner will be announced the first week in June.
MTC is the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.