Though temperatures have warmed substantially from the arctic blast the area experienced earlier this month, the mercury still hovers a bit below the point that prompts many to unearth their bikes for a ride around Chicago. This week, the Active Transportation Alliance aims to show local residents that biking doesn’t have to coincide with beach season with its first extended winter commuting initiative, the Roll the Cold Bike Challenge.
“It really is a way to get people to do something fun and perhaps a little nutty by challenging them to take Chicago winter head on by biking at least one way to a destination,” Lauren Hugel, event coordinator for Active Trans, says. “We hope it will encourage people to extend their bike commuting through the winter.”
Launched last Saturday and continuing through Friday, the Roll the Cold Challenge asks participants to log trips of any distance taken by bike during the week. So far, over 200 individuals have combined to log 2,005 miles in three days.
“We have a few people putting in serious miles, biking everywhere every day,” Hugel says. “But there are also people that are just kind of getting their feet wet, riding a shorter distance to try it out.”
The challenge offers a variety of incentives to encourage participants both to ride as much as possible and to raise funds for Active Trans in the process. At the end of the challenge, the person who records the most miles will receive the title, “King/Queen of the 2015 Roll the Cold Challenge,” along with recognition on Active Trans’ social media outlets.
For those more interested in the philanthropic side of the event, Active Trans offers a variety of prizes at varying levels to reward those who raise $25, $50, $100, $250, $500 and the most money overall. To date, the challenge has raised $1500 for Active Trans, and participants have until Jan. 30 to continue fundraising.
“We understand not everyone is hardcore or can bike as long, so we wanted to make sure everyone has a chance to win,” Hugel says.
The Roll the Cold Challenge will culminate with Winter Bike to Work Day on Friday, Jan. 23. On that day, Active Trans will set up in Daley Plaza from 6:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., offering free Dark Matter Coffee and Eli’s Cheesecake to those who stop by. Bike the Drive registration also opens Friday morning, and those who attend the rally at Daley Plaza can take advantage of a discounted registration rate.