Three Speed October Challenge: Week 3 Report.

I’m a bit behind on my postings lately. I finished the challenge 6 days ago. I’ve been trying really hard to take advantage of the Fall weather and Fall colors. I can say I have no regrets this Fall about how much I’ve been able to get outside. I’ve done lots of biking and hiking and even one bike camping trip. That’s my excuse for not keeping up on my blogging.

I was able to complete three rides of at least three miles in three separate weeks meeting the Three Speed October Challenge.  Three of the rides were for errands. Six rides were work commutes. Here is my ride summary for week 3:

Sunday, October 16.


I did a 4.5 mile errand ride to the pharmacy and Co-op.

Tuesday, October 18.


I rode my bike to work and back home, 6.25 miles. This picture was taken underneath the ore docks on my way to work.

Wednesday, October 19.


On this day I commuted to work and back home, 6.25miles. I happened to get the 5:00 a.m. early start that day. My Brompton has a generator hub that powers a bright headlight and the taillight. They work great on a dark morning like this. It turned out to be my most pleasant ride of all the rides during this challenge. The air was cold, but the wind was still. The traffic was light enough I didn’t need to stop at any intersections. I forget how much I enjoy riding in the dark in early mornings or late at night.

That completed the required rides for the challenge.

One thing I have to mention though. This may disqualify me from the challenge. The rules state the following:


  • Is this just limited to three speeds? Well, yeah. A three speed internally geared hub is what should be ridden for this challenge. We’ll also accept four and five speed internally geared hubs, hubs that were available from Sturmey-Archer by the mid-70’s. But no more or less speeds than that! To be clear, it doesn’t have to be a Sturmey-Archer hub, it can also be a Sachs, Sram, Shimano, SunTour, Hercules, or (insert brand here.) But it can only have three, four, or five speeds!
  • Any exceptions? We’ll allow Bromptons that have that infernal Sturmey-Archer with deraileur combo, but that’s it. And you have to promise to not use that derailleur!


My Brompton is one of those 3 x 2  6-speed set-ups. I promised I would only shift with the 3 speed hub. This is easier said then done even though it sounds very straight forward. Here’s why. The 6 speed Brompton uses a 3 speed hub in combination with a 2 speed deraileur. It was one of the hardest bikes I’ve ever ridden to learn how to shift. Maybe the word “hard” isn’t quite right. Let’s just say it took me between 1,200 and 1,400 miles to get to where I could do the shifting without having to think about it. To shift the hub you have to coast. To shift the deraileur you have to pedal. So each shift you make you have to think to yourself do I coast while I shift or pedal while I shift. I finally reached a point where I no longer had to think about it. Now the Three Speed October Challenge comes along and asks me not to shift the deraileur. Something that by now has become ingrained in me. I found it just as hard not to shift the deraileur as it was to learn how to shift it in the first place. And that took me a minimum of 1,200 miles of riding before it became natural.

In order to use only three of the six gears I have two choices. I can use gears 1, 3, and 5. Or I can use gears 2, 4, and 6. When using all six gears I’ve learned I use gears 1 and 4  90% of the time. I almost never use gears 2 and 6. And I only occasionally use gears 3 and 5. As you can see the 1, 3, 5, and 2, 4, and 6 scenarios wouldn’t work very well for based on the gears I use most. I live in a hilly city.

What I am trying to say is I slipped a bit on my promise. Mostly in the morning. I’m not a morning person, I’m always leaving the house at the last minute, just barely getting to work on time. In my morning rush my brain goes into automatic mode. On more than one occasion I may have caught myself shifting into a gear I promised I wouldn’t use. So there it is. Disqualify me if you need to.

6 thoughts on “Three Speed October Challenge: Week 3 Report.

  1. Gail Rehbein October 25, 2016 / 12:13 am

    Gosh! This sounds complicated. I hope they don’t disqualify you. Morning-itis should definitely be taken into account 🙂


    • fourseasoncycling October 25, 2016 / 10:19 am

      I understand I may have been forgiven. However, I’ve been given fair warning that my derailleur cable will be sabotaged before the next Three-Speed challenge. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. roger noehren April 2, 2017 / 10:53 pm

    Doug’s explanation for his “cheating” is Superbe! I don’t ride a Brompton or understand why they chose a hybrid set up instead of a single cabled 5-speed hub. Technically Doug didn’t comply with the rules of the challenge, but his clarification of how the gearing progression works justifies his decision not to disable his derailleur and makes a strong case for changing the rules to allow Bromptons to be ridden as designed on 3-speed society rides and in challenges.


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