Commuter Challenge – Welcome to the Main Event

In this corner, the reigning champion, weighing in at a whopping 4,000 pounds, the car! In the other corner, weighing in at a mere at 25 pounds, he’s quiet and unassuming, but don’t let his humble character fool you. The bicycle may be small, but he’s hungry to win. Ladies and gentlemen, this promises to be a real fight to the finish.

As a launch into Bike to Work Week, Victoria cyclists and motorists faced off in the annual Commuter Challenge on May 20, 2011. The contest pitted pedal power against the mighty motor with 20 different teams competing to see who could get to work faster. It doesn’t sound like a fair contest, and it wasn’t. The cyclists dominated, winning 15 to 5.

Some of the highlights included 2008 Olympic cyclist Erinne Willock, who got into a car to compete against Deputy Minister of Health Graham Whitmarsh on his bike. Erinne’s no stranger to competition, but she was unable to overcome the obstacles of the daily commute, and Deputy Whitmarsh came in first. Erinne wasn’t the only Olympic athlete competing that day. Deputy Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Grant Main, himself a past Olympian, went up against Assistant Deputy Minister Nancy Bain. Grant was on the bicycle, and Nancy drove a sports car. Normally you wouldn’t think the bicycle would stand a chance, but even a high-performance car didn’t help, and the cyclist won that one, too. At least Nancy was caught up in traffic in style.

The whole idea of the event, and of Bike to Work Week in general, is to showcase cycling as a practical alternative to driving. If you’ve been thinking of digging your bike out of the shed and trying it out for your commute, why not give it a chance? You’ll get fresh air and exercise and eliminate the stress of driving and the cost of gas. With benefits like that, even if cycling makes your commute a little longer, you still come out a winner!

With the warmer weather and longer days, now is a perfect time to challenge yourself.

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