Atmospheric Cyclists sweep Bike to Work Challenge second consecutive year

Team Captain Kyle Hilburn holds the Bike to Work Challenge trophy presented to the Atmospheric Cyclists Aug. 20 by challenge founder David Droege (back row, third from right).
Team Captain Kyle Hilburn holds the Bike to Work Challenge trophy presented to the Atmospheric Cyclists Aug. 20 by challenge founder David Droege (back row, third from right).

The Bike to Work Challenge trophy has settled back into its familiar spot on Foothills Campus. For the second year in a row, the CSU Atmospheric Cyclists, a team of Department of Atmospheric Science and Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA) members, dominated the bicycle-commuting contest sponsored by the City of Loveland. Two of the three nameplates on the trophy now bear the team’s name, one for each year it has competed.

“The CSU Atmospheric Cyclists stormed out of the gate, took the lead early and kept it for the rest of the time,” said challenge founder David Droege in his announcement to participants.

Droege, a systems engineer at Keysight Technologies, started the informal competition between Colorado companies in 2017 to encourage more people to bike to work. The challenge was open to all workplaces along the Front Range and included teams as far away as Colorado Springs.

This year’s competition, which ran from May 1 until Bike to Work Day on June 26, involved 217 participants who commuted a total of 30,024 miles and saved 1,201 gallons of gas.

Saving Gas, Getting Exercise

The Atmospheric Cyclists grew to 58 members this year, from 41 last year. They logged 7,244 miles and 769 commute days, saving 290 gallons of gas. Researcher Paul DeMott rode the most miles for the team with 510. Annette Foster had the longest commute at 25 miles round-trip, and DeMott and Michael Natoli tied for the most rides on the team, 34.

During the trophy presentation, Team Captain Kyle Hilburn, a researcher with CIRA, noted the team did not ride as many miles as they had the previous year (7,367).

“I think as meteorologists we all know why that is,” he said, alluding to the cold, wet spring. Many on the team rode in snow throughout May, and some were unable to log miles during part of the challenge due to fieldwork. The team was undaunted, however, beating the second-place team by 4,478 points.

Droege designed the scoring system to reward the team with the biggest impact relative to its size. Participants earned points based on their commute distance and riding frequency, and a normalizing function leveled point generation among sites of different sizes.

2019 Bike to Work Challenge Rankings
2019 Bike to Work Challenge Rankings

Riders also were able to report road hazards using an app and take surveys to help community leaders prioritize transportation infrastructure funding. In addition to improving conditions for cyclists, Droege hopes the friendly competition will spark interest in bike commuting for those who otherwise might not try it. He was encouraged to hear that several of the first-time Atmospheric Cyclist riders have continued riding since the challenge ended.

Droege pointed out the department’s remote location situated on top of a hill gave the winning team an arduous commute.

“That’s what makes it fun,” said Hilburn.

For more information on the Bike to Work Challenge, email

CSU Atmospheric Cyclists:

Ezra Levin, Ryan Gonzalez, Kyle Chudler, Paul DeMott, Rick Schulte, Kelley Branson, John Forsythe, Louis Rivoire, Phil Partain, Annette Foster, Michael Cheeseman, Jennie Bukowski, Sarah Gallup, Leah Grant, Peter Marinescu, Nicole Albern, Bryn Ronalds, Andrea Jenney, Nathan Kelly, Tommy Taylor, Kyle Hilburn, Justin Whitaker, Anna Hodshire, Erin Dougherty, Julieta Juncosa, Jared Brewer, Hien Bui, Alex Naegele, Joe Messina, Xin Yan, Michael Needham, Chris Slocum, Alan Brammer, Jaime Joseph, Zach Schwalbe, Michael Natoli, Russell Perkins, Tom Hill, Kevin Barry, Rung Panasawatwong, Mark Branson, Marie McGraw, Steve Saleeby, John Knaff, Wayne Schubert, Paul Ciesielski, Alex DesRosiers, Wesley Berg, Jakob Lindaas, Steven Brey, Jessie Creamean, Jeremiah Piersante, Jason Apke, Matt Rogers, Jennifer DeHart, Sean Freeman, Lixin Lu, Megan Liu