NOMADS Challenge is a different kind of challenge. Unlike your usual race, this one will last for almost an entire year- it started out around February 2011 and will end on December 31, 2011. On start, the objective of the game was to encourage all riders who have registered (by registered it means joining its Facebook site), to accumulate a total of at least 1,000 km by year end. If you do, you will be treated for a dinner, given a limited edition jersey and some other minor stuff. Though it seems the prices are not commensurate for the scope of challenge, everyone got excited not because of the prices but because each one has his own personal reason of trying to hit the target. I for one am doing it to help me achieve a weight range I am targeting to attain this year (as weight management becomes more challenging as one ages) plus to see if I have what it takes to get the needed numbers. Besides, I will be riding for the entire year even without this so I don’t see any harm in collecting the stats. Its like hitting two birds with one stone as well as an added compelling reason to wake up early in the weekends and hit the roads.
This challenge is a reflection of the current trend being brought about by technology, the likes of Endomondo.com and Sports-tracker.com wherein records can be tracked and collected and shared efficiently. With that they started asking its members to challenge one another by offering prizes from its sponsors. But the challenges currently offered by these outfits are smaller in scope compared to what NOMADS wants to achieve. Also, NOMADS haven’t relied on the technical stuff as the record keeping is done in a simple manner, being governed by a gentleman’s agreement. There are only simple rules that in theory can be easily cheated but as mentioned, it’s the honor of the people within the group that will see it through which is another good dimension of the challenge. If successful, it will not only show but it will strengthen bonds within each members through the establishment of this honor system amongst them. Maybe this is also achievable when the prices are not that much because increasing the prices may change the perspective of some people. But its a big risk because members of this challenge belongs to a small community and as such, nobody would like to burn bridges and forever be an outcast.
To make the challenge more interesting, there are three countries participating, the Philippines, Mexico and Singapore. And it’s nice to see that up to this point, nobody has taken the inter country challenges seriously to the point of pride ruining the atmosphere. But to further put pressure to the Manila team who comprises the biggest population, the Philippines was split further into Manila and Baguio.
But even though that this is just for fun, the competitive nature of the participants drove the competition to evolve further which is also one aspect that is great about this challenge. It has the ingredients of reality TV challenges which is dynamic and full of surprises. From the original 1000 km tab, there are already categories and honors like the most accumulated mileage, the most number of century rides, the most number of century rides consecutively, the most number of mileage within 24 hours, the longest non-stop ride and the fastest Manila-Baguio-Manila or vise versa. Aside from the 1000 km, there are also top honors for those who can achieve 5,000 km and 10,000 km respectively. There are also surprise challenges or tasks that should be done every month and failure to do so would result to penalties like mileage deductions.
Records have been broken early on. Things you don’t expect you can do or even others can achieve have already came to pass. It just shows that it’s human nature to break and surpass records. For me personally, the 100 km mark for a day rides seems like a difficult hurdle that whenever I reach it, its already like a survival game full of suffering. But after just a month of NOMADS, the bar was raised to 200 km. And it’s good for my future touring plans. Now 100 km is already an ordinary one and suffering only begins when you reach 150. Another important thing I gained here is the courage to do long rides on my own like the long time plan of circling Laguna Lake which I was able to do alone, without any plans one Saturday morning just to hit my numbers. I have even tried doing a non-stop ride where I was able to achieve a 150+km non-stop. A record that stood still for a while after it was broken by a 170+ record. And it’s only 2 months after the game started. What more after a year? For others- like in the case of the Manila-Baguio-Manila challenge, the shortest time was around 24-27 hours which is something I would not believe achievable until it has been done. And it was done solo. The competition, though it started out as “for fun” would definitely break serious records.
In the future, we just hope that challenges like this will further continue and would get noticed by bigger corporate sponsors. I hope there will be more categories, like women specific categories; or a green category where the prize will be awarded for those who will have the most mileage done by bike commuting; or a weekend warrior award, for those working 8 hours a day and 5 days a week where in the mileage to be accounted for will be those that were done in his official weekend to honor the those who live a normal life and have chosen to heed the call of the challenge.
We are still in March so there are still no conclusions to be drawn. Let’s see how things shape up in the coming months.
To see the events as it unfolds, visit NOMADS 1000 club, Philippines, Mexico and Singapore Riders Race in Facebook.