How to Host a Cranksgiving (for Bike Shops)

If you’re looking for a way to do some good this holiday season that’s a little more fun, consider hosting a Cranksgiving! Equal parts bike ride, food drive, and scavenger hunt, this entertaining outing has it all—which is probably why it’s been a hit since its first ride in 1999.

Participants bring a bike, a bag, a lock, and $10-$20 to buy food at grocery stores. At the end, all the food is donated to a local charity in your town to provide families with food for Thanksgiving. You DON’T have to be a professional race organizer to pull off a highly successful event – in fact, Cranksgiving is a great place to cut your teeth!


The Route. Cranksgiving is typically based on the alleycat format, so ‘the route’ consists of a list of stops or checkpoints, usually grocery or convenience stores. Riders devise their own the fastest routes to the stores designated, taking into account traffic, trails and busy checkout aisles.

The Manifest. This is the list of items riders will need to collect. If you are working directly with a local charity, it may be helpful to check in and find out what items may be in short supply for the holiday season ahead. (See below for some examples)

Manifest from the first Cranksgiving in 1999

The Promotion. Make a poster to put up in the shop. Use Instagram, Facebook, your shop’s email list and don’t forget to submit your event listing to

The Big Day. Pick a start/finish location like a pizza joint, pub or restaurant that doesn’t mind if things get a little rowdy. Have someone who is good with numbers to tally receipts and keep track of time. Prizes aren’t really the point, but it is fun to recognize the achievements of individual riders (typical categories can include: fastest woman, fastest man, fastest team, most generous, most stores visited, youngest rider, best costume, etc…)

That’s it! Of course you can go as crazy as you want, but those are the essentials. For a deeper dive, visit or check out the Cranksgiving Organizer’s forum.