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surprising results: making a race series into reality(10 posts)

surprising results: making a race series into realityJS Haiku Shop
Nov 21, 2003 12:12 PM
so the local 'cross series was canceled. everybody was expecting it, anticipating all year, and then whammo! no race series. it was even all setup and advertised and all that. of course my email inbox filled up the next morning post-cancellation annoucment with "what are you gonna do about it?" having never done anything more complex than cueing and leading rides, i was clueless, but stupid enough to jump in feet-first.

i'd discussed with mrs. haiku and we decided to cover up to approximately $500 in expenses up front, hoping (but not depending on) entry fees to compense our out-of-pocket. lotsa money's involved in putting on a race series, and with the nature of 'cross (barriers, course marking, etc), even more than "normal" is required.

at first i was determined to do it without any local or big-time sponsorship, partly because that's what soured the canceled series, and partly becuase it was all last-minute, and i realize most companies and industry contacts need substantial time (90+ days) to approve a sponsorship request.

naturally that all went out the window when i hit a certain ceiling in expenses and found the $500 within plain sight. coupled with the fact that i--a B/C racer, at best--had no idea that A-racers expected a cash payout for top places, not just schwag and a trophy, i started thinking seriously about recruiting sponsors for the series.

first, i created a website and flyers, and distributed the flyers by hand and website by word of mouth, and email. it was/is my "virtual HQ".

i'm not a smooth operator, could never be a salesman, and detest the superficial nature in dealing with sales-types. some of my least favorite things in life are buying swanky furniture and new vehicles. nonetheless, i set out on a mission to recruit sponsorship from local bike shops, local riders with their own companies and a vested interest in the racing community and season, and accessible contacts within the cycling industry.

mostly by email, but some by word of mouth, and some by proxy (people begging on my behalf), i set out to amass around $500, in exchange for website, email, and flyer advertising, as well as an "adopt-a-barrier" program. i expected mass rejection and future scorn, which i'm sure i've earned since the begging started, but was surprised to find a great number of people and companies/firms willing to get involved for little more than the asking, and an honest explanation of the situation (in lieu of a "pitch").

the first few were die-hard local cyclists, and a few local shops with a big investment and selfless involvement in the scene. then one day i decided to send about 45 emails to the initial contact points at bike frame, component, accessory, and related companies, as well as internet shops and e-tailers. a good 65% said what i expeceted: it's too late in the year, our sponsorship cycle has ended, we would be interested with 6 months' notice next time, or we have no money left for races this late." five percent said, "no thanks." ten percent didn't reply. fifteen to twenty percent stepped up with company schwag, or gear and product, and even some funding.

I used the USCF permit applied for by the canceled series organizer (at his insisting), worked with the USCF rep to change the dates, and names & insureds, and secured the venue with the local city government. this was far easier and less beaurecratic than expected, but then again i had some really great help.

then i drove to home depot and bought all the supplies necessary for a dozen barriers, course marking, paint, stencils, and related stuff. i called rainbow racing and ordered 500 numbers in sequence, and a ton of safety pins. went home and spent the weekend creating proper barriers. then i sat back and waited for brown santa to deliver the booty (which he did and still is doing).

volunteers have come out of the woodwork to help with course marshaling, photos, organization, setup & breakdown, and plac
the restJS Haiku Shop
Nov 21, 2003 12:13 PM
volunteers have come out of the woodwork to help with course marshaling, photos, organization, setup & breakdown, and placing at the start/finish. finally sponsors are approaching me, or becoming available by stroke of luck, and the series has grown from a grass-roots effort with a few trophies and medals & some broadcast recognition for high placings, to an almost-fully-funded 4-event series with cash prizes (almost!), abundant gear and products for prizes and giveaways (plus trophies!), and food & drink for everyone at every race.

moral of the story, though i'm not quite done and into the series yet: with some time and a strong sense of purpose, it's not all that difficult to setup a race or series of races. things that are a mystery to you before the start of a massive undertaking such as this, become little details along the way, once they're dealt with and resolved.

if you are frustrated by a lack of events--races or otherwise--in your local community, do something about it. though it does take some time and energy, and maybe some money up front, it's sure to snowball into a successful undertaking if the interest is there. it does not require a grand salesman to recruit underwriters--you're not selling your personality, you're promoting the race or races, the change in the community, the furthering of racing and "oneness" among all involved, and offering an opportunity for local shops to come together and for industry sources to both get involved and spread the word about their product or service.

if this thing works like i'm hoping it will, we'll (i'll, if necessary) go on to hold a couple more series of races next year: mountain bike, time trial, and 'cross. maybe by then we'll have enough interested in the series that sponsorship won't be a last-minute scramble, and have the funding up front to put together awesome race packets, tshirts, water bottles, and all that...maybe even offer jerseys.

who knew it was true? be the change you want to see.
Great Job.....................Len J
Nov 21, 2003 12:22 PM
..."be the change you want to see." I like that, Hope you don't mind if I steal it. My kids (& I) need to be reminded of it.

It is about choice isn't it? Glad to see that someone of your quality made this choice. I'm sure the cyclists in J town (Or is that E town?) Appreciate it also.

Hope it goes well.

Congrats.

Len

PS. BTW, Jacob's Ladder is on the way (A rep from Artisan, the company that owns the rights, is visiting me after thanksgiving. From what I gather, I owe you a thanks for the compliment.

Len
Great Job.....................Len J
Nov 21, 2003 12:23 PM
..."be the change you want to see." I like that, Hope you don't mind if I steal it. My kids (& I) need to be reminded of it.

It is about choice isn't it? Glad to see that someone of your quality made this choice. I'm sure the cyclists in J town (Or is that E town?) Appreciate it also.

Hope it goes well.

Congrats.

Len

PS. BTW, Jacob's Ladder is on the way (A rep from Artisan, the company that owns the rights, is visiting me after thanksgiving). From what I gather, I owe you a thanks for the compliment.

Len
great movieJS Haiku Shop
Nov 21, 2003 12:29 PM
you may have to watch it a few times and let it settle in your head. got your email but i'm scrambling this week and want to dedicate a few solid (uninterrupted) minutes to a response.

the quote is ghandi. i'm sure he wouldn't mind.
nice jobFTMD
Nov 21, 2003 2:38 PM
Memphis should be grateful.
fantastic job!The Human G-Nome
Nov 21, 2003 1:32 PM
My team will be organizing our first race in San Diego this season to help raise funds for our sponsors, the California Transplant Donor Network and TRIO and i'm definitely a little nervous about it. There is so much involved I probably haven't even thought of yet. Your tale at least gives me a little encouragement that it can be done without driving you to the funny farm. Good luck with future events!
You can't hear me...but I'm applauding your efforts...biknben
Nov 21, 2003 5:24 PM
That's awesome. You're making it sound easy.

You have made a big investment in your cycling community. Hopefully the racers will take notice and provide a return on that investment. Serious Kudos to you for jumping into the ring.

You making this lazy racer feel guilty.

Ben
JS, This is GREAT!Mike P
Nov 21, 2003 5:36 PM
What you are doing with this is nothing short of amazing. I think all involved, (racers, volunteers, sponcers, etc.), will have a bit of racing/riding they would not have experienced otherwise. When someone thanks you, they'll mean it. When you smile back at them, you'll mean it. I owe you a pat on the back!

Mike
Kudos.eyebob
Nov 22, 2003 8:21 AM
As an occassional racer and as someone who's helped with races I can appreciate the effort. Nice work. Your efforts are part of the heart and soul of what it means to ride.

BT