So now what?
Thread started by OsnapsonJC
at 06.13.17 - 5:46 am
So after living in South Florida for a few months...It\'s awesome. People are extremely friendly, nice weather (except for the 20 minutes of random rain) but...something is missing. Been on one ride that was fun, slow, hand signals, basically textbook cycling in the city. It was great. The only problem is it\'s once a month and 1 hour long.... So the question becomes now what? With no forum and a dated page that nobody updates they have nothing.
Sooooooooo... tips, haiku poetry, etc on ways to grow the cycling community in South Florida.
On organizing a cycling event.
How do I do this, how? Well I get asked this one a lot. Organizing events involves many things the main thing is you will be duly punished for doing a good deed, there are no exceptions. I’ve been putting on bike related events for over 15 years now and I guess I can say out of all the things I do, putting on a good low buck/high fun ratio event is what I’m best at. I see other people doing events and over time I have seen many of them falter for various reasons, I think it all comes down to how you look at an event and what motivates you to do it. Firstly, if you set out to do a bike event you should keep in mind that you should do it because you want to for fun and not expect anything else. If you do an event for ego or self-aggrandizement then you will most likely come away from it feeling disappointed. The fun aspect is devising a plan and getting all the pieces of the puzzle together and then knocking them off your checklist (You NEED a checklist) one by one and then doing the event, seeing it through to the end where you are sweeping up the mess at the end of the day. The event is almost an anti-climax to the building of the event. All the thought and ideas that go into it and all the energy to get things going is where the magic happens, the day of the event you will see the fruits of your endeavors brought forth, the key is to not expect much and you won’t be disappointed. Know that if you can get half a dozen people to stop from staring into their cell phones for a few hours in a day you have achieved a miracle. Most people have such short attention spans now that to provide a tactile, real experience that is better then pointless updating on one’s face book page that will get people to break their routine is an arduous task. The deck is stacked against you. The first events you do will have low turn out typically, but you must press on and not be discouraged by low numbers. If you make 1000 flyers and ten people show up, they deserve the best you can give them, keep in mind they have set aside their day to attend your idea. I’ve done 2500 flyers and had 12 people show up, the next one we had 70 and so on, I’ve had near 300 at times after 15 years, the numbers will ebb and flow. You must keep the promotional aspects up, the fires burning all night high and hot, to back off even a little means markedly less turn out. Paper flyers are still the best way to promote an event. I make stacks of small hand flyers and posters and mail them to bike shops. Why? Because bike shops are often filled with bike people, they want to do fun things on bikes; it is your target audience. Secondly, it is a physical reminder of the event; an e-mail can be so easily ignored while a wad of paper in one’s pocket will remind the potential event attendee of something fun in the future. Also, it is a keepsake of sorts. Many people have told me that they kept flyers from my events and hung them up in their garage etc. I’d say web promotion is less effective for bringing people to your event. You can post things on web forums and will get a few here and there as a result. Social media is nigh worthless, my contention is people on facebook are on facebook and seldom anywhere else, no matter how many people “like” what you’re doing expect less than 1% of the virtual people to actually show up in the flesh. Case and point: I was working with a guy doing some off road stuff, they said they had 153 friends on facebook for their event, only 4 people showed up to race, the ones that did I mailed flyers to. So you should expect about a 1% return on your advertising, anything more is a boon. All that being said, a website detailing your event is useful. People can look at it when they have time and help you promote your event. It is also a good place to have all of the frequently asked questions listed so you don’t have to answer the same questions over and over again via e-mail or phone. I find it best to have a huge amount of detail for my events, not only to cover all the bases from an informative stand point, people will know what to expect and you’ve shown that you’re putting effort into the event which will usually translate into more and better informed attendance. I’d shy away form using Craig’s list, the moron factor is too high. The first thing you need to do is make a flyer. A flyer should convey some detail and be catching to the eye but not overwhelm the reader with too much information nor be too arty and have too little. Look at your flyers like a box of cereal: it is most likely bad for you and will make you sick but it sure looks fun! Hand drawn or stolen images from the web are fine as long as it does the job. Double and triple check the date so you don’t put the wrong date on there and make sure you spell everything right, not only does it make your flyer look more professional, the last thing you need is some web weenie commenting on a spelling error. Once you make the flyer you should either go to, or mail it to as many shops as you can, most will put it up, some will throw it away. The more you pay personal visits too the more will take it but this can be a huge task. I have done this only to find out later that they threw out the flyers once I left, or you’ve handed someone a flyer and they throw it on the ground, it happens. Not everyone believes in bike culture or they are jealous or controlling of their space or they are just plain old jerks, it is best not to get hung up on this and move on. Detail. You must think out everything and have all the bases covered. Every aspect of your event can be broken down into components; each one of those should be on your checklist. A checklist is an essential component to proper event organization. While the whole task of putting on an event can be daunting, breaking down each of the tasks in a given event should be easy to get done one at a time. The key is to start early. I usually start two months before an event, putting the pieces together one by one. This way if you get sick or injured or have some other unforeseen mishap occur you have time to make up the difference, adhering to the 5 P’s is essential. If you don’t know what those are, it is Proper Planning Prevents Piss-poor Performance, live it. After flyers you may have to make route maps and spoke cards or other things such as special event bikes, t-shirts, stickers etc. Best to get all this stuff made well before you need it. Some stuff you can do yourself and other stuff you will need help with or have to pay for. If you are enlisting friends to help you, you should expect next to nothing. Sorry to be a downer but most people just don’t have the drive to finish a project, if you rely on someone to complete a component of your event be ready to re-take the reigns and finish if they falter. As you should well know by now, most people will help you eat your bread but not bake it. Many people want to be involved just for some accolades or an ego boost but have no vested interest in your event; it is up to you to finish things or be willing to have certain aspects of your event not come to fruition. Be prepared to do everything from drawing up a flyer to sweeping the floor for your event. Whatever type of cycling event you do, you should try and come up with something that is not being done in your area. Things like races on kids bikes or single speed or vintage mountain bike races are fun as well as things like odd alley cat races or themed cruises. The point is to be creative and make the activity attractive to strangers that want to do fun things on bikes; you are being a salesmen in this point so you should have something to sell. Most events should be free but if you have to charge something make sure they get a lot in return. You should have a spoke card, stickers, buttons, or a t-shirt for a race you’re going to charge for. I would not recommend trying to make money off your events; just charge enough to break even and if you have left over money just feed everyone or buy them beer, people love that stuff. People should have a cool keepsake to take home with them, if you are planning on doing something besides a one off thing and plan to repeat it these keepsakes act as continuing advertising for your event and word of mouth beats any other form of promotion hands down. In closing, the goal is to have fun and from a personal philosophy point of view you can either leave this world a little worse, the same, or a little better and every little bit helps. It took some self-realization over time but I realized that you can’t expect any sort of reward for organizing an event; the doing is it’s own reward. If you are organizing an event for an ego boost or are fishing for complements, you are in the wrong game. Sometimes you will wonder if it is all worth the hassle being that you will never amount to any accolades than perhaps a tiny blurb in the very back of a newspaper, once again if you are hoping to achieve fame you are on the wrong road. However a little validation is nice and after 12 years of doing my Halloween ride/event I had one of the participants come up to me and prefacing his speech told be that what I was doing was valuable, I nearly cried.
responding to a comment
06.21.17 - 9:36 pm
I have been to a hand full of your events and I always had a great time.
Thank you for all the work you put into them.
I didn't go to all of them because not all of them where for me. That is something to keep in mind OsnapsonJC, just because you may want to do a certain idea, doesn't mean everybody will want to do it also.
It is my experience when I was at them that most of the people that went to Atomic Cycle events really enjoyed and appreciated them.
06.23.17 - 11:39 pm