By Jon Hornbeck
Event Building 101 is an ongoing web column to give you the tools to create your very own cycling event. We will follow and show all the backend work that leads up to putting on an event with this years Spandex Stampede events. With our second edition we go through picking a date on the calendar and your event venue.
So you’ve decided you want to plan event, great but now where and when are you going to have this event?
The first part in your event planning process needs to be when on the calendar you will be holding your event. If this is your first event a time period of 4-5 months is usually a good amount of time to build and spread awareness of your new event. Once you’ve decided on a manageable time table on building your event, you then go to the calendar to look for an available date. One of the worst things you can do is to plan your event on the same day as a similar event going on in your area. Even events within a 100 mile radius is not good.
With the planning of the SPNDX Stampede events with them being based in Southern California I look at all of the local calendars that have road races, fondo’s, mountain bike races/rides, cyclocross events etc. You have to think that your event participants will someway cross over into participants of any of those listed other bicycle events. Typically if you plan your event on the weekend of a more established event you will just be shooting yourself in the foot with your attendance. You can even reach out to other events if they don’t have their new year events listed to ask them if they know when their new event will be. To touch on this point though the July 8th Spandex Stampede Gravel Grinder is the same day as Crusher in the Tusher which is in Utah. With the Spandex event only limited to 250 riders, hopefully there will only be a select few who will be traveling from California to Utah for that event.
Now lets move onto your location. With being your first event you want to keep your costs on the low side and your venue can take up a lot of that budget. Don’t fool yourself though into thinking you can’t get a good venue on the low cost side. If you get creative enough you can easily lock down a swanky venue for your event. For example, the first Stampede in ’15 was held at a winery for no cost. The winery was new and looked at the event as a good way to bring in local traffic to showcase their new winery and sell bottles of wine. It just took myself walking in their and asking about their thoughts on holding a cycling event there, I also asked around ten other wineries and got very high wedding venue costs. This year for the Stampede events the first two are held at a restaurant/wedding venue in Temecula wine country with the third event being held at a winery a couple miles away from the other venue. The cost for both were just a small event venue fee.
To really keep your costs low you can use one of your local parks. If you get in touch with the city you can get a simple park permit to let you host your event there. One downfall with a lot of parks though is that you may not be able to have alcohol permitted there. I have seen some events at parks where it wasn’t a big deal and others where they make you jump through many hoops to have your post ride beers. Getting more on the creative side you can go to your local brewery as well. Many breweries are open to the idea of having hundreds of cyclist come hang out and buy their beer following the ride. For example the Belgian Waffle Ride uses The Lost Abbey as their venue.
Don’t forget the small aspects as well when choosing a venue. You must look at how much parking is available for your participants, bathroom accessibility, start & finish routing for your ride, scenery and possible vendor area (if you choose to have them).