14 August 2012

Fan Participation

Don't your love those two words?
Fan Participation in sport. What other sport, other than cycling, can fans participate in game day? The polo field is certainly no place for fans, you don't see us getting in the pool with Michael Phelps, and thank goodness no one is inviting us into the pool with synchronized swimming (although I bet we would all welcome the chance to match strides with Usain Bolt). In cycling - we are right there. We ride to, run alongside, and experience cycling right next to the pros. Cycling truly is an amazing sport. We are not just spectators, spectators denote a well-behaved stand-by fan waiting for the action to happen, we are part of the action, and we have choices in how we act and how we participate. 

Last week I spoke with Shawn Hunter, CEO of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, he has worked hard to deliver and grow this young race that has already made big waves after just one year on the UCI Calendar. We talked about the options fans will have at this year's race and what is new for 2012. Now it is Shawn's job to promote this race, and he does it well, but he is also very realistic. After establishing safety, sponsorship, and logistics in year one as priorities, his focused turned to expanding the race both nationally and internationally in 2012. Shawn traveled to the Paris-Nice, Giro d'Italia, and the Tour de France to promote and establish the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in the minds of teams, riders, and sponsors.
Shawn Hunter, CEO USA Pro Cycling Challenge at the 2012 route announcement party in December 2011   
Photo by Karen at PedalDacner.com
Shawn Hunter and Tom Danielson, promoting the race in Boulder last winter    
Photo by Karen at PedalDacner.com
How will fans be able to participate at the 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge?
In the words of Shawn Hunter, "There are many good places to watch the race. Finishes are usually the most exciting. There are 3 uphill finishes this year - Crested Butte, Beaver Creek, and Flagstaff, these will be exciting places to be. There are five mountain passes at 10,000 ft or higher. The Colorado Springs circuit finish on Friday night will also be exciting."

The stage race will be August 20-26, 2012. Organizers of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, Sponsors and Host Cities have organized various ways for fans to participate this year. Shawn Hunter clarified what fans will be able to enjoy on race day. I am looking forward to what is new in 2012, just the sound of "mobile merchandise trailers," "roving beer gardens," and "smashmobiles," gets me excited!

USPCC will offer fans - excitement
  • Free viewing - throughout the state of Colorado, Monday-Sunday!
  • Autograph Alley - the opportunity to get signatures from your favorite riders will again be made available to fans in a safe area at the start of each stage. (*note from Pedal Dancer: it is customary not to request autographs or disturb the rider when he is waiting to begin the individual time trial).
  • Access to Podium Presentations - the podium will be visible to non-VIP fans, and at many finishes they will open the gates after the finish allowing fans to come and stand closer to the podium area.
  • Fan Apparel - there will be more opportunities to buy apparel and merchandise this year. You can expect on-site trailers at both the start and finish areas, plus mobile merchandise trailers roaming the route. Shawn Hunter mentioned that the stage jerseys will be available for purchase in these trailers (they are good looking, you can see them on their Facebook page). For now buy the classification jerseys, shirts, hats and more race clothing online.
  • VIP areas - the official term is "Race Experience" and this year you will have differing levels and locations to choose from. You may purchase passes to Start Lounges at stage starts, plus most stage finishes will offer both a Founders Box and Club Seats (stadium seating). Buy soon, because many of the VIP locations are already sold out! Prices range from $150-$500. Arrange your VIP passes for the race. 
  • Travel Packages choose from full week, mid-week, or final weekend travel plans ready for you to simply show up and enjoy. Partnering with VeloVacations, prices vary from $1400 - $3600. Reserve a tour package 
  • Team Presentation / Gala Dinner - There will be a formal team presentation of all teams and riders on Saturday, August 19th in Durango. The Team Presentation is the same event as the Gala Dinner, so if you want to go you must buy a ticket for $200, 5:00pm at Fort Lewis College, buy tickets
  • Contests on Facebook - follow along and win prizes daily! USPCC on Facebook
  • Volunteer - you are needed, sign up to help the race in your town. Please Volunteer
Race Partners (Sponsors) will offer fans - this race
Thank you to the Sponsors who have come together to support this great race. Please support them as well - stay, eat, and buy in the local towns. Use the products of the sponsors as a way to say Thank you. The major race partner is Smashburger, view the list of other sponsors here: list of Partners.
Expo - There will be an Expo (Vendor booths) area at the finish areas of each stage, as well as Start Village festivities. Come early to enjoy the activities.
Nissan KOM - Nissan will be sponsoring the KOM points and having some fun with fans out on the route.
Smash Mobile - look for the Smashburger Smash Mobile out on the road. Smashburger is the major race sponsor.
New Belgium - New Belgium is a new partner this year and will be hosting gatherings at a number of restaurants and bars that serve their beer. Join them at various locations along Colfax on the last day in Denver for Stage 7 and at other locations. New Belgium will also offer
the roving beer garden, which will set up daily in the finishing towns, and will surely be the place to hang out with other fans. New Belgium is teaming up with NPO's through the course of the race to raise money and awareness for local bicycle advocacy and environmental causes.

Local Host Cities will offer fans - fun

Each town has lots of events planned. Please see the schedule of tons of events in each Host City on this list of Official City information websites for full travel plans, lodging, events, city maps and race day information:
Durango city website for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge
Telluride city website for USA Pro Cycling Challenge  
Montrose city website for USA Pro Cycling Challenge
Crested Butte city website for USA Pro Cycling Challenge
Gunnison city website for USA Pro Cycling Challenge
Aspen city website for USA Pro Cycling Challenge
Beaver Creek resort website for USA Pro Cycling Challenge
Breckenridge city website for USA Pro Cycling Challenge 
Colorado Springs city website for USA Pro Cycling Challenge
Golden city website for USA Pro Cycling Challenge 
Boulder city website for USA Pro Cycling Challenge  
Denver city website for USA Pro Cycling Challenge  

Some extra events fans should enjoy
Pro Challenge Experience Presented by UnitedHealthcare, Sunday, Aug. 19,
7:00am, Citizen's Ride (cyclosportif) - George Hincapie will give the send-off to cyclists riding part of the route of Stage 1, choice of 45-mile and 72mile routes, cost is $65 and includes an exclusive
commemorative shirt and free training plan from Peaksware. The first 500 to sign up will receive a free club seat at the finish in Telluride (a $150 value)!  www.prochallenge.com/register

Blue Ribbon Alpine Challenge - Womens race in Aspen, August 20-23rd, 2012, Downtown Aspen,road race and hill climb from Aspen to the top of Independence Pass, $25,000 to the winner, www.aspenwomensprorace.com

Davis Phinney Foundation fundraiser - Living The Ride hosted by Cycling Soul and Acura with Davis Phinney, Taylor Phinney and team BMC, August 26 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Denver, 5:30pm, $250, read more or buy tickets
Biju Thomas, author of The Feed Zone cookbook, will be cooking for the riders and teams this year at their various accommodations along the route, maybe next year he will offer food for fans. For now we have many restaurants, coffee shops and breweries to enjoy as we travel across Colorado. Buy local!


Fans will be able to watch the race free at stage starts, along the route, on mountain passes, and at finishes. The King of the Mountain (KOM) and Sprint (S) locations are marked on both the stage profile maps and the stage timetables (see links below). Feed stations have not yet been published. They will be marked on the road, you can assume that they will be located in a straight semi-flat area well before a climb. Feed-stations can be high-risk for riders as they collect feedbags from staff members, so it is best not to attract tons of fans. Although if you do go you will find lots of swag as the riders discard bottles and musettes either before or after the feedzone area, just please stay out of the way. 

Fans having a great time at the 2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge. All photos by Karen of Pedal Dancer®
Yes, you could be here - come to the race and  .....
Get your photo with your favorite rider. A fan with (I am) Ted King.
Collect some autographs. A fan with Bob (Bobke) Roll
Pose for your next Christmas Card. This is not Cadel Evan's family
See your small town transformed for the day (Salida, 2011)
Take some time to color on the road (with chalk of course)
Stop and listen to the music (on Independence Pass)
Go for a run at high altitude, in costume
Come from near and far
Sit on a hillside
Witness someone else exercising
Feel the rush of air and thrill of victory
Applaud riders you usually only see on TV
Take in a little VIP tent action
Be a one-in-a-million fan
See a sprint finish!
Definitely bring the camera!
 And a Sharpie pen. (Fans on Autograph Alley)
Wear your jerseys
Bring your flags!
"Can you please sign it to 'My #1 fan, Love Pete,' thanks."
Spend quality time with the riders
Show up and have a good time
Hang out with the riders (and learn 6-ways to sit on a toptube)
See your favorite rider you've waited for years to see in person
Come with your family
And your signs
Come on your bikes
"Does this jersey make me look fat?" Of course not - buy two!
Enjoy the Expo areas
Stay until the very end, then come back and do it again - next week!
Recommended Reading: Tuesdays with Wilcockson: A race without fans is no race at all By John Wilcockson for Red Kite Prayer, August 14, 2012.