How To Organize a Bike Ride
Guest article by Brad Nelson (@be_radpdx) & Phil Barber (@oddluv) of Axiom Event Productions
Tips for the amateur organizer
So, you want to want to be a ride director? Whether it’s your first time ever, your first time in a while or your first time entering into the event world of bikes, use our tips below to roll out your event like a pro.
It’s not always easy to get people to your first-time event. Getting the word out and keeping your participants coming back are key. And how do you keep them coming back? With great organization. Read on to learn how.
1. Keep your friends close…
Knowing your strengths is usually easy, but knowing (and admitting) your weaknesses is perhaps more important. Few of us are talented enough to be proficient at every event element. Instead of wasting time and energy wrestling with all tasks, get help from friends early on in the process.
Respect your friendships (and preserve your sanity) by making clear, direct and specific asks. Your friends are giving their time and working hard to make your event look and feel great. Makes sure in advance they know exactly what you’re asking of them: the gravity of responsibility and the estimated time commitment (be honest!).
2. …and your product closer
Is your ride a 50-mile tour, or a five-mile meander? Is the journey the destination, or are your riders focusing on each stop along the way? Know what you’re selling, and who you’re selling it to. Don’t forget that your event is much more than just what happens on the day of your ride! The participant experience includes all pre- and post-event elements, from your advance marketing tweets to your feel-good followup photos. Plan accordingly, and you’ll be rewarded with returning riders year after year.
3. Your very own Mechanical Turk
Afloat as we all are in a sea of GPS toys, smartphone apps and paperless communications at and around our events, it’s easy to lose sight of the main engine behind your event’s success: the team you’ve assembled to bring your event to life.
Even the most robust cue sheet can’t replace your ride leaders and sweeps. The most streamlined customer service platform can’t replace a live person at the other end of a telephone. As event producers we keep as many gritty details behind the curtain as possible – just be careful not to forget about the hardworking people you’re hiding back there too.
4. Managing Rider Expectations
Your riders might be very savvy, but we can’t expect them to read every single piece of event information (what a dream that would be!). As the ride organizer, it is your responsibility to get the message across.
Be as clear as possible about what your event provides and what participants are expected to provide for themselves. Communicate those expectation multiple times and in a variety of ways to ensure the message sinks in. For example: are you providing only minimal on-route mechanical support? Remind your riders to bring a spare set of tubes.
5. Practice Takes Practice
Imagine that you’ve finally decided to go back to school for a master’s degree. You’d have to re-learn how to be an academic: how to study, how to take a test, how to write an A+ essay. Planning an event for the first time (or the first few times) is a lot like this. Not every issue and aspect of your event is going to be intuitively obvious to you – even if you’re a seasoned event professional – because each event is unique. For each new event, you’re going to have to re-learn event production in a new context. It sounds tedious, but with the right dedicated approach it becomes a little easier each time.
Ride your ride. Twice.
6. Check your calendar– it’s Funday
Throwing a party is hard work. Throwing a party on wheels spread across dozens of miles is even harder. For all the tips and tricks that can make event production easier, your event is still going to be stressful. To counterbalance the stress, you have to be having fun or you’ll never want to throw an event again. Following the tips above won’t guarantee you a fun day, but they’ll get you close. The rest is up to you.
7. Can we come?
What do you do to ensure your event goes well? Share your ideas below in the comments.
We look forward to your ride!