So looking to organize a charity bike ride to raise money for your favorite non-profit organization? Well we have some experience. We run two granfondo events for the last 10 years, cyclo cross and mtb events as well.
Celebrating this year its 10th anniversary, the Granfondo Garneau-Quebecor is a 118 km bike ride between Trois-Rivières and Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures. The Granfondo Garneau Florida Ride is a premier road cycling event in South Florida now operating in its third year.
So we jotted down some tips and lessons, we've learned along the way . . .
One thing that you should always keep in mind when you organize an event is the RIDER EXPERIENCE! This should be the priority for every decision you take. It is ok to attract medias, get visibility, etc. but you need to make sure the partipants are the center of everything and that creating a great experience (from security, logistic, originality, etc) is what will set you apart from other events and make sure they come back year after year and bring more friends with them.
SECURITY IS MANDATORY and needs to be a priority. This is also a big part of the budget if you don’t have a sponsorship from the local police or town. If roads are left open to thru traffic, cyclists should be escorted in the front and back of the peloton via vehicles with flashing lights. It helps to have road marshals at all intersections. Communication is key. Advise riders what is permissible including lanes of travel, how many riders abreast, and traffic laws that must be obeyed.
Sponsors are essential to the event. They are one of the reasons you are able to raise money for the cause of your choice, so you need to treat them with good care! Make sure the company names are well displayed at the arrival/finish and present on the jersey as well as all other marketing activation. Try to take advantage of the different type of sponsors; money, food, services, they all have something different to offer so make the best of it.
3. Course marking
Signs need to be well placed throughout the course. Indications are KEY. Allow riders time to anticipate turns by staggering turn signs well in advance of the turn.
Organize meetings with all organizing parties and service providers at least 2-3 times prior the event. This will ensure that everybody is on the same page and knows what to expect (police, security, town representatives, etc.). It’s good practice to have all local law enforcement and ambulatory services aware of your event even if they are not attending. Always be ready for the unexpected. Event planning = nothing goes according to plan. You need to keep your head cold and find solutions quickly if something comes up. DO NOT PANIC! Double check everything – you need to double check with all vendors and service providers prior to the event to make sure you are all on the same page regarding deliveries and goods to be received.
Volunteers are essential to holding the event together. Recruit in advance and make sure you have enough people to cover all the important duties. Take good care of your volunteers since they are not easy to find. Make sure they feel appreciated. Volunteers should stand out via event tees or branded apparel. Riders need to be able to quickly spot who to rely on for help. Debrief – make sure you meet with all organizer and various parties involved to find out what worked and what didn’t to improve for the next event.
Create a draft and make sure you take into account unforeseeable situations.
Participants need to hear from you! Make sure you use different channels to target all the participants, they don’t all respond to one type of advertisement. Create a six-month media plan and intensify communications closer to the event. The event should communicate through social media as often as possible. Make sure to set the event up as an event on Facebook so that it can be shared.
Who are the participants? Make sure you know your audience well and that the agenda and activities are planned according to the target audience. Ask for feedback – once the event is over, make sure to collect as much data as possible from the participants.
9. Logistics (from transportation to food to parking to… everything)
Your riders’ experience is the keystone to your event longevity. Logistics should be communicated to participants on a continual basis. Don’t assume one communication will be read by all.
10. OPEN TO EVERYONE
This is not a race! Some people will participate with the goal of finishing first and that's great, but most participants are doing it for fun, to live a great experience and in some case they just aspire to cross the finish line. Your communication needs to be inclusive and clear that this is open to everyone and not a race. Don't scare the newcomers.