Why Charge for Mad Dashes and Why do Goldsprints?
note: I wrote an email earlier today to some of my venues and prize sponsors for Mad Dashes this winter, and it struck me that it serves as a pretty good explanation for why I'm doing this, and for why I think you should be willing to pay a little money to race bikes with me this winter. (TLDR; it's for The Children). Thought folks might enjoy reading it.
I just had a great day over the weekend at Open Streets BTV. I was set up with the racing rig at the Sustainability Academy on North Street. We had lots of racers, young and old, handed out a bunch of spoke cards, stickers and Mad Dashes promotional stuff, and worked really hard to convince people that bike racing doesn't end when the snow flies (I know, I know, fatbikes, computrainers, yeah, yeah...)
Here's what it looked like:
This is my second time at Open Streets. Doing Open Streets really reminded me why I want to do this crazy goldsprints thing:
My bikes were crawling with kids, many of whom were too small to really ride the bikes, but they were all so excited by the whole thing- the bikes, the speed, the computer, all of it.
I didn't really "get" cycling as a kid. I had a bike, sure, but not much of anywhere to ride it, and I was totally oblivious to the wider world of bicycling and all of the ways that bikes could be used to get places, to compete with one another, to develop new friendships, and to have fun. I spent my early twenties getting back into bikes in a big way, and it was such an awakening, but one I wish had happened at least a decade sooner in my life. That's the potential I see in goldsprints.
Done right, it's a way to get bikes in front of kids who might just need that little spark of inspiration to make bicycling part of their lives, maybe right away, maybe it's a fire that gets kindled and smolders for a couple of years, but it's a spark nonetheless- one i wish had been present in my life.
So why, when Mad Dashes is clearly a big-person event on a school night with beer and all, why am I talking so much about kids? Well, because I'm planning to charge some money to race this year, and I'm planning for all of that money to go toward equipment purchases to add a more kid-friendly setup to the collection. What would that look like? At its most basic, a matched pair of smaller bikes (probably 24" cruiser-style bikes) with step-though frames to mount on the existing rollers. In the future, two more sets of rollers and two more bikes for four-up racing that could get a whole class of kids going in a shorter amount of time. A better display (the laptop screen is hard to see in the daylight). A bike trailer to put the whole setup in so I can take it to a classroom or kid's event by bike, that kind of stuff.
So far, I've been doing all of this out of pocket. I'm not a wealthy guy, and that makes the ramp-up slow. I'm hoping that eventually, fees from events like Mad Dashes can get me getting more kids on bikes faster. I'll also be working to communicate that message on the website.
So, that's it for now. Open Streets was great, I'll be getting some posters up about Mad Dashes soon, and I'll be in touch with each of you individually to discuss venue and prize particulars for our scheduled nights.
Thanks again for being part of this,