#1: Decide What Format You Will Use:Contemplating a gravel event? Try to feel out what you think would be cool. What drives you? What would you want to see in an event, or while riding an event? It doesn’t have to be complicated either. Just getting out to see a few cool things you know about and want to share is reason enough to get folks out there to ride. Perhaps your ambitions run higher, but I would advise to keep things simple, fun, and within reason for yourself. The event won’t work well, or at all, if you are not having fun, are not getting something out of it, and are not 100% into it. Keeping things doable but tough for riders always is a good measuring stick. Decide if you want to do a point to point, (tougher logistically) or a loop, (easier to manage), or do you want to have a race or just a group ride for fun. Decide upon whether or not you are going to charge for your event for riders to attend, or if you want to subsidize the experience for riders out of pocket and with your time. The previous decisions may prompt you to decide on whether or not you need insurance. You will need to have waivers if your event is a race or large ride. That said, just getting a small group ride together is a lot less complicated and free from red tape. Once you’ve dialed in the format and reasons for your ride, you are ready to move on to the next stage.
#2: Setting Up A Challenge:This is related to the first step, but deserves its own mention because this will set your course of action going forward as an event director. If you want to set up an “ultra-challenge”, for instance, on the scale of a 100 mile and up distance for the event, that will dictate a lot of parameters going forward for you. Oh! You thought setting up a challenge was about the riders? No- it isn’t just about the riders. There is a challenge to you as an event director to produce a fine experience for those that come to ride. So, push yourself but don’t bite off more than you can chew. See if you have resources to draw from. Being a member of a cycling club can help, but you and a few buddies can also do a lot. The bottom line is to commit to doing your due diligence and to attend to the fine details. If you are passionate enough and committed enough, it will happen. Of course, setting up a challenge does have something to do with what you want to set out for the riders. Do you want to challenge the tougher riders, or do you want to challenge new people to try something they may have never thought of doing before? You can do both in the same event, or separately. Picking a distance to tackle, an area’s terrain, and time of year all should play into this decision. All work together, along with the weather, to dictate the type of challenge you want to present to the riders. Finally- Remember, if anyone can do it- it isn’t a challenge. Having some folks not finish, in most cases, is okay. In fact, some folks have a more meaningful experience when they cannot tackle a certain event.
- Guide it Yourself: A “no drop” group ride is always an easy way to guide folks around a course. If your aim is to simply “get out there” with others, this may be the best way to do things.
- Mark The Course: This can be a good way to guide folks around a course, but it can get tricky in some rural areas and on longer courses. Pitfalls can come in the form of inconsistent course marking techniques, weather related marker damage, or from local ne’re-do-wells removal of course markers before your event.
- Create Cue Sheets: It’s a little more work, but a good set of hand written or printed cues in an easy to understand format can be a safe and effective way to get anyone around your course. Different cue sheet formats exist and several examples can be found by searching the internet.
#4: Creating Expectations:Managing expectations and clearly defining rules, (or lack thereof), is paramount. This falls squarely on the event director and these expectations and rules need to be carefully considered. Smaller rides maybe suffer from this more since the organizers think things will be “no big deal“, but that’s never an assumption you should make. Make sure riders know how to act, what they can expect from you, what they shouldn’t expect from you, and what they should expect from themselves. Communicate rules of the road or special course circumstances up front. Time cut offs, checkpoints, aid stations, drop bags, or any pertinent info needs to be clearly communicated. Rules and expectations are not as tough as they sound to come up with- just make them be things you would expect of yourself on the ride. Be fair, and be clear. Communicating expectations and rules up front makes dealing with unpleasant situations later much easier. Trying to enforce expectations and rules after the fact never works.
#5: Getting The Word Out:It doesn’t do a lot of good to do all the work ahead of your event if nobody knows about it. So how do you communicate your event coming up? One way is to do that right here on Riding Gravel.com with our event calendar. There is a simple form you can fill out available at the bottom of the page or way up at the top you’ll see a “Submit Event” button you can click on. We have tons of eyes coming to our calendar, the first and most comprehensive of its kind anywhere, so this would be a good start. A good ol’ Blogger page or WordPress website can be easily set up and better yet, those are free. Of course, if it pleases you, a full blown, professional webpage can be created as well, but that certainly is not necessary. One thing I’ve noted in a lot of event presentations is the lack of basic, necessary details. Here are the things you MUST have clearly shown on your event page:
- WHAT – The Name Of The Event
- WHEN – The event will take place along with a TIME for the start.
- WHERE – The event will take place in detail. Directions to a rural spot are always a good thing if that is where the start will be.
- HOW- Tell folks how to register, what to pay, if anything, and if there are classments, explain them so folks won’t have to wonder what to enter as.
- RULES & EXPECTATIONS – As stated above.