Sundin Sports Marketing

Racing with the Weasels

March 21, 2020 Sundin Sports Marketing Season 1 Episode 4
Sundin Sports Marketing
Racing with the Weasels
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Sundin Sports Marketing
Racing with the Weasels
Mar 21, 2020 Season 1 Episode 4
Sundin Sports Marketing

What are the challenges and rewards of being a bicycle race organizer? Colin Reuter and Chip Baker, organizers of iconic cyclocross races, Ice Weasels and Night Weasels Cometh, share insight, stories and advice.

For show notes, links, or to learn more visit SundinSports.com.

Show Notes Transcript

What are the challenges and rewards of being a bicycle race organizer? Colin Reuter and Chip Baker, organizers of iconic cyclocross races, Ice Weasels and Night Weasels Cometh, share insight, stories and advice.

For show notes, links, or to learn more visit SundinSports.com.

Chip Baker:

This is Kristin Brandt and you're listening to the S undin Sports Marketing podcast. When I met with C olin and Chip, two of the organizers of the ice weasels and n ight weasels cyclocross races, t wo iconic events here in New England. I didn't anticipate how loud it would be at my husband's bike shop as I sit here now several weeks later, knowing that traffic to my husband's shop has been severely restricted because of Coronavirus. At this point, he only allows one person in at a time and and service is by appointment only. I have to say I have a new appreciation for the background noise and I hope you don't find it too distracting. So let's start our interview with C olin and Chip. I am here with Colin and Chip two local race organizers. I hesitate to try to introduce you myself because there are so many ways to introduce you. So , uh, let me start by saying thank you for joining me. Thank you. Thank you. Okay, well done boys. Um , all right . Why don't we start by having you introduce yourselves in whatever way you feel is appropriate.

Speaker 3:

I'm Colin Reuter . I am mainly known for starting crossresults.com getting famously impaled by a bike component.

Chip Baker:

I'm going to have to put links to all of these in the show notes. For promoting, u m, f our bike races a year now, u m, two cross races, a mountain bike race and a criterium. So over 10 years. So I'm an experienced race promoter. Which I believe is why I'm here. I've accidentally started a brand. I'm the King of it by default, was never my intention. Once there's a sticker and a tee shirt. It's true.

Kristin Brandt:

Okay. And chip , who are you?

Chip Baker:

So I'm Chip Baker. Who am I, that is always the question that comes up. Um, I'm a semiretired bike industry person, I suppose would be the best way to say it. Uh , I've been working with Colin for 10 years promoting Night Weasels. That's right . Um , and I'll doing all kinds of other types of, I would say them contract work for different bike companies. Um, seven honey ride studio, bunch of different and zanconato I've put on a , a single speed series, the zanconato single speed series for about eight years.

Kristin Brandt:

So it's a series of series within a series.

Chip Baker:

Lots of different things like that. Yeah.

Colin Reuter:

Didn't you, didn't you promote a world cup race back in the 90s?

Chip Baker:

Ah, yes. That's why I say semiretired I have my first foray into the bike industry was on the West coast out in Northern California where I was editor of a local regional magazine. And at that time we also put on , uh , or helped put on the Napa Valley world cup and the Sea Otter classic.

Colin Reuter:

It's pretty legit.

Kristin Brandt:

So what if somebody says they're a race organizer, what does that even mean? Like what is that job description? How do you put that on your LinkedIn?

Colin Reuter:

It's some combination of like project manager and hype man.

Chip Baker:

in boots on the ground. Like it depends what cause like people want to either call themselves a race promoter race organizer. Um, but there's so many different facets to it. That's why you need multiple people on each event.

Colin Reuter:

You need someone to be excited.

Chip Baker:

Yeah . Right. You need a hype person.

Kristin Brandt:

and then you need someone to be organized, which I'm hearing is your job.

Colin Reuter:

I'm not even that good at being organized, but compared to chip, I am. That's like what I do.

Kristin Brandt:

That often is all that matters.

Chip Baker:

Have you have to have a third person. So like for night weasels, it's Sarah Breznik . Yep . Oh yeah . And for ice weasels, it's our good friend that we just rode with right now. Uh , Greg, I'm horrible with pronunciations, but I'm assuming it's Greg Bonnette.

Kristin Brandt:

This is the man you organize a race with and you might not know how to say his name?

Colin Reuter:

Why did chip introduce uncertainty?

Kristin Brandt:

Nobody would have known except for Greg and he's probably not going to listen.

Chip Baker:

I constantly butcher people's last names. Yours as well. His name's Greg Bonnette. My name's Colin Reuter. I think it's part of the add situation.

Kristin Brandt:

So we have ice weasels and night weasels. Let's talk about those two races. Those are both cyclocross races. Um, and I was wrong. I thought night weasels predated ice weasels and I have been told that is incorrect.

Colin Reuter:

They've both been around so long that no one knows, right. It's basically verbal history at this point. There's no, there's no data, but I can pass it down through, through the lore people will know. Ice weasels started in 2008. That was my first race promotion. It was my third year of racing cross and the cross season ended at , at NBX, but like 500 people went to race at NBX and it was like, I bet they'd race the next weekend. I was like, well we could try to put a race on. So I had a friend at the time, Thom Parsons. Yeah , Thom of dirt wire, famous, very famous individual. And his grandmother had a tiny farm in Wrentham that Tom's grandma's farm is where it all started in 2008 and it was like a little postage stamp of land. I don't know . You know, maybe like 10 acres. Right. But like really small this when you try to put a course on it . Yeah, we've got a hundred 150 people show up. No one died. And like, and that's really,

Kristin Brandt:

you were like, I feel like there's more capacity. People are going to want to keep racing so I'm going to put on a race.

Colin Reuter:

Right. It was just, it was like, it would be fun to put a race on. And it was like, well there's no open dates until after the season ends. But it was like I was like, everybody's still showing up in December. So one more week they'll probably show up again.

Kristin Brandt:

They're not tired.

Colin Reuter:

Yeah. Like enough people showed up that we didn't lose money. Right. Yeah .

Kristin Brandt:

Why weasels ? Because I've always wanted to know. This is why I do a podcast just so I can ask people the things I've always wanted to know.

Colin Reuter:

And this is, this is one of those things where like at the time you don't, you don't realize, you're like setting the course for eventually having to stand in front of like a town government and be like the r ace that's all o n you i s called p olice ice and a bunch of s electmen a re like w hat? But yeah, we didn't, we didn't know we were setting ourselves up for this, but Thom's a pretty funny guy basically. Y up. I think Tom came up with a name completely. U m, but it's a, it's a combination of, it's like a play on ice man. The Iceman cometh is a classic mountain bike race and I believe Michigan has been around forever. And then , um, the ice weasels is like a mat Matt . Okay. The Simpson's guy. Matt G. I'm just going to say Matt G cause like his last name. I know, I know when I say Groening it's wrong. It's like graining or something. Yeah, I think it's Matt Groening. Anyway. Um , it's a , it's a quote from him and one of his books , um , it's like love is like a snowmobile racing across the Tundra, flipping over, pinning you underneath it at night. The ice weasels com. So it's a SImpsons quote on top of this other thing.

Kristin Brandt:

That's great.

Colin Reuter:

But it was all Tom. I had nothing to do with it. Okay, well I don't want you to.

Chip Baker:

See, I thought it was a counterpoint to the Sea Otter. I thought, you know there was a cute little furry sea otther and then now you have this vicious weasels.

Colin Reuter:

Weasels are terrible animals too.

Chip Baker:

They're not nice.

Kristin Brandt:

I mean I'm on a mountain bike team that's named after a river rats, s o I can't really say anything.

Colin Reuter:

R ats u p better than weasels for sure. Nicer.

Chip Baker:

Rats are community based. They have a culture.

Kristin Brandt:

I think it's interesting what you said is like when you came up with the name it was great, but now you have to go out in the world with it and you are like, Oh.

Chip Baker:

I file taxes for weasel events LLC now. And I'm like, I didn't know that was going to happen.

Kristin Brandt:

So you have to live with it. All right, so you started ice weasels and then you started, which is at the end of the season, snow, ice insanity. Yeah. And then you decided you liked that so much.

Colin Reuter:

the following year I think , or maybe two years later it might've been, I don't know. Who knows? We'll call,

Kristin Brandt:

nobody's going to fact check, you know,

Colin Reuter:

we'll cross results.com actually could fact that - in new England at the time, there was two really big UCI races, Gloucester and Providence, and they happen on back to back weekends. And we as a community were like, wouldn't it be sweet if there was a race Wednesday night in between the two big races? And I was like, it's so sweet. I would run that race if someone could find me a venue. Oh. And my friend at the time, chip Baker received this information and being a very charismatic individual went out and actually got a venue and then I had to do the race,

Kristin Brandt:

hold my beer, challenge accepted.

Colin Reuter:

Right. He didn't feel like a challenge like this was, this is Chip's wheelhouse. You know, he's like, he's like, you want me to just spew hype? And like people that don't understand bikes about bike racing, I was like, I would do this for free. And then it's like, well what are we going to call the race? And it was like, well you already run ice weasles, so LOL. This is like night weasels. Huh ? And , and then you actually have to give it a name. There's no other word like, you know the Shrewsbury classic like that's not, that's the sound good it all. All. So we jokingly call it night weasel .

Kristin Brandt:

Well because this rates also is at an at night on a weekend weekday. So, right. So you are, you are insane enough to leave your day job. I will talk about my husband who like, he works all day and he's like, sorry, I gotta go to the local ski place to ride round in circles at night. So it kind of works like it's , it's not sane.

Colin Reuter:

The working, the working title was night weasels and like, like every working title it becomes the real title. And yet here we are 10 years later too.

Chip Baker:

I think it grew because like Colin was saying at that time, you had Providence, which was a UCI race and you had Gloucester and they were back to back on weekends. So when we put night weasels in between them, we created this thing called Holy week. Right . And it was this.

Colin Reuter:

rest in peace .

Chip Baker:

It was sort of a joke. We weren't serious about it being Holy week , but that took on this whole life of its own. Cause I literally think we were just sitting around like, what's this thing going to be called Holy week? You know? Of course. Yeah.

Colin Reuter:

So for the record was that you or was that Richard, do you remember who first came up with Holy week?

Chip Baker:

Richard gives me credit, but I can, I can see us sitting at the bar in Lexington at the ride studio and we're just like, what is this thing? Cause he, you think I'm a hype machine? That guy is a hype monster, like in any way. So we're just balancing things back and forth and the term Holy week came up and that was it,

Kristin Brandt:

right? Because we had these tent pole events. I will tell you my entry into cycle cross , uh , was my husband said, I said, I'm going to try cycle across . He said, great, you should sign up for these two events, Gloucester and Providence. And I was like, okay, cool. So I just, I went to bikereg signed up and then, which I do too often. Then I looked at what I signed up for and I was like, wait a minute, what is Holy week of cyclocross? And he's like, Oh, it's like the biggest week of cycle across the new England. And I was like, okay . Um , and what is Providence and Gloucester? And they're like, Oh, they're the two biggest races. I was like, you're a dingdong. Like that's not how you start your wife in cylcocross.

Colin Reuter:

There will only be 80 other people in the race.

Chip Baker:

That's cool though. That's what made it like, you know, because up until that point, we were all doing these grassroots races, which we love grassroots and we put on grassroots races , but the , you know, your fields could be 20 people, 10 people, and then you get into, I forget what year that time when they hit that 100 woman market G loucester. It was like, this is incredible. Yeah. I t was like truly like it's a festival

Kristin Brandt:

afterwards. They'll tell you about the shin pads that I wore the first year. Um , I got called out by the announcer. Um , Oh, it was awesome. They called up the shin pad class. I was very proud. it wasn't bad. It was just, u m, you know how like the announcers have to like, they have a lot of time to fill, right? Like these p oor announcers have to like figure out what to say. So it's, it's actually more surprising. They don't put their foot in them out t heir m ouths more often. But one of them was like, by the way, did you, did you see that there's a rider wearing shin pads and the other one was like, yeah, I did see that. And of course my family looks at me and I'm like that's me, and then they were like, okay, we're calling up the shin pad cl ass. And I was like, I was, I was okay with it. Yeah, no I go t s ome good. So you kind of spoke a little bit. What are some of the challenges that you run into as race organizers? I feel like we could probably spend an hour on this conversation, but like

Colin Reuter:

I should've, I should've written down like every, every surprise challenge. Yeah .

Chip Baker:

I mean rain would be number one,

Kristin Brandt:

weather,

Colin Reuter:

multiple times. We've had significant changes based on weather . Yeah . 2013 2014 we moved, we moved ice weasels two hours South on 48 hours notice.

Kristin Brandt:

I think. I do remember. That's, why did you do that?

Colin Reuter:

So the venue got five inches of rain that week and it was on private property and our parking was in a grassy field. And I showed up and like looked at the guy that owned the property and he was like, he's like, you're going to have to pay to fix the parking if you, if you have to tow 300 cars out of it. Right. And I walked around it and I was like, Oh yeah, we're going to have to , I was like, this is this , this is a sloping Hill on grass that is deeply saturated. We can't afford to do this race here. But like this was, this was another Thom Parsons moment where Thom had this like weird connection to this guy that like had this connection to this park in Rhode Island. And I'm like, I think we have to cancel a race , Thom.

Kristin Brandt:

Which is what any sane person would say. We're just going to cancel it.

Colin Reuter:

Like, so we were like despondently walking around our venue on Thursday with the race on Saturday. And I'm like, I can't believe we can't do the race. I can't believe it. And Thom's like, I'm just going to call Chris Nichols . And I'm like, all right . I'm like, well I'm just going to start driving you all home cause this isn't happening. Um , and then he's like, yeah, Chris, things we could do it at this park. Maybe. I'm like, alright , well let's drive to the park then and look at it. And at like three 30 that afternoon, I'd be like, you know the sun's going down. We'd walk around the park and I'm like, yeah, you could put a cross race on here. So that gives us tomorrow to put across race on here

Kristin Brandt:

to like plan a course. Right. Cause it's not like

Colin Reuter:

we did that at three 3:30 yeah . Basically the afternoon we were like, we're riding mountain bikes and I have like Strava out measuring. And I'm like, okay that loop came out at like 1.4 miles, which isn't long enough. I'm like, we didn't ride over anything. That's impossible. I was like, it's a viable course. We'll do it, send it. And it was like, well how are we going to get permission with the town? And it was like, well like that's where Chris comes in. Maybe it's going to work . But, so that's an example of a weather-related issue that came up.

Kristin Brandt:

And is it an example of the kind of delusional thinking you need to have as a race organizer?

Colin Reuter:

Yeah. You just absolutely like.

Kristin Brandt:

just checking cause I would have been like right now my Saturday's free. Great.

Colin Reuter:

Like the fact that you don't know what you're doing, you have to like let that go and just like you're like stuff's going workout stuff always works. Right? Like the only time you shouldn't have t hat attitude is when like medical stuff's involved. Like you shouldn't, your p olicy shouldn't be like we don't need an EMT stuff, w e'll work out, you know. But like everything, everything that like isn't, y ou k now, actually a threat o f p eople safety. You k ind o f just assume i t'll be fine and then you do your best.

Kristin Brandt:

and you kind of have to be bendy.

Colin Reuter:

Yeah. Like honestly, this year we postpone the race by 24 hours because of, for similar reasons.

Kristin Brandt:

So two years ago you moved to a Medfield state hospital, which is a former psychiatric hospital here in Massachusetts. And then yes, this year you were scheduled for Saturday. And then did it snow or did it rain? What was the weather

Colin Reuter:

was, it was one of those like biblical rain events, you know, up until maybe 48 hours before the race, they were like, Oh it's going to rain like an inch and a half. And I was like, that's a lot of rain, but it's a cross race. And then on Friday morning they were like, it's gonna rain three inches. And I was like during, during, during a day, like the day we're there . And I met chip Friday morning and we like looked at the weather and it was like this forecast is getting like, it's 24 hours away. Like they're pretty good.

Kristin Brandt:

Yeah . Yeah. It's not like five days away when my husband's like five days from now, I'm like, why even bother watching

Colin Reuter:

previous weekend at NBX someone was like, did you see the forecast for Saturday? And I'm like, that's 60 right now. Come on. I don't care what it does,

Chip Baker:

it can change. I was like, this is a weird around here, but that model held for sure it was bad.

Colin Reuter:

So chip and I like looked at each other and it was one of those things where it was like, I was like, it would make a lot of sense to just not do this Saturday and do it Sunday instead right. Like if we were, if we were normal people going for a bike ride, I'd be like, let's do that ride later. I was like, what if we just do the ride later, but with 500 people and can we, it was like, can we do that?

Chip Baker:

I think as a promoter it's also what happens because there's been historical precedent where you as a promoter organizer , you've gotten in a lot of trouble for damaging a park. Like Lowell is a good example. I think it was a selectman threatened to arrest the promoter for destroying the park.

Colin Reuter:

But like threatening arrested is classic.

Kristin Brandt:

you mentioned the town. So first of all, one of the things they will say about ice weasels is you moving it a day because I knew a couple of years before you had moved at two hours away, it was on brand for you guys.

Colin Reuter:

that actually brings like yeah, that brings up a good point of like the marketing aspect of these where like you have to like just roll with it and like be a human where we're like this is ridiculous and it's silly. But like I'm doing it and I'm sorry like, we're all just people here trying to do a thing. Like this isn't, this isn't a world cup. Like it's not that the show must go on, you know. So I'm like, Hey bro, we changed the ride. You can get your money back or you can come on like the new day and like it is what it is. And I feel like as long as you're humble and realistic about it, it's fine . I got like, I got like one cranky email from someone that couldn't make it and like themed cranky, you know. But like for the most part people were just like, yeah, I get it. That's cool.

Kristin Brandt:

I don't really want to ride that anyway.

Colin Reuter:

But like, you know, not having, I felt like being like humble and like approachable about it instead of like , this was like a corporate event and like, you know, like imagine if they postponed a Patriots game like a day rational won't be like,

Chip Baker:

that's one of the things that's unique to Colin.. Cause I've worked with some race promoters that are just absolutely savage. I mean like, no seriously. Like I said, I won't name names, but like it's a hostile environment that you're going into as a racer or as, or even as a sponsor.

Kristin Brandt:

she say that they're , um , in that they make no mistakes or they,

Chip Baker:

what Colin is saying is like the way he approaches it. First of all, he's a very avid bike racer, which helped , I think is an advantage to for him to put on a good race.

Colin Reuter:

I'm my own customer.

Kristin Brandt:

Wait, are there bike race organizers or their race organizers who are not actually cyclcists?

Colin Reuter:

Alot of them were like kind of retired. Yeah I feel like a transition from racing to promoting is pretty common. But then like I feel like the longer you've been out of racing, the less, the less you empathize with like what racers want.

Chip Baker:

and if you're older school person potentially.

Colin Reuter:

and the thing things change, you know , we usually do it like this. Like that's not really a great explanation for why things are the way they are. And yeah, actually fun, fun. So it's funny statistic, 30% of racers every year are in their first season. Really? Yeah . And it's been like this year after year, BikeReg data supports it. USA Cycling agrees. Um, so yeah like any, anytime, anytime you're like this is how it's been. Cause this is how it's always been. People that put races on had been in the scene for so long. They assume that like their knowledge is what everybody else has. Right. I'm like, everyone knows who I am cause like I did this thing 10 years ago and it's like actually the 95% of people at one of my races now, were not racing when this got started. So the idea that , you know, they've been around cause I've been around and it's not how it works. So like appeals to tradition aren't viable at all for your customers. They don't care. They don't know.

Kristin Brandt:

No, I think that's really, we talk about that with mountain bike racing, with logos that get developed for mountain bike, you know, teams and races and you're like, you , why do we keep falling back on these old tropes of skeletons and you know, eh , like ride or die when you have someone who doesn't understand that history, right. They don't immediately look at the mountain bike and think grateful dead like you know, and , and yet we continue to double down on those things. Forgetting.

Colin Reuter:

Yeah. It's really hard. See things with new eyes when you've been in the sport for so long. But that's what your customers see.

Chip Baker:

And especially if you want to try to diversify your customer base and bring in people maybe who weren't doing cyclocross or doing mountain bike racing. You can't stick with the same old sort of formula that works back then cause it's not going to work. Now. People are different now. They want different things.

Colin Reuter:

They want to do. Tough Mudders,

Chip Baker:

they just went out of business.

Kristin Brandt:

Did they? Yeah , I had a friend who did one of those and she's like, and then I got electrocuted and I was like, why?

Chip Baker:

So actually Spartan bought them. Okay.

Colin Reuter:

That's not the same as going on a business Chip, that's selling out.

Chip Baker:

They went to. They did actually have $700,000, that's not bad.

Kristin Brandt:

Um, so speaking of like maybe what people understand of the bike industry, I, you mentioned filing things with the town and taxes and so what are some of the challenges when you have to deal with, I dunno say neighbors who don't understand what you're doing to their park or you want to get food trucks or you want to like what are some of the challenges when you have to engage with the non bike world?

Colin Reuter:

Yeah, so this is, this is actually the area that I'm weakest in. So I'm like, I'm like, my whole life is cycling, right? So like I understand cyclists both that like I understand racing, understand, promoting like I can talk to cyclists when you put me in front of people who don't ride bikes, like I like the wheels come off pretty fast actually. And that's where someone like chip, who you know has like a more diverse experience is actually useful. Yeah .

Kristin Brandt:

He's actually useful? (laughter)

Colin Reuter:

sorry. How did the word actually get in there?

Chip Baker:

I can be. This is how we communicate and it's fine, it's totally fine.

Kristin Brandt:

So chip, take it away.

Colin Reuter:

Chip can talk to people better than me, I would say yeah , like normal .

Chip Baker:

I think we compliment each other, and again, not to come back to this like three headed monster promotion team has to be, but what Colin was saying with Medfield it's different because it's the town's property, right?

Colin Reuter:

Ironically, you can't just pay a town money to do stuff.

Chip Baker:

It's all about permitting. You need licenses for instance , if you want it.

Colin Reuter:

It's about feelings .

Chip Baker:

It's about liability, honestly. Like, and you know, I think the moving to Medfield and working with Medfield has been a huge learning experience for both of us. I think because we're used to Ski Ward, which is private and so private is different because what Colin was saying is like if you have a tsunami that takes out the Hill and you destroy it, it's a dollar figure. What's the check going to be? Oh, okay. Thousand dollars or whatever it is to mitigate that damage.

Colin Reuter:

It's a business. And the bottom line is, is it worth their while to have race?. And if they think it's not worth their while, we just pay more until it is, and if we can't pay enough we don't do the event. It's always a Teeter totter of that. Like the neighbors don't complain, like i t's, it's not m y property. Like they don't get to say what you do. Town parks whole different story.

Chip Baker:

Yeah. And what's interesting, like last season, what was really different, and we'll see how this goes in seasons coming up. When we had that triple E problem, if you like our friend Mike, his race was on a town soccer field and they had a quarantine, right? So they were, you couldn't have any activity . It's a curfew. Right? It's a curfew. Right. It was after, it was after dusk. You could have no activities. Right.

Colin Reuter:

What do you have to say to a town to make them believe that what you're doing is okay.

Chip Baker:

That's Greg's job. I mean thank God for Greg .

Colin Reuter:

You went to the town meeting. What a great ,

Chip Baker:

I did go to the town meeting and actually what was so funny about that?

Kristin Brandt:

The one that med fields , so this is , I mean at least with this park, it's a park, but it's also a former,

Colin Reuter:

Park might be a stretch.

Kristin Brandt:

It's not like, cause we know we have another race , um, the grand Prix of Gloucester. A moment of silence. May it rest in peace. That was in a proper park. Nice. Ish park. Yeah. And every year there was complaints because cyclocross does rip up the grass even though even though they reseed it every year they, they made it look great. They did everything they had to do, but it ultimately got killed because

Chip Baker:

that's part of the PR situation I think. And unfortunate . I think they were in a real bad place because the challenge is if a select man or if a very vocal local person is against your bike race, I can pretty much guarantee your bike race will cease to exist in the near future because the way local politics works, it's whoever is sort of the has the most time or is the loudest or the most vocal is the one who's going to get the thing to change because not everyone has the time to go to every town meeting.. Or to be a select person. However, the town is set up, the town government town councils . So what we've been doing with the new ice weasels, right, is we're trying really hard to work with the town because they've been working well with us and we have a local Greg Bonnette, who has done incredible work. He's very thorough. He's very professional.

Colin Reuter:

I mean he made a PowerPoint.

Chip Baker:

He did. It wasn't just that , it wasn't just a PowerPoint like.

Kristin Brandt:

Did it have a Weasel on it?

Chip Baker:

He showed up in an Armani suit. Like when we went to this town hall meeting I thought we were meeting with like a town manager and it's like a T . I'm like, as I'm getting there, I'm like, great, this is a full town meeting, isn't it? And he's like, good thing I wore my dad's sweater cause we were also on cable TV, which is really funny. It was hilarious. But Greg killed it. I mean he, and he's just so professional. Is he a project manager by profession?

Colin Reuter:

Something?

Chip Baker:

He feels like a project manager and he really has that ability to communicate as an adult, as a responsible person gets all checks, all the boxes.

Colin Reuter:

Right. I feel like it's almost the opposite of how you want to interact with your customers as a promoter. So like , like when, when you talked to bike racers and you're the , you're the promoter over like we're on the same team here bro. Like I'm just a guy doing a thing. You're just a guy coming to my thing. Right. And then we tried to town, you're like, I am a professional. Yes. Everything is fine. I've done this a million times before. I have insurance. No problem. This'll be good for the children. We're going to donate the money to the rail trail. Like all this that you become like, it's a real test of like how much you can sell yourself as an adult. So it's the complete opposite of everything else .

Chip Baker:

Well, not to bring it back to like, I don't know if it was the last year that ice weasles was that a white barn farm, but like we had, not we, I was just a participant of a bike race team that we had a huge tailgater going. U m, but we probably shouldn't give too many details for legal reasons, but let's just say we a lot of.

Kristin Brandt:

What's the statute of limitations?

Chip Baker:

That's a good point.

Colin Reuter:

I think it's safe to admit that there was alcohol,

Chip Baker:

there was alcohol there, there was a lot of food and we had for , I don't know how the talent of Wrentham decided to show up, but they did. And there was like a health food inspector and it was, it wasn't good. Like when the health food inspectors in my tent zone looking at me with a platter of meats and like, and she kept saying like where's the purell, and I'm like, why do I need Purell? This is just like tailgating it.

Colin Reuter:

and handing out giving this food away.

Chip Baker:

And meanwhile there is a dog, licking the platter of meat that I'm about to put on the barbecue.

Kristin Brandt:

So food can definitely be a challenge. Right? I know in the past I've heard, again, you are very honest and it , you know, like about what's going on and we were going to have food trucks or maybe we weren't. Or does anybody know a food truck who can deal with the like, so it's not like you can't just like call up your, I think everyone's like, food trucks are cool, we should have food trucks.

Colin Reuter:

They sound amazing on paper. It's always like we'll just get a food truck. Like those are the themes. Very challenging. Just get a food truck.

Kristin Brandt:

What are the challenges to that?

Colin Reuter:

So I mean I feel like the amount of money a food truck makes at a bike race isn't that much. Like in your head you're like [inaudible] right? Yeah . Like a lot of times the food trucks that are good have like a lot of other options that they can go to. Right? So you're like come serve food to 200 bike racers. You could make easily like $500 and they're like, okay. So by the time we like staff it and drive it and spend all the time they , they look at, they look at the dollar signs like this is not attractive to us. Right? Like what do you mean we don't understand? Don't you want to just show up? Um, so yeah, we've actually, we have to do , um, a guarantee with our food truck. Yeah. So we're like, if you don't sell $1,500, we'll pay the difference. U m, this year. And you'd be shocked. This year we didn't make it, we had to pay them. Like we h ad one food truck, Falafel. We had 500 racers. Surely that's $1,500 in sales and it wasn't.

Kristin Brandt:

what do you think is it that racers come and we're a little picky about our food because we're racing. Is it just like , what is it?

Colin Reuter:

Iit's hard to figure out like I think some, some people are like show up and then leave. Right? Like they don't need food. Like they're not there to hang out, but we are pretty good hanging out.

Chip Baker:

We definitely had a good crowd.

Kristin Brandt:

Ice measles in particular is kind of the, I always say it's like it's cyclocross is end of the year party. Like that's where we go to enjoy that, you know, say Hey, we made it through another season.

Colin Reuter:

Right. But like, I dunno , I guess falafel maybe isn't wasn't just falafel was also like there was meat. And like I felt like the food truck line was long but not super long.

Chip Baker:

I don't know if it was particularly cold but it was a little cold and I'm not trying to be whatever. But it's like,

Kristin Brandt:

and I realize I'm thinking about last year cause I didn't make it this year cause you moved it.

Chip Baker:

it was a little cold and windy. I mean, so I that might've kept the crowds down a little to go to the food truck cause that , that place where they set up, it's not as the sunniest part of the course . I don't know .

Colin Reuter:

But yeah, and now, but also from like a, from a just a finding food truck standpoint.

Chip Baker:

Oh it's very challenging.

Kristin Brandt:

Again, I think of like food trucks...

Colin Reuter:

No, you call them up and you're like, you want to do this event and this location. And a lot of times the answer is we've got something better to do.

Chip Baker:

I think you see that with lots of races. Not just stars. I mean you always hear about, you know, same thing. Anyone know a food truck and , right . You know, and it's really hard.

Kristin Brandt:

I think the last kind of segment on this and we'll talk about it that you spoke to you a little bit is money. Does one make make any money running bike races?

Colin Reuter:

You can . I mean, anyone who is a professional promoter like that living, so living off. Yeah , that's crazy. Um, but like economies of scale work, so when you put a big race on, you can make money and if you do a super bare bones grassroots race, you can make money. The actual cost overhead to do a cross race can be really low. Okay . Yeah. Anybody losing money on grassroots race should like take a step back and have like , you're losing money on a UCI race. I completely get it. It's so expensive. You should thank your local UCI promoter and then pay more for their races because UCI, it's just a whole 'nother level.

Kristin Brandt:

You have to pay for certain things that you don't need.

Colin Reuter:

Your flying in UCI officials and putting them in hotel rooms like, I mean just the permit alone i s i n the thousands of dollars. Y ou just p ay t he UCI money, right? J ust left and right. H ow a bout 8 0 you have t o have l ike,

Kristin Brandt:

but it's not that you can't make money on race promoting.

Chip Baker:

but things come up like , I forget what year it was that super rainy year at ski ward where I had to have this conversation with Pam. I was like, hun , I think we're going to lose some money. And she's like, what do you mean we're going to lose some? She's like, whose money are we talking about? I was like, well our money. Right? And now she was not excited about that.

Colin Reuter:

We never really spelled it out. What would happen if we lost money? Like how the three promoters cover the loss. So Colin and I are , we're just like, yeah, we got this no problem . But then when your wife's like, what do you mean you got this? I'm not paying $1,500 for some bike racers to come race .

Chip Baker:

If you're in like a life position where if everything went south you couldn't afford like five grand, like you probably just shouldn't be promoting a race. I don't know . I remember the first year we did it, reg was really low because you have a new race and we were kind of freaking out and I was like, this might cost me a couple thousand bucks. And it's like, well I knew this might happen. Like I'll survive. Like it sucks, but , and then in the end it was okay. Like you know, if I was like I can't put food on the table if this happens so I can't pay rent. That's where the other thing too that one of the biggest challenges I think is getting like a cash sponsorship or task sponsor. Because like for a race promote race promoters , you really need that. You need some cushion. Like Colin and I, we are lucky to be like, Hey we can, it's going to be fine. We can be optimistic, but some people can't. And it's like, so if that's the situation you're in, you need some type of cash buffer.

Kristin Brandt:

I mean, let's talk about what's, you know, you and I have talked a lot offline about how one defines sponsorship and sponsorship, especially in the cycling industry, tend to take a lot of form of stuff. Like , I'm going to give you this thing and you're going to call me a sponsor, which service can be really great, but at the end of the day, you can't pay the food truck guy with , with the tires that somebody gave you.

Colin Reuter:

You can't reseed, all the turf damage you did.

Chip Baker:

That's the thing we worry about now is this mitigation of the damage to , uh , like the grass or things like that. You don't know what that number could be, right ? It could be $5,000 could be $3,000.

Kristin Brandt:

That's true. And you won't pay it . Can't pay an EMT. It can't pay your insurance. So those are really the things, right?

Colin Reuter:

I feel like in an industry it's easy to get product sponsorship and easy, as easy as a strong word. I feel like Chip people that are charismatic like chip, he just hits people up and they're like, yeah, take a bunch of stuff for prizes.

Chip Baker:

But part of that is relationships and we've been doing this for 10 years, so people , they worked with us and we pretty much, we don't jump around and sponsors like we stick with the sponsors that have support us. Like Shimano has been huge. Like they provide a huge service for us and yeah ,

Colin Reuter:

and they love you.

Kristin Brandt:

You know, I think it can be underrated loyalty, right?. Um , and that's probably a really good tip for someone who's thinking about organizing.

Colin Reuter:

the return. Like the return on investment for sponsorship is so hard to measure or understand that like people giving out sponsorship a lot of times, like how to really quantify it, it's how much they like you is really important, you know? So being lovable like chip, right. It does help .

Chip Baker:

I mean that's part of my personal like what for something.

Colin Reuter:

you're like, Oh I do like him. Like, yeah, well we'll like, you know, you'll get exposure by giving us that sounds kind of what.

Chip Baker:

But we do do a good job of that. I think like your own sort of grassroots hype way like Thom has been a big help with us with dirt wire. Certainly through the years where he's done the interviews, he's done great footage of the races.

Colin Reuter:

That reminds me of one of the most important people on your race staff is your announcer. Your announcer runs the event, right ? He knows all your sponsors, he runs all your podiums, he knows all the rules. Like for example, no drinking before noon and I feel he's huge . Having having someone that is not offensive and can talk all day can be kind of funny. Fun to listen to, but also like is actually running the logistics of your event, right ? Like a good announcer is an incredible value in people. People don't realize that. I think.

Kristin Brandt:

until they have a bad announcer.

Colin Reuter:

and then you're like, Oh, there's just a man making noise and it's kind of weird noise and it's not that useful.

Kristin Brandt:

And partially offensive

Colin Reuter:

That's a different kind of bad announcer.

Kristin Brandt:

but they can do, they can be bad or they can be damaging. And I've seen announcers be, damaging. And I've seen announcers be, I mean they're whatever. It's fine. Like they didn't say anything damaging, but you , when you see it , an announcer do damage and it's, you're not even at the race , right. I mean , at the race and the Twitter is a flame with whatever has been.

Chip Baker:

That's probably not a not a good sign for your bike race. You don't want to see Twitter lighting up about that too.

Colin Reuter:

Back to positive things about race announcing. Yeah. There's nothing better than an announcer who's good and is and is on a radio that you're on. So then as you're running around doing promoter things at any given moment, if you need to talk to the entire staff , . I'm like, Ryan, can I get , um , can I get a call to staging Ryan? Remind people that there's no beer. He hears on the radio. Next thing you know, everybody hears o ut o f the speakers, right? He's actually your way to communicate.

Kristin Brandt:

That's Awesome. And I do appreciate as a announcer, as race organizers have added female voices to the announcing.

Colin Reuter:

I keep saying he and and that's because our primary guy we work with is Ryan.

Kristin Brandt:

But we've seen an increase in them and I think it's really positive.

Colin Reuter:

Mainly mainly Lydia.

Kristin Brandt:

Lydia is great. I think she does a great job. So we're going to wrap this up, but if you, if somebody were to say to you, I think I want to organize a race, what would you tell them?

Colin Reuter:

Do it. Yeah. It'll, it'll make you feel better than racing your bike. Yeah. Like racing your bike, you win. There's a lot of ways , so much more as a result of your bike. There's not that many ways to lose from whatever race. Like it's very rare I think to come out of a race you promoted with bad feelings. I think I've done it once. I think one out of like 30 times when it was all over, I was like, ouch, the other like 29 times. I'm like, that's pretty cool.

Kristin Brandt:

That's really good. One out of 38.

Colin Reuter:

right? We're just like, how many times we leave a bike race and I'm like, man, you should've trained. Like why did you even spend your day driving there?

Kristin Brandt:

Why did you get out of bed today?

Colin Reuter:

Right?

Chip Baker:

So it's good to have new promoters. I think new promoters putting on new races. It just, it brings more energy into the sport.

Kristin Brandt:

So that'll leave that with that question. Then. If somebody is interested, where do they turn to learn about race promoting?

Chip Baker:

We talked a little bit before where it was like the old USAC model was where the club would put on the race. It was required. That doesn't, that's not the case anymore, but I do think that is good. If it's a club that puts the race on you have more volunteers, assets and energy. Yeah, absolutely.

Colin Reuter:

When I'm, when my team decided to do , um , Ghosts of Gloucester this year, it was really impressive to see like how everyone got excited. It was like, we're going to do a race and all these people like wanted to help. Right? And then you're up and rolling and all of a sudden like it's not one person's problem with the like a group effort. Whereas, you know , if it was just me then like.

Chip Baker:

Colin's clubs, B2C2, is a good example of that. They are so involved and part of it's JRA. Like Jerry is so supportive of.

Kristin Brandt:

which is a local bike shop.

Chip Baker:

Yep, yep , yep . And the team itself, they just, like you said, they're highly energized. Everybody rallied.

Kristin Brandt:

There was when we lost, because we did, you know, for those who are not familiar, we lost several of those big races. Providence isn't around any more. The Holy week really fell apart. Um , it was interesting this year to watch the community rally around that with Ghosts of Gloucester and you know, other races that came, they're not of the same size, but it was a cool .

Colin Reuter:

But yes , I think if you wanted to get into it and you weren't part of a club, there was no like institution. Um, it's one of those things where you just reach out and ask questions. Yeah . This guy like, so Justin Eichenlaub put on hydro c ross for the first time this year and u m, he emailed, u m, J D w ho i s the u m, administrator for the new England bicycle racing association. And he emailed me c ause I t o put on races, but i t's like, he basically was like, I want to do this. Can you help? And like people in the community want to help, you know, I love, I like, there's nothing I l ove more than a n email where someone's like, I w ant t o p ut r ace o n. And I'm like, I can tell you s tuff about that. That's great. I'm like, Oh, race is going to happen and I don't have to make it happen. I can like write some emails and then you'll figure out the rest of it. Like the resources are totally out there and people that l ove bike racing want to help. You know, if you're like, if you're a corporation, l isten to this and you aren't in the bike scene at all and don't know who to email o r like, yeah, you probably shouldn't put a bike race, but like if you're a b ike r acer,

Kristin Brandt:

you should sponsor somebody who's doing it. Right. Great. Yeah, that would be the smart play out of that.

Colin Reuter:

You're already like two degrees away max from someone that like knows what to do and wants to help you. It's just, just start asking the question. Right. You know, I think people, actually, I get this email semi-regularly I think because people ask, I want to put a race on who should I talk to you? And they're like, Oh, you should ask C olin about it. Yeah. That's all you need to do to get started.

Kristin Brandt:

Well that's great. Well, thank you so much for coming in and bearing with some of our background noise and conversations. And thank you for ice weasels and night weasels. Um, I have enjoyed both of them. Never race, night, night weasels. I just go cheer that one on. But ice weasels is one of my favorite so.

Colin Reuter:

you're missing out. But yeah, thanks for having us. That was fun.

Kristin Brandt:

Well we addressed challenges. That race an event organizers face I'm not sure that I at least could have anticipated the many unique challenges that race and event organizers as well as small businesses and families have faced because of the Corona virus . A lot of organizers have had to cancel events, postpone events. We've even had an event , um , at the shop that's kind of in limbo at the moment as we try to figure out when to move it. So my thoughts are with everyone. I wish everyone the best of luck as we continue to adapt to this evolving situation and I look forward to racing and riding with many of you very soon.

Chip Baker:

In the meantime , I want to thank you for listening. You can check out, show notes from this episode at Sundin Sports.com. You can also connect with us by following Sundance sports on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Again, thanks for listening. I hope you can get outside and play.