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Preach Peloton

July 31, 2011

Pro-cycling facts fortune teller

Last night I tweeted this — “Uber #pro-cycling fans: this may come as a shock, but we are an anomoly in mainstream society.”

I should have inserted the words “United States” before “society.” This tweet is not a derogatory comment about mainstream society or pro-cycling fans. It’s a reaction to the results of a pro-cycling education effort I launched last night.

We conduct education and outreach for our UPCC stage 6 start in part by attending community events. While we listed the Buffalo Bill Days festival on our outreach calendar months ago, as the days inched closer to the event we weren’t sure if we should attend it. Several people had begun to say they weren’t sure it was a “good crowd for us.” To make this more explicit, one person described the crowd as, “Fat people who eat hot dogs.” Hmmm. Summer does mean, among other things, hot dogs.

In May I read the U.S. Cycling Report stories on the state of pro-cycling in the United States. Educating people about the sport rose to the top of the recommendations for how to strengthen pro-cycling here. Since reading that piece I’ve believed even more strongly that we need to direct education and outreach to those who have never attended a bike race or watched it on TV. So when an opportunity to have a table at the Buffalo Bill Days festival presented itself, I decided to take it. That’s why last night I walked across the trampled grass in Parfet Park to a white tent next to the strongman’s bell thump contest, a mini Ferris wheel, and live band.

Another volunteer and I hung up our banner from the back of the tent and filled the table with our standard materials: educational booklet, rack card, list of related Golden events, a contact card with our website URL and Twitter and Facebook accounts, map focused on downtown Golden portion of the stage 6 route, and the entire stage 6 route map in detail fixed to a foam-core board.

Then I unveiled the new materials: two paper “fortune tellers,” my homemade pro-cycling educational game.

Name the UPCC team's country fortune teller

As a visitor to our table if you answered a question from the fortune tellers you won a chance at a prize. The visitor picked a number on the outside of the fortune teller and we opened and closed it that number of times. Then depending on which fortune teller the visitor had picked, he guessed the country of one of the teams in the race or answered one of four questions about the sport of pro-cycling: What is the large, main group of pro-cyclists called (French word)? Is pro-cycling a team sport, yes or no? What does KOM stand for? What is an individual time trial?

About fifty adults and children played the game and had a good time in the three hours we attended the festival.

When I returned home at 9 pm with a raspy voice, my husband asked me: “How did it go?”

I responded, “No one knows anything,” and slammed my water cup on the counter for emphasis.

“Really?” he asked.

“Well, that’s an exaggeration.” I said, “Some folks knew who the American teams are, and surprisingly, several knew pro-cycling is a team sport. But beyond that, not much.” I reflected on how the game went. In general folks didn’t play the name-the-team’s-country fortune teller and those that chose it avoided selecting non-American teams. A good portion of those who rode bikes and knew about the race couldn’t answer the questions.

I don’t want to sound like a know-it-all. There are many things with which I am not familiar. The other night when I plopped on the couch to unwind and turned on the TV, I could only remember the channel numbers for two TV stations: Versus and Public TV. It’s just that last night’s experience felt like a wake-up call. We have a lot of educating to do, and it’s up to all of us who love the sport to do it.

Last night after saying goodnight to my husband I proceeded to Twitter to surround myself with uber pro-cycling fans. One thought consoled me. Even if just one kid who played the game points to the pack while watching the UPCC on TV and says to his parents, “That’s a peloton!” I’ll be over the moon.

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