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Media, Fan, and Blogger Access to Race Resources

September 2, 2011

Media credentials for a pro-cycling race provide access to resources so the media can promote the race through stories and photos. A fan or blogger can often access this information to enjoy the race more or cover it for their Twitter or blog followers.

What credentialed media for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge (UPCC) got

UPCC Media Credential for 2011

As I credentialed media person I received a “technical guide” with route maps that included a black diamond with a knife and fork on the course — the feed zones. This symbol didn’t appear on the route maps on the official UPCC web site, a bummer for fans seeking souvenir musettes or water bottles.

How can a fan or blogger get feed zone information?

At the starts ask team staff / soigneurs for feed zone locations. Some media folks post the technical guide maps on their pro-cycling websites.

Press conferences. Every day after the awards presentation the race hosted a press conference; typically that day’s stage winner and several of the jersey holders attended. The most enjoyable part for me was the visual reminders of the race effort: damp curling tendrils of hair escaping riders’ caps around the ears (except of course, for Levi). A few hours after each press conference, the PR firm handling the race compiled a rider quote recap and emailed it to all credentialed media. Much of what post-race website reports, such as cyclingnews and velonews, include as rider quotes are gleaned from the press conference.

How can fans or bloggers find out what the riders say in press conferences?

For 2011 the UPCC made press conference video footage available on YouTube and the UPCC website under “About –> Press Kit”. A few of the quotes from the press conference made it into the press releases that were posted on the UPCC website under “About –> News”. I don’t know how soon the webmaster put these up. For races that don’t publicize this information on their websites, I have to believe there is a way to find them on the internet by searching on keywords or using a site that logs all press releases. Or, wait for your favorite website to report its daily race summary.

Team bib numbers and prologue and time trial start times were also made available on the Press Kit page of the UPCC website.

The PR firm’s quote recap excluded some of the most interesting ones. One example is Vande Velde’s quip that fans’ gratefulness for a pro-race in Colorado would manifest in purchases of Quiznos sandwiches for a year. Similarly, the press releases played it safe with language; the stage 2 press release did not include Van Garderen’s statement regarding his descent, “I have balls.” (Is that cojones in Spanish?)

Free lunch, snacks, and coffee. The race fed the media folks well so they could work well — sandwiches stuffed so thickly you began to smell matzah ball soup from the Carnegie Deli on 57th Street in NYC, fresh salads, and killer brownies and cookies. Thank you to all the local organizing committees who funded this food.

How can fans and bloggers get free food at the race?

Don’t skip the start and finish festivals. Food vendors gave away free samples; Honey Stinger offered bite-sized pieces of their energy bars (if you visited five times you could snag in effect an entire waffle snack). The Cascade Farms folks set out whole mini-bars in Denver. At festival closing time some vendors give away bottles of energy drinks or other goodies they don’t want to carry back.

Media centers near starts and finishes. These press offices provided wireless internet access and a big screen with live race action which played ShackTracker coverage while reporters  and photographers worked on laptops. I think pre-Tracker live coverage fed to the big screen but I didn’t sit in the media center early enough to know when it started.

Can fans and bloggers see the race and have wireless too while on the course?

An I-or android phone that can become a hotspot on which you have downloaded the Tracker app, paired with an I-Pad or laptop? I need help from a techie on that one. If a McDonald’s exists near the course, many in Colorado and Utah offer free wireless service.

Sometimes, a request to ask permission first. The evening before the prologue I wandered around the parking lot of the Colorado Springs hotel that hosted the teams and race organization. I like watching the hidden heroes of bike races, the mechanics, ready the athlete’s machines. Two Garmin mechanics worked under an awning in the drizzle and dull light of early evening, one on a white time trial bike with blue stars on the top tube. Usually Garmin’s bikes are black. Polite one that I am, I asked if I could take a photo of the white bike in the stand. “Are you media?” the mechanic asked. My credential dangled around my neck. He told me I would have to ask their press officer for permission to photograph the bike.

Could I have taken that photo if I was “just” a fan?

I got the feeling that I could have photographed Captain America’s special TT bike if I had left the media credential in the car.

David Zabriskie warming up for the 2011 Tour of Utah time trial (Mary Topping)

More access to the athletes? I think it depends on the race. At the Tour of Utah I interviewed and spoke briefly with the athletes without a press pass. I explained I was a writer for procyclinggolden.com and a blogger and in all cases the guys talked to me. This approach might not work at a race with larger numbers of fans and media vying for the athletes’ attention.

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