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Small is beautiful at Long Beach BikeFest

BikeFest registered well with cycling enthusiasts in Long Beach.
BikeFest registered well with cycling enthusiasts in Long Beach.
Photo by Max Donner

Saturday’s “BikeFest” events in Long Beach are showing how smaller community based sports events can provide a big opportunity to small firms that don’t have the budgets for major league sports sponsorships. For many firms, reaching the right fans is more important than reaching very large numbers of firms and this type of event gives them just what they need. And the cycling race format gives them exactly what marketing pros recommend – frequent repetition – about twenty times in twenty minutes.

The May 3 BikeFest events took place in the East Village, home to half a dozen bicycle and sportswear shops that cater to avid cyclists, helping to give the events a block party atmosphere. Turnout was strong, with over two hundred cyclists participating in trials to qualify for the final races held in the evening on an adjacent road race course.

Nearly 900 spectators paid twenty dollars each for VIP access which featured a bear tasting of local breweries. Of course, in keeping with the “small is beautiful” market niche, these were microbreweries, not national brands. Popular crowd pleasers included Belmont Brewing, the El Segundo Brewing Company, Eagle Rock Brewing and Beachwood Brewery.

The small event format was well suited to local sponsor City Grounds, which promoted high end bicycle brands with a booth at the street festival. Niche brands like the ReMax Real Estate team of Pete and Lisa Loefler, as well as Salsa cycles and MRI Endurance, a supplement provider, earned attention by sponsoring individual cyclists. Herbalife followed their examples and anted up a major sponsorship for its Herbalife24 brand extension, targeted at high performance athletes.

This community centered event format is a tribute to the organic growth of event organizer Wolfpack Hustle. This started as the equivalent of “pick-up basketball” in cycling and has expanded to become a cycle racing community throughout Southern California. With a team of dedicated and dependable volunteers, it now has the scale to organize larger race events and sponsorships that still maintain the camaraderie of a community event.