Todd, I want to build up ______ cycling… how do I do that?  It’s a good question, and I get it a lot, but it’s not the place to start.  The fundamental questions are:  Who you are? and Where do you want to go?  Here’s a snap shot of a conversation with my friend who stopped today, and where we wound up.

Kim:  Women’s cycling is dying, nobody races.  I want to build that up.

Do you race?

Kim: Not anymore, I crashed hard at Dana Point.  I still ride a lot, and I have these two weekly rides I’ve created.  20-30 people show up each week….

We talked about how these two rides started, and why she puts in the time to promote them.  Who shows up, what the agenda is etc.  She has a really good starting point already. But, she struggled a little bit to answer the fundamental questions.

Who are you?  Meaning, what is the identity of the tribe you want to create.  Some groups seem to take on an identity of their own, but in reality the the leader of the group attracts like-minded people.  I’ve been on group rides where everybody swears and has nothing but lewd and rude comments, others where the dynamic is the polar opposite – saintly.  It all starts with the leader.  It’s going to be hard for my friend to grow women’s racing if she’s not racing, for example.

Where do you want to go?  It’s takes years to build anything substantial.  Kim knows this, she even said it took two years until the rides were self-sustaining.  With that in mind, what do you want your cycling team to look like in 2-3 years?  Racers vs riders vs social vs competitive vs inclusive vs exclusive vs free vs fee vs big vs small vs all men vs all women vs all kids vs all families vs road vs mtb vs track vs BMX vs touring.

Looking at other teams can be helpful.  I told Kim about my friend Jacke’s club, the Trail Angels.  Jacke started very small, with handful of friends and a desire to get women in her area out on mountain bikes.  Jacke shares her passion for our beautiful mountains and biking with complete joy – get out, get healthy, get a break.  She provides friendship and mentorship, teaching hundreds of women how to ride and care for their mountain bikes.  Some years Jacke’s tribe exceeds 300 women.

If you don’t know who you are and where you want to go you will struggle mightily.

My advice is to pick the narrowest segment possible, and build from there.  One at a time.  It’s harder work, but it’s long-lasting and infinitely more fulfilling.  If you can’t make it work small, it will never work big.

It starts with your passion and your willingness to give, anything less than giving and caring will greatly hobble your efforts.

Answer those questions and I’ll cover what’s next… next.

PS… Kim is focusing on women-only road rides, you can join her on Facebook

(one of my all time favorite books)