On the Fourth of May, coincidentally Star Wars Day if you are into that kind of thing, the Bear Development team will be hosting a Gran Fondo in the North Bay. The ride starts at the Proof Lab Station in Mill Valley, and all of the proceeds from the entrance fees will go to support the Bear Development team program. The Bear Development Team supports junior road and mountain bike cyclists at regional and national level events. The ride will feature appearances from professional cyclists including Ben Jacques-Maynes, Ryan Trebon, and former national time trial champion David Zabriskie. Details of the ride are below and can also be found at http://www.beardevteam.com/fondo-page/
The initiative is a break from cycling’s existing funding model which depends heavily on sponsorship dollars. The current sponsorship model does not easily lend itself to supporting developing cyclists.
“The sponsorship market is challenging, period,” said Rob Evans. Evans, a well known figure in the Bay area cycling community, has helped the teams’s Managing Director Stu Bone run the team since its inception. “It’s easy to sit back and blame the “Lance Effect, but the truth is, the ROI of sponsoring a cycling team just isn’t there. 90% of the time sponsorships are based on a single individual at a large corporation who enjoys cycling. In essence, it’s a handout rather than true marketing partnership.”
To date the Bear Dev program has been enabled by financial support from the cycling community, team directors, and handful of loyal equipment sponsors like Castelli, Giro, and Trek. The teams runs as a 501c, and plows any revenue back into the program to fund gas for the Bear van, air travel, hotels, meals, and everything else that equipment sponsors don’t provide.
“Everything is important.”
~Stu Bone on success.
The father bear, Stu Bone, is passionate about developing young riders and has a clear vision about what they need need to succeed. When asked via email what the ingredients to success are, Bone was crystal clear about the requirements:
“A loving family, strong support from their parents, a detailed and daily training plan from a coach, like Chris Burnham, who is completely plugged in and watching all of the signals coming from the kids, from power meter data to mood. Thousands of dollars or travel. The best equipment in the world. Everything is important.” ~ Stu Bone
With a project like the Bear Development Tam Fondo the organization is stepping out of the sponsorship cat fight, and are attempting to create a new stream of revenue that will position them for a long shelf life. Evans, who recently helped found an art gallery in San Francisco, has a trendsetters eye for style which you can see in his photos, kit designs, and choice of projects. The Bear Development program is built around a similar attempt to promote concept into reality.
“What we’re trying to do with Bear is develop a standalone brand. Bear = California. Development = U23,” wrote Evans to NCCN. “Those are two insanely valuable traits we communicate with our brand. It’s something fans easily identify with, and something our riders will be proud of for many years to come. Theres a deep history to cycling, and a unique story to each cyclists career, but often it’s often lost or devalued via the current sponsorship structure. By removing the whitewash of the corporate sponsorship, it frees our riders to develop marketable personalities, rather than becoming sponsor robots.”
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