Monday, May 14, 2018

View from the "Post-Event Haze"

Start/Finish View from the Road Race
The first weekend in May, our community hosted approximately 350 of the nation's best collegiate road cyclists for the 2018 USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships presented by our friends at US Bank.

The event consisted of three days of racing in three separate communities in and around Grand Junction. We had a road race in Whitewater tucked in the rolling hills of the base of the world's largest flat-top mountain, the Grand Mesa. Saturday followed up with a time trial in Debeque, a sleepy neighboring town with a phenomenal TT course winding along the Colorado River with picturesque views in every direction. The weekend of racing was capped off by a downtown Grand Junction Criterium, winding through the heart of our central business district.

Finish Line View from the Time Trial
We could not have dialed up more perfect weather, a feat of God that makes every event director's job a little less stressful! A home-town rider,
Mauro Rato from Colorado Mesa University, won the Men's Varsity road race, and the CMU team took second overall in the omnium. All in all, the weekend was a victory by the standards of most participants and spectators, in addition to the sports commission and USA Cycling teams on the ground.

It's easy to look at this event - one of many wonderful events in the community that first weekend in May - as just a positive blip on the radar.

Down the Stretch View at the Criterium
However, as any event staff/team can attest, what is apparent from the outside is a minimal part of the entire event process. Here are some bits of knowledge specific to the USA Cycling Championships of which you might find interesting:

  1. A team of local organizing committee (LOC) VOLUNTEERS met weekly for more than six months putting the GGJSC's portion of the operational plan into place.
  2. Three said LOC members took Friday off work to be out there grinding hour after hour to make the event proceed successfully.
  3. Approximately 175 community members donated four hours each toward volunteering for the event, totaling 700 volunteer hours contributed.
  4. The GGJSC worked extensively with community partners included, but not limited to Mesa County Sheriff's Office, Grand Junction PD, Grand Junction Fire, Lands End Fire, Debeque Town Marshal, Colorado State Patrol, Mesa County Public Works, GJ Public Works, CDOT, and many others to conduct a safe and enjoyable event. 
  5. Throughout the weekend we went through 7 cases of water, 5 cases of Gatorade, boxes of granola bars, hundreds of Chipotle burritos, Jimmy John's sandwiches and slices of pizza to keep the volunteer corp fed and hydrated.
  6. A local farmer lent us 150 bales of straw for the Crit course, which we loaded, unloaded, reloaded, and restacked in a matter of a couple days. Thank goodness for interns!
  7. Our 200 sand bags were moved no less than a dozen times each - or so it felt like...perhaps an opportunity for improved organizational efficiency?!
Time Trial Start Line
Those of you in the event space are probably nodding your head in agreement here, because the truth is, it really doesn't matter the name of the event, this is the business we are in. Sports commissions, our LOCs, our community grind away at hours no human should be awake for one reason, and for one reason alone: To benefit the community we love. 

So as I emerge from the "post-event haze" that leaves me bleary-eyed and numb the days following a major event like cycling nationals, I wanted not only to share some of the "inside scoop", but more importantly say thank you.

From the bottom of my heart, I thank all the LOC members, sponsors, supporters, volunteers, vendors, partner organizations, public agencies, interns, and friends at USA Cycling that made this one possible. With the opportunity to roll out a hospitable "red carpet", our community did not disappoint. This collective collaboration is elevating the status of the Grand Junction area and we are excited to be a part of it!

As Helen Keller once said, "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." This is Stoll on Sports. 

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