Cycling, like any past time full of passionate adherents, has a number of forums devoted to it. There’s MTBR.com, Velocipede Salon, the former Serotta forum and one inhabited by Cervelo’s devotees. I don’t think I’m revealing any secrets or pointing any fingers when I say that online forums are often derided as collecting the worst of the sorts infesting social media. It’s my belief that you get out of any endeavor what you put into it. And if you put the effort in to create a real community, you just might find the sort of people you’d like to associate with.
In May, a group of the Cervelo forum participants got together for their first face-to-face gathering, called “Beyond the Forum.” That I even learned about the event was more chance than purpose.
Last fall, as I was riding back to my motel room, I was riding alongside two guys headed in the same direction and we got to chatting. Turns out, they are RKP readers and they decided to reveal their plan to me. We stayed in touch and then one day in April I got a call to let me know that the event would happen and I was invited.
They’d dreamt up a gathering that any cyclist would enjoy. Riders flew in from all over the world (though most were North Americans) and met at a hotel in the suburbs of Los Angeles. Everyone got a custom Castelli kit designed just for the event. They had a couple of rides scheduled, group dinners, an afternoon watching the final stage of the Amgen Tour of California and a tour of the facility that produces Cervelo’s Rca frame.
That’s not all. The guys charmed the powers-that-be at Cervelo enough that the company sent out three representatives including Damon Rinard (above). The company blessed the gathering, giving them permission to put the Cervelo logo on the kits and use the Cervelo name in promotional materials.
I was happy enough to ride along with a bunch of new friends, but I have to say that having Rinard along was like getting a tour of the National Gallery with the head of acquisitions. The ride became a rolling Q&A in which I posed questions to Damon and he answered while the riders struggled between whether to ride hard or hang back and listen to his answer. The answers he gave did inform the reviews I published on the R3 and S3.
I suspect there’s a chance his ride would have been easier and faster if I hadn’t asked so many questions. I should probably apologize. I just don’t see that happening because I’d do it again (the ride and the questions) in a heartbeat.
The stops were just frequent enough to allow riders to chat and get to know each other a bit more.
Our loop took us down Topanga Canyon, out Pacific Coast Highway and up Mulholland Highway from the beach on a blissful May day. Late in the ride we came over a rise and there before us were racks, a tent, and food and drinks for us. It was perfectly positioned. And as we stood there, in a moment too surreal for a Hunter Thompson story, David Zabriskie arrived on his Cervelo. Everyone—including Zabriskie—wondered if something hadn’t been rigged. It was obvious the Beyond the Forum participants still hold Zabriskie in high esteeem, so they were wondering if the event organizers had planned this as an extra treat. After all, they’d gotten Damon Rinard plus a journalist to show up, so why not a Cervelo-riding ex-Garmin-Sharp rider? Zabriskie blinked as if he’d ridden into some mirage and asked several times just what the event was about and why they were there. He topped his bottles off after shaking hands and posing for a few pictures and then rode off into the canyons.
I’ve long believed that community is where you find it, what you make of it. And while this gathering might have been a small representation of what the Cervelo forum attracts, it was a terrific demonstration of what social media can foster.