Thursday, August 16, 2007

Thanks to the Sponsors

Back in January of this year we decided to pursue sponsorship opportunities for our Bicycle Geography trip. We did a lot of research and decided to go for it even though we planned to fund the whole adventure ourselves. We realized it would be good professional development to seek out gear sponsors. In addition, we knew it would provide opportunities to share our trip with others besides friends and family.

Working off the best examples we could find, a small set of media materials was developed. See the Sponsorship page on our website for our bread and butter; a introductory postcard and press release:
Drop us a line at if you'd like an example of the detailed media letters we sent out.

Here are some things that worked for us as we sought out sponsorship:
Keep it simple – get to the point and be direct
Be professional – spend a little extra time to make your materials and message worth reviewing
Believe in your cause – be committed to your goal when you share it with others
Take Chances – all they can say is no – go for it!

We’ve had a couple good laughs about going through this process. Why? Because we really don’t take ourselves that seriously. A press release? Come on, isn’t that for important people…

Anyway, after we had our materials together, we (Chris) started contacting vendors. Through phone calls and emails he followed up on every postcard we sent out. He knew that it would be up to him to keep up with them, not the other way around. Of the people he talked with, Chris was pleased to find out that they were generally interested in our trip even if they couldn’t help us. Those positive responses really kept us motivated when things were getting too surreal and chaotic.

So, after starting with about 30 gear companies we ended up receiving “pro deals” from four different sponsors. See below for a short description of each one:

Honey Stinger: Makers of honey based energy foods.
We’ve been using the bars and gels all spring and summer. We like the instant energy without the sugar rush.
Favorite flavors: chocolate and strawberry gels and apple-cinnamon bars.

Outdoor Research: Outdoor gear company based in Seattle, Wa.
We loved our OR gear well before we partnered with them. This summer we’ve been able to test a lot of our trip gear. Overall, we really like the simple design of every product.
Some of our favorite products so far:
Hydro DryComp AirX compression sacks
Exped Ibis Sleeping Bag
Alias Cap
Wool T-Shirts – Men’s Sequence, Women’s Essence
DryComp Summit Sack - compression stuff sack that doubles as a backpack

In addition to producing quality gear, OR is involved in the outdoor community. Through the website,, they promote “self-propelled adventure”.

Schwalbe Tires: Bicycle Tire Company started in Germany in the early 1900s.
Just about everyone doing an extended bike tour is using Schwalbe tires. We’re ready to find out what it’s all about.
This summer we’ve been running the Racing Ralph tires on our full suspension bikes. They ride really well on the hard-packed, smooth trails. Once the trip starts, we’ll be using the Marathon XR tires.

Brunton: Wyoming based company that makes quality camping gear and instruments.We’re really wanted to incorporate solar power into our trip and were really excited to partner with Brunton. Chris has done a fair amount of research to connect the Solaris solar panel with our computer, camera, iPods and miscellaneous batteries.
Once again, we'd really like to thank the companies that have decided to partner with us. It has really raised the level of excitement for our trip.
We also hope this post is helpful to anyone who is planning a big adventure and might be interested in acquiring sponsorship.

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