On November 15th we kicked off the Campfire Cycling showroom and repair center in grand style by hosting a screening of I Just Want to Ride with Lael Wilcox, Rue Kaladyte and Chris Seistrup. We had over 200 folks show up and had a blockbuster of a party. For a business used to selling through a website, it was quite a shock to the system to get thrusted into full speed ahead in-person events mode.
We captured some great footage from the event and weaved together a little film capturing the essence of the evening. Filmed and edited by Alec Robinson with Jen Sawyer on B-roll and time lapse photography by Ray Bertram.
The story of our launch is a story of the forces of our evolving business converging at the right moment with the bikepacking community most dramatically embodied in the dynamic duo that is Lael and Rue.
To prepare for this special moment, our goal was to throw a great party within a fully visioned showroom. Pulling together these two elements for a deadline with a small crew on a tight budget proved to be a monumental task.
Over the spring and summer, we had cleaned and prepped our showroom space, painted the walls, surfaced the floor and built the majority of the displays. About 2 months out, the forthcoming launch really began to loom. To bring it all together we hustled to finish off many remaining details including the bicycle displays, the lighting and merchandizing all of the products.
Meanwhile, to bring together a great party we were also busy with party planning details of food and beverage service, designing Campfire Cycling gifts, recruiting our volunteer crew, marketing the event and much more. By the launch we were running on fumes. But the excitement of it all coming together kept us going.
On the day of the launch, we were buzzing with anticipation, rushing around finishing off all of the last minute details. At about 4PM, the preshow began as our volunteer crew arrived. The crew was instructed on their tasks and introduced to each other. Chris Seistrup arrived first with Lael and Rue arriving a bit later. We all sat down for a meal and to work out the final details before showtime.
At 6PM it was showtime! The crowd piling up at the door jarred us into the reality that this was really happening. The parking lot quickly filled up as the guests began pouring into the showroom.
We had kegs of beer from Catalina Brewing Company and campfire themed hors d’oeuvre from Feast. All of a sudden, swarms of folks were munching, mingling and browsing in our new showroom just as we imagined.
Rue and Lael had invited quite a few of her Tucson friends. And the other guests were excited to meet the two of them and snap a pick with the legend.
Chris Seistrup had a good group of friends as well. Chris’s sponsor, George and Jalene of Binary Bicycles, were at the event. Campfire Cycling is a Binary dealer and we were excited to get our first two frames, a medium and large Super B delivered. A few other Binary sponsored riders were also in attendance, John Schilling and Beto Villegas.
After everyone had had some time to settle in and the showroom was really getting packed, we somewhat dramatically rolled up the garage door to reveal our campfire on the “patio”. Folks began streaming outside where we had chili on the ready to serve up. After filling up on chili, folks made s’mores ’round the fire.
With the crowd dispersed to the patio, we scrambled to get organized for the screening. We setup the chairs, lowered the screen and adjusted the lighting, it was show time.
Our graphic designer, Ian Crombie, was acting as our MC for the evening. After everyone was settled in, Ian welcomed everyone and introduced me. I gave a recount of my business and bikepacking journey that had evolved into Campfire Cycling. After speaking for hopefully not too long, I handed the mic back to Ian to kick off the movie.
If you haven’t seen the movie already, you really should take the time to watch it. The film starts out by explaining the general rules and structure of the Tour Divide race. Things really get interesting as the dramatic aspects of this race are unveiled. A freak snow storm and a social media controversy collide at Brush Mountain Lodge. This turning point defines the race for Lael and it is exceptional to see how she handles the adversity.
After the movie concluded to great applause, Lael, Rue and Chris got up on stage to answer questions. There was some great banter between the three of them while they shared insights into the experience of racing such a grueling event.
After their talk, we wrapped things up by introducing our upcoming calendar of events, explaining our group ride for the next day using Dylan Cobean’s mapping system TucsonPathways.org and running a raffle with prizes donated by Revelate Designs, Bikepacking Roots, Binary Bicycles, RAB, Pearl iZUMi, Carradice and Campfire Cycling.
To cap things off, we handed out a swag bag and a choice of Campfire Cycling hat or t-shirt to all of our guests.
Looking back, hosting this blockbuster event was a truly amazing way to kick off our transition from an eCommerce focused business into a true bicycle camping outfitter. In the days following the event we lead a ride and attended Tucson’s Fall Bike Swap. We could feel a real warmth and excitement from everyone who had been out to the event. We knew that the word about Campfire Cycling was spreading and we can’t be more appreciative to Lael, Rue and Chris for bringing their energy to our kickoff and to Rue and Lael for putting together an amazing film.