As many are aware PSIMET Wheels was given the opportunity to sponsor Vanderkitten Racing this season. Some of you in the know might find that to be a funny statement. It doesn’t usually seem like one would call putting in a ton of work and putting a large amount of financial capital out there “for free” an ‘opportunity’. Well, I think that may be what makes me a little different.
I decided a while back that I would need to sponsor more and more teams as the company grows. I pride myself as being the “racer’s choice” which requires that I have to put up. It’s just the norm in the industry. As with anything I do in life I tend to want to buck the status quo, f the paradigm so to speak. After all you never win by doing what everyone else already does. Ever. So with regards to sponsorship I saw an opportunity to embrace that tendency in myself – by supporting women and women’s teams.
The reasons are many. I find I describe it to people in different ways. One of my favorites is, “Take a Cat 3 male racer. They want the world and expect it. You give them a bike, wheels, kit, entries, and at the end of the year you’re left wondering what if anything that investment achieved. Not only that in reality the racer walks away fine with it as though they somehow deserved all of that because they have done well in some Cat 4 races in order to upgrade.”
“Now take a high end elite woman racer. Give her 5 minutes of your time to fix a problem with her bike before a race and she’s honestly thankful. Truly appreciates the effort and usually wants to strangely apologize for ‘putting you out’. If I get the opportunity to give them some wheels It does something. They do a great job as spokespeople for the brand. They are willing to listen and learn about product and offerings. They ask if there is anything more they can do….and they say thanks.”
These aren’t the only reasons. I personally find the racing more exciting at times. It seems like the races are more like what I enjoyed about the “old” men’s races – anyone at any time can actually have a really good or a really bad day. Anymore it just seems like the same guys always have really good days and the ones that have bad days just pack it in after a few laps knowing they’re done for the day.
By the time a men’s team reaches a high or elite level they usually have deals worked out with large OEMs. ”Hi, I have noticed you guys on Joe’s Body Shop Racing have really been killing it here in Nowheresville middle America’s weekly crit series. I’d love to get you on some of my product. You guys have an opening for a wheel sponsor?” “Gee, uh, thanks but we already penned a deal with ‘Speedy’ Wheels 6 years ago in the blood of our firstborn. Besides, I think I’ve heard of you, but…their rep said they’re the best so….”
Meanwhile on the women’s pro front you can practically walk up to the tops of the sport as they hang out after the race, just blending into the crowd and have a totally different conversation.
“Would it be possible to get you on my wheels?”
“Uh…I mean, YEAH, uh, I’d LOVE to, but….what do I have to pay? What’s the catch?”
“I’m sorry – didn’t you just win the last 3 races I saw you in?”
“Yeah. I kind of had a deal with company X last year and was kind of talking to company S. They seemed like they wanted to do something but I haven’t heard for sure. Starting to think it might not happen.”
“I’m sorry – didn’t you just win the last 3 races I saw you in? Didn’t you just give a long interview on the podium? Didn’t those kids just come up to you and ask for your autograph?”
“What’s your point?”
Like I said there are a ton of reasons I do it. In short an opportunity came up to sponsor Vanderkitten. On the surface for some it would be an opportunity to support a team that races at an elite level here in the US. For me it just seemed like more. It’s an opportunity to support a women’s team that is headed up by a brand that, simply put in their own words, feels that racing women kick ass. After some small discussions it became apparent that this is what I wanted to do. One of those jump moments. Thank God I’m not an account making decisions based off of some tireless analysis of risk, but rather a real businessman who still knows how to take a chance based on their gut.
The timing is never right. The money is never really just sitting there waiting to be used on projects like this. We all know I’m a small company. We all know that sometimes I’m twisting a spoke wrench while bouncing a baby bouncy seat with my foot, or feeding with a bottle while on a conference call. That’s where we seem to be in this country right now.
Just when you’re staring at a pile of work, bills, materials, project, etc you get a picture like the one I posted above. Starla Teddergreen interacting with some locals/kids who came out to watch this whole strange little bike race thing that was running through their town in El Savador. Fully kitted up, exuding awesomeness, confidence, and humility with a giant smile….on top of a set of PSIMET wheels….I smile.
So….forget the details. I can’t really explain it right I guess, but THIS is why I have and will continue to support women’s racing. Thanks for reading.