Fat biking is a relatively new phenomenon among the biking world. While its popularity is gaining momentum, its riders still make up a small number of the cycling community. For decades, the snowy months of winter meant it was the “offseason” for many riders and time to trade in their bike for alternative training options such as indoor trainers or spin classes.
While those are still viable options for winter fitness, nothing can replace the pure exhilaration that comes with actually riding a bike. Fat biking has made that feeling possible all year long.
Frosty’s Fat Bike Race Series started in 2014 as a Utah-based event to help build the sport’s popularity. Over the past half-decade, Frosty’s has hosted races in locations such as Powder Mountain, Nordic Valley Resort, Wolf Creek Ranch, Sundance Mountain Resort and many others.
While the sport continued to grow and fat biking become more commonplace, Randal Gibb, owner of Frosty’s Fat Bike Race Series and Mad Dog Cycles, had bigger dreams in mind. “I would love to see the sport in the Olympics someday!” he said. Growing the sport on an international level would be fantastic, to say the least.
That’s where public relations comes in.
Think big, then think BIGGER
As I mentioned above, merely growing the sport locally wasn’t going to make an exponential impact on the sport’s growth. Setting high, yet realistic and measurable, objectives can make all the difference.
In the case of Frosty’s, it took goals not only to increase the sport locally to help drive fat bike sales into the shop but to help elevate the status of the sport as a whole. This strategy not only grew the sport, but it also helped Frosty’s and its partnering shop, Mad Dog Cycles, become industry experts and opinion leaders in fat biking.
This sort of rebranding the image is at the heart of public relations and is what jump-started the race series’ expedited growth.
Think collaboration, not competition
A few years after Frosty’s had begun hosting fat bike events, the perfect opportunity presented itself. Tourism Jasper, the primary travel and commerce branch for the Alberta, Canada, National Parks, reached out in hopes of bringing Frosty’s up north.
After a few initial meetings, a three-year contract was signed to bring Frosty’s Fat Bike Race Series to Jasper National Park.
While the opportunity to start growing the sport outside the U.S. was exciting, planning such a large-scale event across borders presented challenges. The best strategy was to partner with Jasper-based businesses to help support and promote the event.
Instead of trying to rent bikes through Frosty’s Utah-based shop, it partnered with local bike shops in Jasper to participate in the events and negotiated exclusive discounts of fat bike rentals for Frosty’s racers.
This strategy not only provided the racers with a more affordable rental option, but it also gave the shops a chance to promote their business. This sense of belonging that the shops felt with the event led to them exceeding expectations of them supporting the events.
This formula was repeated for hotel and restaurant partners as well and saw similar effects.
Get the right influencers on board
While brand ambassadors were crucial to Frosty’s growth, getting pro riders and influencers on board was the next step to taking this event to the next level.
Pro riders such as Bend, Oregon’s, Emma Maaranen were eager to participate in such an event. By providing them with a VIP experience, they, in turn, helped promote the event through their various marketing channels and participated in all the activities.
When speaking about the growth and potential of fat biking, Maaranen stated, “I’ve found that fat biking is the most approachable bike that’s out there.”
While fat biking may still have a long way to go before we see it in the Olympics, you can see the impact that public relations had on Frosty’s, taking it from a small, slowly growing local event to a can’t-miss international fat biking experience.
The good news: These tips can be universally applied for similar results across different industries. Give them a try and let us know in the comments below.
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Tyler Thorpe was born and raised in America’s best city, Ogden, Utah, and is a recent public relations and nonprofit management graduate from Brigham Young University. He currently works full-time as the communications director for Mad Dog Cycles and part-time as the assistant marketing director for his family’s nonprofit, JUST-a-BREAK from Cancer. In his free time, he loves traveling and hanging out with his wife, Ashlyn, and dog, Zion. He also enjoys mountain biking, making videos or watching the Eagles and Jazz #GoBirds!