Cycling Plus and MBUK, published by Our Media, will each name their overall Rider of the Year, Newcomer of the Year and a Lifetime Achievement award.
Upgrade has always supported events with various brands, why do you see this as a key element of what you guys do?
Well, simply put, we’re cyclists and we like cycling events. Events are a vital part for cycling as a whole of course, gathering likeminded people together to enjoy riding a bike. Simple as that really, whether that’s a dirt jump contest, a gravel weekender, an ultra-endurance challenge across Europe, cyclo-cross leagues, a grass-roots fun MTB ride-out, local DH races, or a four-day MTB festival like the Malverns.
We’re involved with as much as we can, and sometimes I forget how much we actually do support here at Upgrade. One weekend recently we had four completely different cycling events we were sponsoring – maybe we do too much! These events often aren’t self-sustainable, so they all need help in some form or another, and it helps keep cycling going as a whole.
From a brand perspective, what benefits does supporting events or awards offer?
I always try and align the right brand with the right event – it’s a two-way relationship of course, and we always prefer working with event organisers who at least appreciate what we’re helping with – plugging our brand at events in the right way, on the day itself, and on their social media channels. It all helps.
We get coverage for our brands, we connect with wider audiences, bigger communities, and get the names out there and be involved with more bike riders – who’ll then remember our brand when it comes to buying bike products. We’re the good guys.
Why are these rider awards particularly important?
I felt it was high time for something new. The aspiration with the new Rider of The Year awards is that it’ll be a vital event on the calendar, at the end of a hectic season. We’re working with market-leading magazine and website titles, titles who have been around since day one, who are awarding riders who have made a real difference that year.
For both Cycling Plus and MBUK Magazines, Bike of The Year is a big deal annually and awards the bikes – now it’s time to celebrate the people in cycling and honour riders who are pushing cycling forwards. The people who have pushed themselves, achieved, succeeded, or been a huge inspiration to others – now is the time to celebrate those people.
It’s also deliberately limited in terms of awards as well – RoTY isn’t split into loads of sub-categories which then slices up the cake too much and almost diminishes each award – this is limited, it’s exceptional, winning one of these RoTY awards will be a huge deal.
The Newcomer award and the Rider of The Year award have been voted on by the readers of the magazines, and they tell me that response has been huge, while the Lifetime Achievement award has been selected by the editorial team – so these are legitimate accolades. If you win one, you mean something to the cycling community as a whole – and this importance will only build year on year.
Why is this the right event for Lezyne to sponsor?
To be honest, it would be a little bit strange if RoTY was sponsored by say a large bike brand for example, and then the voting worked out that the winning rider was sponsored by that brand. People would immediately question the validity of that award for sure, and rightly so.
Lezyne is a successful P&A brand with incredibly strong following, yet its marketing doesn’t rely on sponsoring major athletes, so it’s the perfect fit for title sponsorship of the Awards. It just makes sense to my mind – and of course, it’s superb brand marketing, part of what makes Lezyne what it is.
What are you looking forward to with this event?
It’ll be a great opportunity to get behind the riders and the community and get likeminded people together in a venue and just celebrate bike riders. The shortlists of riders are all amazing, the lists are a proper who’s who of cycling right now, and they are all justified winners in their own right – anyone of them could win. We shall see on the night who will eventually take home one of just six RoTY trophies!
On the collaborative effort
It’s been great to work with the magazine editorial staff on both MBUK and Cycling Plus, plus Helen Cousins and especially Jo Penny on this project and bring it to life – they’ve worked so hard on this. We’re all on the same page about how this’ll work and what it’ll do for cycling and riders, the industry, bike people, the mags, BikeRadar, and more. I can’t wait for the event itself – November 16th at Our Media HQ in Bristol, invite only – to see it all come to life.