The Fixed Gear Triple Crown — September 2-4, 2022
By James Grady
In mid-summer 1976, two bearded young men walked into a room in Menlo Park and plopped several boxes of electronic equipment onto a table. Amongst their boxes were big dreams and plans to change the world. But instead of taking their electronics directly to market, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak took their creation to a meeting of like-minded technologists, the Home Brew Computer Club. Jobs and Wozniak knew if they were going to be successful, they would first have to win over the community to which they belonged. Acceptance would make or break their fledgling Apple Computer Company.
As of this writing, Apple Inc. is the largest company in the world, with a market cap of $2.379 trillion. While it’s not been a straight shot to the top, we might not know of Apple today without the Homebrew Computer Club. The meetings gave people a common cause for gathering, which both created a crucible for new ideas and engendered a spirit of community. In anthropology, this spirit — or common cause felt by a group of people — is known as communitas. Simply put, communitas is the feeling of belonging to something larger than oneself.
Photo: Erik Mathy | @erikhmathy
Spectator sporting events are the perfect example of communitas: Whether through the joy of victory or the agony of defeat, people are joined by their shared experience. Since the earliest times, humans have organized themselves into communities; the desire to belong is hardcoded into us.
I started producing cycling events in 2014, and as interest from riders and spectators grew over the years, I came to an important realization: I wasn’t producing bike races that happened to attract spectators, I was producing a community event that happened to feature a bike race. This inversion of thinking caused me to change my approach to these events; while still maintaining a high-quality race for participants, I started focusing attention on what would be most enjoyable for spectators.
And don’t get me wrong, there’s not a hard line between “riders” and “spectators.” Even if they’re not riding bikes in a race, spectators are still active participants in events. Like the technical wizards at the Homebrew Computer Club, spectators spell success or death for an event. There is a virtuous cycle between riders and spectators: The more entertaining the riders, the more it draws in the observers. As they get more invested in the race, spectators will yell, cheer, and create the positive energy that competitors feed off.
On Labor Day weekend in 2022, I will be producing my biggest event ever: the Fixed Gear Triple Crown. The main event, Mission Crit, will be joined by two new events to form a three-day, three-event omnium. The overall best-performing athletes will be crowned Fixed Gear World Champions. There will additionally be other events — a $10k track night, an alleycat, huge parties — totaling six days of events for participants.
This is a lot of stuff, so why do it all at once? I think of this more like a music festival than individual events. Stacking events in one place (San Francisco) at one time (September 2-4) allows people’s dollars to go farther and their time commitment to be more specific (as opposed to a series that stretches across the calendar). The biggest reason, though, is because having everyone in one place at one time, sharing in experiences over multiple days — the joy of victory and the agony of defeat — supercharges communitas.
The specifics of the Homebrew Computer Club meetings have faded, and more important than remembering the winners and losers of the Fixed Gear Triple Crown, those who attended will talk about the excitement and joy they felt through the shared experience of being there.
Bicycle Law is proud to be a long time supporter of Mission Crit and a sponsor of the Fixed Gear Triple Crown.
About the author: James Grady is Bicycle Law’s Messenger of Bike (@bicycle.law). He engages and educates the community about Bicycle Law’s relentless commitment to justice for all who ride. James lives in San Francisco with his beautiful wife and rambunctious toddler.
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