With the onset of COVID-19, many events were canceled or postponed—including Eroica California, a huge cycling event located in Cambria, CA that was first moved from spring to fall 2020, then postponed to 2021. This event typically brings hundreds of cyclists to the Central Coast, inviting riders to enjoy the thrill and fatigue of vintage, gravel cycling and creating a huge boost for local lodging properties. Our team wanted to find a way to create a new attraction for cyclists who might be missing out on all of their canceled rides and races this year while also encouraging them to stay on the Central Coast.
To accomplish this, we created the Eroica Challenge, a free, self-guided event in which riders can come to the Central Coast, ride modified versions of the Eroica California routes, track their progress, and report back to receive a finisher’s medal, a 2020 Eroica poster, and be entered to win a free 2021 Eroica California ride.
First, we took the Eroica routes and rebuilt them on Strava, a social networking platform for cyclists where they can track their rides and join events with other cyclists. The Cycle Central Coast club on Strava allows riders to connect with our brand and participate in our events, including the Eroica Challenge. Any cyclist could sign up to ride one of our routes during the Challenge, and via the platform, we could verify which route they rode, ensuring that medals and posters only went to those who successfully completed the Challenge.
Once the Challenge was live, we enlisted two professional cyclist influencers with ties to the Central Coast to come ride and promote it. The Vegan Cyclist and his family were escaping Southern California fires and headed for the Central Coast, so we took advantage of his proximity and set him up with rooms and rides in the area that he could enjoy, in addition to food and activity recommendations. He posted frequently to his social media channels and took some great video, all while staying safe from smoke. Having ridden Eroica California in the past, Ali Tetrick stayed in San Simeon, one of Cycle Central Coast’s partner DMOs, and rode three different routes, including the Heroic Route from Eroica—the longest, most intense route of them all. She took video throughout her rides and posted frequently to her nearly 50k followers on Instagram, spreading the word about the Challenge. She also did a social media takeover of Cycle Central Coast’s Instagram, speaking directly to our audience and cross-promoting on her own channels. These influencer collaborations garnered more than 200 new followers for our account.