“If opportunity knocks and he’s not home; opportunity waits…”
–The Most Interesting Man in the World commercial for Dos Equis Beer
We’re headed to the 2019 Tour of Utah (August 12-18) and here’s the reason why: Floyd Landis is the most interesting man in the cycling world.
It’s an over-the-top claim but shouldn’t be overlooked because it has to do with the big picture of North American cycling as opposed to narrowly focusing on the struggle of one of the best teams in the Americas to get into Utah. I’m insisting we talk about what Floyd is offering cycling these days, not about efforts to exclude him.
I’ve been thinking about this since January. Floyd and I were talking on the phone and he told me that he was planning to open Floyd’s of Lancaster Café, a cycling-themed coffee house that will sell Floyd’s of Leadville CBD products and Van Dessel bikes, including their new Passepartout eBike.
Floyd’s decision to open a café in his childhood home of Lancaster County was interesting, not just because coffee sells, or that coffee and cycling have a long illustrious history. Coffee houses were integral to the development of the public sphere in the 18th century. Cafés were key public places where people could meet, read newspapers and talk about their families, the community, the economy, politics and so forth. Floyd’s of Lancaster Café is meant to be a descendant of that tradition as its announcement coincided with the commitment that Floyd’s of Leadville would purchase hemp for their CBD line from struggling farmers in the area. Home, community, cycling and Floyd’s business integrated within a place for people to hang out, grab a coffee and talk about what’s going on in their lives. Strikes me that places for open discussion are important these days, and Floyd’s café brings cycling and cyclists to the table. He’s growing the sport.
If the Floyd’s of Lancaster Café integrates cycling with local needs, that too is consistent with the support Floyd’s of Leadville gives to gravel and adventure racing–what I often refer to as a North American brand of participatory cycling dedicated to local businesses, farm-to-table folks, local breweries, distilleries, vineyards… all wrapped up in a festival come-meet-the-community and have a good time experience. Floyd’s of Leadville has sponsored and made agreements with most of the major gravel and adventure races in the US. In the age of electric bikes, FoL have taken the next step and bridged bikes with motosports via sponsorship of Tyler O’Hara. Yes, they want to expand the audience of their CBD products but is anyone else effectively making these connections?
Speaking of connections, Floyd’s of Leadville is also at the forefront of bringing sponsorship from the wellness industry into the sport of cycling, and they’re doing this at a time when the North American bike industry needs support and new sectors for sponsorship. This is where our team fits in to Floyd’s activities… sort of. Floyd was not deterred when Canadian sports regulations forbid the direct advertising of CBD products. The team was simply named Floyd’s Pro Cycling instead of Floyd’s of Leadville. Floyd’s sponsorship was personal and it came with no strings attached. In fact he has remained at arms length while offering help with design, marketing, logistics and even accommodations at Dirty Kanza. He has not only given back to the sport by supporting Floyd’s Cycling, but he has also made opportunities in cycling more visible to others in the wellness industry. Opportunity is knocking while we wait for sport regulators to catch up with regulations that take into account the differences between hemp and marijuana products.
Of course Floyd’s image and Floyd’s of Leadville have benefitted from sponsoring our team. But I’m downplaying that side of the story here because Floyd and Floyd’s of Leadville have not exploited Floyd’s sponsorship of the team to the full extent possible… in fact they’ve downplayed it. Like the Café, our team is a place for young riders to hang out and do their thing. As ESPN’s Bonnie Ford wrote of Floyd’s sponsorship,
Call it paying things forward. Call it paid advertising. Call it a thumb in the eye of those who would prefer he stay out of cycling. Call it all of the above. There’s no blood test for sincerity, but Landis says he hopes people will recognize his motivation to help. Younger riders, he says, remind him of a time when riding his bike was an uncomplicated endeavor.
There’s no blood test for sincerity, but we’re in the Tour of Utah because the most interesting person in North American cycling trusts Gord Fraser and has sponsored our team. He also trusts his friend Roger Worthington, who was a central figure in the establishment of the Dana Point GP and whose company Worthy Brewing is a presenting sponsor of our team. Floyd agreeing to let the team race the Tour of Utah as Worthy Pro Cycling allows us to showcase a company that recently helped save one of the most popular races on the US calendar: the Cascades Cycling Classic. Don’t forget that the beloved race in beautiful Bend, OR operates in conjunction with the CCC Youth Foundation whose mission is to support cycling programs for children and youths that encourage community involvement. In fact the Worthy Brewing restaurant serves as a community meeting place for those engaging with youth and “earth-friendly non-profits.”
So here’s a way to sum things up: Floyd and his companies are supporting cycling financially; helping to raise the profile of gravel and a North American brand of the sport that has untapped crossovers with motosports; he’s opening the door for sponsorship from the wellness industry; and now he’s stepped aside for a brewing company that shares his commitment to integrating cycling with local communities. So yeah, we’ll wear Worthy Brewing on our chests at the Tour of Utah. What a great opportunity granted to so many of us.
Stay thirsty my friends.