Rock The Bike

Using Pedal Power with larger crowds.

From our vantage point the events world seems to be ever growing, and out of passion for spreading our bike message and in the interest of providing the best gear we can to our customers, we continue to test our activities with larger crowds. In this post we’ll share some of what we’ve learned about bringing Bike Blending and Pedal Powered music to larger events.

When we work at this scale we now go through a complete process that includes applying for a temporary health permit (ideally 2-3 weeks ahead of time to avoid late fees). The Health Permit process will vary in different cities, but in Oakland, it involves bringing a 3-bin wash station, a hot water insulated jug, enough cooler space to separate servable ice (ice that goes in smoothies) from the ice used to keep other ingredients cold. The enclosed tent shown above is also required. It also helps draw attention and support the beautiful hand-sewn sign.

Above: we set up our smoothie booth at the Maker Faire in San Mateo. Our crew of 3 served about 400 smoothies in 7 hours. Above: Carolina gives the ‘countdown’ to a teenager, encouraging him to crank out 5 more seconds of high energy pedaling.

Across the Bay, our crew of 4 entertained thousands of runners at the finish line of the SF Half Marathon, with a 5-bike, 4-speaker sound system.

Getting it there: On our smoothie booth, once all the extra smoothie jugs and coolers are accounted for, it gets harder and harder to bike it there. While Rock The Bike prides ourselves on replacing car trips with bike trips, we no longer use cargo bikes to transport the ingredients and supplies to our largest events. We now use the pickup truck, which can easily haul a full day’s supply of gear and food, and transport the crew as needed. You could probably do it with a station wagon too.

We shopped for this event at CostCo and got the bananas donated by Whole Foods, who were sponsoring the event. CostCo now sells a variety of organic and conventional foods and allows us to get close to wholesale on our ingredients cost. We spent about $300 on the smoothie ingredients and brought in about $900. Smoothies sold for $5 or $4 if you brought your own cup. We brought 2 Fender Blender Pros used a total of 6 of our professional grade High Performance pitchers.

The crew of 3 included 1 chef to prep the smoothies, 1 coach to take money and help people on and off the bikes, and a third floater to wash the pitchers or help coach.

By making tradeoffs like substituting pickup trucks for cargo bikes, and heading to CostCo versus the farmers’ market, we have been able to increase the number of smoothies we sell, giving many more people their first taste of Pedal Power. Stepping on a bike, pedaling, and accomplishing something awesome is an experience that has the potential to transform the way people think about their health and their energy use. Our priority at events is to provide this experience to lots of people, so that they feel great about what they can do with their own power.

On Sunday morning we were up before dawn to set up a 5-bike Pedal Powered DJ rig for the finish line of the San Francisco Marathon’s half marathon race.

Golden Gate Park was a perfect fit for Rock The Bike and El Arbol. The runners stayed, stretched, danced, took selfies, and pedaled all morning long. We even made a bike blended smoothie with the womens’ first place finisher. DJ Izzy Wise had a great ‘Global Bass’ set, very different from the Top 40 sound that runners may be used to at other races. Very San Francisco!

The fact that they had only run 13 miles, not 26, meant that the runners had more energy for us than when we have done the full marathon finish line. By using our Lithium batteries in combination with Pedal Power, we were able to vary the effort level so that runners got a satisfying ‘cool down’ from our bikes.

Technically speaking, we benefited greatly from having a large meadow to ourselves, i.e. having very little sound bleed to and from other activity areas. The sound from the Tree was able to reach out to all the runners getting their medals and reconnecting with family. And the announcer at JFK was over 100′ away and was still able to speak to the finishers without our music bothering him. El Arbol is essentially a Modified JBL PRX 635 and 612 in one. We coupled it with a Modified JBL PRX 618 XLF subwoofer, and then provided one more 612 to Izzy as a monitor.

I found the experience of being at the halfway point really energizing. I was at once experiencing the sweet celebrations of the 13-mile runners, and also rooting for the full marathon runners who were streaming by so beautifully.