Besides running a successful design firm, Damion Hickman also runs one of the biggest club teams in Southern Califorina, Team Velo Sport. The 700 members blanket the sport of cycling, with riders from numerous disciplines: mountain biking, time trials, cyclocross, and road. Don't be intimidated by the big number, racing is not a requirement to join Team Velo Sport. We checked in with Hickman on how you can join, what inspired his team, and what's up for 2011.
New kits look great! Are there any new features to the design this year? Fabric or cut?
Thanks! No big changes other than some redesigned back pockets. We've stuck with what works. Squadra has been a great vendor and apparel partner for us. They've jumped thru hoops to get us the massive size order we place every year.
Did you design the kits?
Yes I did. The toughest part is making the sponsor logos look good next to all of the other logos.
Who are the team leaders this year for moutain and road?
Tim Zandbergen is our mtb team captain and we're taking applications for the road team captain right now. We also have specific board members who handle different divisions within our team such as Nancy Seidler and Ian Keith who handle our local TT races. Marty Brown runs the state TT races and is affiliated with our group as well. We have a junior development segment of the team run by Jeff Shein and new for 2010 was the addition of a Cyclocross component headed up by Scott Reeves. Our Masters road team is run by Mark Hoffenberg but I think the structure may change a bit for 2011 for that segment of the team.
If I ride a mt bike, why should I join team Velo Sport?
We're one of the few teams in So Cal that offer race reimbursement. With a club comprised of over 700 active members, we have great support at all the local and state races. From food to mechanical help and comradery, it's hard to find a better organization for race support on a large scale. For the riders who don't race, we have events all year long—organized weekly rides and weekend trail work.
Rock n Road is the main shop you are affiliated with. Why?
Good question. Most teams have an affiliation of one level or another with a shop. We've worked with Rock n Road Cyclery for two reasons: They have 4 stores that encompass Orange County, and that's key for so many team members. The other reason is Matt Ford (one of RNR's owners). He is also an owner of Team VeloSport—along with myself and Bob Kmetz. Rock n Road and VeloSport have almost morphed together in a lot of ways for our team members.
What horse power do you have in putting on the US CUP. I know your studio did the branding, but other then that, how are you involved?
The US CUP is another relationship for me personally that has a lot of SHO-AIR overlap. I work with Ty Kady on a few different levels. Being that SHO-AIR is our team's title sponsor, I work with him on team stuff and then I have to put on my graphic designer/marketing suit and work with him in relation to designing the look and feel of the US CUP collateral. It works well being so involved with both the US Cup and SHO AIR because I'm constantly fielding questions from our club on events, etc.
What new sponsors do you have on board this year?
This year, SHO-AIR has stepped up their commitment level so they've taken a few more spots on the jersey and we've kept the majority of our 2010 sponsors. We have a few new ones though - No Limits is on the jersey courtesy of SHO-AIR and AltaVest is a new sponsor. They are a commodity trading company.
TeamVelo sport is growing like gang busters. What is the team membership up to now?
I think the final count was mid 700s at the start of December. If we stay on the same growth track, we should be around 800 - 850 for 2011. I think we already have about 400 people signed up for 2011 and that's just the past three weeks of taking membership forms.
Giving back to the team members and the community is a big part your mission.
I know of Ride for Hunger and trail maintenance meet ups. What other highlights do you have to share?
That's part of the beauty of partnering up with Rock n Road and SHO-AIR. Between the three organizations, we're able to really do a lot more for the community and for the team. The Hunger Ride was started by Rock n Road and naturally, it was a great fit for the team to jump on board with. This year, SHO-AIR provided support and breakfast. I personally work with numerous individuals on the trail maintenance. From County and Park rangers to the Forest Service, we've logged in many hours to help after rainstorms and trimming back overgrowth. I think it's always a blast to help cut new trails and fix up the trails we ride all the time. We've also been involved with different events such as helping out at local cycling events (whether it's put on by our organization or not) and we've been involved with the MS Ride in a big way.
I see that you are giving "rewards" for National titles this year, that's great! Were there any National champs last year?
Yes - our title sponsor, SHO-AIR has generously offered to kick in cold hard cash for National and World Champions this year. I don't believe we had any National Champions in 2010 but we've had quite a few over the past 6 or 7 years. We even have had a few World Champions as well.
Loads of raffles and give away happens at team meetings as well...
What do you think was the best swag give away to date?
Oh yeah, for sure! We have 4 team meetings plus the end of the year banquet and we raffle off free stuff at the end of each meeting. From bike parts to training supplements to sponsors products and services, we've definitely given away a ton of stuff. This past year, we gave away an 8 day vacation trip to Mexico as well as a few big ticket prizes. Bikes, frames, wheels, etc. The first year the team was put together, we had a local jeweler as a sponsor. I was the lucky recipient of a brand new Breitling watch from a raffle!
One of the coolest things about the team is the amount of thank you's we get back from the members. Sometimes it's easy to overlook the amount of volunteer time that people put into the team but it always makes me feel good to hear and to get the emails from the team members telling me how great the team is and thanking me for the board members time. I suppose that makes it worth the effort for me.
For more information on joining Team VeloSport, contact [email protected] or go to www.teamvelosport.com.