The event was born of my affection for Porter’s flagship event RioSwap, where every year the whole of the bike community in Northern Colorado converged on the Rio to trade bike parts and war stories over margaritas. I always delighted in the wide array of folks who came out for RioSwap, from dirt bags to roadies, to hipster kids, to kids and parents and grandparents, to city leaders to shop staff to pros and everybody else you can imagine. I was really interested in trying to figure out how to capture that spirit on a regular basis and channel it into making NoCo an even better, safer, and friendlier place to ride.
At the same time, I’d become sort of a winter cycling expert (or know-it-all, depending who you ask) and was getting asked to write and speak regularly on tips and tricks and gear. I was always grateful to be asked, and eager to share my hard won insights to make it a little easier for someone considering taking the plunge.
The bummer was that most of the time I was talking to 5 to 10 people, most of whom were already winter commuters. Likewise, when I was representing NCCE and talking about racing, I found that I spent a lot of my time talking to small crowds of people who were already pretty well informed. Nothing wrong with that, but I was confident there was a better way to get people engaged.
In a big, active bike town like Fort Collins, one of the big challenges is getting everyone together and fostering an ongoing sense of community. I’ve been a roadie, a messenger, a tourer, a gravel rider, a team manager, a race promoter, a parent who taught a kid to ride, an event manager, and now an advocacy leader. And all of those various experiences have informed how I do my job, and they reinforce my conviction of how important it is that we all work together to break through the barriers we face in creating streets and communities that are truly safe for bike riders and pedestrians of all ages and abilities and in all neighborhoods.
From that interest in fostering a sense of connectedness, we hatched YGR Live, initially as an extension of Porter’s YGR brand. In the first few years we developed a pretty reliable formula- start with community news and events, presented by the orgs and clubs themselves, and then present 3 features: something sporty, something informational, something weird, etc, and keep it moving! In my mind, it’s always better to leave the audience wanting to learn more than to leave em checking their watches.
In those first few years we talked racing, we talked trail work, we had a surprisingly emotional conversation with the Rist Canyon Fire Chief in the wake of the High Park Fire, we talked Pro Challenge, we hung out with pros like Georgia Gould, and the more stories we shared, the more we realized we were only scratching the surface.
Life happened and we took a hiatus for a couple of years between USAPC stages, but when I joined Bike Fort Collins, resurrecting the show was one of my top priorities. I saw so much potential in YGR Live and we’re now 4 installments into the the second phase and it’s been a total blast so far. The only challenge has been that it became apparent early on that we’d pulled in everyone who knew the YGR brand and it was now more of a limiter (“what does YGR stand for?” we were asked all the time). Maybe it was time to re-brand in a way that invited a bigger, wider swath of folks to come and listen and share.
With that in mind I’m thrilled to invite everyone to the debut of the NoCo Bike Show! If you came to YGR Live, it should look pretty familiar. After years of roaming the Earth as nomads, we’re settling into our new forever-home at Wolverine Farm Letterpress and Publick House. They’re like-minded bike friendly folks who believe in community so it’s a perfect fit.
Bikes are such powerful tools, literally and socially and politically, that the thought of building an authentic connected bike culture that includes everyone who rides, for whatever reason, is really daunting. But it’s also baked right into the vision of Bike Fort Collins. We’re barely scratching the surface of sharing all the ways that folks connect with bikes and how bikes help people overcome barriers of all sorts.
I’m so thrilled for the support that you’ve all shown YGR Live, and I look forward to growing together with the NoCo Bike Show.
Chris J Johnson
Bike Fort Collins