Since Covid-19 struck and restrictions were imposed throughout society Oslo Dawn Patrol has been on hold. It hasn’t been the time for group rides with 30+ people.
But things are turning to the better know, and on Tuesday we took the first small step towards getting Oslo Dawn Patrol back on the road again. There are still quite strict limits on how many people can gather and the Norwegian Cycling Federation does not recommend group rides just yet. But I had an idea of getting people out cycling early and keep the spirit around Dawn Patrol alive. I thought about doing it already early on in the lock down (back in the beginning of April), but realized that we weren’t ready for it then. But now was the time!
Svartskog Kolonial is a small countryside cafe and shop, which sits very close to the normal Dawn Patrol route. But obviously it’s usually closed when we pass it around 6.15am. But this week they were so kind to open their cafe and out door seating between 6am and 7.30am for us. Within that time frame early birds arrived for coffee, waffles, cinnamon buns, smoothies etc. had a chat with all the people they haven’t been able to ride with for two months. I didn’t arrange any group riding out there. People were to make their own way and I set it as a requirement that they arrived alone or maximum 5 riders together. I think most people actually respected that.
Throughout the morning around 40 people dropped by and it was super cosy. The feedback was phenomenal and there has been numerous requests to do it again. So I guess we’ll do it again soon 🙂 An out door coffee event with social distance was superb. Just what we needed!
With the strong COVID-19 restrictions that were implemented 10 days ago in Norway came also the inevitable cancellation of Oslo Dawn Patrol. This was a very easy decision! In the Facebook group for all who’ve joined Oslo Dawn Patrol at least once, I immediately posted the below message:
Shortly after, this was followed by restrictions in the group to organize group rides. It’s such a shame that I had to limit the activity in the group this way. But there was no choice. I cannot risk having Oslo Dawn Patrol connected to violations of the COVID-19 restrictions in Norway. I just hope that the algorithm of Facebook doesn’t kill the group completely over the next weeks or months due to lower activity.
Luckily a good friend – and graphic designer – (www.jenskruse.dk) was quick to re-design a temporary Oslo Dawn Patrol logo for us. So until further notice its Solo Dawn Patrol.
All that being said, I’m already in planning mode for a big come back social ride. DARE Bikes Europe has committed to provide service car and I hope to come up with something that can really bring us all together and out on the bike again. Can’t wait!
A few weeks ago I called for sponsors of Oslo Dawn Patrol. Not the entire event, but just someone to pick up the coffee bill. A few actually did reach out to get more information about this. But I also had the chance to discuss with a number of trust worthy and knowledgeable people in my network.
Based on the feedback I’ve had I’ve decided to kill the idea of sponsors. I don’t want Oslo Dawn Patrol to be a commercial event. It’s an environment where people join because of cycling and the social community. And I want it to stay like that.
Therefore, there will be no sponsoring of Oslo Dawn Patrol. It’s a commercial free zone. We are there to ride our bikes and just have a great time together.
I am often being asked whether I’d build club or team based on Oslo Dawn Patrol. But until know I’ve rejected the idea. And I still do – because I want it to be an open social cycling event for everyone. If I change it to a team or club there will suddenly be a barrier for joining. And that’s not the purpose of it. The whole idea is that we meet. We ride. We socialize.
All that being said, I’ve realized that there might be a potential for inviting sponsors to host the coffee we are having at Supreme Roastworks every week. During the summer season (April-October) we are a crowd of between 30 and 50 people hitting the cafe. Until now we’ve all paid our own coffee and whatever we may have. The total spending of the group is in the area of 1.000,- to 1.500,- kr each time. This is where I’d like sponsors to chip in. It doesn’t have to be the same sponsor every week. It can change. I’m open to anything. I just want the people joining Oslo Dawn Patrol to have great morning and to be able continue their day with a good feeling. And I don’t think a cup of coffee sponsored by someone with a commercial interest is going to ruin that – rather the opposite!
Of course a sponsor would need some sort of exposure. They won’t get access to the naming convention. Oslo Dawn Patrol is called Oslo Dawn Patrol. But the sponsor will get a number of honorable mentions – both in real life and in social media. And at Supreme Roastworks we’ll arrange a prominently positioned sign around the ODP coffee station. It might even be an option with a small stand where people can get more details about the sponsor. For sure, no one will leave without being fully informed about who paid their coffee.
In order to meet the demand for early
morning cycling in Oslo in 2020, I’m looking for 2-3 people who can assist as
road captains at Oslo Dawn Patrol rides. You will be responsible for organizing
and leading Oslo Dawn Patrol once or twice every month. In addition you will be
co-leading the group when the turn-out is high during summer.
The ideal candidate can say yes to the
Cycling is your passion!
Experienced group rider.
Never late but always on time.
Ability to verbally and clearly communicate important information to a large group of people (in either Norwegian or English).
Comfortable giving feed back and directions to less experienced riders on how to ride a bike most effectively.
Equally comfortable giving directions to riders who are much stronger and more experienced than yourself as well as tell them to shut up and slow down if that is needed.
Basic first aid skills.
And you can ride up Kongsveien in 6½ minute (7.45 with studs) without being pushed beyond your limit.
This is your chance to get to know a lot
of great people and get well connected in the Norwegian cycling community, as
well as developing your organisational and leadership skills. I’m also working
on a compensation model, where you will be rewarded for your time and efforts.
However, this will mostly be of a symbolic character, so don’t quit you day job
Anyone who might be interested is encouraged to reach out, regardless of gender, race, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, nationality, number of years you’ve been cycling etc. Nothing should hold you back.
And another thing: just because you might not think you fulfill all the points listed above doesn’t mean you aren’t the right person. None of us have it all.
A local print cycling magazine her in Norway – Landevei – recently did a small survey of what their readers considered to be the “best of” in 2019. I was so lucky that they nominated Oslo Dawn Patrol in the category ‘Årets Nyskapning’. That translates into the Innovation of the Year.
The nominees were:
Førstevifta – a podcast by two young hopeful cyclists fighting for the pro dream.
Oslo-Mysen – a local early season gran fondo with a lot of tough gravel sections.
Uno X Development Team – the very first team in Norway to apply for a pro conti license and thus becoming the Norwegian team competing at the highest level so far.
Oslo Dawn Patrol – the one and only weekly open social ride for the early birds in Oslo.
Just being on the list of nominees felt pretty good. But of course you always hope to snatch the actual award as well.
But nevertheless, Uno X took the prize. But honestly, that is OK. First of all Landevei has readers in all of Norway. Not just Oslo where we have the Dawn Patrol. Secondly, Uno X is a big budget thing that gets a lot of attention in the media – mainstream media as well. So I’m actually pretty pleased to come in second with 27 % of the votes. Guess I’ll just have to come up with something else next year, so I can take the prize then. Suggestions are welcome!
One of the things that I’ve learned about Oslo Dawn Patrol, is that when people share a passion there is a high appetite for socializing – also in settings that doesn’t exactly involve the shared passion. I’ve realized that a lot of the people who show up for Dawn Patrol are connecting with each other also outside the core setting of Oslo Dawn Patrol. Friendships have been made and I even have a feeling that some might have hooked up (but I’m not gonna pry into that – you’ll have to pick up your gossip somewhere else!). I don’t think you can imagine how good it feels when you see people build relations through something that you’ve arranged. That alone makes it worth it all.
This eagerness to spend time together was also why I decided to throw a fairly low key party on Saturday. I pretty much did it the easiest way possible: reserving a few tables at Calmeyer’s Hage – a cool sky bare at the top of the newly renovated Clarion Hotel The Hub in Oslo city center. The manager there happens to be one of the regulars at Oslo Dawn Patrol. Thanks Aaron! All I did was to invite people to come over for drinks at their own expense. Aaron pulled some strings and arranged a bit of complimentary champagne and some seafood snacks to get the conversation going. But from there we were on our own. And we had a blast! About 35 people showed up – both those who’ve done 30+ Dawn Patrols and those who’ve only done one! Again I saw people talking to people they’ve never met before like they were old friends. And it wasn’t just because of intoxication.
Obviously, I made sure that there was an option join a social ride in the afternoon. I have a theory that the longer the time span is between hanging out together on the bike and an off-bike activity the more difficult it is to convince yourself that it’s a good idea to go. And it seemed to work, since most of those who joined me riding in the afternoon showed up for drinks as well!
I get a lot of questions about how Oslo Dawn Patrol has grown into such a great success. There are a number of reasons to this that I’m happy to share. But before I go into that I’ll call out the most important one: Oslo Dawn Patrol would never have been what it is today if it weren’t for all the people joining and supporting it. I’m fully aware that someone has to drive it and make it an option to join. But still – the support from all the fantastic people I’ve met over the last year on the bike is what really makes all the difference!
That being said, I’ve identified three key factors: Predictability,
Consistency and Passion.
Every Tuesday morning we do the same thing. There are no changes. We depart 5.40 sharp (no hanging around for late comers). We take the exact same route. And the pace is the same (more or less). We have a bit of racing halfway through at a 2,5 km segment. After this we stop, regroup and split into groups of varying speed when heading back to town. And we have coffee at the same café every week – and they like us 🙂 When having the same setup, people know exactly what to expect. No one needs to worry about whether the route will include too many long climbs, scary descents or whatever. It’s the same and they know it. Just as they know what to expect in terms of the effort that is required. This is significantly lowering the threshold of getting out of bed early.
Just keep on doing it. No matter what! We ride all year in all kinds of weather. From -16 to +30 degrees. I admit that it may not always be just hilarious, when you sit there with frozen snot on your chin and gloves. But afterwards you are invincible! And by being consistent people get the idea that you mean it. It’s not like they have to check the weather forecast to figure out if there’ll be a ride or not. There will be a ride. It’s that simple.
You have to be pretty passionate about cycling to get up that early and go out for a ride. That goes for everyone who is there. But to organize it to the degree of success that we’ve seen in Oslo, it’s more than just passion for cycling that matters. For me it’s about the passion I have for organizing something and trying to give people an enjoyable experience. It’s passion for getting more people out on the bike. And to be honest… I just love to get the chance to be the leader of the group and managing all the people in it. I can’t deny it, but you need that when 65 people show up to ride with you! (I’ll write another post one day post all the leadership and management learnings from this.)
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Therefore, the success of Oslo Dawn Patrol as an open social group ride boils down to predictability, consistency and passion. But none of that would matter if it hadn’t been for all the people who keep showing up every Tuesday morning at 5.40am.