By Christina Delpone, Community Engagement & Administrative Coordinator
Frankly, when I saw the proposal to sponsor a cycling team, I could not see a clear connection. I certainly did not foresee the benefits this sponsorship has afforded the association, its stakeholders, and myself.
Being an organization of 11 staff members, it’s not surprising that we did not have one cyclist among us. We didn’t know much about the sport itself or Colorado’s cycling community. In my head, being a cyclist translated to being Lance Armstrong. When I think about our stakeholders and our governing board of directors, I don’t picture them in spandex. The association was founded in 1984 with a purpose to foster and promote the beneficial, efficient, responsible, and environmentally sound development, production and use of Colorado’s oil and natural gas resources.
The COGA Elite Cycling Team is modeled to pair experienced riders with up and coming cyclists who aspire to become pro. The team trains and races together over the season allowing the experienced cyclists to mentor, provide support and guidance for the skill development of the U26 riders. COGA is considered an unconventional or non-endemic sponsor, unlike a sponsor whose product is directly related to the sport they are sponsoring. Fortunately, as a sponsor, COGA’s engagement with the team is quite like their commitment to stakeholders and Colorado’s communities. We support the team by informing them on the facts of our industry and how important it is to Colorado’s economy, quality of life, livelihood, and even how it directly impacts cycling as a sport.
Let’s fast forward to today and review why the investment in this team is especially important. The COGA Elite Cycling Team not only has a great model, but they are talented. This means the COGA jerseys have been seen on countless podiums. In the past two seasons, they have placed first in at least four prominent road races and criteriums. They train in all four corners of the state and competitively raced in seven states. In addition to blatant logo exposure, the team rallies COGA members to join their team each summer in the Courage Classic, which attracts over 2,000 riders of all levels. The efforts of the team and COGA members has helped to raise over $13,000 towards Children’s Hospital Colorado.
Whether it’s COGA’s Courage Classic team riding in Copper or proud industry supporters cheering on the elite team from the sidelines, this sponsorship has helped to open the dialogue between industry and those who have questions about it. This is because cyclists come in all forms, from our own CEO to Josh Fox fans. Investing in this team has helped to humanize the industry and express our shared interests. Getting the miles in around our communities creates an opportunity to share the facts and importance of oil and gas development in Colorado with its concerned citizens in a powerful way. When you’re pedaling up Vail Pass, exhaling the mantra “shut up legs” with someone, the two of you are experiencing an indescribable sense of camaraderie.
The reason COGA and its board has continued to sponsor the cycling team can be summed up simply: whether it’s a fist raised in the air crossing the finish line, or an easy ride to Golden in a COGA jersey, we’re making an impact on our communities.
However, the reason I get excited about the team relates to another popular crowd. I was coaxed into the sport with the promise of beer at the end of every hard ride. The thought of those skinny tires beneath me was terrifying, I had never been on a road bike before we sponsored this team. But I am genuinely excited for early mornings and challenging climbs this summer on my bike, which I named Starlord. Even better, this year I get the opportunity to experience my third Courage Classic ride with some of COGA’s management. Again, it’s hard to describe the cycling culture, so I hope you’ll experience it for yourself and join us at the Children’s Hospital Colorado Courage Classic in July.