by Cheryl Madlinger
Sponsoring a local race or two might seem like a savvy marketing strategy for a craft brewery, so might setting up shop on a bike path in Vancouver, or inviting Velofix to your brewery on occasion to draw in cyclists for a beer and a quick bike repair. For Vancouver-based Red Truck Beer, the connection goes deeper than such events. “Bike advocacy is part of our DNA,” Brian Fong, director of marketing at Red Truck, said. “We’re not giving out bikes to every employee on their anniversary, but we really want it to be part of the fabric of our brewery and to be part of the larger cycling community.”
Red Truck might sound familiar even to those who do not consider themselves craft-beer aficionados. The brewery also lends its moniker to – and owns a small part of – one of Canada’s longest-standing amateur cycling teams, Trek Red Truck Racing. The connections to cycling largely stem from the owner, Mark James, a cyclist himself who is also a team director for Trek Red Truck. “The support predates the brewery,” Fong said, adding that James’s son first raced for the team 15 years ago. “Because of the owner’s long-standing partnerships and relationships with cycling, I think it was a natural fit with cycling and Red Truck.”
The brewery appeals to cyclists of all types, from the recreational to the competitive, the roadie to the trail junkie. Local clubs often take off from or finish their rides at the brewery. It’s on the Central Valley Greenway, a 24-km recreational trail and has a restaurant where cyclists can enjoy a post-ride beer and diner-style food. Three years ago, Red Truck became the beer sponsor for the RBC GranFondo Whistler, and have since started working with the Prospera Valley Gran Fondo and the Ride to Conquer Cancer. This year, the brewery is branching out from road events and has become involved with the BC Bike Race, the seven-day mountain biking stage race.
“We like to consider ourselves a bicycle-friendly business and we want to build bicycling into our culture,” Fong said. “We’re just trying to build a place where it’s a little more community-oriented, where cycling plays an essential role in making a safer, happier, more sustainable place to work, and drink and live.”