RIDGWAY – The annual charity road race known as the Trois Etapes is spinning through the French Pyrenees this coming weekend from Aug. 7-10, and Ridgway’s dZi Foundation is once more right in the thick of it, with three teams wearing the dZi jersey and raising money for dZi’s groundbreaking Deep Development work in Nepal.
Organized by the cycling event company Cosaveli with major financial backing from Goldman Sachs Gives, the Trois Etapes is a grueling, multi-day “fantasy camp” of European road racing that provides a rare opportunity for amateur riders to experience cycling like a pro – complete with chase cars and daily massages.
Each team registering for the race gets matched with a seasoned professional cyclist who rides alongside them and shows them the ropes. Each team also fundraises for a charity of their choice.
The Trois Etapes has quickly become a heavyweight in the world of fundraising sports events, following in the footsteps of golf’s PGA Tour. In all, the 15 teams and 120 riders participating in last year’s race raised a combined $2.6 million for their charity partners.
The dZi Foundation has been involved in the pro-am cycling event since its inception three years ago. “We are excited to be involved in the third go-around,” said dZi co-founder Jim Nowak on the eve of his departure for France late last week.
(He anticipates riding in the chase car behind one of dZi’s teams, but he’s spent the summer out training on his bike, just in case he’s needed as an alternate cyclist.)
At last year’s event, held in the French Alps, dZi’s two eight-man teams (one from the Bay Area of California, and one from the UK) dominated the podium, coming in 1st and 2nd place out of 15 teams. They also succeeded (through prize money, corporate sponsorships and other fundraising efforts) in raising over half-a-million dollars to support the dZi Foundation.
That’s over a third of dZi’s annual $1.3 million budget.
This year, with three teams in the running, they may raise even more. The Studio Velo team out of San Francisco is looking better than ever, and Team dZi UK has been dominating cycling events throughout Europe all year (including an exciting victory at the new Trois Etapes Giro event in the Italian Dolomites in June). With a new team from Colorado joining the mix this year, as well, dZi’s prospects for a podium sweep are looking pretty good.
Besides the glory of victory, and the monetary benefit, participating in the Trois Etapes has resulted in significant fringe benefits for the dZi Foundation, shining a European spotlight on the relatively tiny Ridgway-based foundation, thus attracting a whole new constellation of donors and supporters.
“It’s become a significant revenue stream for us, but the interesting thing beyond that is that we have added four new board members during the event in Europe,” Nowak said. “These are very influential people to help move our mission forward. Over the long term that is a very big deal.”
To bolster dZi’s European presence, the organization recently hired a UK-based Executive Director and marketing director. So far, it seems to be a good fit.
“There are a lot of people in the UK that are very interested in Nepal,” Nowak said.
Among upcoming fundraising events scheduled in the UK, dZi’s Nepal Country Director Ben Ayers will be leading a panel discussion in October at the Royal Geographical Society with the UK’s top mountaineers to discuss the recent tragedy on Everest discuss the events leading up to the recent avalanche that claimed the lives of 16 climbing Sherpas on Mt. Everest, and what this means for the future of Himalayan climbing and the economy of Nepal.
It’s not too late to help the dZi Foundation become the King of the Mountain in its fundraising efforts at this year’s Trois Etapes. Donations can be made through dZi’s Endless Ascent program, which started four years ago at the Ouray Ice Festival, when Canadian ice-climbing superstar Will Gadd climbed continuously for 24 hours – 189 pitches – as a fundraiser for dZi.
The program now encourages potential donors to go out and create their own ‘Endless Ascents’ to raise money for dZi. Donations can be made at www.endlessascent.org.
“The idea is to keep the momentum going,” Nowak said.
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