Build a cycling event that people travel from around the world to ride. Transform a city’s economy and culture into one that celebrates life on two wheels. Use your time in the saddle to drive change in people’s lives, and to integrate bicycling into the heart of your community.
And then risk losing it all when the walls come crashing down.
The entire world watched Lance Armstrong’s fall from grace in the 2012 doping scandal, but the lesser known stories were those of the other riders who were caught up in cycling’s most toxic era.
Pro cyclist Levi Leipheimer had built one of the largest mass participation charity events in the world, Levi’s King Ridge GranFondo, in his hometown of Santa Rosa, California. More than 7,000 riders came from six continents each year to experience some of Sonoma County’s most grueling and exhilarating terrain. The event had raised over a million dollars for local charitable organizations, and had birthed a new cycling economy in Sonoma County.
In the fall out from the doping scandal, Levi stood to lose it all. His name, once associated with a bold new community direction, was now scarred in the eyes of the very people to whom he was most accountable. He lost his team, his career, and much of the standing he had earned as a world-class athlete, and hometown hero.
But there was too much to lose, too much at stake, and Levi refused to give up. The Gran Fondo had created a sense of community, and belonging, and a spirit of giving back that transcended all of the victories, and accolades, and palmarès that had come before it.
In Behind the Curtain, Culture Pop was given unprecedented access as Levi and the Bike Monkey team struggle to come to terms with what had happened in the past, how to regroup in the present, and ultimately flourish in the future, as they craft a world-class sporting event that touches the lives of countless people.