It is rare for me to take vacations, but I usually have fresh ideas when I do. A few months ago I went out to the Davis Mountains in west Texas. I had my trusty P-38 along and used it to move around the campgrounds at the park, but it was not much use on the more rugged hiking trails they have there. There was a significant mountain biking trail there, 11 miles round trip, and I thought about how some of the all-terrain trikes we sell might do there, like the ICE Full Fat and Adventure and the TerraTrike All-Terrain. I also thought about bikes like the AZUB MAX and the Mini. (I expect the next bike I get will be a fully-suspended USS Mini, just for the heck of it.) Given these new choices in off-road recumbents, the wealth of trails we have in our Texas state parks becomes more of an option for the adventuresome rider.
When I visualize shop events, I remember the advice from Jane Knight who held that people can ride their bikes wherever, but what they really like at events is meeting with other people. Riding is nice, and the exploration of new trails is something you can’t do at home, but we need a chance for people to interact at their own pace. Parks are nice, but I expect that many of my customers aren’t the “roughing it” sorts. Some drive RV’s. Maybe they’d like it better with some creature comforts provided. So this vision starts to form. “Glamping,” or Glamorous Camping, came to mind. I thought of supported bike tours where someone sets up your tent and cooks your food. (Rebecca adds: Ok, ok, now don’t get too excited. The vision does not extend quite that far — yet!)
So how about a glamping trip weekend? We set up in a state park. You bring your RV, or else a tent, or you rent a shelter. Depending on the park’s facilities, we’d get a common area cabin with a bathroom and a kitchen, or else work with what we’d bring. At least some meals would be provided, giving you more time to play. Bring the right trike or bike and you can explore the trails. Or else ride the quiet park roads. Beyond that, we’d arrange for outings in the area, like carpooling on a winery tour, or shopping, etc. Maybe we’d have a tech clinic, invite industry folks to share knowledge, what else? Or else just hang out in the park and walk around. Facilities, amenities, and off-site recreation options varies by park, but we’ve got lots of parks to choose from, and I’ve got customers all over the state. Something would be close to someone.
Many of my customers prefer paved trails, but there are only so many of them. Not everyone has good equipment for riding rougher trails, but that too is variable. The right tires make a big difference. Nearly any trike would clear most obstacles, trails vary widely in roughness. Having a sense of adventure and willingness to take on a challenge is a factor, but I know that isn’t everyone. From a business standpoint I’d just as well develop interest in good off-road recumbents and the off-road trails that they open to recumbent riders. I’d want to charge for the event. Working to make money is my job and I’d plan to work to support attendees. I’ve felt for some years that event support is a direction that specialty bike shops need to go in, I just need to learn how to make it profitable.
Does this sound like something interesting to you? Well, we are going to find out! See what we have been working to put together in the next section of this newsletter. Every detail is not yet worked out, but there is enough information so I think you will be able to decide if this sounds like fun to you. I hope so. And — it’s not too late to throw your ideas into the mix.