Angie and I are currently in San Diego attending the National Bicycle Tourism Conference, which is put on by the Bicycle Tour Network. After the first two days, I think that one of our main takeaways is that bike people are awesome! Oh, we already knew that didn’t we?
One of the first things I heard someone say on the first day was that everyone here is invested in supporting other people, no matter what part of the industry they work in. And this was actually a key theme that one of the keynote speakers discussed on Thursday: the pie hasn’t really gotten much bigger in the past few years in terms of bike sales, so some sectors of the industry are too busy fighting over the pie instead of working to make it bigger. But the work being done by the people attending this conference is very much directed at expanding the pie. We’ve already talked to so many people who make us feel like they’re personally invested in our success, and they’re all sharing insights and suggestions and telling us how thrilled they are that we want to pursue this dream.
I don’t think there are many people attending the conference who are already running guest facilities. It seems the bulk of people are falling into one of three categories: bike events, such as multi-day tours like the famous RAGBRAI, touring companies, and destination marketing organizations (things like conference and visitors bureaus). In fact, we were discussing just how many of the latter there are, and from places you might not imagine, like Ridgeland, Mississippi, which is tied to one of our favorite destinations from our travels, the Natchez Trace. It’s really great to see, and they seem so supportive of bicycling of all types.
We’re learning a lot about the value of working with organizations like that, along with economic development councils.
Oh, another thing we’ve learned. Gravel riding is a thing. And it’s hot.
We really got a lot out of the keynote address session on Thursday morning, at which Tim Blumenthal of People for Bikes and Chris Speer of Accell North America spoke. They both talked about a lot of things that bucked the crowd up I think, including reporting that last night the House of Representatives finally passed a federal transportation bill that left all bike-related funding intact. It has yet to be reconciled with the Senate Bill but it’s a start.
Here are some interesting links from some of the sessions.
10 New Indicators That Bicycle Travel and Tourism are Booming and Changing
Some of the day’s other sessions were not quite as valuable, but at every session, along with the networking breakfasts, lunches and happy hours (free beer, but you’re out of pocket if you can’t/don’t drink beer), we are meeting new people and getting valuable information and connections. We’ve met a lot of the people from the Adventure Cycling Association and they’ve been great too. We had lunch with one of the key players from the ride program today and it was really great to feel like we had a direct connection to people involved. I think my other favorite session of the day was about how the Great Allegheny Passage Route (over 300 miles from Pittsburgh to Washington D.C.) came together. It was pretty inspiring and I do really want to ride it one of these days.
And of course, one of my blog posts is seldom complete without some bird pictures! (The last one was from DIA!)
You are rubbing elbows with all the right people! I can feel the forward momentum in your story. Happy networking and learning!
I love the DIA Gargoyle. I’m ready to ride the GAP trail again.
We’re up for it. When it’s warmer…..