Bicycle Leadership Conference and a Friday Night Date

Last month Maura, Alex and I attended the Bicycle Leadership Conference (BLC), and the Sea Otter Classic both as attendees and to work the events (they are SOAR clients).

Both play a significant role in the bike industry – the BLC is one of the industry’s leading get togethers for big wigs — and up-and-coming big wigs — in the bike industry to discuss the business of selling bikes, and Sea Otter has become one of the biggest season opening races and bike festivals in the nation.

An often-discussed topic at the BLC is how to get more butts on bikes. One of this year’s conference sessions was “Reaching Hidden Markets – Some Great Ideas Fast.”

Following a TedX/Ignite format, during the “Reaching Hidden Markets” session five presenters were given five minutes apiece to present their ideas on how to find and reach new consumers. One of the presenters, Jim Sayer, executive director of the Adventure Cycling Association suggested rather than trying to get people to ride for sport or take week-long bike tours, he suggested promoting people to take one or two night bike vacations around where they live – bike vacations that don’t require lots of luggage, of ride time or difficulty to plan.

While sitting there listening, I got of excited about his idea for personal reasons. My wife and I used to ride a lot, but life got in the way a little bit, and we don’t ride as much. I thought Jim’s idea was a fun simple way for my wife and I to take a ride together and explore where we live. My wife’s birthday was coming up, and not having been on the bike much, I thought we could do a ride/train combo date night to Ogden, Utah.

My wife is a schoolteacher and has developed a great range of facial expressions to keep her kids in line. She tries to turn off her teacher face when she gets home, but it’s hard to do so when she has me around. When I told her we were going to Ogden, she gave me one of those faces, then asked, “What is there to do in Ogden, Utah?!”

I have a little bit of inside knowledge of the town. Several years ago, SOAR used to handle PR for Visit Ogden. City managers have been repackaging the town as a culturally rich, outdoor recreation oriented city to attract new residents, tourists and outdoor businesses, such Salomon, Suunto, Quality Bicycle Products. Goode, Hart, and Geigerrig to name a few. Ogden residents and business people have revitalized its 25th Street historic district into a cool place for a weekend visit. The first Friday night of the month is the 25th Street Gallery Stroll, so we decided to give it a try.

To make a long, personal story short, we packed a daypack and messenger bag with a change of clothes and toiletries, and Deb and I rode 6 miles from our home to the UTA FrontRunner Station in downtown Salt Lake, took the train to Ogden (the FrontRunner has two special cars with bike racks inside), rode our bikes less than a mile from Ogden Union Station to the Ben Lomond historic hotel, checked in, walked to 25th Street, had dinner at Bistro 258, walked along the street after dinner, called it a night, woke up Saturday, and had breakfast at Karen’s Café. The USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships happened to be in town, so we watched some of the women’s criterium, caught the 3:30 p.m. train back to Salt Lake, rode to Bruges Waffles for dessert and then to the light rail station on 4th South and 3rd East where we caught the train up to the University of Utah Station, then rode our bikes 3 miles home to end a great Friday night date-bike-train-nearby-town-exploring-fun-time-with-my-wife weekend.

We didn’t spend lots of time in the saddle on an epic ride, but we had a fun time exploring the area around us, and came away with a desire to do that more and to ride our bikes more. And, it was a great way to kick off National Bike Month.

I hope you’re inspired to go for a ride, long or short.

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