July 5, 2017
This post spotlights Bear Bicycle Touring Co. — their tours, their passion for cycling, and why they support Adventure Cycling Association.
Tia and Alex, tell us a little bit about your company and its history.
Bear Bicycle Touring Co. started in 2016 after we finished a 100-day cycle tour of China and Southeast Asia. In 2015 we left our corporate jobs to cycle tour Asia before relocating to the U.S. During this adventure we fell in love with the journey and different pace of life. We spent most of our days averaging 70 miles and each night having to figure out where we could sleep and how to obtain food. We had many hiccups along the way — like finding ourselves stranded near the border of Vietnam and Laos. Looking back, that experience feels like a dream — was that really us?
We got back from this trip with a new sense of energy. We started exploring the Delaware Valley by bike and although it wasn’t in the mountains, it was prime for cycling: small lanes, covered bridges, rolling hills, scenic river views, and charming towns. We found our ideal area.
In 2016, we concentrated on one-day tours and this year we’re focusing on multi-day tours.
What do you like most about bike travel?
The journey and the sense of achievement over several days refreshes the mind and soul. Taking the small roads and seeing each town opens your eyes to the beauty around us. Sometimes it can be challenging, but the rewards of sweeping downhills with the wind in your face always lift your spirit. Going on these journeys with other people who share the passion, building the camaraderie over several days, is unique. There is nothing else like it and it leaves you seeking more.
Tell us about your tours.
Bear Bicycle Touring Co. offers a range of different bike tours from half-day to four-day tours. We operate in the Delaware Valley area starting from Lambertville, New Jersey and Milford Pennsylvania. With our tours, you don’t have to worry about the route, punctures, where you’ll stay, or where you will find food. We’re here for that! All of those things are covered for you so you can just focus on what’s important — enjoying the adventure!
The tour we’re most excited about this year is our Camping in the Catskills four-day tour. While most of our tours involve inns and hotels, this tour is focused on getting out in nature with amazing cycling terrain and great sights along the way, not to mention camping in some of the best wild camp sites we’ve experienced. Each night you gather with your fellow travelers, enjoy a campfire, and gaze at the stars as you reflect on your achievements of the day.
Why do you support Adventure Cycling?
Adventure Cycling and Bear Bicycle Touring Co. have the same message, “inspire and empower people to travel by bicycle.” This message is very personal to us. Cycle touring has challenged my mind to think differently and opened my eyes to a different way of life. It has helped me connect to this world and interact with many different cultures.
Bear Bicycle Touring Co., like Adventure Cycling, wants to promote the idea of travel by bicycle and we hope to enable others to get out on a bike and experience the many rewards. Adventure Cycling, through their blogs, website, and magazine, showcases amazing photos and stories that from fellow cycle tourists and we want to be a part of that.
Where would you like to see cycling in America in the future?
Coming over from Europe, where cycling is more common, we would like to see America catch up with the popularity of cycling. We already feel it is growing in the U.S. and would like to see it continue. There is some great work going on converting old railway tracks into cycling routes as well as organizations like Adventure Cycling providing cycling maps. We see cities having available bike lanes and more cycling clubs popping up.
We feel cycling has many benefits, not just to the individual, but to the environment. If more people were able to leave their cars at home and cycle into work or into town, imagine how more fit the population would be, as well as, cutting down emissions. Other countries have shown us that cycling can be a daily part of getting around in life, and not just a sport for a relative minority.
The idea of cycle touring is another concept we hope will grow in the U.S. Not everyone is familiar with the concept of vacation by bike, and this great experience is something we hope more people will be able to take part in.
As your company grows, have you had many tailwinds, headwinds, or crosswinds?
Starting a business is no easy job and requires a collection of many skills. I studied finance at Penn State, so although I’m good with the financial side of the business, I also had to learn how the marketing and social media side works.
Marketing is the biggest headwind, as it was new to us. Cycling around, we feel confident and optimistic knowing our area is prime for cycling. And the more tours we get, the more that is confirmed by our customers, but how do you let the rest of the world know? The tri-state area is not somewhere most American’s think of for a quiet, scenic ride, but it is!
One crosswind we encountered involved bike rentals. Do we provide bikes? Or do we count on people bringing their own? We deliberated hard and decided to offer a fleet of all different sizes of Fuji cyclocross bikes. We picked these versatile bikes with drop handlebars for their overall performance and we’re suckers for their beautiful, bright green paint.
These bikes can support a road tire, as well as a wider tire for all different types of surfaces — fitting in with our direction of the company. We want to provide tours for cyclists and active participants, not just slow sightseeing tours. Having these bikes means visitors do not have to lug around their bikes while on vacation and can still have a good ride for covering distance.
Tia and Alex, is there anything else you want to share with our readers?
We are a new company, built on our passion for cycling. Join us on one of our tours, and you’ll have an amazing journey!
Photos courtesy of Bear Bicycle Touring Co.
MEMBERSHIP HIGHLIGHTS is posted every other Wednesday by Membership Coordinator, Laurie Chipps. Membership Highlights spotlights the benefits of membership, our accomplishments thanks to member support, and interviews with our passionate and dedicated members.