February 16, 2018
Adventure Cycling Corporate Member Golden Triangle Bike has been providing logistical support, trip planning, and bike and gear rentals for self-supported and guided touring along the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Towpath for the past 11 years. In this Corporate Spotlight, we talk with Tom Demagall, owner of Golden Triangle Bike in Pittsburgh, to learn a bit about the history of the company, why they support Adventure Cycling, and how they can help you saddle up for your next adventure along these world-renowned trails.
Our business was created co-operatively by Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy (1994-2006), the city of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Parking Authority, and a lady named Peggy. Mayor Murphy’s vision for the city laid the groundwork for the “renaissance” period that Pittsburgh is enjoying today. Developing our waterfronts with a bike path, called the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, was a huge priority. Our business was originally envisioned to be a bike-rental/commuting station that included a cafe, showers, and bike storage, among other things, directly on the trail. The vision was way ahead of its time for Pittsburgh in the early 2000s and for reasons that are still unclear to me, the complete vision was abandoned, and the business only existed for about two years before closing its doors in 2005.
I’m a musician and my band occupied a rehearsal space directly across the street from Golden Triangle Bike’s abandoned location. When we lost our rehearsal space after 10 years, I called the phone number on the front door of the abandoned bike shop to see if we could rent the building as a rehearsal/practice studio. The Parking Authority informed me that they were looking for another entrepreneur to re-open the business as a bike shop. At the time, I had given up my sales job with FedEx to focus 100% of my time on being a musician. However, I had always wanted to start my own business and had always been an avid cyclist (BMX, mountain, and recreational). I had just enough mechanical background to be dangerous so, I decided to jump in, bought 20 bikes, and started a local bike rental and bike-tour company.
Each year the business has grown and the services that we offer have developed out of the needs of our customers. As the Great Allegheny Passage made its way to our front door, we evolved from a local bike-rental/tour company to a nationally renowned travel company/outfitter that facilitates every aspect of the 335-mile journey between Pittsburgh and Washington, DC. I always joke that we are a travel agency disguised as a bike shop. Today we have a bike fleet of 250+ bikes, we send 500+ riders a year on multi-day bike trips on the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Towpath, as well as rent bikes and provide local tours for 10,000–20,000 riders a year in the City of Pittsburgh. We have 10 to 15 seasonal employees and five full-time, year-round employees.
Trip planning, bike rentals, lodging, itineraries, transportation, luggage transfer, logistics, and everything in between for riders of the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Towpath.
We have a great passion for self-supported touring and the people who like to do it. Adventure Cyclist magazine is the go-to publication for our customers and it appeals directly to the folks that we are trying to reach. It’s a great way for us to reach new people and to support an organization that is right in line with our company and the services that we provide.
The Stoke! There is nothing like sitting down with the publication and finding inspiration for your next great adventure! Having a go-to magazine to keep that momentum and flow rolling is important for any adventure-minded person ... and Adventure Cyclist delivers new and exciting options, information, and inspiration.
Retired and semi-retired folks taking self-guided multi-day bike trips! 70 is the new 40 and we can’t get enough of it! They are the majority of our customer base and we literally feel like the luckiest company in the world to be able to send these folks on epic adventures. They have the time and the money to go on adventures in the second half of life. Seeing the cycling world turn their attention toward those folks is thrilling to us.
We love Pittsburgh! We are one mile from the western terminus of the Great Allegheny Passage. A lot of our staff, including myself, are mountain bikers. So, if we had to be dragged out of our beloved Pittsburgh, a small east coast mountain-bike town with great beer would do it. Brevard, North Carolina or Davis, West Virginia, etc.
I believe we have had tailwinds, headwinds, crosswinds, and everything in between. We have been blessed with a world-class bike trail at our front door, very little competition, year-over-year growth, and we are located in a city experiencing a renaissance. Those are luxuries for which we are very thankful, but we have struggled, as most small businesses do, in all the typical areas: staffing, seasonality, weather, etc.
We have an adventurous staff and without a doubt, some have used Adventure Cycling mapped routes. Many members of our staff have had epic adventures both in the U.S. and internationally. However, what I find particularly awesome about our staff is that we fit adventure by bike into our everyday lives. We literally live it 365 days a year. When we aren’t setting our customers up on their own adventures, we are biking to/from work, biking after work, competing, and more. Whether it’s riding across the country or the eight-mile, multi-surface commute to the shop, we each focus on fitting in adventure by bike wherever and whenever possible. We live it on a day-to-day basis.
Bikes, parts, secure bike parking, time for working on personal bikes ... you name it, we provide it. If we don’t, we find a way to provide it, if it’s needed. Every single member of our staff bikes to work, so it’s second nature to provide whatever is needed and a little more.
We are a small, family-owned and operated company dedicated to providing the best possible service to each of our customers. My wife, Britt, and I are the owners and we are there daily to make sure that each of our customers has a unique and fully customized experience. We even limit the amount of business that we take on to be sure that we aren’t missing any of the details. You can see our dedication to this in the statement we put on our BikeTheGreatAlleghenyPassage.com website and in our Trip Advisor reviews. You will notice that Britt, myself, and a few other members of our staff are mentioned by name in most of our reviews. We hope to have a conversation with you that allows us to custom tailor our services to fit your experience. We are a group of mechanics, travel agents, trip planners, and trail ambassadors who strive to combine our expertise in order to offer you the best possible experience!
Photos courtesy of Tom Demagall