Mountain biking is unique in the action sports world in that you can do it pretty much anywhere, but that ubiquitous access has made it so that there isn’t much in the way of formal instruction and guide services across the globe.
But a new program called “Getaways” from Sacred Rides is looking to change that by giving anybody the ability to start a mountain biking guide service in their hometown, effectively creating a network of guides in cities across the globe.
“Sacred Rides was founded in 1996, and has always been focused on 5-to-14 day mountain biking trips in established mountain biking destinations like British Columbia, Peru and Chile,” Mike Brcic, the founder of Sacred Rides, told GrindTV. “And while those trips are great, we were always asked by people if we had the ability to give one-to-two day guided tours for the people who weren’t planning full vacations. We constantly heard from businessmen traveling to places like San Francisco that they had an extra day during business travel that they would love to kill hitting some of the nearby trails.”
So, to bridge the gap between people looking to go on mountain bike-centric vacations and the traveler who wants to spend a one-off day pedaling around a new city, Brcic and the team at Sacred Rides came up with the idea of Getaways, a new-age solution to spreading mountain bike stoke that Brcic describes with decidedly 21st Century analogies.
“Our business model is equal parts Airbnb and Crossfit,” Brcic told GrindTV. “With Crossfit’s operations model, it’s a bit of a franchise program where, if you go to a Crossfit gym you know what you can expect from a trainer. And what I think makes Airbnb so appealing is that you’re staying in a local’s home and experiencing the city like a local.”
“That’s what we want to create with all of our guides,” Brcic continued. “A network of talented, skilled mountain bikers who have deep knowledge of the trails in their areas.”
In order to find those guides, Brcic opened up applications to become a Getaways guide a few weeks back. He says the company was quickly inundated with mountain bikers far and wide eager to turn their passion for riding into a source of income.
“We had a waitlist of 500 applicants at one point looking to become guides,” Brcic told GrindTv. “I think we’ve certified about 25 guides so far and have another 20 in the pipeline currently going through the application process to become guides.”
In order to make it through the application process, potential guides have to pass an in-depth written application that tests their knowledge about the destination where they want to guide. After that, applicants are asked to look up local statutes to see if commercial guiding is even allowed on their local trails.
If applicants make it through those first two stages, they are invited to a video interview with the Sacred Rides team have to make it through and online training course.
At that point, if potential guides have survived all of the application steps, Sacred Rides set them up with their own website for booking clients in their respective cities, and the guides are on their way to making money mountain biking.
“Our system runs on exclusive territories,” Brcic told GrindTV. “So if you’re our San Diego guide, you are the only one in San Diego and have an exclusive 20-mile radius where you are the only Getaways guide. Now, you can guide outside of that radius, just so long as you aren’t operating on someone else’s territory.”
“The end goal is to become the go-to resource for consuming mountain bikers to be able to explore trails all around the world,” Brcic continues.
So does that mean that any enthusiastic mountain biker can quit their desk job tomorrow and start living life as a full-time mountain biking guide? Well, not quite.
“Right now, it’s more of a source of extra income on nights and weekends,” Brcic said. “But ultimately, the program will be what the guides make of it. If they’re out hustling, getting customers and willing to put in the time, we think it could definitely become a full-time gig in the future.”
And the responses from the first wave of Getaway guides seem to share Brcic’s enthusiasm.
“The Sacred Rides Getaways program fits me just right because it lets me devote as much time as I want to guiding rides, but still allows to work another job while I grow my clientele,” Ken Hoekema, the Getaways guide for Spokane, Washington, told GrindTV. “My long term goal is to be guiding mountain bike rides all year around and devote myself full time to helping others explore this gorgeous area on two wheels!”
Read more about the evolving world of mountain biking