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Messages - readysetsew

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General Discussion / Re: Advice about Unique Bicycle Touring Company
« on: November 18, 2010, 07:06:22 pm »
One other thing that can have a major impact on your economic analysis.  Have you factored in the cost of the RV itself?  A Class A motor home capable of accommodating 7 or 8 people (6 riders plus the driver and cook/mechanic) in reasonable comfort and with the amenities you propose is going to cost over $100,000, probably WAY over.  Will you be able to set your rates to recover that investment in any reasonable time?  Also consider maintenance costs like tires, oil changes, etc. aren't free, particularly on something the size of a large RV.
Those are good points. The rig I'm looking at will sleep only five or six riders, plus driver and mechanic and is $65,000 (5th wheel). The answer is no, I can't recover the cost in a reasonable amount of time, but I'm going to buy the rig anyway for my own travels, so its purchase won't be strictly for the business. The business would just be a way to get back some of the costs and to enjoy a kind of rolling bed and breakfast side business--definitely not a full-time business. It's not a motorized RV, but the costs of engine maintenance will, of course, be transferred to the enormous truck required to haul this beast. And then there are costs of maintaining the rig's air-conditioning, refrigeration, plumbing, etc. And, of course, liability insurance as well as other insurance.

The main problem I'm facing, I feel, is knowing in advance whether I can target 5 or 6 riders who are willing to live in a dormitory situation; there would be four bunks and up to two double beds available--one being the master bedroom. As one member pointed out, snoring can be a real problem. On the other hand, I've slept in a tent for Ragbrai, and you can't get away from snorers even in a campground. Fortuntatly, most riders are tired enough to sleep through anything!

General Discussion / Re: Unique
« on: November 18, 2010, 01:09:59 pm »

Can you make a living at it? Don't know about that, but it might be possible to do a USA loop with time off for you in between. Transam starts in mid to late April to say August 1, Pacific coast from Aug.15-Oct. 15 +/-, Southern tier in the winter, take some time off in the Keys, North to Maine in the spring, and continue the loop on the Northern tier.

Thanks for your feedback. No, I'm not planning to make a living at it, just supplement my retirement, so that's why I think it might work well for a smaller group of people.

General Discussion / Re: Advice about Unique Bicycle Touring Company
« on: November 16, 2010, 04:10:57 pm »
I wonder if you really can do it for less than the cost of modest chain hotel accomidations.  At $3.00 per gallon, for a large RV that gets maybe 5 - 6 mpg and obviously you can't just stop anywhere you please so a full hook-up campground will be essential every night and these are far from free.

It's actually cheaper pay the gas and stay in an RV campground for less than several rooms in a motel/hotel. One of the problems, however, is finding places to camp at 60-100-mile intervals--especially RV parks that provide 50-amp service. Things are looking grim.

General Discussion / Re: Advice about Unique Bicycle Touring Company
« on: November 16, 2010, 04:08:04 pm »
This sounds similar to the barge-and-bike tours in the Netherlands.  You don't have to worry about your gear or your meals, and at the end of the day you come back to the same bedroom. 

Yes, that's the idea. I checked them out--very interesting!

General Discussion / Re: Advice about Unique Bicycle Touring Company
« on: November 12, 2010, 11:43:31 am »

My concern about the RV concept is that they might only sleep 3 plus the guide.  I would rather mess with a state park bath house than an RV shower.   Maybe the RV concept would work if you were guiding a husband and wife, or a family with kids.

A specialized customer seems to be the most logical option because of limited RV sleeping accommodations; however, I'm looking at a rig that sleeps 6, plus the guide and mechanic. The RV showers are now much better than they used to be. The larger RVs have separate shower stalls rather than those that require you to spray water all over the toilet. My prediction, however, is that some riders would be more likely to use the park's bath house for showering just so they wouldn't have to stand in line. This concept could work, I hope, for a group of friends, or maybe a small group from a cycling club. I would also invest in a stacked washer/dryer in the rig to alleviate the hassle of finding or standing in line at a laundromat.

Thanks for your input! I really appreciate it.

General Discussion / Re: Advice about Unique Bicycle Touring Company
« on: November 10, 2010, 09:00:43 pm »
One company runs tours to places that would be accessible to cyclists only if they were fairly intrepid. Perhaps you could consider this as part of your business plan?

Great idea. Based on what someone else has said, I was thinking that a ride up the Alcan Highway to Alaska might be good for this kind of tour.  Thanks for your ideas!

General Discussion / Re: Advice about Unique Bicycle Touring Company
« on: November 10, 2010, 10:14:30 am »
Sorry, I haven't read each post in the threa thoroughly so I may be repeating other observations.
For me, a tent is a fun and welcome place to spend the night. I have my headlamp, water bottle, jammies, reading matter, down bag. I'm completely cozy. Even in rain.

Yes, tents can be cozy; I've spent many nights in them, but they can also be murderously hot in the middle of summer, miserable to set up and break down in the rain, and quite uncomfortable if you don't have a decent sleeping pad. My target client, I suppose, is the cyclist who would prefer not to camp but doesn't want to spend the money on a tour with hotels. You also brought up a valid point about narrow spaces in an RV, but today's RV's have open plans. There are no hallways. Still, you're bringing up some good issues that will help me narrow my focus.  I see from your signature block that you ride a recumbent. Me, too! :)

General Discussion / Re: Advice about Unique Bicycle Touring Company
« on: November 09, 2010, 09:07:13 pm »
I can see the appeal of this sort of service but IMHO you might target those more interested in say a shorter tour like around Glacier NP or something like that.

I think you're right. While a lot of teachers can take summers off, most of us can't unless we're retired. And because of the dormitory living situation, shorter trips might be sweeter trips. Thanks for your thoughts.

And thank you--all of you who have responded--for your candid and very helpful suggestions. I'm impressed with and grateful for the responses I've gotten so far.

General Discussion / Re: Advice about Unique Bicycle Touring Company
« on: November 09, 2010, 09:03:20 pm »
My angle might well be custom tours--small groups of people who already know and tolerate each other.

That's probably a better bet.  As a veteran of a group x-country tour with a dozen strangers, I can tell you that dormitory and even camping settings can pose problems, especially if you have really loud snorers. 
Ultimately, because of the close quarters and shared facilities issues, I think you might have to make it noticeably less expensive than a hotel tour to appeal to a broad audience. [/quote]

The snoring issue is a real problem, even in a spacious RV. While the bathroom and shower facilities are shared, the unit will have two toilets, and those who wish to can always opt to use the campground showers. The tour will definitely be much cheaper than the hotel/inn tours. I'm looking at a cost that's slightly more than the tent camping tours but of course much less than the high-end ones. Thanks for your thoughts. I will mull over the snoring issue.

General Discussion / Re: Advice about Unique Bicycle Touring Company
« on: November 08, 2010, 09:41:02 pm »
I think your "close quarters accomodations" rv concept would appeal to a limited group of clients, like college students used to living in dorm rooms and hostals and they probably couldn't afford your fee. At least with a hotel or camping tour group I could distance myself from any obnoxious rider. On your rv tour I'd be stuck living with this person for the lenght of the tour. Any group of friends could get together and rent an rv for a self supported tour. What is the advantage of hiring your company?

Good points, some of which I've thought of. A lot of people are comfortable in a dormitory situation; in fact, quite a few cross-country cyclists stay at hostels, fire stations, and churches, where they just throw a sleeping bag down on the floor. But as you said, these are often people who don't want to spend a lot of money on a trip. As for friends just getting together and renting an RV, they tend to be expensive, and it's very hard to find a large one that sleeps 5-6 people without having to use fold-out sofas and being cramped. My angle might well be custom tours--small groups of people who already know and tolerate each other. You brought up an excellent question, however. I need to take a closer look at the difference between friends renting an RV vs. using my company. That ought to keep me awake tonight. Thanks!! :)

General Discussion / Re: Advice about Unique Bicycle Touring Company
« on: November 08, 2010, 05:29:47 pm »
Trek runs luxury tours that are way too rich for my blood, with daily costs that run about what I would spend in two weeks. It might seem incredulous that someone would pay about a thousand dollars a day (bike included) for a cycling trip but there must be people with that kind of money out there.

Thanks for the link for Trek Travel. Wow--very expensive. But you're right. These tours are in business year after year, so people are paying. My company would be much less, but then, the accommodations wouldn't be fine inns, either. I'm sure the hotels for these tours are quite nice, but the constant unpacking of a suitcase nightly and then repacking each morning would get a little old for me. That's why I mentioned retirees earlier. I think that as a group, they are more likely to be looking for a way to spend their retirement--timewise and moneywise.

General Discussion / Re: Advice about Unique Bicycle Touring Company
« on: November 08, 2010, 01:50:10 pm »
Again not for me - even if I am a retiree  ;) but supported touring is very popular and I would guess priced right there would be many takers.  Especially those with limited time and experience who like to know someone is around to bail them out in case of problems or inclement weather.  I sometimes envy those tourist who come bombing passed - no luggage knowing where they will be sleeping and have a meal cooked - but not for long I like my unsupported touring best.  But who knows in the future!

Good luck with the venture.

Thanks! Gosh, I didn't mean to imply that retirees would have difficulty carrying weight. :) I was thinking "older and wiser" but didn't want to imply that younger folks were fools. :) There is definitely an adventurous, challenging appeal to being self-sufficient. A few years back, I tried the Transamerica hauling a Burley trailer and made it about three weeks before the grim reality of a musty tent and agonizing hills sent my fair-weather arse back home. I long to try again, but this time I want an unladen bicycle that won't slow me to a crawl up hills, a heated or air-conditioned bed with a real mattress, and nachos or crab dip instead of granola bars. And cold Gatorade. I understand that for some, taking the challenge away from the ride takes away much of the accomplishment, but for others, the goal has less to do with challenges and more with enjoying the whole experience. We all have to ride our own rides. Thanks again for your response!

General Discussion / Re: Advice about Unique Bicycle Touring Company
« on: November 08, 2010, 10:33:18 am »
How would you not be "living out of a suitcase" just because you would be sleeping in an RV instead of a hotel?  Would there be enough closert space for everyone to store their clothing outside of a suitcase or bag?  Those may be dumb questions since I have never been inside an RV.  And how would things like meals, daily rest stops and showers be handled?

Great questions! Yes, there is dresser and closet space for all riders (limited, but certainly much more than what you would normally carry in saddlebags). You could even bring your guitar (but not your tuba). The RV has a full kitchen, fridge, stove, and microwave. Meals would be prepared by the cook and eaten inside at the dining room table or at an outside picnic table. The RV has a full bathroom with shower and even a small washer & dryer. There would be one rest stop for snacks (the RV would park along the route). If you haven't been inside today's RV's, you will be surprised at the comfort, living space, and luxury. Most have "slides," which allow certain areas of the RV to slide out, creating more living space.

Thank you! These are exactly the kinds of questions and possible problems that I want to be aware of.

General Discussion / Re: Advice about Unique Bicycle Touring Company
« on: November 08, 2010, 07:43:36 am »

Personally it doesn't appeal to me.  Undoubtedly it would to some.  I suspect that the members here are generally not that likely to be your target audience.  So this may not be a great measure of the market.

Good point, and thanks for your post. My target audience is probably retirees and/or cyclists who would rather not have the additional challenges of a loaded bike and tent camping. Thanks again!

General Discussion / Advice about Unique Bicycle Touring Company
« on: November 07, 2010, 09:02:58 pm »
         I'm considering launching a bicycle touring company and am calling upon experienced or wannabe cross-country bicyclists for advice and suggestions.
         Question: would you be likely to consider a small-group (5-6 riders) sag vehicle-supported bicycle tour where riders stay in a luxury RV instead of in a tent or in hotels? My target customer would be one who would rather not set up and break down a tent every day and one who would prefer not to live out of a suitcase from hotel to hotel. The RV accommodations would range from private master bedroom to bunks.
   The pricing for the tour would be more than for a self-supported camping tour but much less expensive than tours with hotel lodging.
   Thanks very much for your time. The best possible advice I can get is from people like you who understand the needs of cross-country cyclists.

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