Day 4 of the 2013 National Bicycle Tourism Conference


Jim Sayer

Jim Sayer trying to get ideas for next year’s BTN conference.

Remember when you were back in school, and it was the last day of the school year?  All you wanted to do was hang out with your friends and do minimal work.  That was what the 4th day felt like.  We had a brief discussion with Jim Sayer of Adventure Cycling Association in the morning.  I spent the rest of the morning networking until it was time to participate in Social Media Active Scavenger Hunt (S.M.A.S.H. – Love the acronym!).  We returned in time for the popular swag swap and awards ceremony for winners of the scavenger hunt.

Who will be invited?

After breakfast, Jim Sayer of Adventure Cycling Association, facilitated an open forum to help plan next year’s National Bicycle Tourism Conference in San Diego, California.  The first topic of discussion was who should be invited to the conference as speakers.  Here is a list that was shared by the attendees:

  • State marketing people who can talk to each other to share ideas for their tourism bureau.

  • Different municipalities’ mayors.

  • People from other countries in Europe who can share best practices of bicycle tourism.

  • Retail bike sectors, such as the big bicycle companies.

  • Wellness directors.

  • Experiential tourism.

  • Bike-friendly hotels.

  • Younger demographic and diverse attendees.

  • Make this more youth oriented which means we have kids be part of the conference.

  • Someone who can provide some medical perspective of cycling.

  • Eco tourism.

Coralville Iowa City

Welcome board for the BTN Conference

What events should we have?

The next topic centered around the kind of events we should have at the next conference.

  • Day trips around the San Diego area.

  • Urban tours of the city.

  • Availability of bike rentals for attendees.

Who should sponsor?

This is more of a wish-list, as there needs to be a relationship with some of these organizations to get their sponsorship.

  • Bicycle industry and manufacturers.

  • Nutrition experts and companies, like Clif bars.

  • Accessories for outdoor usage, like tents.

  • The local and national media.

  • Airlines who are bike-friendly (Frontier Airlines).

  • Transportation companies, such as FedEx or UPS.

  • Garmin bicycle GPS manufacturer.

  • Strava social application (this was my suggestion).

  • Outdoor retail companies, like REI.

  • Ebikes or bike blender companies.

  • QBP – Biggest bicycle wholesaler in the country.

  • AARP and HARP for the older and/or retired demographic

What are the goals?

The more difficult task was to define the goal of this conference.  Here are some requests made by this year’s attendees:

  • Dispelling the bicycling and tourism myths.

  • Have half of the attendees be part of the tourism sector.

  • Triple the attendance of new tour operators.

  • Showcase the bicycle tourism industry in North America.

  • Organizing the industry.

  • Provide opportunities for different parts of the industry to share best practices.

    • How to be a great bike tourism destination.

    • How to create and sustain an excellent event.

    • How to develop a cutting-edge marketing strategy.

  • Get the attentions of government officials.

  • Generate more revenue for the bicycle tourism industry.

  • Presentation distribution.

What are some themes?

There were 2 themes brought up.

  1. Profitability

  2. “Bicycle tourism means business” – I personally like this one.

What should be on the program?

Here are some suggestions to the program:

  • Timing and length is perfect this year, so why not keep it the same?

  • Family tours.

  • Walking meetings so we have the opportunities to visit the local economy.

  • Events 301, since we’ve been through 101 for the past 2 years.

  • Align the conference with Interbike.  This is probably not a program item, but more of a recommendation.

  • More interaction and networking opportunities.

  • Tourism for bike and bike for tourism.  A very clever palindrome.

  • Bruce Weber of the New York Times.

  • Outdoor industry.

  • Access for the disabled tourists.

  • Nuts and bolts of bicycle tourism.

Bareback and his seatless bike

Bareback and his seatless bike

Time for some fun

After the official business ended, the fun began!  I participated in the appropriately named, Social Media Active Scavenger Hunt (S.M.A.S.H.).   Participants can participate on foot or on bicycles for a chance to win bicycle accessory prizes from Scheels.  Naturally, I joined the bicycle group and rented a bicycle to ride around town.

My team consisted of about 9 individuals, including myself.  There was someone named “Bareback” and another rider named “Razorback”.  Bareback rode every day of the conference on a bike without a seat.  We’re talking about a bike that was design purposely without a seat.   The only time I’ve seen this was when I saw this video about Ezra Caldwell who is suffering from rectal cancer.  Bareback was our fearless leader who got everyone running around town.

Honestly, I was more interested in exploring the city than in winning, so the experience was fantastic as we went from one location to another.  I got to experience the famous trails of Iowa first hand.  There were trails everywhere that intertwined under and next to the busy streets.  Sculptures and statues documenting the Mormon migration to Utah with their pull carts were plentiful.

Bicycle Racks

Bicycle Racks at New Pioneer Food Co-Op

Pleasant Surprise

As we meandered through the network of trails, we finally ended up at a shopping center called the New Pioneer Co-Op for a quick food break.  The awesome part about this co-op was the bicycling facilities. There were bike parking racks mounted along the wall to accommodate almost all of our bikes. It also had a work stand with chained up tools to adjust and work on your steed. The cherry on top was a stationary pump for you to top off your tires.  This was an unexpected surprise, and I would like to applaud Coralville for their forward thinking and encouraging bicycling as transportation.

Final Thoughts

As I mentioned in my previous post, this was the first conference that I’ve participated in on my own dime, and it was well-worth attending. It is not because they had good food and fun activities, but the attendees and the presentation was incredibly useful to learn about the industry.  More interestingly, I was able to listen to the issues and problems the attendees were having. That means there are opportunities to be explored.

Tools & Pump

Bike station with stationery pump and tools to work on your bike.

What resonates with me was the openness of people in providing help and tips to me. I’ve reached out to a few attendees using email and other social network platforms, and the folks who responded have shown me their hospitality and have been interested in staying in touch. It is clear that I need to get experience and more tour rides under my belt. That is why I’m looking forward to getting my Leadership Training Course through Adventure Cycling Association in Santa Barbara next April. Until then, I hope to keep my connections strong until I see them again in San Diego next year.

Let me know what you think or if you have anything I forgotten.

Eric on a Chicken

Yes, that’s Eric on a giant chicken.


About Johnny Lam

Johnny is an avid cyclist who enjoys bicycle touring as well as anything bicycle related. Johnny has traveled the entire Pacific Coast by bike from Vancouver to the border of California and Mexico. He's also toured through-out locations in Southern California. Johnny is also a League of American Bicyclists League Certified Instructor (LCI) and also completed the Adventure Cycling Association's Leadership Training Course (LTC). He is an active member in Los Angeles bicycling community being involved in organizations like the Los Angeles County Bicycling Coalition (LACBC), C.I.C.L.E. (Cyclists Inciting Change through Live Exchange), and Bike San Gabriel Valley (Bike SGV) by taking part in ride marshaling, pedestrian & bike counts, and other volunteering opportunities.

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