While taking my sons (ages 6, 10, and 13) bike camping* near Portland recently, it became clear to me why cycling is not in the same league as golf, hunting or fishing when it comes to activities business colleagues do together. Cycling in and near the city does not allow for good conversation, and there is rarely room for two to ride abreast, even on non-motorized paths. Sometimes the environment is downright hostile – we had to contend with congestion, fast moving vehicles, noise and air pollution. Don’t get me wrong we all love riding and will continue to do so in and around the city BUT I would not take a client or colleague on a nearby ride unless I was completely confident they knew their stuff. Even then, I’d probably pick a different activity.
This got me thinking about the subject of business bike retreats, which I have been promoting on behalf of my clients, Phil and Kathy Carlson of Treo Bike Tours in Eastern Oregon. Comparing my recent bike trip with my boys to the riding we’ve done this season with Treo, I’m convinced Phil and Kathy are in the perfect position to cater to urban business people who want a getaway based around cycling that is safe and supported. Phil and Kathy have been hosting popular bird hunting retreats for 20 years, so they know how to take care of guests and show them a good time. There is so little traffic on their road and gravel routes that groups can ride two- or more abreast for hours at a time, meaning more quality time among colleagues and clients. And Treo’s fantastic tour support means there are no worries about getting stranded, lost, hungry, or worn out on the road.
The $64,000 question is, will businesspeople be interested in such retreats? I think Treo could be ahead of the curve on this with the right stuff to make it work. Not everybody golfs or hunts, but just about everyone enjoys riding a bike — especially when they don’t have to worry about traffic or flats. Add great food and hospitality to a low-pressure ride plus good times and relaxing at the their ranch and you have the recipe for a the type of bonding and conversation that business leaders are looking for when they take their customers and employees on these kind of trips.
So, what do you think? Is biking a good activity for a business retreat or conference? We know it might not be for everyone, but what are necessary steps to make it work?
*Below, check out our car-free family bike trip across the Idaho panhandle a few years back.