Retirement is a time when many active adults finally get the opportunity to spend more time on their bicycles, even taking an organized bike tour or two every summer.
For avid bicyclists Rod Hutton and Joe Florian, however, retirement is giving them a chance to organize and offer their own multi-day bicycle tours of scenic areas of Ohio through a company they recently formed.
When Rod contacted me about adding this first ride to the Multi-day Bicycle Tour listings at BikingBis.com, I was curious what led them to launch a bicycle tour company.
Hobby becomes career
At first glance, their backgrounds don’t appear to have prepared them for such a venture. Rod is a retired theology professor and Joe is a retired computer techie who most recently worked for Hewlett-Packard. But it’s what they did in their off-hours that sent them down this road.
Rod said they both belonged to a local riding group in Columbus, Ohio, the Cyclonics. Members would take turns creating bicycling routes for the others and – more importantly – decide where to eat afterwards.
“Years ago I designed several annual multi-day rides for family and friends,” Rod said, “and always thought that that’s what I’d love to do in retirement. Heck, it’s what I should have been doing all along! Well, the time came, and I took the leap, and asked my friend Joe—himself on the cusp of retirement—to join me.”
They both have lots of experience observing multi-day tours from their bike saddles in Ohio, Indiana, Oregon, Utah, Colorado, New York, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Michigan, North Carolina and Florida. Joe is a 5-time RAGBRAI vet, and Rod says he’s done GOBA (Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure) more times than he can remember.
Rod and Joe took the best of their experiences when they designed the focus of their company.
“Pushing into retirement has us thinking of like-minded and like-aged persons who may have better legs than backs, and who want the challenge of good solid cycling but the creature-comforts they desire,” Rod said.
Over the years, Rod has appreciated the bike tours that focused on motels and hotels rather than camping, and Joe relished the camaraderie and intimacy he experienced on small group bike tours in Europe.
The Amish country tour will be limited to about 25 cyclists who will ride to three inns during the course of the week, staying multiple nights in two of them. There are short and long route options each day, or no riding at all on optional layover days. There are plenty of touristy and historic landmarks along the way.
In the future, they plan bike tours of some islands in Lake Erie and the wooded Hocking Hills.
They’ve been surprised at how much time they’ve spent preparing for this first ride, scheduled July 22-27 next year. Getting a business license and opening a business bank account were the first hurdles.
“Joe and I have put days and days in already driving routes, riding routes, exploring restaurants, hotels, bakeries, wineries and candy shops (someone has to do it!), and talking with locals about museums and local attractions,” Rod says.
The big unknown, however, is whether there’s room for another bicycle tour company.
“We both feel that there are relatively few tours that focus on upscale hotels and nice related amenities (such as pools, hot tubs, saunas, catered meals, and wine and cheese receptions every afternoon). So we think that there is a good-sized niche within which we are carving out the future of our company,” Rod says.
Only time will tell, but niche bicycle tour companies may become more common as the avid bicyclists who participate in multi-day rides create second careers in retirement.