Key bike shops are getting behind quirky cycle holiday firm Ride25, including York Cycleworks and Sigma Sport of Hampton Wick.
The recently launched Ride25 offers riders the chance to ride the world, one leg at a time. With no compulsion to ride the full 25 legs, cyclists can fit them in around their commitments - "leaving their work and home commitments behind for a few days for an adventure of a lifetime".
Ian Whittingham, managing director of Sigma Sport, said: "When I first met John from Ride25 we were very excited about the idea of cycling to Sydney over the course of 25 separate cycling tours. Ride25 offers something completely unique and exciting in cycling holidays that we have never come across before.
"Although there is the ultimate goal of cycling to the other side of the world, you only commit to one leg at a time and can pick and choose which tours you fancy doing. We also really love the way they have designed their tours so that all cycling abilities are catered for - from novice cyclists to regular club members. We are looking forward to partnering with Ride25 and also cycling the world with them - it’s going to be great fun."
Sam Streeton, director of York Cycleworks, commented: "John was already a customer of York Cycleworks and we fitted him to his bike a few years ago. During his bike fit we became aware of his initial cycle to Sydney for 1Morechild, we like most people initially thought he was a bit crazy. However, loved the idea of breaking down the world into manageable sections which can be ridden over a few days - genius. It thought it was a great idea.
"Now he’s turned in an actual business we were very keen to be involved. John and the Ride25 team are also pretty good at all things digital marketing so that’s real bonus as they have already helped us get several more bike fits through the door and subsequent new bikes sales. We are very please to be the exclusive Ride25 York partner.”
Here's our interview with Ride25 co-founder John Readman, explaining in the detail the genesis and plans for the ambitious firm (originally printed in the April edition of BikeBiz):
Ride25 is plotting to carve out its very own niche in the cycle holiday market, with a specific and probably unique proposition for independent bicycle retailers.
In a nutshell, Ride25 is a company offering cycle trips to the other side of the world, in 25 legs. There’s no compulsion for punters to ride them all, they only have to commit to one tour at a time.
Yorkshire-based founders John Readman and Rob Hamilton came up with the concept after running a one-off ride to Australia – 1morecycle – for children’s charity 1morechild. Half of those taking part weren’t regular cyclists and there was a strong social element to the ride. Soon after, the announcement came through that Yorkshire was hosting the start of the 2014 Tour de France. Gary Verity of Welcome to Yorkshire was pivotal in bringing Le Tour to Yorkshire, and also to Ride25.
Readman takes up the story: “Gary said the Tour coming to Yorkshire would inspire enterprise. He was right. The Tour de France has been a big inspiration to us. It feels like this is the time to launch Ride25.”
In short, Readman and Hamilton seized the moment and sought to turn their one off ride into a business.
“We spied an opportunity,” Readman told BikeBiz. “Ride25 is a holiday, but it’s a challenge as well, with time to enjoy the company of the other riders, with good food and wine along the way.
“We’re hoping to attract people who don’t think cycling to Paris or Geneva is achievable. We’re planning on getting more people on bikes.
“They can go at their own pace and all our riders have to do is worry about pedalling.”
While rider’s don’t have to sign up to every leg, there’s a good chance they’ll feel the urge to do more than one – when they sign up they get a bespoke shirt with a badge for the specific ride that they are doing. Each leg has its own colour and badge, so some riders will have a number of coloured badges on their jersey, no doubt prompting envious looks from other riders.
The social side of Ride25 is key too. Routes will have photo points where riders can share their pics and Strava stats with jealous chums back home – “bragging rights”.
“We hope people will come with two or three mates and then they’ll find a likeminded group and end up forming a bond of friends that they team up with for future Ride25 legs.”
Each ride will have six support staff, including medic and technical, and three support cars. For every rider taking part Ride25 will recycle a bike to Africa with Re- cycle.
How does retail come in? Bike shops have been able to work with cycle holiday firms before, but with Ride25 there’s more in it for the dealer than just a simple bit of commission.
“Ride25 is looking for regional partners, with an area of exclusivity for each shop. We’ll provide digital marketing support, which is an area of expertise for us, and everyone who signs up to the ride will be directed to their nearest regional partner IBD, encouraging footfall into shops.
“Our site has a map including all our approved Ride25 partners and we’re in the process of putting together videos with one of our first partners featuring all their branding, which we’ll use and promote online – it’s all good marketing for them.
“We can help promote our retail partners and give them something back.”
And there’ll be commission for any holidays sold in store too, of course.
In return, all a shop has to do is promote Ride25 in-store and on social media, even with something as simple as putting a post card in every bag.
“Even cycle cafes can be a Ride25 partner,” Readman adds. Being a Yorkshire company, Ride25 is keen to emphasise there are regional opportunities for the retailer and for the rides themselves.
“There are lots of London to Paris rides around, but we’ll offer Leeds to Paris, Cardiff to Paris, Birmingham to Paris, etc.”
“We’re looking for proactive partner in each region and we’re in this for the long haul,” Readman concludes. “We’re not about to sign up a brand or an online retailer as a sponsor. We are treating Ride25 as a brand in its own right and that’s why we’re embracing IBDs.”
Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire – the agency which led the winning bid to bring the Grand Départ to the county – said: “The Grand Départ’s arrival this summer in Yorkshire has already had a major positive impact on the county, across business and tourism, and it’s great to see that it has inspired successful entrepreneurs like John to follow his passion and create a brand new venture around cycling. One of the many reasons we wanted to bring the world’s largest annual sporting event to Yorkshire was to raise the profile of the county globally and create a lasting legacy to further grow the county’s tourism economy. New businesses like Ride25 will hopefully create jobs and opportunities and also encourage people to saddle up, which can only be a good thing, and we wish him well in his new venture.”