E-bike and gravel trip interests align with industry sales; underscore growing consumer interest
Moab, Utah (August 26, 2021) – For the past 30 years, Western Spirit Cycling, the Moab-based premier outfitter offering guided mountain bike, gravel, and e-bike trips for beginners and experts, have hosted cyclists of all ages and backdrops on two-wheeled adventures across the Intermountain West. But never has the independently-owned and operated company, led by Ashley Korenblat and Mark Sevenoff, experienced a growth year like that of 2020.
Western Spirit posted an astounding year-over-year growth of 39-percent from August 2020 to August 2021. While it doesn’t completely parallel the industry-wide growth in cycling (The NPD Group reports a 60-percent sales increase when comparing bicycle and other related industry sales from April 2019 to April 2021), it’s a very strong indicator that the demand for outdoor adventure on two wheels continues to surge.
Notably, Western Spirit’s growth came from new cyclists and returning clients interested in exploring new genres of cycling like gravel riding and e-biking. Additionally, the company is known for custom trips and offers an array of trip options well suited to smaller groups of cyclists.
The outfitter is known for its laser-focused attention to detail and exceptional guest experiences. But COVID removed some of the levers of control that enable delivery of that experience.
“Growing at this rate through the Bike Boom of the pandemic called for hard work, being nimble, and having a lot of focus. We’re proud that our team was able to step up and meet the demand of new and existing Western Spirit guests,” Sevenoff says. “With so many new cyclists over the last year, it was great to have a new wave of people riding and camping with Western Spirit.”
Western Spirit’s leadership and ethos mirror the resilience and commitment of outdoor-recreation small business owners to harness the growth opportunities tied to the pandemic.
For example, Korenblat pointed to her company’s ability to offer gravel and e-bike trip options last year, which added new opportunities for the Moab, Utah-based company.
“Some of our longest standing mountain bike itineraries, like Telluride to Moab and our Backcountry Hot Springs trip in Idaho are being re-written as gravel trips and our guests are loving it,” says Korenblat. “Now, a whole new generation of riders are joining us to get off the pavement and explore the west.”
Like the rest of the world, the Western Spirit Cycling team faced significant business setbacks during the height of the pandemic, which drove the team to get creative in its offerings to guests, and to go above and beyond when it came to being flexible with clients traveling to trips.
“We’ve had to hire more guides, buy additional tour vehicles, and of course secure bikes as part of our expanding rental fleet,” says Sevenoff. “At one point when we needed another van for transporting guests, the Ford dealer said they couldn’t even take the order due to the computer chip shortage.”
The challenge of securing bikes was something the Western Spirit team were warned about months in advance. Western Spirit halted sales of their 2020 rental fleet to get through the spring 2021 season, but when the 2021 fleet order was pushed back month after month, they were looking at a real bike shortage on pre-sold trips.
“While we have been a Specialized dealer for over twenty years, this year all bets were off as the supply chain wreaked havoc on delivery times. We were so grateful to the Specialized team when our order came through right before we started into our busiest summer season. Our fleet of Stumpjumpers went right into service. Specialized even lent us some of their demo Diverge fleet so we could accommodate riders on some of our newer gravel trips,” said Sevenoff.
The growth is obviously positive to Sevenoff and Korenbalt, but to have it occur during a time of such unpredictable business headwinds also makes it somewhat surprising.
Western Spirit faced significant business challenges over the past year in addition to the ever changing COVID protocols, wildfires, Air Quality Index (AQI) forecasts, and a major building supply shortage as they began plans to replace their headquarters in Moab.
“We are so lucky that so many of our guests were willing to play musical chairs as we sorted out their departure dates while our truly incredible guides and office team were constantly rearranging trips on the fly,” says Korenblat. “The challenges just kept coming but we never gave up, and of course once you are out there on the trail, it’s all worth it.”
To learn more about Western Spirit Cycling, please visit: https://westernspirit.com/.
About Western Spirit Cycling
With over 50+ trips around the United States, Western Spirit is North America’s premier mountain bike outfitter. From mellow rides around hot springs to five days above 10,000 feet, we have options for riders of all types. Since 1990 we have been helping people get outside, experience the pure magic of the great outdoors, and achieve their destination cycling dreams. Learn more about Western Spirit Cycling by visiting: https://westernspirit.com/.