Wydaho Rendezvous Recap

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One of our favorite things to do at Buddy Pegs is to interact with parents and kids LIVE and in person! This year, we offered to help take the Wydaho Rendezvous Mt Bike Festival to the next level with our Buddy Pegs Grom Fest.

Event organizers Teton Valley Trails and Pathways, and site host Grand Targhee Resort, were amazing to work with and the weekend was a HUGE success!

What’s a Buddy Pegs Grom Fest you ask? Well, having been involved in planning too many bike events to count, I can tell you two things for sure. 1. Event organizers always want to elevate the kids’ festival experience, and 2. they never have the bandwidth to really pull it off.

Running a bike event is extremely hard work and there are more moving pieces than a coaster brake hub.

So we decided to help. Now when festival organizers want to throw more kid activities into their schedule, all they need to do is plug in a Buddy Pegs Grom Fest package and boom - they’re done.

Grom: evolving from surf culture, the term grom is occasionally used to describe young surfers (or in this case bikers) who rip.

For Wydaho, we built a custom Grom Fest package that included:

  • Group rides galore
  • B is for Bicycles scavenger hunt
  • Build your own bicycle obstacle course
  • Decorate your own number plate
  • Paint your own cowbell

The festival was amazing and the groms were pumped all weekend long!

Here’s a photo stream of how the weekend unfolded - hope you enjoy!

B is for Bicycles Scavenger Hunt

For Wydaho, it wasn’t hard to figure out which letters to pick! Check out our sweet Event Guide that each kid received when they arrived.

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Before the event began, we “hid” letters from B is for Bicycles on 6 different kid friendly trails.

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During the group rides, we stopped to mark off the letters as we found them!

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The stoke level was HIGH at the Buddy Pegs booth before every group ride!

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Amazingly, there was almost no complaining on the trail. The power of group rides :)

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In between rides, we made sure to have lots of other activities to keep everyone happy. There’s way more than actually riding that is fun about bikes.

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The decorate your own number plate sessions were always packed!

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Proud papa in the background!

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Once installed, the number plates clearly added super powers to each bike.

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The build your own obstacle course was also a big hit. All it takes is some sidewalk chalk, and a few pieces of scrap lumber!

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We were blown away at how many kids joined us for every group ride :)

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Before dropping into Chutes and Ladders.

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Grand Targhee is berm-tastic!

The Pinball Skills Park is great for FAT…

…or SKINNY!

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When it was all said and done, Wydaho 2016 was all thumbs up! See ya next Labor Day weekend!

Are kids biking MORE or LESS?

IS THE ANSWER…

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“The best numbers available suggest that today’s American kids bike as much — if not more — than kids did in the mid-1970s.” - Michael Andersen (The Green Lane Project)


OR IS THE ANSWER…

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“Since 1996 the number of children, age 7-17, participating in bicycle riding 6 days or more in a year has declined 12,097,800 or 54.6%” -
Elliot Gluskin (The Gluskin Townley Group)

Great, now that we’re clear on that. 

Wait, what?! Let me get this straight. The first quote, lifted from a People for Bikes (P4B) blog post, says kids are potentially riding more today than they did in the 70′s. The second, sourced from the leading bike industry statisticians, says youth riding participation has fallen off a cliff. 

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Here at Buddy Pegs, we simply want to get more kids on bikes since we believe that bicycles not only help build the fundamental building blocks of life long happiness, but they are a simple solution to the world’s most complex problems. No matter how many kids are riding today, we want to see more.

But do we have an endemic biking crisis in the US, or not. Do we as bike advocates need to be sounding the alarm, or just moving forward, steady as she goes?

First of all, I completely support the intention of the People for Bikes post (quoted above) to highlight that an increase in bicycling infrastructure correlates to a decrease in youth bicycling fatalities. Let’s keep communicating that! But what about the stats about the number of kids riding bikes in the US… are they accurate?

A few years back, I sat in on a Gluskin Townley Group webinar about the future of the bike industry. If you don’t know Elliot Gluskin and Jay Townley, they are arguably the leading bike industry analysts, hired by many big names in the bike industry to provide insightful market research. 

After reading the People for Bikes post, I was confused about how the data presented did not line up with data presented in the Gluskin Townley Group webinar. In particular, Elliot and Jay presented data from the National Participation Study (NPS), conducted annually since 1993 by the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA). This study defines ‘participation’ as the riding of a bicycle at least 6 times a year, and concludes that… 

youth cycling (between ages of 7-17), has declined from 22.1M in 1996 to 10.1M in 2014 - a drop of 54%!

In the People for Bikes post, Michael Andersen writes, 

“Every academic we checked with… agreed about the best available set of data on this question: the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Personal Travel Survey (NPTS) and its successor, the National Household Travel Survey (NHTS).“ 

Given this contradiction, I asked the Gluskin Townley Group for some clarification (academics not consulted for the P4B post). In his response, Elliot Gluskin explained that he feels the NPTS/NHTS are fundamentally flawed, and that the NSGA Participation Study should really be the benchmark. 

“The NSGA data is consistent and the methodology has been the same since 1987 when the association first started measuring participation in sport/team/recreational activities. It is this consistency of methodology that has us advocating for this participation study as being truer in pinpointing changes over time.” - Elliot Gluskin

At this point, my confusion deepens. Don’t worry if you’re not following the difference between all the acronyms: NPTS, NSGA, NHTS. The real point is, 

I’m not sure the bike industry has embraced the actual need for reliable participation data as a benchmark from which to discuss the state of our industry. 

If we have, then why am I just now bringing up this contradiction in reporting? Why is this not the keynote topic at the Bicycle Leadership Conference, The National Bike Summit, Interbike, and other industry conferences? If we were truly concerned about the number of kids riding bikes, wouldn’t one assume this topic would fly to the highest seats in the pantheon of industry leaders? 

Diving in deeper to the Gluskin Townley findings (for you stats nerds out there), the situation seems pretty grim.

“Since 1996 the number of children, age 7-17, participating in bicycle riding 6 days or more in a year has declined 12,097,800 or 54.6%. To provide context to this decline, during the same period the total number of bicycling participants declined 17,700,000 or 33.2%.  Also, on a national basis, the total number of children 7-17 years old in 2014 was 45,567,000 compared to 41,695,000 in 1996 for an increase of 9.3%. In 1996 the number of children 7-17 represented 15.7% of the total U.S. population but in 2014 this age group represented 14.3%. “ - Elliot Gluskin 

To put that in non-statistical language… all sharrows point to a doomsday scenario for US cycling.

In the P4B blog, they draw a conclusion that the proportion of American children’s trips taken via bike has remained stable.  This conclusion is completely out of sync with the NSGA study, which obviously shows a gigantic decline in the number of children riding 6 or more days a year from ages 7-17. 

So what exactly is the message we want delivered to the bike industry? From where should our leaders lead?

On one hand there’s the message that we have a crisis because children are not riding as much (in hugely significant numbers).  

On the other hand, we have a message of, don’t panic, numbers are staying consistent. 

One message has the potential to rally our industry together to find unified solutions to endemic problems.

The other has the potential to freeze the bike industry in a state of complacency about youth cycling participation… and the future of biking participation in general.

I would assume we all agree that to have a strong top, you need a solid base. Stones at the bottom of a pyramid were cut far thicker than those at the top. Construction crews spend way more time solidifying the foundation of a sky scraper than they do finishing the top floor.

With that in mind, if there is even a shadow of a doubt that our nation’s kids aren’t riding bikes as much as they used to, shouldn’t we send more construction workers in to do something about it?

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Father / Son Bikepacking in Grand Teton National Park

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“Dad, I wish we had just driven the van to camp”.

These words pierced my soul like a flaming pedal wrench as my 6 year old son stood crying on the bike path in Grand Teton National Park watching 4 other boys, and their dads, ride away from us.

For weeks, we had been planning our first bike packing adventure and the build up to this moment finally got to both of us. He was scared, and I was frustrated. Our perfect father / son adventure was falling apart. All our planning, and positive build up to the trip, meant nothing now - he was not going to pedal one more stroke.

Thankfully, he and I both turned our attitudes around and we had a trip lifelong father / son memories are made of. But I had to go through the fire as a parent first. I had to learn how to be a better Dad… again.

Here’s how it all went down.

So what is bikepacking anyway?

It’s as simple as it sounds. Think backpacking, but with your bike. Everything you need for camping out is strapped to your bike… instead of your back. Even though bike touring is as old as the bicycle wheel, the concept of light weight, off road touring on a mountain bike is relatively new.

Over the last 5 or 6 years, thanks to new purpose built bikepacking gear, this form of adventure travel has exploded in popularity. And just like all Dads who are passionate about something, and want to share it with their kids, our friend Brian decided to create an annual Father / Son bikepacking trip into Grand Teton National Park.

To be honest, this trip is neither off-road, or lightweight. This is a 4 mile paved bike path trip with a focus on fun and comfort for the boys. I rode my Surly Big Dummy cargo bike loaded with as many camping creature comforts as possible. A few other Dads pulled trailers stuffed to the gills with tents, coolers, layers of clothing, and lots of good old camp fire food.

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The mission was: ride from Taggart Lake parking area to the Jenny Lake campground.

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The meltdown

Sure, seems simple enough, short ride to camp, hit the lake, cook some yummy food, roast some marshmallows, laugh with friends, sleep under the stars.

But then it happened… within 100 meters of the parking lot, one kid bumped into another kid and the trail of good times quickly turned into the trail of tears. No blood, no physical damage done, but the emotional impact was pretty big.

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My son was not the one crying at this point, but it clearly had an effect on him. He really had no idea what he was getting himself into. The concept of bikepacking was relatively unknown to him, the distance to camp was unknown to him, and now his best friend was crying.

It didn’t take long for the tears to dry up and the ride to continue, but the other 3 boys had ridden off into the distance. And now our friend Rowan, the one with the tears, was riding off to catch the others. 

My son and I, however, had quickly fallen off the back of the group, and the path ahead seemed like it went on for days. Now all my son could focus on was how far to camp, whether or not he would ever see his buddies again,  and his inability to ride another inch forward.

After 5 minutes of this stalemate, I hit bottom. As soon as the stern words came out I wanted them back, 

“Look buddy, maybe you’re just not ready for this and maybe we should just ride back to the van and go home.” 

More tears. More frustration. My son was scared and here I was trying to guilt him into going forward. Bad Dad. 

Then I tried the second most ineffective technique for turning a kid’s attitude around… Logic.

“Buddy, it’s not about the destination. It’s about the journey, the moment we’re in right now. Look at how beautiful the mountains are. There’s not a cloud in the sky. Can you smell the flowers? Incredible. We’ll get to camp when we get to camp - who cares?”

Yeah, guess how well that worked.

We got through it with a little more time, but I had trouble recreating the mood of excitement and care free Dad adventure. I was as sad as he was. 

Here I am trying to launch a company focused on helping parents introduce biking to their kids and I can’t even ride a mile with my son and keep it fun. Yeah, I let myself go there - I felt like a failure as a Dad, and a business owner… harsh.

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The mental turnaround.

Before too long, we rejoined the group and our spirits got a much needed lift. My son was still a bit quiet and tentative, but the collective stoke from the rest of our crew quickly brought me back. Camp was close and the adventure rolled on.

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Of course once we arrived at camp my son was fully back into the good time mindset. As always, a little time, and a transition to the next thing, makes earlier meltdowns seem like a distant bad dream.

Jenny Lake bicycle campground.

I have an amazing secret to tell you. Head down the path behind the main Jenny Lake campground and you’ll find this treasure. Even though we were in Grand Teton National Park, in the height of the season, with the main Jenny Lake campground completely full, we arrived to an empty “bicycle only” campground! 

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Even though the boys were ready to fall into Lord of the Flies mode and explore their new surroundings, the Dads put them to work helping set up camp. Again, in full disclosure, my 6 year old son is not exactly a model helper. 

But setting up camp is way different than cleaning your room. He loves pounding in the stakes, unfolding the tent poles, and pulling out the sleeping bags. Ah the magic of camping!

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Once camp was set, we were off to the lake!

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What can I really say about these pictures that you don’t immediately understand? Boys, Dads, water, sand, bugs, drift wood, fishing pole. Priceless!

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After enjoying the lake in all its glory, we headed back to camp for dinner and s’mores. Dads cooked while the boys made up new games with rules we didn’t understand. To me, these moments at camp seem like some of the most important parts of my son’s childhood. 

It’s moments like these where self confidence, collaboration, independence, and connection to their surroundings seep into them and take root.

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In the morning we woke to the neighborhood watch strolling through camp. Peacefully sipping my morning coffee, while the boys sat quietly watching deer move past us, was a pretty nice way to start the day.

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But we had miles to go and the adventure must roll on. A late morning pack and we were off on our bikes once again.

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As we pedaled past the jammed parking lot and throngs of car shackled tourists, I smiled that our crew had everything we really needed in life strapped right to our bikes. Miles of unobstructed pathway lay ahead of us and I felt free.

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We took a few detours on the ride back to the beginning and the boys loved every minute of it. Smiles were big and I had to think that the kids, just like the Dads, were somehow aware of the true awesomeness of the adventure we were having. 

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Who knows, to them it might have just been another bike ride…

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The very best moment of the trip.

And then it happened…

My son and I fell off the back of the group once again and ended up pedaling the last mile by ourselves. I was happy, he seemed happy. We were quiet.

Out of the blue, my son turned to me and said ( I swear I am not making this up),

“Dad, it doesn’t matter if the other kids rode ahead of us, it’s a beautiful day right? We’re just having fun right?”

Are you serious? Was the trip sinking in? Did my words during the meltdown yesterday actually take hold?! Was I moving into ‘hero Dad’ status? To him I simply agreed, “yup, that’s right buddy”. Inside I was doing a touchdown dance! Then he kept going with his reflections, or should I say… his teachings to me,

“I was just scared yesterday. I hadn’t done this before and I didn’t know how far it was to camp. That’s all.”

Yup, that’s all. His words were delivered nonchalantly, but they hit me hard. To me, 4 miles to camp, on a flat path, was no big deal and well within his ability. But to him, it was a new and seemingly impossible effort. He really just didn’t know what to expect. 

Next time, instead of trying to force my way through the moment (as I did yesterday), I promise to have more awareness of what that moment is really like for him. I promise to have more patience. And maybe I’ll just say, “it’s ok to be scared buddy” and give him a hug.

High fives and ice cream.

After our little zen moment I sprinted ahead and yelled back, “show me a Can/Can” (his favorite bicycle trick)!  To which he gladly complied.

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Back at the parking lot it was high fives all around. A huge sense of accomplishment hung in the air and plans for the next adventure were tossed around. We said our goodbyes and loaded up the van. Then, there was only one thing left to do… ICE CREAM!

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What does the world need?

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive. – Howard Thurman

As we said in our last last post, launching Buddy Pegs has been an interesting experience for us to say the least. The conflicting dynamic between focusing energy on a business idea that is fueled by passion, and the need to simply earn money, has been weighing heavily.

Sure, most business experts are now pointing to “passion for the idea” as a key tenant to the likelihood of long term business success. That is of course, assuming you can sell a bunch of what ever it is. Because what you want to offer the world, better be what the world really needs or wants! The reality of cash flow is a powerful force, and entrepreneurs are advised to heed that power.

So therein lies the rub with a social entrepreneur venture like Buddy Pegs. On one hand, we want to offer parents tools to connect their kids with the fundamental building blocks of success and happiness. On the other hand, what if there aren’t enough parents who actually want those tools?

To solve for this conundrum, do we spend months on market research to better understand the wants and desires of our target audience? Or do we use that time to develop more experiences for parents (write another book, build online training tools, etc.) instead?

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I’m sure the answer lies somewhere in between, and that’s where we’ve been living. Jannine and I ran a focus group session with parents to better understand their deepest desires for their kids, and themselves. We sent around a parent survey to Mom’s outside our little mountain town community. And we continue to spend time researching parent behaviors online.

But research burns up A LOT of very limited resources - primarily our time! And in the end, does it change what we want to do? No. But do we want to fail at our new business? Definitely not. A friend of mine once said,

“You can’t out crusade capitalistic forces”

No James… you can’t.

But then there’s the quote at the top of this post… and I’ll tell you what makes me come alive. Helping kids light up with self confidence and sense of accomplishment when they ride a bike. I feel like the world is a better place when I see that. Like I somehow did my part.

Since we believe the bicycle is a simple solution to our world’s most complex problems, we want to help grow the number of cyclists. Oh, and by the way, the trend is going the other way.

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In this slide, the Gluskin Townley Group puts the National Sporting Goods Association annual Participation Survey into some pretty easy to understand language. In case you missed it, let me boil down the data into the one take away that matters most:

There has been a 42.9% decline in youth cycling (ages 7-17) from the year 20000 to 2013.

Yeah, that’s a 4 followed by a 2, and then a decimal point. Weird, childhood obesity doubled in the same time period. Huh.

What do we want to accomplish with Buddy Pegs? We want to reverse that trend. Let’s work together to get those 7.5 million kids back on bikes.

So there you have it. I refuse to get stuck in the mind trap of “what does the world need?”. I believe the world needs more kids on bikes, and that makes me come alive. Does it have to be more than that? Well, I do hope there’s enough of YOU out there who agree, because we also do need a paycheck ;)

You need to LAUNCH your idea to the world BEFORE it's ready

Last week I had the title of this blog post sitting, as a subject line, in my inbox (thanks to one of those online business gurus I follow). And he’s 100% right.

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To me, this picture sums it up. One kid dropping into the ‘big line’ while the other kid looks on and says, “are you sure about that?”.

That’s totally how we feel right now.

For almost 8 years, I have been thinking about starting a business that focuses on getting more kids on bikes. I’ve thought about revenue models, marketing strategies, product development, team building, fundraising, bootstrapping, etc. I’ve kept Jannine up at night with my obsessing over the idea.

And all that thinking has basically brought me back to one conclusion over and over again…

We need more time to figure it out, before we really launch.

As some backstory:

In 2014, we launched our first product through Kickstarter, the children’s book B is for Bicycles.

In 2015, we sold our bicycle store of 14 years to focus on this new company.

In 2016… we thought… we waited… we strategized… 

But in all that time, we haven’t really LAUNCHED - told you, told the world - here we are, and this is what we’re doing. 

I personally have been scared to actually launch. What if it’s not a good idea? What if I can’t explain it well enough to people? What products will we actually sell? How will we find the time to really dedicate to the business while working other jobs to pay the bills AND raise a family? What if the name isn’t great and the logo isn’t perfect?

Thankfully (I think), I got the email that reminded me of what I have been told over and over again by people I deeply admire - LAUNCH ALREADY!

OK, OK, I get it. LET’S LAUNCH!

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Our Purpose:  Inspire a happier, healthier world

Maybe it’s better stated as (see, it’s little things like this which have kept us from moving ahead):

  • Inspire a happier, healthier world through bicycles.
  • Inspire more kids to ride for life.
  • Inspire a better world through bikes.
  • Connect kids with the building blocks of life long happiness.

No matter - I think we’re clear on the purpose, and for now, that will have to do.

How we do it: By sharing the power of the bicycle with families.

What we deliver: Shared experiences that enhance the human powered childhood on wheels.

Whew - that feels good.

So what about B is for Bicycles? What about us being children’s book authors? Yup, we are. And that book is awesome! But here’s the point. We just want to get more kids on bikes. Why? 

Because we believe bicycles are a simple solution to the world’s most complex problems.

Reading B is for Bicycles to your little one is just one example of a shared experience that enhances the human powered childhood on wheels. And when more kids ride bikes, they develop the fundamental building blocks of lifelong happiness, and the world is a better place.

B is for Bicycles is one example of products we want to create to power these shared experiences.  And maybe, just maybe, gets kids riding bikes more.

What’s next? Haha - that’s what we’ve been wondering ;) Don’t worry, we’ll keep you in the loop as we go! Stay tuned for how to videos, web trainings, and information about our second book - all coming soon!

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