Exploring the Forest of Bowland by e-bike

Sustainable Tourism Profiles: Ribble Valley E-Bikes

ON New Year’s Day 2020, Roger Wolstenholme was looking forward to opening a brand new sustainable business venture in the Forest of Bowland

After taking on the old garage at the heart of Dunsop Bridge, Roger was preparing to open a new electric bike hire centre and retail shop. He’d taken delivery of his first rental bikes and invested in sprucing up the premises and building a new website.

Electric bikes provide gentle assistance to the rider – making it much easier to tackle hills or headwinds while offering a real-world range of around 40 miles – sufficient to take on an electrically assisted ‘Tour de Bowland’!

With the imminent arrival of spring, Roger was taking his first bookings via the website and looking forward to greeting customers when the Covid pandemic saw the country plunged into lockdown.

“We were due to open the e-bike rental shop in Dunsop Bridge in early April, so we were already committed when the lockdown was announced,” explained Roger. “We had invested in bikes which then didn’t arrive, but we didn’t have any visitors anyway, because the whole country was in lockdown.

“One we did get some bikes, we could have opened, but we didn’t want to upset the community. At that point, it would have been easy to give up, but actually we decided to really commit to it and spend the downtime scaling up the operation.

“As the lockdown continued, the season was getting shorter and shorter, but by June, we were getting ready to open and took on our first employee and started getting the shop ready.

“We opened the doors in July and it took off straight away. We made sure the signage and the forecourt would attract interest from the visitors and we also got a lot of online bookings via the website and social media.

“Initially, we planned to operate as a seasonal bike rental business during the summer, but after a really busy summer, we decided to stay open into the autumn and winter – because Bowland is a wonderful place to be when the autumn colours are at their best.

A year down the line, Roger is optimistic about the prospects for 2021.

“We’re focusing more on the rental side this year, and we are expecting a really busy year as many families look to stay in Britain on staycation,” said Roger. “We’re also expecting a lot of the folk who perhaps discovered the Forest of Bowland for the first time last year to return again this year.

Roger is collaborating with James Places – owner of several country inns and hotels in the Forest of Bowland and Ribble Valley – to offer e-bike tours and weekend breaks and is also looking to run some guided tours over the summer months.

“Until recently, the steep hills and hidden valleys of the Forest of Bowland were the preserve of serious cyclists on super light road bikes, but the wider availability of electric bikes has changed all that.

“E-bikes offer visitors a passport to explore more of Bowland’s stunning scenery at their own pace without needing to pull on the Lycra and struggle up the steeper hills.”

Find out more here: https://www.ribblevalley-ebikehire.co.uk/

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Champion Bowland

Champion Bowland helped fund the launch of this website, which in turn benefits sustainable tourism businesses across the Bowland AONB.  Champion Bowland provides easily accessible small grants for local projects which benefit the environment, local communities and visitors within the Forest of Bowland AONB. Champion Bowland raises...

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Website Design Barrie Tyrer ribblesdale.net

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