The Sacred Rides Getaways Program was launched last fall as a way for mountain bikers who are passionate about guiding rides and showing people their home trails to lead trips under the Sacred Rides umbrella. For an annual membership fee, guides have access to Sacred Rides resources, including leadership training, marketing tools and a booking system.
While the Getaways Program is new, Sacred Rides is not. Mike Brcic, Founder and Chief Happiness Officer, started the company in 1996 in British Columbia. The area was on the cusp of the North Shore mountain biking revolution, and Brcic realized there were a lot of opportunities to guide people and help get the town of Fernie on the map. Business boomed for ten years, but when Brcic moved to Toronto in 2006, his enthusiasm waned. He wasn’t confident in the company’s ability to sustain itself in a new location and was on the verge of folding Sacred Rides when a trip to Peru changed his mind.
An immersive travel experience in Lima and Cuzco, riding mountain bikes in places that not many tourists ever see, rekindled the fire and inspired Brcic to create similar experiences for others all over the world. Soon, he was getting requests from people across the globe who were interested in leading trips for Sacred Rides. While Brcic did not have the means to directly employ them all, a light bulb did go on in his head.
He’d just spent a lot of time, money and effort creating a new website and booking system from scratch. He realized that this IT infrastructure could be tweaked to give individual affiliates their own web pages and booking system. They’d be under the Sacred Rides umbrella, but would manage and operate their own “business.”
After two years of development, Brcic launched the Getaways Program in fall 2016 with 20 affiliates, and over 350 people have expressed interest via email and initial signup. Brcic put the growth of the program on hold over the winter to bring the first few guides on board but recently opened up the application process again for 2017.
Brcic’s goal with the Getaways Program wasn’t only to find a way to bring more guides on board; it was also to offer another option to customers looking for short, affordable mountain bike vacations. While many Sacred Rides trips require a weeklong and substantial financial commitment, Getaways are exactly what the name claims—one-to-two-day ride adventures that are perfect for mountain bikers who only have time for a quick trip or who are visiting an area but don’t necessarily want to or can’t spend the entire time riding. Brcic mentioned the example of a business traveler who might want to squeeze some riding into a work trip and wants to maximize his or her time on the bike by hiring a local guide rather than spending precious time trying to figure out where the best trails are.
Sacred Rides Getaway guides are chosen for their core values (making sure they align with the Sacred Rides philosophy and mission), location (Brcic wants to make sure there aren’t too many guides in one area competing for business) and mountain bike skills (while it’s not imperative to be an expert, it’s important to be able to offer longer and more difficult rides in addition to beginner rides).
Once guides are vetted, they undergo an online training that teaches them how to set up their personal Getaway site and blog, how to design rides, how to work through difficult guiding scenarios, and safety and risk management. Within one year of becoming a guide, they must attend an in-person training as well.
All guides must also carry permits to lead rides on their local trails and insurance. Currently, these are pieces that each individual guide is responsible setting up, though Brcic has worked with partners to offer discounted rates on for Getaways guides and offers guidance and resources for obtaining permits and insurance.
The original yearly fee to become a Getaways guide and have access to the Sacred Rides network was $3499 CAD, but it’s now been significantly reduced to $1500 CAD based on initial feedback in order to make the program more accessible.
There are currently Getaway options in 27 different locations around the world, and there will soon be more. In fact, Brcic’s goal is to someday have trips in every country of the world and bring on 500 affiliates by 2020. He would also like to develop an app to streamline the booking process even further and focus on developing some longer Getaways trips in the future.
Check out the Sacred Rides website to find a Getaway or information on how to become a guide.