Guide Life: Biking Buttermilk
Who: Mark Welgos, Bike Guide & Ride Aspen Proprietor
Hometown: Aspen, Colorado
I remember riding my Gary Fisher Sugar 1 up Smuggler Mountain and doing the backside into Hunter Creek and riding the trails around Aspen. This would have been around eighth grade. I used to ride the crap out of that bicycle and really beat it up. My parents would help me with the repair costs here and there, but they started seeing how much it added up, so that’s how I started working on bikes: my need to fix my own.
I started screwing around, changing out the cable and housing on it with absolutely no experience — just tearing apart my bike and learning how to reassemble it. I learned quickly that you need a little background information to do that.
In high school and even after college, I worked in a number of bike shops here and I saw a big void in terms of customer need and the personal side of the business.
A lot of people would ask in shops, “Do you pick up bikes, because I don’t have a bike rack or a big enough car.” Or ask, “Is there anyone who can show me around? Do you give mountain-biking lessons?”
Back then I didn’t’ know anybody doing that kind of thing, so I wanted to show people around the trails in the valley and show them how we experience Aspen. I want to give them the best opportunity to experience Aspen through our eyes. So we started Ride Aspen three years ago. There was a huge void in the market for this type of bike concierge service we do. We wanted to bring personal service to bike repairs and bike tunes, so we pick up and drop off bikes. Same with our rental business. We set our guests up properly in a relaxed one-on-one atmosphere. It’s a personal touch. We make sure the bike fits perfectly. We can explain the ride and where to go. We can take them out. It’s a lot more personal than when I was working in the shops.
We don’t have a brick-and-mortar location, but the bike business comes out of referrals about how good the work you do is, so we make customers happy and make sure they refer us to their friends and out-of-towners.
People come from sea level and try to do these bike rides around here and they really struggle.
So the e-bike explosion in Aspen has helped out a lot of our guests to actually be able to enjoy Aspen on a bike and not just struggle. Those are the experiences this summer that really stick out to me, because people are enjoying the tour a lot more than on a regular bike. They can look around and enjoy the scenery and take in the views, rather than grunting up a hill and trying to get there.
We all ski instruct in the wintertime and I take care of a home year-round on McLain Flats. So like any Aspen worker, we all have a number of jobs.
– As told to Andrew Travers