Berryville and Clarke County vendors have a shot at capturing up to $1.8M of direct spending revenue from Bike Virginia’s planned three-day visit to the area. With 1,700 pedalers already signed for the June event, town officials, business owners and citizens met on Tuesday night to refine plans for feeding, lodging and welcoming the wheeled visitors.
The Bike Virginia tour is a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization that works to improve cycling and walking across the Virginia. According to information provided by the group, riders average of 50 miles of riding per day for the event’s five days. This year’s tour will include circuits through Charles Town and Shepherdstown, West Virginia, with Berryville as base camp beginning with registration on Friday, June 22nd through Sunday, June 24th when riders roll out of town.
Assistant Town Manager Christy Dunkle led a Tuesday evening informational and brain-storming meeting attended by nearly 30 people. Topics ranged from logistics (the committee discussed closing the Crow Street block to motorized traffic as a possible pedestrian-only area on Friday and Saturday night), commerce (downtown businesses are being asked to stay open until 10pm and vendors will be able to rent booth areas behind the Joint Government Center), entertainment (bands and other live music will be stationed throughout the downtown area) and food.
Lots of food.
According to Bike Virginia, the approximately 2,000 cyclists – riders from all 50 states and 12 countries are represented – have an average age of 54 years and 60% are male. The group is expected to consume 500- 800 breakfasts, 2,000 lunches and 700-800 dinners.
Dunkle said that although many of the riders will opt for catered food coordinated by Bike America, area restaurants will see an increase in business especially on Saturday night when the organization kicks-off a 25th birthday celebration party in downtown Berryville.
Tuesday night’s meeting served as a chance for individuals and business owners to begin to understand the opportunities and challenges associated with the event. Suggestions included offering local wines for purchase, Revolutionary War re-enactors on downtown street corners and highlighting the downtown park as a center for festivities.
Dunkle said that it would be necessary to find volunteers to implement any ideas adopted by the committee and asked for assistance in locating people willing to lend a helping hand.
Celeste Heath demonstrated an interactive Google map with points of interest and businesses will be available in time for the event to bikers and others.
Because the large number of bikers will quickly overwhelm both Berryville and Winchester lodging options – Dunkle said local bed & breakfasts are already full for the event – a “tent city” will be set-up at the old Clarke County high school complete with shower trucks and a shuttles running between Berryville and Winchester.
A valet bike parking service is just one of the potential revenue generating opportunities discussed that is awaiting a local entrepreneur. People with other service or product ideas that may appeal to the cyclists are encouraged to contact Dunkle as soon as possible.
Dunkle, who has also participated in previous Bike Virginia events, said that the tour is a fun, environmentally friendly, healthy, and affordable vacation for the riders. Dunkle also said that Bike America is working on an “adventure cycling corridor” that will stretch from the C&O Canal in Harpers Ferry and eventually connect with another corridor in North Carolina.
Once the bike corridor is complete, Dunkle says that Berryville could benefit from a regular flow of cross-country-cyclists.
“Cycling is a really big sport and generates a lot of tourism revenue,” Dunkle said. “This event could really put us on the map for future cycling activities.”