October 30, 2018 § 1 Comment
I was at Phil’s Cookie Fondo on Saturday doing a lot of nothing as I walked around the exhibitor area. There was a tent on the corner painted green, Dr. Seuss green, and it had some stuff written on it along with a pile of green socks out front.
I started talking with the lady but she was a bit difficult to understand at first as she wasn’t a native English speaker but rather a Canadian. Soon however she understood my “dudes” and I understood her “Eys” and with the help of some sign language and Google translate we were getting along famously.
Over in a chair sat a dude, also dressed in green, with a green gimme cap and an extremely relaxed attitude. His name was Joel and the lady I was talking to was Jillian. I don’t know if they got married because of the alliteration, but “Joel & Jillian” is pretty hard to beat.
“So what’s this that you guys do?” I asked.
“Before we get to that let me ask you the big question,” Jillian said. “The one that matters.”
“Solid green or green polka dots?”
“Which sock design do you want? Solid or polka dot?”
“I’m kind of a polka dot guy as of late,” I mumbled. “And green.” She handed me a pair of free socks. “So what is it that you guys do?”
What it is that those guys do
Joel and Jillian used to be developers in Alberta, which is one of the nicest places on earth for about six days in July [cf. David Miller a/k/a Cat 5 Dave]. Those other days Alberta is pretty terrible, for example the day that we were chatting in our shirt sleeves at Phil’s Fondo on Saturday, the Albertans were already tromping around in over 19 feet of snow.
As Jillian was telling me about their life outside of Puerto Vallarta, where they lived with their kids because PV has 360 amazing days a year and zero feet of snow anytime, I thought about the last time I had taken a trip overseas. Here’s how it went:
- Got to Slovakia.
- Slept in hotel.
- Ate breakfast.
- Milled around with drunken tourists.
- Stepped in barf.
- Opened up my phone and did a search for “Bike Rental.”
- Walked a lot, got lost a lot, finally found the bike rental place.
- Sat in front of closed bike rental place for a long time.
- Criss-crossed the city looking for a rental bike.
- Didn’t find one.
- Finally found one, a real POS.
- Rode it until the seat broke and almost punctured my ass.
- Returned the bike.
- Walked back to hotel, sad face.
I was thinking about this because Jillian had just asked, “Have you ever gone on a trip and wanted to rent a bike?”
“Oh. You don’t cycle?”
“Just not on vacation?”
“It’s not that I have ever gone on a trip and wanted to rent a bike, it’s that I have never NOT gone a trip and wanted to rent a bike. But it is such a shit show and plus, where do you ride? So it’s basically massive frustration.”
Enter the chill green guy in the lounge chair
Turns out that my experience is common. So common that Joel came up with the idea to create a browse-and-book service for traveling cyclists, i.e. everyone. The idea led to an app and a business and the amazing fruition of an idea, putting cyclists in touch with local ride guides around the globe.
Now in 63 countries not including Antarctica, their Velo Guide app lets you check out amazing destinations, communicate with your potential guide, and resolve forever the painfully vexing question of “WTF am I going to do on this trip without a bike and place to ride it?”