A two-wheeled concierge in the Vail Valley
Vail, CO, Colorado
VAIL VALLEY ” Mark Bryant probably cleans up real nice. He was a mortgage broker not that long ago. For now, though, he looks the part of a two-wheeled entrepreneur ” professional, but a little rough at the edges.
Bryant this spring is launching Maverick Motorcycle Adventures, a Minturn-based company that provides both motorcycle rentals and full-blown travel packages to those who arrive in the Vail Valley without a ride of their own.
Bryant has a couple of things in his favor. Until he opened, the closest place to Vail to rent a motorcycle was at the Harley-Davidson dealership in Glenwood Springs.
Bryant’s company has Harleys in its fleet, but there’s more to the business than just rentals.
“What I heard from my friends is that they’d rent bikes for a day or two, but they’d need to figure out where to ride,” Bryant said.
With that in mind, Bryant started more than a year of research into the best places to ride around Colorado’s high country. He did it the old-fashioned way, but riding most of the routes himself, a job he calls “horrible” beneath a barely-concealed smile.
But these routes aren’t just smooth pavement. Bryant has also put together some adventures that will take riders over mountain passes on the U.S. Forest Service’s network of dirt roads.
No sane person would take a low-slung Harley on roads like those, so Bryant has put a few “dual-sport” motorcycles into his fleet. Those bikes, made by BMW, are at home both on pavement an on routes like the one between, say, Sylvan Lake and Thomasville, along the Frying Pan River.
“Some of the most spectacular roads in Colorado can only be done on a dual-sport,” Bryant said. “That’s truly an adventure.”
All those adventures come with detailed instructions contained in a global positioning system device hard-wired onto all the company’s bikes. Beyond just detailed routes, the gadgets also include tips on the best places to stop for gas, food or photos. For those who have arranged full-on tours, the devices are have information about the best places to camp, or specific instructions to that night’s lodging.
But how did a mortgage banker end up with a motorcycle business?
The genesis was tragedy.
Bryant’s wife died suddenly in 2006. “After coming out of my shell, I decided I didn’t want to be a banker any more,” Bryant said. “My passion had always been motorcycles, so I looked for a way to incorporate my passion into a way to make a living.”
So Bryant rounded up investors ” friends, mostly ” and started working on routes and acquiring bikes. At this point, he has a pretty good fleet, most of which are being repainted to identify them as Mavericks.
A motorcycle business in a valley with a short riding season might seem to be a big risk, but Bob Bailey thinks Bryant has a good chance of success.
Bailey owns Personalized Motorcycle Services in Eagle-Vail. He’s one of Bryant’s friends, and will do the service and maintenance on the Maverick fleet. Business connection aside, though, Bailey’s experience with other customers has led him to believe the Maverick idea can work.
“We have a great motorcycle community here,” Bailey said. “A lot of them have friends who come to visit, and they’re always asking me if I know of anyone who’s got a bike they can lend out.
“I think (Maverick) is a wonderful idea,” Bailey added. “I think this defines a need and fills it.”
To fill that need, especially for upscale clients, Bryant is planning a “high touch” approach. He intends to meet every client personally ” which will also help him gauge how experienced a rider is ” and will deliver and pick up bikes from a client’s hotel or area home. The GPS devices can also locate any of the motorcycles at any moment, and Bryant has a spare motorcycle in reserve if any of the street bikes break down on the road.
“He’s really planning a five-star product,” Bailey said. “I think it’s perfect for this valley.”