Gravel/MTB/Adventure cycling in Southern Spain

mythste

Veteran
Location
Manchester
Obviously, this year has been a bit of a write off for international excursions, and truth be told the closest thing I've been to an international cycling holiday is the Outer Hebrides! It still counts.

I'm looking for some opinions

My family have a Villa in the mountains of southern spain, immediately adjacent to the Montes de Malaga. The Villa was renovated over 5 years from around 2010 and the lead builders son owns 2 bike shops in Malaga - Result!

With this in mind, we're thinking about setting up a mountain bike and gravel bike excursion proposition. The local bike shop has ride leaders they're happy to spare us and a few vans they're happy to use as shuttle vehicles. I don't imagine that they will be up for single run shuttling, but would be happy to drop off at 8 am and pick up later in the day if the route doesn't start or stop at the villa.

The locale is perfect for road riding, and the vuelta goes passed every few years, however the last mile is a loose gravel track and I think that really rules things out on the road riding side. I wouldn't want to walk that track in SPD-SLs.

The villa is functionally luxurious. There's a pool, a number of outside seating areas. Indoor and outdoor kitchens. A courtyard (Which we are kitting out with a bike stand and some decent tools) Parking for 6 vehicles. Sleeps 10, 3 kings and 2 twins. 2 full bathrooms.

So my question to you, bike packers, is what would you want from a trip like this? What would you want to know before handing over any hard earned?

I'm well aware that most of you would sooner cut up your own tarps than go on a pre-arranged holiday like this, but that's the reason I wanted to ask, I imagine you lot will be nice and critical!

Fire away!
 
Obviously, this year has been a bit of a write off for international excursions, and truth be told the closest thing I've been to an international cycling holiday is the Outer Hebrides! It still counts.

I'm looking for some opinions

My family have a Villa in the mountains of southern spain, immediately adjacent to the Montes de Malaga. The Villa was renovated over 5 years from around 2010 and the lead builders son owns 2 bike shops in Malaga - Result!

With this in mind, we're thinking about setting up a mountain bike and gravel bike excursion proposition. The local bike shop has ride leaders they're happy to spare us and a few vans they're happy to use as shuttle vehicles. I don't imagine that they will be up for single run shuttling, but would be happy to drop off at 8 am and pick up later in the day if the route doesn't start or stop at the villa.

The locale is perfect for road riding, and the vuelta goes passed every few years, however the last mile is a loose gravel track and I think that really rules things out on the road riding side. I wouldn't want to walk that track in SPD-SLs.

The villa is functionally luxurious. There's a pool, a number of outside seating areas. Indoor and outdoor kitchens. A courtyard (Which we are kitting out with a bike stand and some decent tools) Parking for 6 vehicles. Sleeps 10, 3 kings and 2 twins. 2 full bathrooms.

So my question to you, bike packers, is what would you want from a trip like this? What would you want to know before handing over any hard earned?

I'm well aware that most of you would sooner cut up your own tarps than go on a pre-arranged holiday like this, but that's the reason I wanted to ask, I imagine you lot will be nice and critical!

Fire away!
I'm a little bit confused.
You specifically mention bikepackers, but the "offer" seems to be returning to the Villa every night? I hate compartmentalised definitions, but surely, even that, isn't bikepacking?
In the same vein, you mention road riding (which seems very good) but is not mentioned as an offer because you have a problem with the last mile. That seems easily solved, to me.

Also, it's not clear if this is a long term business proposition or a one off "event". If it's a long term proposition and I was in your shoes I'd be making sure that I look after my local contacts very well to reduce the chance of them seeing a success and copying it.

Another grey area is if the offer is for groups, as in, me and my friends or a group that little old me joins. Very different dynamics at play in those situations.

A problem you'll have is that 10 cyclists will have at least 12 different sets of priorities^_^

If it's a long term business proposition, what I'd always suggest is to look at what else is on offer, how they do it, the advantages, disadvantages etc.

Also, if it's a long term business proposal I'd suggest clarifying (for yourself) what you are actually offering. This could actually be several different "products" which you can "marry" together or from which to choose the best.

Personally, that kind of thing wouldn't be for me. I've cycled in Northern Spain and it is, for me, one of the best places to cycle - great roads, lots of bike awareness, great people, wonderful food. And quite economical. I wouldn't see the need for a business to provide me with services as mentioned above - but then again, that's not my type of cycling.

Good luck!
 
OP
mythste

mythste

Veteran
Location
Manchester
I'm a little bit confused.
You specifically mention bikepackers, but the "offer" seems to be returning to the Villa every night? I hate compartmentalised definitions, but surely, even that, isn't bikepacking?
In the same vein, you mention road riding (which seems very good) but is not mentioned as an offer because you have a problem with the last mile. That seems easily solved, to me.

Also, it's not clear if this is a long term business proposition or a one off "event". If it's a long term proposition and I was in your shoes I'd be making sure that I look after my local contacts very well to reduce the chance of them seeing a success and copying it.

Another grey area is if the offer is for groups, as in, me and my friends or a group that little old me joins. Very different dynamics at play in those situations.

A problem you'll have is that 10 cyclists will have at least 12 different sets of priorities^_^

If it's a long term business proposition, what I'd always suggest is to look at what else is on offer, how they do it, the advantages, disadvantages etc.

Also, if it's a long term business proposal I'd suggest clarifying (for yourself) what you are actually offering. This could actually be several different "products" which you can "marry" together or from which to choose the best.

Personally, that kind of thing wouldn't be for me. I've cycled in Northern Spain and it is, for me, one of the best places to cycle - great roads, lots of bike awareness, great people, wonderful food. And quite economical. I wouldn't see the need for a business to provide me with services as mentioned above - but then again, that's not my type of cycling.

Good luck!
Crikey, You've caught me on a lot of semantics there mucker!

Bike packer is a term in my circles we use to describe tourers these days, this is the touring section of the forum. My bad - I hear you.

I mention road riding because the area is as famous for road riding as it is for trails, and I foresaw people suggesting that as an option - which at the moment it isn't. We wont be paving the track.

Another grey area is if the offer is for groups, as in, me and my friends or a group that little old me joins. Very different dynamics at play in those situations.
This is precisely why i asked. I hadn't even considered this, as I'd assumed a group of mates or something. That's a really useful thought. Thanks!

Also, if it's a long term business proposal I'd suggest clarifying (for yourself) what you are actually offering. This could actually be several different "products" which you can "marry" together or from which to choose the best.
This is (apparently evidently) the stage that I am at so far. :laugh: I'm familiar with a number of other businesses in other areas operating hardcore mountain bike excursions but the local bike shops have shown mounting evidence that people are now willing to travel for some good gravel riding holidays which is, on a more macro level, something I am struggling to research.

To be clear, the proposition is gravel biking or mountain biking with a villa and the support/knowledge of a local bike shop.

Thanks for twisting me melon. :okay:
 
Ok, it's becoming clearer ^_^
I've a few more questions....

Do you see this as a serious round the year (or even seasonal) business? Or more a way of making a bit of money and having some fun at the same time?
Do you see people bringing their own bikes, do you plan to provide them with rentals or a bit of both?

I'd think the answers to those two questions would help to focus in on your target market(s).

I'd imagine that finding specific information will be difficult because it is such a specialised offering and is very local. Prices in one area can vary significantly from another for non cycling reasons. You can broaden your sources to include Villa rental, bike rental, adventure holidays etc. then adjust for your customers.

Just spitballing, for example, if the market price in your area for a Villa is quite high, cycling specific people may prefer another cheaper area, hence not many cycling groups for you. On the other hand, it may be a clincher for a family booking a family holiday and dad (or mam) are really into their cycling.

By the way, I'm still not sure why you're excluding road cycling at this stage? I'd think that starting out every option should be in the table, then gradually eliminated as the focus becomes clearer?

I'm intrigued ^_^
 
OP
mythste

mythste

Veteran
Location
Manchester
Ok, it's becoming clearer ^_^
I've a few more questions....

Do you see this as a serious round the year (or even seasonal) business? Or more a way of making a bit of money and having some fun at the same time?
Do you see people bringing their own bikes, do you plan to provide them with rentals or a bit of both?

I'd think the answers to those two questions would help to focus in on your target market(s).

I'd imagine that finding specific information will be difficult because it is such a specialised offering and is very local. Prices in one area can vary significantly from another for non cycling reasons. You can broaden your sources to include Villa rental, bike rental, adventure holidays etc. then adjust for your customers.

Just spitballing, for example, if the market price in your area for a Villa is quite high, cycling specific people may prefer another cheaper area, hence not many cycling groups for you. On the other hand, it may be a clincher for a family booking a family holiday and dad (or mam) are really into their cycling.

By the way, I'm still not sure why you're excluding road cycling at this stage? I'd think that starting out every option should be in the table, then gradually eliminated as the focus becomes clearer?

I'm intrigued ^_^
I really appreciate your time and input on this mate.

A few things;

This is a serious business proposition with a degree of seasonality. I'll be going out as soon as it is sensible to do so to ride some of the trails, both MTB and Gravel and devise propositions. I have a pretty robust sales and marketing skillset which will help.

The Villa has been available to rent over the years and has done "okay". There has never really been any pro-active monetisation of it other than to grab an appropriate license and bang it on a villa website (and pay some extortionate commissions, in hindsight). What I'm saying is, we do have a good idea of what the villa can pull in without a cycling and support element. I imagine this side of the business will continue in a fashion, but such is the market for that I'm not sure there's much I can really do to push that further than has been tried previously.

Rental vs bring your own. This has been a thorn in my side since the beginning of the process. The bike shop we're working with has a great selection of rental bikes from road to gravel to mtb. Mainly Orbea and Kona if memory serves. Stuff I would quite gladly ride! I would like the "packages" to reflect the choice to BYOB or hire, and the shop have agreed to airport shuttle if bikes are being flown in.

The path to the villa, that flaming path. It's been a point of contention for as long as I can remember. It's shared with 3 other premises, one of whom is a cantankerous old farmer. It aint getting paved. Honestly, I'm pretty hard on my bikes and I wouldn't take a road bike up or down it. It gets scraped once every few years by some very questionable looking blokes in a machine with public logos on the side. The less questions asked the better :becool: by all accounts, it's a bridleway you can just about get a car down, for some more context. This is about the best picture I can find to give you context of the location;
 

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I really appreciate your time and input on this mate.
^_^Not a problem. This is a handy distraction from my Spanish and the weather's crap so can't go outside^_^

A few things;

This is a serious business proposition with a degree of seasonality. I'll be going out as soon as it is sensible to do so to ride some of the trails, both MTB and Gravel and devise propositions. I have a pretty robust sales and marketing skillset which will help.
OK, that's clear. I'm not sure what accounting/tax situation you have down there, but a good accountant involved early can be worth their weight in gold. Note; I said good!

Marketing and promotion cannot be overemphasized enough, especially in the begining. The more specialised the offering, the more it is required.
The Villa has been available to rent over the years and has done "okay". There has never really been any pro-active monetisation of it other than to grab an appropriate license and bang it on a villa website (and pay some extortionate commissions, in hindsight). What I'm saying is, we do have a good idea of what the villa can pull in without a cycling and support element. I imagine this side of the business will continue in a fashion, but such is the market for that I'm not sure there's much I can really do to push that further than has been tried previously.
That's clear.
Rental vs bring your own. This has been a thorn in my side since the beginning of the process. The bike shop we're working with has a great selection of rental bikes from road to gravel to mtb. Mainly Orbea and Kona if memory serves. Stuff I would quite gladly ride! I would like the "packages" to reflect the choice to BYOB or hire, and the shop have agreed to airport shuttle if bikes are being flown in.
Seems sensible to have the choice. A group of 10 serious guys can bring their own bikes and have a backup in case of disaster, another group of 6 serious guys can bring their bikes and their 4 travelling friends can rent locally as and when they want.
The path to the villa, that flaming path. It's been a point of contention for as long as I can remember. It's shared with 3 other premises, one of whom is a cantankerous old farmer. It aint getting paved. Honestly, I'm pretty hard on my bikes and I wouldn't take a road bike up or down it. It gets scraped once every few years by some very questionable looking blokes in a machine with public logos on the side. The less questions asked the better :becool: by all accounts, it's a bridleway you can just about get a car down, for some more context. This is about the best picture I can find to give you context of the location;
All I mean about the road is that there are alternatives to riding it or paving it^_^
Bike storage in the local LBS & taxi (or horse!^_^) to villa, for example.
Sometimes we can get tunnel vision. It just seems odd, to me, to reject well known roads because of one problem.

It's very clear that you will have a significant dependence on your local LBS for bikes, for ride leaders? for daily support, for airport runs.
That represents a serious threat to the success of your idea. That is worthy of some thought. Not just as a potential competitor but simply if there's a falling out and cooperation stops.

I know diddlysquat about mountain or gravel biking but I do know a bit about operating a business in a foreign country.
I hate to bring up the B word but that's going to change things from next year in ways that we don't know yet. Perhaps there's an advantage to having a company structure/bank account etc. in place before Dec 31?

There's a lot of info you can source yourself, local contacts, similar businesses, complementary businesses and there's some info that's worth paying for. Don't just look at the success stories.....seek out the failures as well!

Best of luck!
 

YukonBoy

The Monch
Location
Inside my skull
Have you worked any numbers to see how many a week, over how many weeks a year , and how much you’d need to be viable? For instance how many riders on average, over how many weeks, and charging how much, would you need to make living? What happens if numbers disappear due to pandemics and / or quarantine rules ?

Who is your target, anyone in the world, UK riders only?
 
OP
mythste

mythste

Veteran
Location
Manchester
Can you cook?
Can you drive on the wrong side of the road?
 

fossyant

Ride It Like You Stole It!
Location
South Manchester
Think you'd find it massively popular with MTB'ers. As for road, any issues with having an uplift/down lift on bike racks to the property to the main road - assuming someone is on site ?
 

Azzurrinick

Active Member
Location
Swindon
Beds --- we travel to Malaga in Feb/March each year to ride on the roads, conditions are perfect. However our biggest issue has been finding larger accommodation with single beds. Cyclists tend to go with clubs or large groups, our Wives/Partners tend to stay behind in the UK, so double beds are no good to us. I see you have 3 kings, which will reduce the number of visitors, resulting in costs increasing p/p.
 

DRM

Veteran
Location
West Yorks
To me I think it would be really hard work, for example who will be up At silly o’clock in the morning to prepare breakfast, wash up, then prep and cook the evening meal whilst your out guiding the guests, then tidy up and wash up afterwards, then there’s the laundry to do, beds to be made and general dusting/cleaning around the property plus any maintenance that needs doing, usually when it’s the most inconvenient it could possibly be, there will be the shopping to do, I think it sounds like a recipe for a divorce and will very quickly lose it’s lustre, it will be early starts and late to bed, also don’t forget to budget for public liability insurance for the accommodation and the cycling, and price up for any qualifications you may have to obtain, I’m thinking possibly for the guiding, hygiene for catering etc, I know it sounds quite negative but you really have to consider everything when thinking about setting up this kind of business, I would also be wary of the LBS, I think they could potentially leave you without a leader or bikes to hire if they were to sell up or close, or worse you end up falling out with them, you definitely need a contract with them, not relying on an agreement.
 
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