Tourism
2:14 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Montana's got the scenery and the beer to lure cyclists. Now, about those roads...

Flathead Reporter Katrin Frye visits a local bike shop to hear how their catering to this niche market.
Bikes line one of the walls at Montana Adventure Sports in Bigfork. The business has a bike focus, and is building a hostel catering to bike travelers.
Credit Katrin Frye

Beautiful scenery, hospitality, and beer are among the things that bicycle tourists like, and Montana has. The Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research recently came out with a study looking at the potential for the bicycle niche of the tourism industry. Wider highway shoulders and better rumble strip placement are what Executive Director Jim Sayer of Adventure Cycling called critical elements for the cyclo-tourists.

Adventure Cycling is a Missoula-based non-profit that’s worked over the last several decades to develop bike routes and encourage people to get out and peddle.

It worked with the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research out of the University of Montana on a study looking at the potential of the cyclo-tourism industry.

“And the good news is that Montana is very desirable for bike tourists; it has fantastic scenery, as we know, it does have good hospitality, but there are things that we could do better too,” Sayer said.

Roads and Trail networks are the key areas where Sayer said the state could do better. He said Montana has the potential to become a top five biking destination in the country.

“When the Institute for Tourism did the study they were asking people, ‘what were some of the key attractions for you,’ and definitely scenery was number one. One of the funny things is they also found that craft breweries were also a major draw, and increasingly, I know that Montana is moving up into the top one or two for per capita breweries, so we’ve got another asset going there,” Sayer said.

According to the UM Institute for Tourism and Economic Research, multi-day bike visitors spend an average of $75 per day while in Montana, and stay an average of 8 or more nights.