Pedaling tourism

Letters to the Editor



A wonderful thing about the Town of Saratoga (there are so many!) is that the town is directly on the bicycle trail known as the TransAmerica Trail. The TransAmerica Trail is 4,228 miles long and goes from Oregon on the west coast to Virginia on the east coast. A small number of these riders pass through Saratoga each day during the riding season.

I think this is a great opportunity for Saratoga! It wouldn’t take much to show these bicyclists some great Western hospitality. We could provide free or donation camping by constructing, say, 4 tent pads next to the hot pool. Tent pads basically consist of some gravel and 2x4s—not real expensive. There would already be showers, toilets and, of course, the hot pool.

A 2014 study conducted by the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research and graduate students from the University of Montana’s College of Forestry and Conservation found that bicyclists spend an average of $75 per day while in Montana and stay an average of eight or more nights within the state. Forty-one percent of those nights are spent in either hotels/motels or bed and breakfasts (The study was conducted in cooperation with the Adventure Cycling Association, a national nonprofit headquartered in Missoula).

You never know who a rider might be. Bicyclists come form all walks of life and many are highly successful people who can afford a steak dinner with some fine wine at the Wolf Hotel. Adventure Cycling Association has stickers available for businesses to post in their windows that indicate to bicyclists that they are bicyclist-friendly.

Twin Bridges, Montana, has embraced cyclists by providing small, in-town bike camps which include showers, restrooms, tables and a grill. The service is free of charge and encourages cyclists to visit local businesses while staying in town. Within four months of building the camp, donations collected onsite paid for the town’s investment (A flag or sticker maybe so that the camp area is utilized only by the riders?).

I have heard that some townspeople would rather to send the riders out to Saratoga Lake Campground, but after riding 80 to 100 miles in a day, humping it back out there would be pretty unappealing. Besides, isn’t it better for town businesses for the visitors to be on foot right in town where they can enjoy Saratoga’s great downtown restaurants and bars?

The bicycling community is a large one … nationwide and beyond. Stories, good and bad are shared for and wide. This is a chance for Saratoga to enhance its already great reputation of Western hospitality and it wouldn’t take much more that a few campsites next to the hot pool!

Geri Doherty



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