Evolution is commonplace in all aspects of life, even in the field of eco-tourism.
Bikes and Hikes LA, one of West Hollywood’s most popular young businesses, has spent the past two years creating a product unlike any that the city of Weho has been accustomed to. Now, it’s perfecting it.
Bikes and Hikes LA owner Danny Roman and partner Bill Miltenberger are allowing customers the option to personalize their bike tours more than ever before, as the eco-tourism company has turned much of its attention in recent months to providing birthday tours and company tours, as they continue to expand their gamut of bicycle expeditions across Los Angeles.
“We’re starting to do a really big business in taking people out on their birthday,” Miltenberger said. “We’re trying to take the notion of doing something that’s more active on your birthday instead of just being in a restaurant or a bar. We’ll take you to a bar after the ride.”
“It’s the idea of getting a group of friends together and trying something new,” he added.
Roman, who began the company nearly three years ago, originally operated out of his West Hollywood apartment. But since opening a storefront at 8743 Santa Monica Boulevard in May of 2011, he and Miltenberger have been more readily able to convert Santa Monica Boulevard foot traffic into bike traffic.
However, simply offering up bikes and neon green riding vests will not suffice in maintaining the company’s current popularity, which is why Bikes and Hikes is seeking to expand its base as much as possible.
“Along with the birthday rides, we’re starting to get a lot of LA-based companies that are doing team-building activities,” Miltenberger said. “They want to do some type of corporate event that’s fun and interesting. And not just LA-based companies, companies from other cities."
According to Miltenberger, local and visiting business groups, whether entertaining a client or hosting a team-building event, have taken part in several of the Bikes and Hikes tours as a means of creating camaraderie between coworkers or to give a client an unforgettable experience.
“They’re out, they’re bonding, and they’re actively engaged in an activity,” Miltenberger said. “It’s not just a passive activity. It’s hiking and biking. It’s a great way to have a shared experience.”
Groups from UCLA, the Jewish Federation, the Socal Social Club, and other schools and organizations have all turned out in the masses to take tours with Bikes and Hikes, even groups of up to 60 people, according to Miltenberger.
The company’s most popular tour is the 32-mile LA In a Day excursion, which Miltenberger says covers a large part of LA, but could not possibly do the enormous city justice.
Conversely, the untouched parts of LA serve as motivation for Roman and his staff in creating new tours.
“LA is so fascinating because it’s huge, but it can also be broken down into very specific little pockets,” Miltenberger said. “We’re always developing new and interesting tours, and that’s kind of our challenge to ourselves, to make sure our tours are as relevant as possible.”
During the early phases of Bikes and Hikes, Roman would often put on a singles tour for gay and straight men and women.
Now that the company’s client base has extended far outside of just West Hollywood, Miltenberger says that the possibilities, consequently, extend outside of Weho’s wonderful gay community.
“We definitely have an opportunity to help customize an experience,” Miltenberger said. “It doesn’t have to be for gay people, it can be the Latino tour of LA or the Asian experience of LA, the art tour of LA, the food lover’s tour. All those things are on our radar.”
Of course, operating out West Hollywood, a town that prides itself on being on the cutting edge of individuality and uniqueness, doesn’t hurt business for Bikes and Hikes.
“There are so many entertainment events and other famous landmarks around here,” Miltenberger said. “Definitely a highlight of our tours is the new tower of the Pacific Design Center.”
“It makes our job a lot easier because to know there is always something different and new to see here.”