In Crain’s Detroit Business, Howard Lovy writes that although overall hotel occupancy rates across Michigan were up slightly for December and January, in northern Michigan where the wintertime color of money is white, the winter of 2011-12 has been a big bust. But as Businesses that need snow find ways to ride out a winter that’s more in the red than the white explains, if there’s one thing Michigan businesses have developed in recent years, it’s perseverance:
Just ask Tim Brick, owner of Brick Wheels, a Traverse City ski and bike shop. In winter, December is the make-or-break month. The lack of snowfall meant business was down 40 percent that month. In January, it was down 20 percent.
It was so bad that Brick had considered laying off some of his 15 employees.
Then a funny thing happened as the customers trickled in. Many were intrigued by a display of “snow bikes” — machines with big tires that can be used when the there’s not enough snow for skis but too much for ordinary mountain bikes. Snow bikes seemed to satisfy a longing for hard-core sports enthusiasts in northern Michigan — where they take their skiing and bicycling very seriously.
Read on for more about snow biking and what other businesses including ski resorts are doing to offset a disappointing winter.
Speaking of snow bikes, the one to the right is made here in Michigan by 616 Fabrication. 616 is the area code for West Michigan, the birth place of two bicycle companies who enjoyed a cult following: Slingshot Bicycle Co. and Nukeproof Mountain Bikes. In July of last year, the former owners of these two companies joined forces to use the best resources, people, and talent that West Michigan has to offer to manufacture some of the most progressive and detailed custom bicycles available anywhere.
You can also check out snow biking at Michigan Tech and Bike the Keweenaw for some trail & riding information from the UP. The Great Bear Ski Race (March 10, 2012) will include 10 and 25k snow bike races on Sunday the 11th. They’ve declared the 25k race the Midwest Snow Bike Championships. Ski on Saturday, bike on Sunday!
If you’re in the market for a snow bike, head over to our Michigan Hiking & Biking page for a stable-full of Michigan bike shops, trails and biking links! Now here’s a little snow biking action courtesy Marquette’s Quick Stop Bike Shop…