The music is blasting and the maid of honor is keeping time on a cowbell, her bride-to-be sister and the rest of the entourage banging on hand-held instruments, as the Breckenridge BikeBus travels slowly north on Main Street. Passers-by stop to ogle or take the occasional photo, and the bachelorette party rewards them with whoops and hollers.
The ladies keep their feet moving, pedaling the human-powered vehicle forward as BikeBus founder and owner Curt Cavnar navigates down the busy street to the first stop, Northside Pizza. Cavnar parks the bus in the shade and busies himself with hand stamping for drink specials and herding the group into the bar, where they order a round of shots.
What makes a BikeBus
This is the third year that Cavnar has been giving BikeBus tours and hosting pub-crawls around Breckenridge. For the past two summers, he ran all of the tours, and the business, by himself, but this year, he’s hired his first full-time employee who drives and helps with maintenance.
“He has a great personality for the bike bus,” Cavnar said. “I pinch hit instead of driving all the tours like I was the past two years, which allows me to focus on working on other opportunities and sales and promoting the business.”
Cavnar got the idea for the bus from seeing similar vehicles in other places. He thought it was a cool idea, so he started looking into it.
“There’s not a lot of them, and there’s a lot of ideal places to do it,” he said. “ I started calling other operators around the country that had these vehicles, and they said it’s a really viable business model. I decided to rent one out, took my neighbors and I out on it, and after that, I decided hey, I’m going to do this.”
Cavnar’s neighbor, Lee Kendrick, a local fabricator, built the Breckenridge BikeBus, which seemed a daunting task to Cavnar, who had only previously seen Kendrick do some minor machining and plumbing projects.
“I said, ‘This isn’t quite a kitchen sink here,’” Cavnar said. “But he put together what, in the end, was an incredible masterpiece. I hear people who have ridden on other ones that this one is by far the Maserati of bike buses, more solidly built with more features than any of the other ones they’ve ridden on.”
For all ages
The town of Breckenridge has been very accepting of the BikeBus, Cavnar said, because it’s a low-cost, low-impact alternative to many of the activities available in and around town.
“People don’t have to go far,” he said. “They aren’t driving to Buena Vista for a raft trip or doing something that’s potentially perilous. It’s a low-key and inexpensive way for groups to have fun, a short distance from center of town. We’ve had infants to 90-year-olds to people with disabilities.”
The bus can hold 16 people, and there are non-pedaling seats for those don’t want or need the exercise. All of the stops on the pub-crawl tour are family-friendly, so kids can have a soda or grab a bite to eat, and riders are allowed to bring along snacks and a water bottle to stay hydrated. A motor in the bus also provides extra assistance up hills or whenever else it’s needed, so grandma isn’t puffing and panting through the altitude.
“We don’t ride that motor as if it’s a big golf cart,” Cavnar said. “We help supplement with those people when they need some assistance, so they aren’t having a heart attack when they are going south on Main Street.”
Business of joy
Cavnar said when he found the BikeBus idea, he was looking for something that wasn’t the average everyday grind of running a business.
“If I was going to do it, I wanted it to be something that I would enjoy,” he said. “It’s a super enjoyable operation; people have an absolute hoot on that thing, and that’s gratifying, too. If you’re kind of in a business where you can create happiness for people, you’ve chosen the right business.
“It’s exceeded my expectations. I knew it was a fun thing, but I’m overwhelmed at how much fun people have on it. I have people telling me it’s one of the most fun things they’ve ever done in life. It’s very gratifying.”