Catering to college kids and a coastal mecca
By Pat Carrigan
From surfing, hiking, cycling and drinking wine, California’s central coast has long been known as the Mecca for outdoor activities. For Matt Maxwell, the miles of scenic byways, wind-swept vistas and ample tourist population was everything he needed to set up shop for a new e-bike store. Well, all that, plus a built-in customer base of college kids!
Matt’s initial concept started with a Kickstarter campaign to fund a rental/lease-to-buy program as an affordable means of transportation for students attending Cal Poly University located in San Luis Obispo.
While that plan worked for a short time, eventually, Matt realized that he needed to take things to the next level and open an actual e-bike storefront. And, it was during the midst of the COVID pandemic that he shifted gears and launched his BoltAbout shop in the small town of Avila Beach nestled between Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo.
BIKE ABOUT TOWN
Of all of California’s coastal towns, few are as centrally located to such a wealthy variety of tourist attractions. From the dunes of Pismo Beach to the south, Morro Bay to the west and the historical Hearst Castle to the north, “SLO” is well-acquainted with visitors (lest we forget to mention the hometown attraction of the fabulous Madonna Inn as well).
Like most tourist towns, especially one with a bustling student population, it’s often easier to get around San Luis Obispo on a bike rather than circling around in a car fighting for a parking spot.
The bulk of Matt’s business is bike and scooter rentals, although customers have the option to purchase them as well. While it can be a risky business venture, even without a pandemic, so far it has worked out great for both the bike shop and people needing to get outside and escape the cultural lockdown.
“During the midst of the COVID pandemic, the shop decided to shift gears and launch an e-bike rental store in the small town of Avila Beach near San Luis Obispo.”
BoltAbout utilizes e-bikes from Electric Bike Company, based out of Newport Beach, California. Matt has found them to be solid bikes and easy to work on, and they also carry Segway scooters for the same reason.
PLENTY TO SEA
Similar to SLO (but on a smaller scale), the town of Avila Beach has no shortage of trendy gift shops, eateries and wine tasting rooms, so be sure to come hungry and thirsty.
Following a brief check-in and walk around of your rental bike, the crew at BoltAbout provides a thorough explanation of how the bike functions, and the controls work before you roll out of the shop. Reasonable rentals are offered by the hour, or by the day.
There are many different ride routes to choose from right outside the shop. One of the more popular rides is the Bob Jones bike path, which is a scenic 2.6 miles (one-way) bike path that weaves underneath an endless canopy of shaded oak trees, a golf course and year-round flowing creek, free of traffic and intersections.
Best of all, there’s something magical about wrapping up a great ride with an awesome view or a good meal waiting foryou and your riding crew at the end of an epic ride.
Avila Valley Barn is located near the end of the BJ bike path, which makes it a fun destination point for any level of cyclist. There’s no major climbing on this route, so it’s beginner-friendly, especially on an e-bike. At a very easy, mild pace, it only takes about 30 minutes to get to Avila Valley Barn from the BoltAbout bike shop. Avila Valley Barn is open 365 days a year and offers fresh locally grown produce and snack shop.
Another short destination ride is the Port San Luis Pier. It’s only about two miles from the bike shop, but for anyone looking for an extended ride, it can be added in conjunction to your Bob Jones bike-path route. There are also a few great restaurants awaiting your arrival at the Port San Luis Pier. Port San Luis has a campground perched on a bluff overlooking the blue Pacific Ocean for those looking to escape the inland heat during the hot summer months. The Bob Jones bike path is currently in the works of being extended, connecting Avila Beach with San Luis Obispo, making it a scenic 10-mile ride each way.
Whether you start or finish a ride with a meal or beverage, there’s plenty to choose from at Avila Beach and BoltAbout Bikes.