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Northern California retailer and tour operator adds location along new bike path

Published June 7, 2016

NAPA, Calif. (BRAIN) — When Brad Dropping, owner of Napa Valley Bicycle Tours, learned that a section of Napa Valley’s first separated bike path would open this summer, he began looking for a space for another location.

Dropping, who bought the now 30-year old bike tour and retail business in 2004, recently opened his second shop, Napa Valley Bicycle Rentals, adjacent to the Vine Trail. The trail will soon connect the city with the vineyards to the north.

“Over the years, Napa got so congested and made the experience less desirable, so we moved the business about seven miles away to Yountville in 2005,” Dropping said. “But with a bike path going in, we wanted to have a location in Napa and get set up there again since about 80 percent of our customers end up staying there because that’s where the hotels are.”

The Napa location includes a 4,000-square-foot warehouse, which houses 500 rental bikes, as well as a 1,200-square-foot retail space where tour customers can purchase cycling apparel, company-branded shirts, hats and souvenirs, and cycling accessories. Dropping’s tour business is a bike vacation company that offers fully guided tours as well as self-guided tours of the Napa Valley wine country.

“We also book hotels, spa treatments, kayak and other recreational trips for our guests,” Dropping said. “And we transport any wine customers buy on both our guided and self-guided trips, and we provide a catered lunch for both.”

Napa Valley Bicycle Tours will continue to be based in Yountville, but rentals will be available in both locations. Dropping expects people will opt for one-way rentals and either Uber or take a cab back to the city. Dropping also operates a tour and rental location in Sonoma, California. Among the three businesses, he employees 40 to 50 people, including a full-time mechanic who maintains the more than 500 Specialized models used for rentals and tours.

“One person buys, maintains and sells the bikes year-round,” Dropping said. “Each August, we start selling off the fleet because we get new ones each year.”

The Vine Trail will eventually cover the entire valley, running 47 miles from the ferry terminal in Vallejo north to Calistoga. Dropping predicts that cycling will become more popular in the Napa Valley because visitors will feel safer riding on the path.

“I think it’s going to get busier with bikes here, and you’ll be able to ride for miles,” he said. “It will finally be an activity the whole family can do.”


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