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TerraQuest app helps event directors offer self-timed rides and races

Published August 18, 2020

A version of this article ran in the August issue of BRAIN.

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. (BRAIN) — Like the Hubtiger app and PeopleForBikes’ Ride Spot app, TerraQuest offers a variety of tools to retailers and other businesses, including the ability to share favorite routes, run consumer challenges and more.

But TerraQuest’s killer feature is the ability to offer riders turn-by-turn audible directions, even on trails and offline. That makes it ideal for event directors looking to offer self-timed rides and races due to COVID-19 cancelations. 

The directions are key for riders hoping to navigate a specific mountain bike route without having to stop constantly to check their phone or map. And that makes TerraQuest ideal for race directors and others converting their events into self-directed competitions and challenges while regular events are suspended this year.

TerraQuest is one of the only apps available with turn-by-turn directions in the woods, said Derrick Nehrenberg, CEO of the Crested Butte-based startup. (The Komoot app also offers this feature.) 

Nehrenberg’s previous company, Traildock (originally called JuicyTrails), created an app with maps of the Crested Butte-Gunnison mountain bike trail system on behalf of the area’s tourism association. In 2017, the association challenged local riders and tourists to ride every one of the network’s 750 miles. 

This year, organizers of the popular and long-running Gunnison Growler cross-country race were forced to cancel because of COVID-19. But they quickly developed a self-timed challenge on the route, using TerraQuest, to keep riders connected and motivate them to visit the area. Race organizers will give out awards for participation and top category times at the end of the riding season.

TerraQuest, which launched this year and has a total of six employees, has explored using artificial intelligence to help create turn-by-turn directions on trails. But Nehrenberg said AI has not reached the maturity necessary, so for now the directions are created with human guidance. 

“Doing it by hand is the only reliable way to do it for now. Everything else breaks,” he said. 

"Virtual events are going to keep happening ... it enables (directors) to open their events to more people over a wider period of time."

Besides the Crested Butte-Gunnison trails and the Growler, TerraQuest has built and maintained custom apps for a local off-road marathon, a Colorado whitewater kayaking event and the Crested Butte Nordic ski association.

Nehrenberg said the app is ideal for bike shops and outdoor sports retailers looking for an efficient way to share their local trail knowledge with the community. 

“I worked in bike shops before I went to graduate school, and people were always asking for directions to the best trails. Sometimes it seemed like I spent a quarter of the day answering those kinds of questions. The situation hasn’t changed a lot, even though there are tons of apps out there. People want to ride like the locals do. A big part of that is the audible turn-by-turn directions we have. If you are pulling your phone out at every intersection you can’t ride like a local.”

While the company began working with the local trail groups in 2017, it released the TerraQuest app in January this year, just before COVID-19 led to the cancellation of events around the world.

“We want to position ourselves as front-runners in this space now. Virtual events are going to keep happening. Event directors I’ve talked to think it’s going to persist because it enables them to open their events to more people over a wider period of time. Crested Butte Nordic, for example, asks people to donate to the organization and compete in the [self-timed] races whenever they want to within the month. They don’t need to set up an official event day.

“Over the next one-to-three years, a lot of exciting stuff is going to happen, and I think we’re poised to be at the top of the heap,” he said.

TerraQuest offers a package to retailers and other groups to create recommended trail routes within the TerraQuest app (available for iOS and Android devices), including challenges, turn-by-turn directions, offline downloads, and email and telephone support for $99 per month or $1,000 a year. TerraQuest can also provide quotes to create custom-branded apps for trail systems and event organizers. 

More information: terraquest.com.

Topics associated with this article: Mobile bike apps

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