Sara and James Leach pose with their son JJ and dog Paris, showing some of the gear they have for rent, from their new “Hope Bike and Kayak Rentals” business.

Two Hope startups peddle paddles and pedals

Rental bikes and kayaks are here in Hope.

Pedal or paddle: despite the huge flow of tourists through the region, Hope hasn’t had anyone providing boat or bike rentals. This spring, it’s gone from zero to two.

James Leach and his wife Sara have launched Hope Bike and Kayak Rentals, and Joe Bowman and his wife Danise have added boat and bike rentals to their bed-and-breakfast business.

Rather than having storefronts, both offer delivery of boats or bikes to where they are needed. They may also park their mobile stores where the tourist traffic is likely to be high.

“We’ll probably end up parking, possibly by the Sixth Avenue ball diamond and see what happens,” said Sara. “It will be kind of an experimental summer for us.”

Sara teaches piano in the Leachs’ home studio in Hope but she felt she needed something to fill the down-time between June and September.

“Experiencing the gorgeous summers in Hope and spending quite a bit of time at the lakes in the summer with our four-year-old son got us thinking about a way we could capitalize on the beauty of Hope… a way for locals and tourists to enjoy this town, which would benefit local businesses and the environment.”

With his background in mechanics and welding, James put together a trailer that can be towed behind the couple’s SUV, adding space for their kayaks, bikes and other equipment, such as optional fishing gear.

“We have a variety of eight-foot and 10-foot kayaks, enough for large groups of 10 or more, as well as a 12-foot boat — and we’re excited to announce that we’ll also have paddle boards for rent,” said James.

“We rent lake-type kayaks only,” added James.

“After all, we’re trying to keep tourists in town and not send them down the river, right?” Sara teased.

“We have some great cruiser bikes, available with seats so comfortable you’ll feel like you’re sitting on a cloud. We also supply kids bikes — as well as mountain bikes (hardtail and full suspension) for those looking to hit the trails,” said Sara.

* * * * *

The Bowmans started dreaming of developing a B&B, when they purchased Ford and Carol Morgan’s log home on Union Bar Road in 2012. They got the business started in June of 2016 and have been connecting with customers through Airbnb. Bike and boat rentals have grown from the original business plan.

Guests can rent bikes at the lodge but the Bowmans have no lake access, though they can see Kawkawa Lake from their property. As a result, Joe has equipped his vehicles and trailer for carrying bikes, canoes and kayaks.

“Some people are intimidated by kayaks, so if I give them the option for a canoe, perhaps around half will want a canoe, which can hold up to three friends or two parents and a kid,” said Joe. “Some of them are square stern, so I can add an electric motor. Some people like that.

“I’m even working on getting two five-person pedal boats for Kawkawa Lake, if I can get permission from the District of Hope.”

One of Joe’s offerings is his “Best of Hope” special. “For $100, a couple can bike and boat for the whole day. And I’m offering half price on everything till the May long weekend. I want to get this town rocking,” he said.

“I’ve lived in other places with natural beauty — but if you don’t have outfitters to provide the gear, nothing happens. I want people to start looking at Hope as an alternative to Harrison and Cultus Lake.

“I’m ready to expand my inventory, if the demand is there,” added Joe, “and I’m happy to see Sara and James doing their business. There’s lots of room for developing this. There’s no way either of us can ever have enough to service everyone.”

Both businesses have a Facebook presence (Bowman’s under Sasquatch Moon Outdoors) and the Leaches have a website at hopebikeandkayak.rentals.

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