This post is from guest blogger Joe Favorito:
Michael Sanchez is a patent holder, a serial entrepreneur since his teens, and a creator of software technology that has held a good part of the banking community and its investors safe and secure for over 20 years.
So when the 49 year old Washington, DC area resident decided to follow another vision recently, one that addressed more of his passions and need for social networking more than his previous endeavors, few who knew him blinked, and many, including Washington, DC Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and a host of Fortune 500 executives, have taken notice.
Sanchez’s latest vision arose out of a simple act that most anyone can identify with…a ritual that we learn as youngsters, sometimes forget as the game of life progresses, and then many regain as the need to slim down, and now go green, becomes a bigger priority as we mature. It is the act of learning to and then enjoying riding a bicycle. Welcome to CycleLife USA, the prototype hangout for the 21st Century health and environmentally conscious city dweller.
Cycling in the United States, for young people and adults alike, is quickly becoming to this generation what jogging was to the Jim Fixx era of the 1980’s. For reasons of health and environmental consciousness, riding a bike has become both cool and cost efficient, with recent estimates showing that almost 30% of the population of the United States now regularly riding bicycles for recreation, health and fitness and even commuting to and from work.
Still with that growing number, the corner bike shop is where most Americans went to select and repair their bikes and get information on how to best use cycling for their health and well-being. Sanchez, and his business partner and former professional rider Rui Ponte, along with many others friends, including a retired naval admiral, a technology executive, an architect and a software sales executive, cycled regularly but lacked that sense of community that many of their peers who golfed or played tennis would find at their recreational facilities.
“We knew plenty of people that rode on weekends for fun and exercise, as a group or with their kids, but at the end of the ride you would end up at sweaty at some coffee shop or at the local bike shop getting air in your tires, and there was no way to bond with those also interested in cycling like you could with any other recreational sport,” Sanchez said.
Into that mix comes CyclelifeUSA, a state of the art facility which brings under one roof the most complete array of services, equipment and amenities ever put together, and delivers them to cyclists of all backgrounds with a level of customer service that is closer to a luxury European resort than a Main Street bike store. Factor in the first floor ING Direct Café,’ where people can come in and lounge around with a latte while checking their bank balance, and the valet service where cyclists can check their bikes, shower and then hop on the bus to go to their Capitol-district jobs for less money and time than a drive in to the suburbs would be, and Sanchez’s vision of the ultimate gathering place for this growing audience of health and environmentally conscious consumers has come to fruition.
“We talked to a lot of people as to what they wanted in social settings, ranging from those who hang out in a local café’ to those who use health clubs and join country clubs and Y’s, and we took the best practices of all to build out CycleLife USA,” Sanchez added. “As more cities focus more in on being green and providing transportation alternatives, the cycling lifestyle is growing, just as it has in most parts of the world where congestion and gas prices are already an issue. CycleLife USA here in Washington, one of the most diverse cities in America, will become the social gathering spot for all those cyclists, and we think this will be the entertainment lifestyle business of the future across the country.”
Will Cyclife USA become a financial success as a lifestyle brand from coast to coast, doing for cycling what tennis clubs did for social networking in the ‘70’s? It remains to be seen, but over 400 people attended the opening just last week, and with membership in the overall club capped at just over 300, the demand appears to be there as Washington specifically and America in general looks to be leaner, more fit and definitely greener.
And lest we not forget Sanchez penchant for success in business, which seems akin to most people as remembering how to…well…ride a bike.
Joe Favorito has spent over 22 years in the sports and entertainment communications, branding and marketing field. He has held high level strategic positions for brands like the New York Knicks, the USTA, SportsChannel, the Philadelphia 76ers and the IFL, and is currently consulting for a wide range of clients. Joe also has a best practices blog at his site joefavorito.com, is on the faculty at Columbia University and has written a text on the industry "Sports Publicity."
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