Many of us love Colorado for the simple fact that it has some of the best year-round recreation opportunities in the country. Statistics fans will appreciate the state’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade website, which shares that 92% of Coloradans indulge in some form of outdoor recreation every year. They also note that the industry as a whole generates $37 billion annually and, per a 2016 study, bicycle-related tourism contributed $448 million to the state economy. These are big numbers, but the cut-and-dry of it is obvious: people enjoy cycling.
With that, it’s no surprise that Crested Butte start-up, TerraQuest Quickly gained popularity since announcing their debut in January 2020. With three virtual races and several projects under their belt, it’s obvious that slowing down is not an option.
Just before businesses and events embraced the COVID-19-induced shutdown, TerraQuest released their digital platform and mobile app aimed at getting more people outside and on bikes.
This “rapidly developing, super cool, radical tool”, according to TerraQuest CEO, Derrick Nehenberg, is currently working with organizations, local businesses and race directors to create a cycling route platform for users. I sat down with the once-behavioral neuroscience PhD student as he shared the backstory of TerraQuest and a glimpse at what’s next for the new platform.
A case of “bad data”, as Derrick shared, resulted in the creation of TerraQuest. Derrick explained, “The whole reason I got interested in trail maps in general (as a general problem) is because I went on a mountain bike trip when I was a researcher”. While working on a postdoc in genetics, mapping brains and genomes, Derrick was navigating a cycling route with friends between Purgatory and Durango until, as he states, “we got monumentally lost [at] 10,500 feet on a 30 degree night…it was something you don’t forget”.
A seed was planted and with his genetics work quickly detoured, Derrick quit his postdoc and moved out to Colorado because, according to him, the only thing he liked more than being a scientist was mountain biking.
Initially focused on mapping services, their first challenge was to create “Trail Quest” for the Crested Butte Tourism Association. This game challenges cyclists to ride all 800 miles of trails in the Crested Butte area. Initially thought of as a “logistical nightmare” of backcountry and frontcountry trails that no one would be interested in, the outcome shocked Derrick – the game was a huge success.
Since the creation of “Trail Quest”, new technology has been the fuel on the fire TerraQuest needed to move to the next level. TerraQuest’s team of 6 has built an ever-growing platform for iOS and Android system users. The app features audible turn-by-turn navigation, new kinds of challenges for virtual races and crowd-sourcing opportunities. While there are a slew of applications for the robust platform, the current clientele includes race directors, local business and tourism-focused entities. Derrick says “if you’re an organization interested in getting people outdoors and on trails…our platform allows [you] to utilize a route-builder and routes can be turned into challenges”.
If the stoke isn’t high enough yet, stay tuned, because the platform is only getting more robust. Derrick shared, “It’s not about the trail, it’s about the route and it’s about the challenge…” and their next challenge (as an app and company) is underway. While organizations and races are the current clientele, public users – you, me and our best riding buddies – will soon have new and exciting options within TerraQuest. You might just want to download it and stand by for some user-created experiences very soon!