Whenever someone asks about the history of RouteArrows, there are multiple milestones on the timeline. The first one was over thirty years ago, back in the early 80’s while attending UC Davis and volunteering with the Davis Bike Club’s big event, the Davis Double Century. In those days, many riders really struggled through the last third of the 200 mile event, well after dark, with poor lighting and near exhaustion. For route marking this section, the DBC used some Caltrans’ reflective centerline tape and cut the sticky foil material into small turn arrows. “It would be great to someday have high visibility arrow stickers” I would say every year to the route marking crew as we set out to paint arrows, fill potholes, sweep glass and gravel and cut that very sticky tape into little arrows on the arduous 12-14 hour endeavor.
For the second milestone, jump ahead to July 11th 2005. After seeing yet another of the many century events I’d ridden do a really poor job at route marking, I sat down and wrote the “Official Start Letter” for what I called “E-Z Arrows”. After some prototyping, I was very fortunate to have the Western Wheelers Bike Clubs’ Sequoia Century agree to use my hand cut prototype arrows for their event that June. Each of the nearly 2000 paper arrows were each individually spray glued as they were placed; a laboriously slow process, but it worked! They were very easy to see and there was no need to remove them or paint them over afterwards as they would be quickly worn away by traffic! So in mid 2006, I found a great manufacturer here in the US and, working together, we decided on the size and length of each roll, based on the available paper material sizes and on what worked well for the needs of cycling and running events. We also chose non-toxic water based ink and adhesive, instead of cheaper oil based products. So after a few phone calls and a final decision on the new name, production began on 150 rolls of RouteArrows!
The third and very important milestone came in early 2007 when, after sending out hand addressed info packets to about 200 events and bike clubs across the US, the first sale came into the online store on March 20th, 2007. This was very cool, a rewarding hobby and a little extra infusion for the retirement account. In remaining months of 2007, I sold 100 of those 150 rolls, life was good!
The fourth milestone was passed in March, 2013. Word of mouth growth had been very steady, averaging 50% per year, so in early March of 2013, I decided to leave my 25 years of residential remodeling and Contracting and jump into RouteArrows full time. Admittedly my passion for remodeling bathrooms had waned and my body was showing some wear, which helped galvanize my decision. I was actually going to take RouteArrows from a labor of love hobby and turn it into my livelihood, my passion, Wow! Speaking of jumping, some days it feels like I’ve jumped out of a plane before learning to use a parachute, but it sure makes life interesting and exciting! I know that RouteArrows work, that events and their participants love them and that the word is spreading around the world! So far, we’ve sold in over 42 states and 7 countries! In November, 2013, we launched our new website, as you see it, and we’re continuing to make improvements, to add helpful and relevant content and smooth the checkout process!
Another Milestone! On January 20th, 2014 we received a Registered Trademark for RouteArrows.com. This was no easy feat as the words Route and Arrows are “In Common Usage” but because we have been in business for over 7 years without conflict, the Trademark was granted!
The goal of RouteArrows has always been to help make cycling and running event better, safer, more fun and less work for their participants and the organizers alike: “To enhance the cycling experience”. So for 2014, we’ve introduced two new products! 1) RouteLines a continuous 3” x 195 ft roll, great for Start/Finish lines, Hazard Marking, BIG Words and BIG Arrows! They are available in our four most popular colors, Yellow, Green, Orange and Pink. 2) RouteSigns, which are 16” x 16” blank (black) signage to be used with RouteArrows in those situations where pavement in unavailable or more clarity is needed. All these products are available in the online store.
RouteArrows’ next goal, continue to pursue our Mission Statement: To provide tools and materials for athletic and other events to be the best, the safest and the most enjoyable, for the participants and organizers alike. As you know, events don’t just fall out of a tree. They require a dedicated team of people willing to jump through way too many hoops and burn too many candles at both ends. Across the US the pressure on these events is only increasing. We believe that well organized events are a truly valuable thing and we want to help make sure they survive and prosper for years to come. If you have suggestions for products that what would be the most needful for improving events in the route support area, signage for example, please let us know. We do have more useful and unique items in the works, so we will keep you posted!
Thanks for reading about this growing little endeavor and remember….
RouteArrows… “This is the way to go!”