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Who knew there was so much “dough” in bagels by bike?
Bagels, baking, and bikes. That’s the recipe “Bagel Bob” Larsen of Bob’s Bakery in Port Townsend, WA, concocted to turn his passions in to a successful bike-based business. Bob starts his day at 3:55 a.m. so we slept in and spoke to him after he’d make his bagel delivery rounds.
So who knew there was big “dough” in bagels by bike?
Not me. I was a carpenter just making bagels on the side because I enjoyed it so much. I’d give a dozen to clients as a way to say thank you at the end of a job. Then the crash hit in 2007 and there was no work for woodworkers. Since everyone liked my bagels, I thought I’d try baking them full time.
How long did it take you to get the business off the ground?
We sold a dozen bagels on the first day. Within 3 weeks, the word got out, and we took orders for our first entire batch of 240 bagels in an hour. Today, we sell between 1,000 and 1,300 bagels a week, all delivered by bike.
Seems like you know your way around a bagel.
I’ve made to East Coast pilgrimages from Brooklyn to Main looking for the best bagel. We’re a sourdough bagel bakery, which is more a West Coast thing. But honestly, after the first bite of my bagel, I knew this was the one I wanted to eat for the rest of my life. And combining baking and bagels with biking has made this the only job I’ve ever truly loved.
Does Port Townsend enjoy biking as much as it enjoys bagels?
Absolutely. We have 25 miles (40 km) of beautiful biking trails inside the city limits, all connected to the main roadways. We use this network of shortcuts to make our bagel deliveries to homes, boats, RVs, and businesses, and we can do it a lot faster by bike than by car.
How far will you pedal to deliver a bagel?
Our farthest wholesale delivery is 12 miles (19 km) from our baking operation in Port Townsend. But we also do the Farmers’ Market in Seattle on weekends.
That’s where the “Airstream” bike trailer comes in?
Right. We needed something to carry a lot more product to the market with room for a grill. I built the 6-foot (1.8 meter) trailer out of fiberglass and wood, and designed it like an Airstream with our menu painted on the side. Bikes ride for free on the Bainbridge Ferry into Seattle. You can’t say that about a food truck.
Much danger of devouring your product before delivery?
We make a nut protein cookie called a Mighty Bite that I always carry with me on the bike. Whenever I feel the urge to eat my cargo, I have one of those.
Allan Ishac is a cycling-obsessed freelance writer living in New York City, NY. He is the author of several books and creator of the TranquiliCity app. cyclepreneurs.com