A bike ride with a friend who unlocks nuggets of information, that’s what Ben Ogden is hoping riders will feel when they saddle up for his newest tourism drawcard.
The 34 year-old, who moved to Newcastle with his young family in 2019, is set to launch Newy Rides next month, bike tours for visitors wanting to explore the city off the beaten track.
After COVID lockdowns saw his international events management role experience a significant lull, the keen bike rider from Parkes, honed his creative juices on promoting a city he had fallen in love with.
“I already knew I loved Newcastle,” he said.
“I’d grown up visiting mates who were studying here at the University of Newcastle and I knew it had a lot to offer.”
Then after years spent travelling overseas, Ben combined his passion for bikes with his knowledge of domestic tourism to create a set of routes that would showcase Newcastle’s local producers, artists, cafes, restaurants bars, by bike.
“My takeaways when I travel are always the unexpected adventures,” he said.
“Some will say ‘I went to Paris and I went to the top of the Eiffel Tower’.
“My favourite time in Paris was onboard a barge on the river watching a hip hop show and drinking rose all night.
“That to me was more memorable than waiting in line at the Eiffel Tower.”
Ben believes Newcastle is worth more than the offered cookie-cutter tours.
“You can easily just come to Newy and walk along Honeysuckle, go to Nobbys, and see the coast.
“Yes, that is beautiful and visitors have to do that anyway, but the important thing to turn us into a destination is to champion an authentic local experience.
“The idea of Newy Rides is to tie some elements on Newcastle culture together ,” he said.
“To showcase our prolific street art scene, coffee culture and restaurants worth travelling for.”
Each participant on the tour will ride a unique, recycled bike that has been restored to reflect the city’s highlights.
“They’ve each had a paint job reflecting the sights of Newcastle,” Ben said.
“From Adamstown Gates, to the Stockton Ferry, Pasha Bulker and Silverchair’s Frogstomp album cover.”
Newy Rides is the first of 15 Newcastle small business to launch under the City of Newcastle’s Product Development Mentoring initiative.
The selected local businesses will learn how to create new or expanded tourism offerings as part of a City of Newcastle program designed to grow the visitor economy.
The program is connecting local operators with professional mentors, who will teach them how to develop, promote and sell their tourism products and experiences to a wider market.
Ben will host his first Newy Ride on Saturday, 5 December.
His eight bikes will make up a bookable three-to-four hour ride that costs $150 and includes lunch, tastings and photos.