Chasing Epic’s Founder, Steve Mokan in the mountains above Boulder. Photo credit: Scott Cody
Steve started running all-inclusive mountain bike trips in the southwest in 2015. Not only does he provide awesome accommodations, food and bikes to ride, he is busy behind the scenes on all trips to ensure every rider has the best time. The locations don’t suck for his trips either: Moab, Sedona, Crested Butte, St.George, Durango, Park City among others. He’s pretty much got all the hot spots covered. Put your money down and ride! Easy as that. YOU don’t need to know the trails, where to eat, where to stay or anything. All you need to know is STEVE.
Crankjoy: What’s your story? Where are you from? Where did you get your entrepreneurial spirit? Where did your obvious love of the outdoors and adventure come from?
Steve Mokan: I’ll keep this somewhat short and sweet. I grew up in the Finger Lakes region of western NY (Corning, to be exact) and played baseball all through high school and college. I was an All-American in both HS and college, so I was very competitive. Other than buying a $400 GT Timberline in high school, I actually didn’t mountain bike until a few years after college because of injury concerns with baseball. I lived in Charlotte for a few years after college with a bunch of teammates and friends, and finally decided I needed a change in 2004 so I moved to Colorado. Once I was out here, my entire take on life changed. I wanted to spend as much time as possible outside, and share those experiences with friends and family back home on the east coast, who never had a chance to see what I was seeing every day. As I started exploring Colorado and the west, my love for the outdoors and adventure grew. It was an entirely new type of experience for someone who grew up playing team sports on the east coast. I’m no longer competitive like I was, but I still like pushing myself whenever I can.
I’ve always been entrepreneurial, even in the corporate world. I’ve been tossing around ideas to go out on my own for the last few years, and with Chasing Epic it just clicked. I’ll be honest though, it’s a LOT more work than I ever imagined… so much marketing, promoting, planning, etc. The work never ends. Luckily, I love 99% of it so I don’t mind! Plus, when I get to take clients out riding all day on some of the best trails in the country, all the hard work is worth it.
Crankjoy: What was your favorite adventure growing up? Where did you go on vacation with your family?
Steve Mokan: To be honest, I didn’t really do much “adventuring” growing up. I was always traveling for baseball and basketball with my family. I think my favorite memories of outdoor-related adventure came from exploring the gorges around the Finger Lakes, and playing in the woods with my friends, building trails, forts, and doing shit that most kids love doing.
Chasing Epic takes riders on all-inclusive single track trips.
Crankjoy: I’ve read that you started Chasing Epic due to a hole in the market for awesome all-inclusive mountain bike trips in rad places for more advanced riders, but what was the lightbulb that went off in your head to say: “Hey I need to do this!”
Steve Mokan: Last fall I was traveling with a few adventure travel companies as a photographer to places like the Grand Canyon and Croatia, and I started noticing that a lot of things they do with their customers (non MTBers) could apply to mountain biking. I knew that I wanted to start my own business to do something I loved. I had been in the corporate world long enough. I started exploring the competitive landscape with MTB adventure travel, and realized no one was offering trips that fit into the niche that Chasing Epic serves. We focus on the riding experience, and we focus on riding with solid mountain bikers. I’d say on average, our clients are intermediate to advanced level bikers. They’re from all over the US, so it’s really cool to see how they handle different terrain when they ride it for the first time.
My goal with Chasing Epic has always been to take clients on the type of mountain bike trips that my friends and I have been going on for years. Based on the feedback this year, I think it’s been pretty successful so far. There are always things I’m tweaking to make the experience better, but I think we’re getting close to having a pretty great formula.
Riders on a trip with Steve, in St. George, Utah.
Crankjoy: You’ve made some unique partnerships with companies in the bike industry, how did you get started with Ibis and tell me more about the “Migration.”
Steve Mokan: I’m not afraid to talk to people about their business and how they operate; I think that’s an important factor in starting Chasing Epic. Whether it was asking for advice or a partnership, I’m always willing to ask. What’s the worst they can say, no? For most of my partnerships, I have mutual friends or connections, which is how I got introduced or had contact information. For some of the companies I work with, they’re local here in Boulder (I live just outside of town) and the community is very supportive of start-ups and outdoor industry business. From being a part-time photographer over the years, I’ve made some good connections and great friends that have helped me out.
With Ibis specifically, it’s a pretty cool story that says a lot about both of us. I have Ibis bikes for my demo fleet, and I had been working with Todd, one of their sales guys (among other job responsibilities). I sent him an email one day over the summer, and asked if they had ever thought about doing a sort of “mini Tribe Gathering”, similar to Yeti’s annual event. His reply? “Pitch me”. So I put together a long email with my ideas about a trip and why it made sense for them to let me run it, and Todd sent it to Scot Nicol, the owner and founder. Within a couple of days, Scot replied to my email and asked me to call him. A few weeks later, we had a date and location planned, and the rest is history. The guys at Ibis aren’t like the other bike companies I’ve experienced they’re willing to talk with anyone and are open to new ideas, and it really shows in their bikes and how they interact with customers.