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A return home sees the launch of new venture

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 20, 2012

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A new Exeter cycle hire company has entered the market, offering a new slant on bicycle rentals, writes Billy Ehrenberg Shannon.

Exeplore Ltd, which is run by 35-year-old Chris Johns, offers customers the opportunity to have their rental bicycles delivered to them.

The idea is that residents and holidaymakers can hire bikes over a website and avoid the hassle of collection.

Mr Johns said he paid scant regard to the recession when setting up the business. He and his small team – comprised of his mother and girlfriend – are convinced that sufficient demand is there and that now is the right time to go into business.

"It was now or never really. I have a history in multi-sport instruction so it was just a natural step. I had dreamt of doing it (starting the business) for so long," he said Chris.

At times business may have been slow, but Mr Johns said that he was not worried about the effects of a moribund economy.

"I think that weather has had more of an effect that the recession. Cycling is definitely a growing sector."

With his main customer base being families and groups, the business saw a surge of interest following the Bradley Wiggins' success in the Tour de France and Team GB's haul of cycling gold medals during the Olympics.

Mr Johns is also hoping that the Tour of Britain, which passed through Devon at the weekend and was won by Plymouth-born cyclist Jonathan Tiernan-Locke, provides a similar fillip – as well as transforming any negative attitudes people might have to cyclists. He said: "I hope the Tour will get people thinking about bikes. Perhaps having the Tour coming through will make people more aware of cyclists and affect the view people have of them on our roads."

Originally from Devon, Mr Johns has worked around the country instructing people in a variety of outdoor activities and sports, including rock-climbing and canoeing, as well as cycling.

He has worked from Cornwall all the way to the Cairngorms National Park, in Scotland, where he taught mountaineering and whitewater rafting.

When it came to starting his business, however, there was only one place he wanted to come.

"I wanted to return home," he said.

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