The original idea struck in 1985 while standing on a lonely rural road amidst vast almond groves, late on a mid-May evening, nearing the end of a long day of marking the 200 mile Davis Double Century route. I had a small remnant of Caltrans yellow reflective heavy foil adhesive tape in one hand and a gummed up pair of scissors in the other.
“It sure would be great to have some pre-made arrows!” I announced to my route marking crew. We only used the reflective foil tape to make arrows on the last quarter of the route, where many riders would be riding at night. The previous 150 miles were marked the old school way, with many cans of yellow spray paint, two brooms and lots of sweat.
Roll ahead twenty years to mid-2005. After having ridden on too many poorly marked century routes and tours every year, the idea of creating “pre-made arrows” kept coming back. “Ok, dammit, I’m doing this!” I finally said to myself. So I did some internet searching, made a few calls, and I took some notes on my ideas and discoveries.
I concluded that this new route marking product needed three main attributes: to be very bright and obvious, be easy to apply, and be non-toxic so it could be left behind. I experimented with various arrow shapes and sizes, and I used brightly colored 8.5 x 11 paper, a jig to cut the arrows, and cans of spray glue. Those paper prototypes worked amazingly well! (See photos below.)
In early 2006, I called the manufacturer of the brightest colored paper I could find. Their friendly customer service rep directed me to my first and only manufacturer, a family owned die-cut label manufacturer, now a 91 year old company, based in Massachusetts.
A few phone calls and design revisions later, Paul, the owner, and I had a production agreement and the first RouteArrows were born! (See third photo) With help from a friend in the burgeoning “e-commerce” world, the RouteArrows.com website launched.
I spent the winter mailing out sample packets to hundreds of cycling events all over the US. The first online sale came on March 20th of 2007 – a single roll of Pink! With that sale I knew I was onto something and the total rolls sold in 2007 came to 130!
RouteArrows.com was initially just a hobby, my gift to the cycling world, which has given me so much. I had been in the trades for over 25 years and a licensed General Contractor doing kitchen and bath remodels, repairs and additions. Then one afternoon knee deep in a half completed bathroom, it hit me like a bucket of wet mortar – I was burned out!
I spent a few days pondering my future, but then I realized I had this viable business in my back pocket! So I jumped off the cliff, sold my work truck and switched my contractor’s license to “Inactive”.
My daughter Roslyn has been involved since the early days, when she was in grade school. She's helped make prototypes, traveled with me to meet our manufacturer, and now she's become my partner in building this business.
In early 2021 RouteArrows will be 14! We believe RouteArrows are beneficial to the participants, the organizers, and the local community too. We will continue to grow and support events and anyone else needing to give clear directions!
With numerous thanks to all our customers, both new and old, we really look forward to helping you in guiding the way to wonderfully successful events and route marking!
“To provide tools and methods for athletic and other events to do a great job. We want to help you provide a safe and enjoyable experience for participants and organizers alike.”
If you're an organizer, you know a well-planned event doesn’t just fall out of a tree. They require a dedicated team of people willing to jump through hoops, burn their candles at both ends, and keep their cups at least half full!
In the future, RouteArrows.com will be branching out into new areas and uses - from economical signage, to participant identification and high-visibility wearables. If you have suggestions for products that could be helpful, please let us know. We have many more useful and unique products in the works, so we will keep you posted!
We appreciate feedback and input, so we may better serve the needs of all the various events and their organizers. They are the ones who spend so much of their time and effort creating an experience for us to enjoy, whether for a fundraiser, or just for fun!
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.
Thanks for reading about this growing little endeavor and remember...
“This is the way to go!”
- Randall and Roslyn Braun