Tahoe Multisport for Year-Round Adventure Gear
July 15, 2023 | Kayla Anderson
The snow melted and the chickadees are singing, marking the time for residents and visitors alike to come out of their dens and start enjoying the outdoors. But there is so much to do between biking, kayaking, and paddleboarding…where to start?
It usually depends on what kind of equipment you have, who you’re with, and the easiest/safest way to get to the beach.
Fortunately, Tahoe Multisport is a small locally owned business located in the upper corner of the Village Shopping Center (on 797 Southwood Boulevard Unit #10 next to Tahoe Family Solutions in Incline Village) run by JP Donovan and Belinda Quené. They are both passionate about the outdoors, extremely knowledgeable about the East Shore (and greater Truckee/Tahoe basin) and are open year-round to ensure that you and your friends have a good time.
On a warm sunny afternoon, Quené is outside rearranging their quiver of kayaks and paddleboards. Inside is an inviting reception area and rooms of equipment including cross-country skis, poles, boots, paddles, and e-Bikes.
Many people in the IV/CB area know of JP Donovan, who grew up in Incline Village and spent a lot of his life running cross-country and competing in triathlons. Quené was born in South Africa and relocated to the United States with her parents when she was young, then moved to Lake Tahoe in 2014 after college when she got a job at Northstar California.
“I came here to ski, and liked the idea of living by a lake,” she says. After that first winter season, she stayed in the area and continued working seasonal jobs until she met Donovan at the climbing gym the following year.
Before Donovan met Quené, he was renting out paddleboards as a side job, storing them at his house, and delivering them to customers when they booked the gear online. As his side hustle grew, he acquired more SUPs and eventually needed more space to store them all.
“Then we started doing this full-time,” he says. Seeing what Backroads was doing, Donovan also had the goal of hosting tours and needed gear to do that. At that time, stand-up paddleboarding began taking off and he responded to the growing trend by investing in some inflatable ones.
“The equipment has gotten better in the last 10 years and there are a lot of advantages to paddleboarding- it’s easier to get on the water and you’re able to see down to the bottom of the lake. I also saw the advantages to inflatables- I like that you can take them in a backpack and not have to get one only on a beach,” Donovan adds.
However, he says he felt stifled in putting on tours while trying to keep up with purchasing enough equipment, so he decided to rent out the equipment first. “Then I met Belinda, and we started working and growing the business together,” Donovan explained.
They opened their brick-and-mortar business in March of 2021, and being in a place like Tahoe and operating an outdoor multisport company during the pandemic helped sales (when businesses were allowed to reopen).
“We got busy when covid hit,” Quené adds. Tahoe Multisport started renting out SUPs first, but then found that when the lake got colder their customers preferred kayaks since there was less of a risk of falling in.
Providing not only the boards, boats, and bikes but other accessories as well (like bike trailers, baby seats, and dog carriers), Tahoe Multisport noticed that people would bike down to the beach with a kayak trailer or inflatable SUP. Customers were renting multiple types of equipment in one transaction, which is how they came up with their business name.
“The other day we had people renting snowshoes, kayaks, and bikes all in the same day,” Donovan reiterates, back in the springtime when we still had an abundance of snow.
“When we moved into this shop, we bought a bunch of bikes to offer an activity when it’s windy out, too,” Quené says.
No matter where they’re coming from, people tend to rent equipment and take it to the beach or on the bus that runs to Sand Harbor, as Tahoe Multisport is conveniently located next to the temporary/future transit center as well.
Considering that the local beaches are always a bit vague on how many people they let in, when, and who, Tahoe Multisport can also be a vital resource for how to best enjoy the lake or surrounding trails no matter what time they arrive.
“People come here and don’t know where to go, and we can help save the day…if parking is full or it’s a busy time and people just drove from a long way away to experience Tahoe,” Donovan says. Especially when taking a tour with someone who intricately knows the area.
Open year-round, Tahoe Multisport also provides winter equipment. The owners have rented out cross-country equipment to the Gateway Mountain Center, different Boys & Girls clubs around the Tahoe area, Tahoe Expedition Academy, and Strider Gliders. Tahoe Multisport has equipped the Incline middle school high school with snow equipment, and they store winter gear for UNR at Lake Tahoe.
At that moment, a local guy brought back a pair of kids’ cross-country skis that he rented for the season, grateful that he didn’t have to buy and store them at his house.
Since business was picking up even when there was still a lot of snow on the ground, I wondered if they ever ran out of equipment.
“We do sell out of bikes sometimes, but we offer online bookings for all tours and rentals. We accept rentals as far as a year out, and we do last-minute walkups. There’s about a 50/50 of each [people booking online and just coming in],” Donovan says.
“Unless it’s a holiday weekend, you can usually reserve gear the night before,” Quené adds.
With the ease, convenience, and accessibility to Tahoe’s East Shore beaches, going to Tahoe Multisport for all your summer outdoor equipment needs is a no-brainer.
“We’re set up to be the emergency last minute outfitter for the outdoors,” Donovan says.
For more information about Tahoe Multisport or to book a tour/reserve equipment online, visit https://tahoemultisport.wordpress.com/.