Core to Second Gear’s mission is outfitting customers for the trail. Our aim is to keep them on route too. Which is why the shop has stocked trail maps from the Pisgah Map Company (PMC) since day one. In 2010, PMC’s founder Pete Kennedy delivered his first shipment of maps. Since then, the maps have been one of the store’s most popular items.
The brightly colored maps of the region exhibit Kennedy’s local knowledge as a mountain biker and digital mapping expert. The Hartsville, South Carolina native started exploring mountain trails while a student at the Asheville School in the late 1980s. After earning two degrees at Clemson University, Kennedy settled in Asheville in 2001.
As a graduate student in the mid 1990s, Kennedy mastered the mechanics of geographic information software and technology to model historic and present forest patterns in the Francis Marion National Forest above Charleston, SC. That expertise in digital mapping led him to a twenty year teaching career; currently he’s a faculty member at A-B Technical Community College in Asheville.
What nagged Kennedy most as a mountain biker was the inadequacy of available trail maps of some of his favorite riding loops in the Pisgah National Forest that had numerous errors and omissions. “I thought I could improve on it,” says Kennedy who added trail names to his map and delicately audited the labels of every stream, knob, and path.
It took a decade, but in 2009 Kennedy launched his enterprise and unfolded his first map displaying the Pisgah Ranger District within the Pisgah National Forest. The map was well received and since its release Kennedy and the PMC have produced 6 more maps of the region. Still, his initial product endures as his best seller and is well stocked at Second Gear and 130 other stores throughout the region.
Kennedy explains that it takes roughly a year to design and produce a map. Adding to the production time is navigating his teaching duties and trailing after five-year old twin daughters. It’s a plateful he says, but guiding a side business has been a rewarding journey that he intends to stay at the helm for as long as he can.
His most recent release is a map of the French Broad region along the North Carolina-Tennessee state line. While Kennedy hasn’t zoomed in on the subject of his next map, he’s added other merchandise to his website, including stickers based on the map covers.
“Applying my mapping skills to a product has been exciting and fun,” says Kennedy. “It’s really cool to make a product that people are using and excited about.”
– Jack Igelman