Trailhead Bike & Bed

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by Kristina Domitrovich // photos by Lindsay Pace

In the throes of COVID-19, Millette and Lee Nabors were faced with a tough choice: Either open Trailhead Bike & Bed, a lodging site off of Tanglefoot Trail, or put it off.

“‘We’re too far gone now to stop,’” Millette remembers thinking. “The day that I posted on Facebook that we were open and ready for business, the next day I actually had all four rooms rented.”

It turns out, bookings haven’t seemed to slow since that day they opened on May 16. In fact, through the pandemic, the couple has found biking as a whole and the Tanglefoot Trail are gaining popularity.

“Every afternoon, you could just hear the families and the kids and the chitter-chatter and everybody unloading and getting on the trail,” Millette said. “It was refreshing to see all these families spending that time together doing something exercise related, getting out, expending some of that energy from being cooped up all day long.”

The couple has lived in Houston for 26 years and is well familiarized with the world of biking, as they themselves are cyclists. Millette took a break and is just now returning to the cycling community, but Lee said he’s been involved for over 10 years. In fact, he served as the Houston representative for the Tanglefoot Trail Board of Directors while it was under construction. 

“It’s just an unbelievable experience,” Lee said on the trail. “It’s like being in the woods, it’s beautiful.”

The trail itself is pretty well shaded and fairly level, save a few inclines. In fact, the overall level path is one of the drawing points for many cyclists. In the past month, the couple has hosted guests from Illinois, Arizona, Florida, Tennessee, Virginia and Alabama, as the trail attracts cyclists from all over. Since the Natchez Trace runs through Houston, too, they get more cyclists from that as well, though the Trailhead Bike & Bed’s property line goes right up to the Tanglefoot trailhead.

The trail, which starts in Houston and runs 44 miles to New Albany, is the inspiration behind the name. Millette said it’s a common misconception to think the trail starts in New Albany, but it doesn’t, it actually ends there and starts in Houston – hence, Trailhead Bike & Bed (a play off the traditional B&B).

Through construction, the couple realized that though they originally had solely cyclists in mind, their Bike & Bed was perfectly suited for any guest.

“(We) started out as something with cyclists in mind,” Millette explained. “But as we built it and things progressed and changed, we realized that it can be a whole lot more than that. You don’t have to be a cyclist to come and stay with us.”

From birthdays and family reunions, the space is very versatile.

“I’ve even had people here in town have staycations,” Millette said. “One couple celebrated their anniversary here shortly after we opened.”

When Millette told Lee about her idea for a cyclists’ lodge in 2019, he drew up a few sketches that the two would later take to an architect, who Lee said “brought our ideas to life.” He joked that of the couple, he did the “meat and potatoes part of the construction” and Millette “put the icing on the cake.” Construction began in July, and the couple remained hands-on throughout; Lee who owns a concrete company, poured the slabs.

The wifi and cable equipped pet-friendly, four-bedroom lodge sleeps 16 with three RV hookups complete with 30 and 50-amp and sewer hookups. All guests get shared access to the hot tub, laundry room (an after-thought addition suggested by the architect), fire pit, the outdoor courtyard areas and the full outdoor kitchen. In fact, Millette said that upon request, she can stock the fridge with whatever the guests request ahead of time; but if guests would rather do it themselves, the Bike & Bed is within walking distance of a grocery store, along with a liquor store.

The Trailhead Bike & Bed is fully encased in a tall, secured privacy fence. The two said their friends who have visited seem to forget they’re in Houston.

“They’re like, ‘I feel like I just stepped into somewhere else, a resort that’s hours away,’” Millette said.

The couple said that all along, they wanted the lodge to seem like a retreat, a private getaway.

“One of the things we told each other when we were designing it was that we want to design something that if somebody opened those gates, they would say, ‘I want to be here,’” Lee said. “And that’s what we’ve done, we’ve created something where people want to be here.”

But more than just the out-of-towners want to enjoy the Bike & Bed, too, because the couple said they’ll find themselves going over when there aren’t any guests.

“We find a lot of times when we don’t have guests, we’ll come over here and grill and just hang out,” Millette said. “To me it’s just so relaxing, you can come inside these gates and just forget what’s happening.”

As far as guests are concerned, Millette said that has been one of her favorite parts of the job so far, getting to know new people, while still giving them space to enjoy themselves.

“Meeting people, hearing their stories, to me that’s the fun part,” Millette said. “I can be as hands-on as you need me to be.”

Lee laughed about some guests from Chicago who asked him “please come over here and tell us your story.”

“They just wanted to hear me talk,” Millette interjected, laughing, about her southern accent.

The couple said they spent about four hours hanging out with their guests. At the end, Lee said he explained a part of the SEC culture, how every school has a cheer. Lee and Millette, both University of Mississippi graduates, said they chanted Hotty Toddy for them.

For now, the couple prefers to stay hands-on with cleaning and maintenance. They laughed about how for their first multi-night visitor, they realized halfway through his stay that he would need fresh towels.

“I’ve never done anything in the hotel industry before in my life,” she said. “And I was like, “Huh, yeah, you would need some clean towels.”

While they’re still learning and having fun along the way — “Surprisingly enough, we really did not argue through this project” Millette interjected, laughing — the couple already has plans for expanding in the future. Lee said he’s waiting for college sports to pick back up, as they expect additional guests through that; and Millette said they plan on starting bike rentals at some point, too. They want their Bike & Bed to eventually serve as a venue, and have already received expressed interest in hosting weddings, private bookings for reunions and special events. If it comes down to it, they said they could even knock down the fence to expand and add on more rooms — something the couple’s five sons may appreciate, as they like to joke that the Bike & Bed is their “family commune” whenever they’re all in town.

 

2 Comments
  1. I am from Houston and now live in Roanoke, VA. I don’t get back there often but would love to know where in Houston you are located. Are you listed in the phone book?
    Kermit Nabors

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