Todd on Guide Training Weekend - Riding the Big Mick - Handlebar Wrap Rap - Bike Everywhere Reprise - The Lowdown on Scouting
LINK: Bicycle Adventures' Newsletter
Volume 5: Issue No. 6
June 2017
Stepping up to New Guide Standards

Bicycle Adventures' staff having panorama photo fun

Every year we invest a tremendous amount of time and energy into our most valuable assets - our guides. 

Brand-new guides interview, practice and train over several extended weekends. It is fun, exciting and also exhausting simulating life on tour before sending them out on the real deal, where they then earn their stripes under the careful tutelage of our most senior and seasoned guides.
This year we added a renewed focus on supporting our returning guides. We know we have the best guides in the business - but any tour company will tell you that. So how can we truly provide the best possible vacation experience for our guests? Well, we turned the spotlight on how we guide, and have begun implementing the Adventure Travel Tourism Association's new International Guide Standards. The ATTA has worked diligently over the last few years with tour operators from around the world to create these competencies. We are proud to be the first bicycle tour operator to adopt them:  
  • Sustainability
  • Technical Competency
  • Wilderness Medicine and First Aid
  • Customer Service and Group Management
  • Natural and Cultural History Interpretation
We could have spent an entire weekend on each topic (eventually we will), but for now we've prioritized two areas: Customer Service & Group Management plus Natural Cultural History & Interpretation. We brought in two fantastic presenters and together applied these standards to bicycle tours - which is much more difficult than for a day hike or rafting trip where you have a captive audience close at hand for the duration of the tour. Those of you who have ridden with us know that our tours tend to spread out and regroup as each rider goes at their own pace.  As we race from support stop to lunch to the next lodge, our opportunities to assure healthy group dynamics and also interpret the cultural and natural history unique to each tour are limited.  But that doesn't make these elements any less critical to the success of a trip.
We were a little nervous; we know our returning guides are already great! Who else can parallel park 36 feet of van & trailer, whip up amazing roadside meals, calm cranky derailleurs, charm an entire van full of complete strangers into belly laughs and pull out a lawn chair before you even know you're ready to relax with a cold drink? These are seasoned, experienced professionals with hundreds of tours under their belts. But I think we surprised them - this was not your standard weekend of technical training (e.g., DOT forms, National Parks policies, Wahoo Elemnt software). They jumped right in! Not only were they extremely receptive to this new framework, they rolled up their sleeves for a weekend of learning, sharing and also applying these concepts to how we guide, construct our daily itineraries and serve each of you, our guests.
I hope you'll join us on a tour soon - and come see the drive to continuously improve that truly makes our guides the very best in the business.

 - Todd Starnes

President & Co-Owner

A day in the life on the Mickelson Trail

Sylvan Lake
"A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles." -Tim Cahill

So true! We had a custom tour on South Dakota's Mickelson Trail  that just finished up this week, with a group of 15 who lived these words.

Brad Barnard, Director of Tours & Guest Services and Todd Starnes himself were reporting from the field this week! We even had g uide Teri Smith moonlighting as a guest!
If you've never been to Mt. Rushmore National Memorial, you should make a point to go. It's pretty spectacular! We include it on all 4 of our South Dakota tours.

Look for a Bicycle Adventures blog this week with Terri's story of the trip...
Rapping 101

Getting your rap on
Yes, we are rappers.  We keep it real. 
We get into the groove.

It's all about the look and feel of getting a good rap on your road bike handlebars. 

We've twisted Matt's arm to be in this video demonstrating how to get your new bar tape on your road bike. (Note, we are not professional videographers, but we do know how to rap a bar). 

Hamming it up on Bike Everywhere Day!

Jeremy the ham, serving up the bacon

National Bike Month turned 61 this year! 

May - National Bike Month - highlights the myriad benefits of bicycling: better health, care for the environment, fuel savings, exploration. Riding season gets a kick-start with fun contests, bike-to-school days and prizes. N ational organizations like the League of American Bicyclists, state ones like transportation departments and local organizations from bicycle clubs to businesses - all chip in to get people off and rolling. 

Here at Bicycle Adventures, we know it's really all about fun.  This year o n May 19th, Bike Everywhere Day, we partnered with Washington Bikes and hosted a 'Celebration Station' near Bicycle Adventures World Headquarters.  

The month of May can bring dicey weather here in Seattle, but we got lucky. Basking in glorious sunshine next to the bike path, from 6:30 - 10:00 a.m. we handed out fresh donuts, free coffee (thanks to our local Peet's Coffee!) and hot-off-the-grill bacon slices to hundreds of cyclists, a few pedestrians and a puppy or two. We even pumped up a couple of tires. It was a great excuse for bike-to-work-riders from Google, Microsoft, and Nintendo to stop for a breather, a hello and a chance to win a  Seattle Mountain Bike Tour (yes, that's us too!) before charging up the mile-long hill behind us. 

We had a blast meeting our neighbors, seeing a few familiar faces and cheering on the cyclists tackling that ornery hill. So much fun that we're planning to show up again next time we have a sunny morning and some extra bacon. 

Looking forward to seeing you out on the road!  We'll bring the cowbell. 

Julie Robinson
Sales & Marketing

Scouting out Yucatán Bike Tours with Kurt McCanles

Kurt toiling away in the Yucatán

Scouting new routes is one of those tasks that often sounds more glamorous than it is - at least when I do it. 

Don't get me wrong, it's incredibly fun and rewarding, but let's just say I've never spent so many hours in a van or eaten as much fast food. I had a feeling that Kurt McCanles has a better technique, so I sat down with him fresh off a trip to the Yucatán Peninsula.

Jennifer: Since I'm super jealous of your recent mission, I'm starting with the work end of your trip first. What's your job description when scouting a tour?

Kurt: I do my best to put myself in the guests' shoes. First and foremost, will they be comfortable here? How is the cycling - is it not only safe but also fun to ride? Are the restaurants and hotels up to par with the standard we want to provide? Finally, can we create a good itinerary flow, so that the guests experience the best this area has to offer in only 6 or 7 days without wearing everybody out rushing from the ruins to the jungle to the local cenote...

Jennifer: Hold on, what's a cenote?

Kurt: A cenote (pronounced sen-OH-teh) is a limestone sinkhole that collects fresh water. They are perfect for cooling off in!

Jennifer: Tell me how you found all these cool things!

Kurt: We are working with a Yucatán tour operator that runs bus and boat tours to create a bicycle tour. It's the perfect partnership - they have the local knowledge while we are the bicycle tour experts. They've been running tours here for a long time and I really got the insider's scoop, enjoying fresh-caught fish with the locals under the shade of a 100 year-old tree, visiting 15th-century ruins at off-peak times after the bus crowds, and cycling on beautiful, flat, car-free side roads where you'll spot one of the dozens of native birds nesting in the low-hanging branches. And our guests will get to do the same!   

Jennifer: That sounds amazing! Have I mentioned how jealous I am...But are there any safety concerns here?

Kurt: Tourism is the main industry, with popular resort town Cancún nearby. So everyone is invested in taking good care of visitors. My biggest safety concern is actually the speedbumps on the roads we ride - they are seriously meant to deter car speeding and they do the trick.

Jennifer: Who should sign up for this tour, once we've settled on our dates?

Kurt: Someone who wants to get off the beaten path, is interested in birding (because if you aren't a birder going into this trip, you will be by the end!) and digs rich history. Or hey, if you just enjoy flat cycling in beautiful places with great food and a comfortable hotel at the end of the day - you'll be plenty happy here too!

- Jennifer Schofield, Adventure Manager

Want to be the first to get our new Yucatán dates? Adventure Rewards members will get advance notice of our December and February tour dates before we open this up to the public. If you're not already a member, sign up today!  


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