Category Archives: Bicycle Adventures

9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring

9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring

Winter blues got you down? Don’t feel as up to biking when the temperature is below freezing? Can’t even bike since there’s so much snow and ice on the street? There’s an answer to your problem—go where it’s warm!

Wouldn’t you love to follow the sun and get training again before a third of the year has gone by? So forget the snow, and consider these nine winter and spring tours to get you back on your bike:

 

1. Ride and snorkel your way around Hawaii’s Big Island for a Spring Break you won’t forget!

9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring

What’s better than taking a spring break vacation to Hawaii? And not only vacationing there, but getting to ride your bike around the Big Island, seeing all of its sublime sights.

Cruise down the Kohala Coast through lush vegetation to a lookout point over the Waipio Valley. This valley served as the home of many Hawaiian kings and is known for its nioi tree. Trees and other flora surround the ancient grassland on three sides, with the sapphire sea on the fourth, providing this valley with total protection. Cruising through banana and papaya plantations sweetens your final ride for the day.

Thrills are around every bend on the island. Hike your way through Thurston Lava Tube and across Kilauea Crater to get your heart pumping. Then hop back on your bike for a 25-mile downhill drive to Punalu’u black sand beach. You may just see a green sea turtle sunning on a rock!

Coffee-lovers rejoice—you can cycle through Kona Coffee country! And not only cycle, but sip the deliciously caffeinated beverage at a tasting. The volcanic soil of this region provides an ideal landscape for growing the coffee beans, which become the smooth, medium-bodied drink.

You can’t go to Hawaii and only stay on land. Jump into the Pacific Ocean for snorkeling, scuba diving, or simply swimming adventures. In March, there’s a good chance of spotting a humpback whale from your catamaran while sailing around the island.

 

2. Warm up from the winter cold with a ride through Death Valley National Park.

9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring

There’s no better place in the country to escape from the winter than Death Valley. Located in California’s desert, this national park is the largest of all the parks in the lower 48 and has the highest temperatures and lowest elevation in all of North America.

But don’t let those statistics fool you—Death Valley is temperate in the spring and has plenty of hills to ride up and down, such as Daylight Pass. Climb to 4,317 feet of elevation for fantastic views of the sun-bleached terrain. Your descent takes you into Furnace Creek Resort, a spring, oasis, and village you can choose to stay at should you be so inclined. Fun fact: Furnace Creek Resort sits on the location where the hottest temperature in North America was recorded—a whopping 134 degrees fahrenheit! Thankfully, it will not be that hot during the springtime.

You can’t miss Zabriskie Point while visiting Death Valley. Vibrant, colorful bands stretch out through the earth like waves in the ocean, only on land. It’s one of Death Valley’s most popular landmarks, for good reason. Another “must see” spot? Check out Badwater Basin, North America’s lowest point.

Looking for a little more adventure? Get off your bike and hike around the mile and a half perimeter of Ubehebe Crater. Or for those with an artistic side, head to Dante’s Point, a great place to capture with your camera all of the places you rode through in Death Valley.

 

3. Travel through trendy Palm Springs and find peace in tranquil Joshua Tree National Park.

9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring

Palm Springs—playground of Old Hollywood’s elite. Home to the Rat Pack. And now, making a huge return as the trendy place to be once again. And it’s great for cyclists, too.

Bike through the Whitewater Preserve, situated between the San Bernardino and San Jacinto Mountains. The conservancy protects abundant flora and fauna as well as the Whitewater River. Then head to the San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm, one of the oldest and largest wind farms in the United States.

Cycle around the Salton Sea, California’s largest lake, which has more salinity than the Pacific Ocean. Nearby Salvation Mountain features a modern masterpiece of folk art at the top made of concrete and adobe.

Joshua Tree National Park’s namesakes are certainly worth a ride. The twisted and spiky trees (they look like they are straight out of The Lorax), and all the desert animals make for a fascinating journey.

 

4. There are so many wonders to see at Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring

Ancient ruins, lush jungles, warm waters, and a colorful coral reef are just a few examples of the splendors of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Explore this remarkable paradise both off and on your bike.

Cycle around Isla Mujeres, sacred to the Mayan goddess, Ixchel. Dramatic cliffs turquoise waters, and coral-crushed beaches are your sights outside of the water. When you reach the ocean, grab some snorkeling gear for views of the tropical fish below.

On the mainland, Chichen Itza awaits. This Mayan ruin is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll be amazed at the detail and skill of their architecture.

Riding through the jungle opens up the possibility of unique animal sightings. Listen for the calls of the Yucatan Jay, singing in the tree tops. Be sure to check the ground for any iguanas scurrying by. And you may just see a gray fox dart across the path in front of you!

From the coast, to the jungles, to the incredible Mayan sites, the Yucatan offers an exciting cycling experience.

 

5. The spring cactus blooms in Arizona and Sonora are here today and gone tomorrow, so get there fast!

9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring

What symbolizes America’s Southwest better than the cactus? And the biggest and best of all the cacti is the famous saguaro, which can grow to be as tall as 50 feet! These desert giants are only found in the Sonoran Desert, which ranges from Arizona into Mexico. Enjoy a ride through Saguaro National Park’s impressive cacti forest.

Springtime is special for the colossal cactus. The saguaro’s flowers bloom in April and only live for a little while, so it’s important to take advantage of the season. The nectar from the milky white blossom feeds many different species of bats, who in turn spread seeds across the desert. The bloom is so lovely, Arizona chose it as the state flower.

Did you know vineyards thrive in a part of Arizona? Elgin, a small wine town, has rich soil, similar to Burgundy, France. Make a point to stop at the vineyards for a wine tasting to cool off from the road. To add some more romance to your day, continue on to Casa de San Pedro, known for its wildlife. Over 350 species of birds reside there as well as hundreds of butterflies. Escape to this idyllic estate for a relaxing ride.

 

6. Pedal past the glistening glass-like pools in Chile’s lake district.

9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring

Just a couple countries south of Colombia is Chile, the skinny country covering much of South America’s western coast. But within the thin borders of Chile lies the lovely Lake District in the Andes Mountains. Biking through rolling hills, green meadows, and many national parks makes for an amazing spring tour.

While the Andes are magnificent to look at, they are challenging to climb. Ride over 14 miles and up serious grades to the top at an elevation of 6,181 feet. But that difficult ascent was worth the breathtaking views at the top of the Andes and surrounding landscapes.

Chile’s Seven Lake Route may be the most beautiful ride in the entire country. The road takes you by several mirror-like lakes as well as a handful of volcanos. Hullo-Hullo Biological Reserve provides an array of activities to excite the adventurer in you. Zipline through the rainforest canopy, hike one of four scenic trails, or learn something new on a nature walk.

But for the most challenging adventure of all, look no further than Osorno Volcano, one of the steepest rides in the world. And if a challenging climb doesn’t sound like a good time to you, don’t sweat it! There are vans and chairlifts to take you to the top for amazing hiking or simply to see the views.

 

7. Cycle through Colombia’s exotic rainforests and discover the “City of Eternal Spring.”

9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring

Looking for some international travel this spring? Look no further than Colombia, South America. This equatorial country’s climate means there is good cycling weather year round.

Trek the Alto de Letras, also known as “the longest climb in the world.” Your ride takes you from the sea-level Mariquita to the Páramo at over 12,000 feet. During the ascent, bike through many different ecosystems, concluding in the unique cloud-high environment of the summit.

What better place to be in Columbia’s spring than Medellin, the “City of Eternal Spring.” Medellin is the country’s second largest city and is known for its temperate climate all year long. The culinary scene is booming here—try a superbly-seasoned roasted pork shank or plantain-crusted “fish of the day” for a delicious dinner. And forget french fries: yuca chips are where it’s at!

 

8. Bike past baby bison in South Dakota’s national parks.

9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring

Are you a history buff? You will love riding through the national parks of South Dakota. Begin in the Badlands, 244,000 acres of prairie dotted with spires, buttes, and pinnacles. This area was once home to the saber-toothed tiger as well as the rhinoceros—so cool, right? These days, you’ll come across less ferocious beasts like the bighorn sheep, prairie dog, and black-footed ferret.

It’s Custer State Park, though, that has the most exciting animals to see. In the spring, baby bison and their parents roam the hills at the southern end of the park. These majestic mammals once covered all of North America, and while their numbers greatly decreased in the 1800s, they have made a comeback thanks to land preservation and the National Bison Legacy Act.

As you ride through South Dakota’s “wild west,” you may come across some familiar faces. Mount Rushmore lies within Black Hills National Forest. The four presidential faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln were carved seamlessly into the southeastern face of the mountain. Seeing this iconic American landmark adds a little something extra to your day’s ride.

Nearby, another mountain monument is in progress. The impressive carving of Crazy Horse, though not yet finished, is absolutely worth a glance. At this time, it is the largest sculpture in progress in the world.

Sci-fi fans will instantly recognize Devils Tower National Monument, which was featured in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. This dramatic butte was the first landmark to be declared a national monument in 1906 by Theodore Roosevelt. Take a short ride over the border, into Wyoming, for an out-of-this-world experience.

 

9. Raft the Rio Grande in New Mexico’s Wild West.

9 Best Bicycle Tours in the Winter & Spring

New Mexico is an adventurer’s paradise. From the mountains to the canyons to the rivers, the state boasts natural wonders just waiting to be explored. Start your cycling out in Santa Fe, which has amazing art and culinary scenes. Dive into a delicious dish for dinner or peruse the halls of the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.

Ride through New Mexico’s mesas and red hills to Chimayo, famous for its weavings and church, El Santuario de Chimayo. The church is said to have a healing power—like France’s Lourdes, many Catholics make a pilgrimage to the western church.

The scenic High Road encapsulates the beauty of New Mexico. On this route, your ride overlooks endless panoramas of pine forests, the snowy white tops of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and valleys filled with cottonwoods.

Arguably the most exciting event during your New Mexico vacation is a ride down the rip-roaring rapids of the Rio Grande, known for its class II and III rapids.

 

Ready to Ride?!

Looking forward to getting out of winter’s cold and cycling into spring? Get in touch to join us for an adventure! Or if you’re interested in getting more information, sign up for our free email course today.

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Cycling in Oregon: 10 Spectacular Rides

oregon-rides

Love spectacular scenery and challenging rides? Unbelievable views and unforgettable natural wonders? If that’s your idea of a perfect ride, you’ll love Oregon. From the coastal areas to the incredible Willamette Valley wine country—and, of course, Crater Lake, the crown jewel of it all—Oregon is heaven on a bike.

Thinking of your next bicycle vacation? Think Oregon! Check out these one-of-a-kind rides in the beautiful Beaver State.

 

1. Ride through the eerie 2,000-year-old lava flow moonscape surrounding McKenzie Pass—don’t miss spectacular views of Mount Washington.

Cycling in Oregon: 10 Spectacular Rides

How many times have you ever heard “you’ve never seen anything like it” and written it off as hype? Well, in the case of the lava rock fields that surround McKenzie Pass, it’s actually true. Barren…stark…eerily beautiful. And definitely a ride to remember, with blood-pumping climbs and pine-scented breezes and majestic Mount Washington rising in the distance.

This isn’t a ride for beginners—it’s an epic adventure for passionate cyclists. If McKenzie Pass is calling your name this year, check out our fitness tips to help you prepare for the climb.

 

2. Fall in love with the Willamette Valley wine country.

Cycling in Oregon: 10 Spectacular Rides

The Willamette Valley Scenic Byway is 134 miles of tranquil scenery and winding routes that follow the curves of the Willamette River. The Cascades stand sentry to the east and the Coast Range to the west; it’s a lovely ride to invigorate your soul.

That it also passes through some of the finest wine country in America is an irresistible bonus—what could be better than an Oregon wine tour to sample the renowned Pinot Noirs (and maybe a little gourmet chocolate, too)?

 

3. Follow the path of the pioneers on the Grande Tour Scenic Byway—keep your eyes peeled for bald eagles.

Cycling in Oregon: 10 Spectacular Rides

Pass through Oregon’s Big Sky country and enjoy expansive views and amazing wildlife sightings as you pedal along the Oregon Trail. The Grande Tour Scenic Byway is perfect for riders of any level, wide roads with few cars give you plenty of freedom to enjoy the pastoral farmlands and mountain views.

Don’t be surprised if you encounter a bit of native wildlife—antelope, elk, even a soaring bald eagle or two—along with fields full of grazing cows and horses.

 

4. Peer into America’s deepest gorge cycling the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway.

Cycling in Oregon: 10 Spectacular Rides

The Snake River carved an impressive gorge through the snow-capped Wallowa Mountains in eastern Oregon. Hells Canyon is the deepest river gorge in North America and the views along the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway are simply staggering. Even better, you can ride to the canyon floor and dip your toes in the Snake River.

The area around nearby Joseph is a mecca for adventure enthusiasts. Try your hand at paragliding, hiking, or even canoeing. And if your tastes are more epicurean, visit Arrowhead Chocolates for a handmade treat featuring locally sourced ingredients.

 

5. The snow-capped Cascades will blow your mind as you cycle the Three Sisters Scenic Byway.

Cycling in Oregon: 10 Spectacular Rides

There’s no such thing as a bad view of the Cascades, but the Three Sisters volcanoes have an appeal all their own. A subgroup of the Cascade volcanoes, these 10,000-foot peaks form a dramatic silhouette across the lava fields leading to the Three Sisters Scenic Byway near Bend.

Like a little mythology with your mountains? It’s said that the sisters, North Sister (aka “Gnarly Northy,” “Faith,” and “the Black Beast of the Cascades,”), Middle Sister (aka “Hope,”), and South Sister (aka “Charity,” or “Big Sister,”) all developed an infatuation with nearby Mount Bachelor. Their raging squabbles for the Bachelor’s affections caused fire to rise up inside them, spewing over and destroying the area around them with their molten lava flows.

Afterward, their father (Three-Fingered Jack) offered them each a finger from his hand to stop their fighting. They agreed, and he christened them Faith, Hope, and Charity, and from then on, they vowed to subside their fiery passions and protect the surrounding land. They’ve been quiet ever since (or so the story goes).

 

6. Chase the meandering McKenzie River on the Aufderheide Scenic Byway.

Cycling in Oregon: 10 Spectacular Rides

The Aufderheide Scenic Byway is one of the most serene and naturally beautiful sections on the West Cascades Scenic Byway. Moss-covered stones, gurgling streams, and in the autumn, impossibly colorful maples in glowing oranges, reds, and golds—it’s hard to fight the temptation to stop to snap a picture or two.

It’s the sort of road every type of cyclist loves to ride, a definite bucket-list adventure for the nature-lover in you. And if you’re wondering how you really feel about putting in the mileage, there’s always an e-bike to give you an extra boost.

 

7. Rushing rivers, pine forests, hot springs, even fossil beds—the Old West Scenic Byway has it all.

Cycling in Oregon: 10 Spectacular Rides

You don’t have to be a cowboy to love life in the saddle—you can see the best of Oregon’s Old West from the saddle of your bike. Giant ponderosa pines line your route through a virtual cornucopia of terrain with more than a few heart-racing climbs. You can even check for fossils at the John Day Fossil Beds, one of the top paleontology sites in the world.

If you’re craving an epic adventure through the best of Oregon’s amazing scenery, this is the ride for you.

 

8. Revel in the vast ocean views on the Wild Rivers Coast Scenic Byway.

Cycling in Oregon: 10 Spectacular Rides

Bracing ocean breezes blowing on your face turn a “nice” ride into an exhilarating adventure, complete with cranberry bogs, coastal lighthouses, lonely dunes, and sandy beaches along Oregon’s South Coast. The Wild Rivers Coast Scenic Byway is the ultimate ride for the water-lover in you.

Rejuvenate in Paradise Lodge, perched atop Mount Rainier, for a relaxing retreat in the mountains before exploring where Mount St Helens famously erupted in 1980.

 

9. Marvel at the magnificent views on the Madras Mountain Scenic Byway.

Cycling in Oregon: 10 Spectacular Rides

This rolling 29-mile ride through Oregon’s sunny Central Basin is packed with breathtaking scenery and stunning views of Mount Hood, the Three Sisters, Broken Top, and Mount Bachelor as the Cascades rise up in the distance. The stretch along the canyon rim of Lake Billy Chinook is equally astounding. If you’re riding the Madras Mountain Scenic Byway, you’ll definitely want to take a few photo breaks, it really is that amazing.

Looking for a ride you can enjoy with your entire family or group? The Madras Mountain Scenic Byway is definitely one of the best.

 

10. Don’t miss the ride of your life around the rim of Crater Lake, Oregon’s crown jewel.

Cycling in Oregon: 10 Spectacular Rides

If you’re going to ride Oregon, you can’t miss Crater Lake, a route that definitely deserves its accolades—”One of the most spectacular one-day rides in the country,” by Bicycling magazine, and “one of the most Zen places on the planet,” by PureWow. It’s no wonder this ride tops Bicycling’s “Dream Rides” list. One look at this gorgeous sapphire-blue lake caused by an eruption of Mount Mazama 7,000 years ago is an experience you’ll never forget.

 

Ready to Ride?

Are these fabulous Oregon rides calling your name? Are you itching to cruise the Cascades, peer into canyons, and soar along the coast? Is Crater Lake on your bicycling bucket list?

Get in touch today and let’s start planning your next big adventure. Or if you’d like to learn more about bicycle tour vacations, sign up for our free email course for answers to all your questions.

8 Excellent Reasons to Plan a Custom Bicycle Adventure with Your Family or Group This Year

custom-bicycle-tour

Looking for an exciting way to spend some real quality time with your extended family or group of friends? Something above and beyond that “reunion” thing at a hotel or park? Something that makes memories you’ll be talking about and laughing over for years?

If you haven’t considered a custom bike adventure, you’re missing out on an unforgettable experience. And it’s surprisingly easy to be the hero of the day and put it all together with the team at Bicycle Adventures. Check out these great reasons to plan a custom group tour today.

 

1. Now more than ever, we need family bonding.

8 Excellent Reasons to Plan a Custom Bicycle Adventure with Your Family or Group This Year

School is back in session—and that means more sports activities and after-school practices, homework and projects, meetings and conferences, things that keep us running here and there with very little time to just spend time enjoying each other as a family.

Nothing beats quality time with family and friends. And nothing will bring you closer together than doing something both challenging and enjoyable at the same time. You’ll work together, encourage each other whilst covering the most miles you ever have individually or as a family, possibly learn new skills like rock climbing, paddle boarding and canoeing, and see some amazing historical sites and natural wonders on a custom bicycle tour.

 

2. There’s no better way to experience a destination than from the seat of a bike.

8 Excellent Reasons to Plan a Custom Bicycle Adventure with Your Family or Group This Year

Imagine cycling through the rice paddies of Taiwan, with herbaceous aromas and the warmth against your skin. Or soak up the atmosphere of Crater Lake Oregon, named as one of the most zen places on the planet! Here you can zone into the sounds of the birds and smell the fresh pine whilst admiring the beauty of the deepest lake in the United States.

Engage all your senses, as the sounds and smells of your surrounds are not something you could experience from the seat of a car. The destination possibilities are virtually endless, there’s something to thrill everyone in your group.

 

3. Take the Goldilocks approach—it’s the best of both worlds!

8 Excellent Reasons to Plan a Custom Bicycle Adventure with Your Family or Group This Year

See a tour that catches your fancy, but it’s a little too long or a little too short? When you plan a custom tour, we can tweak it until it’s “just right” for your family or group.

Wonder how it works? We just had a bike club from Sydney that liked three different Pacific Northwest tours, but none really fit the bill. So we took bits from each of them to create a 10-day custom adventure from the Cascade Mountains to the Oregon coast.

 

4. Break out of your boring meeting mode and take an active adventure.

8 Excellent Reasons to Plan a Custom Bicycle Adventure with Your Family or Group This Year

Does your book club usually meet over coffee at Starbucks? Does your wine club usually do tastings at a local restaurant or over dinner in somebody’s home? Maybe your bike club is tired of the same old trails and ready for a bit more adventure.

A custom bike tour is the perfect way to get out of your rut—and you can build it around the activities you already enjoy with your group. Wine tastings on the California coast, vintage book stores in Bend – you can create a tour itinerary that indulges your interests and expands your horizons. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish as a group.

 

5. Get that little boost of confidence to try something completely exotic and out of your comfort zone.

8 Excellent Reasons to Plan a Custom Bicycle Adventure with Your Family or Group This Year

Have you ever wanted to go somewhere completely different and out-of-the-box? The Soca Valley in Slovenia, maybe, or the gorgeous Istrian Peninsula in Croatia… even sipping whisky on Scotland’s breezy Isle of Arran.

Sure, you could do it on your own, but imagine how much better it would be with your own tribe of friends and family. And there’s no worries about bridging the cultural gap—our expert guides make sure everyone has an exciting, comfortable, and utterly memorable adventure. Where have you always dreamed of going? Make it happen with a custom bike tour!

 

6. How about a practical reason? You can save (a lot of) money when you bring your kids.

8 Excellent Reasons to Plan a Custom Bicycle Adventure with Your Family or Group This Year

Did you know we offer discounts for your children 17 and under on a family tour? How many family adventure providers can say that? Sure, you might get a few bucks off a day pass at Disney for your kids, but our kids discounts range from 10% to 30%, putting an unforgettable family trip within reach, even for large extended-family groups. Give us a call and find out how affordable the vacation of a lifetime can be.

 

7. Mix it up with a spa-and-bicycle adventure—or any other activity that makes you happy.

8 Excellent Reasons to Plan a Custom Bicycle Adventure with Your Family or Group This Year

Do you love the idea of bicycling the San Juan Islands, but wish you had more time to pamper yourself with a few spa days, or a round of golf, or even a horseback riding adventure? The beauty of a custom tour is that you really can have it your way with an itinerary that’s totally your own.

We’re happy to work with you to modify any of our existing tour itineraries (or create something entirely new) so your vacation is as relaxing or exciting or adventurous as you want it to be. It’s a whole new world of possibilities.

 

8. Let’s be honest, do you really need a reason to take a custom bicycle tour with your family or group?

8 Excellent Reasons to Plan a Custom Bicycle Adventure with Your Family or Group This Year

If you love riding your bike, being outdoors, having interesting adventures and accomplishing amazing things—isn’t that reason enough to book a custom tour for your family or group? You’ll see new places in ways you never imagined and create incredible memories that will last a lifetime. This is the type of adventure everyone can agree on (and don’t be surprised if it becomes an annual event, eagerly anticipated year after year).

 

Ready to Ride?

Are you ready to shake it up and treat your family or group to the ultimate experience together? Get in touch and find out how easy it is to plan an adventure everyone will love. And if you’re not quite ready to chat with our team, sign up for our free email course to learn more about bicycle vacations.

How a Legend Is Made: Behind the Scenes with Kempton Baker

legend

Ever wondered what a day in the life of a Bicycle Adventures Tour Guide is like? I know I did! In fact, I had the pleasure of talking with Kempton Baker about his life and experiences at Bicycle Adventures, and you’re going to love what he had to say.

Kempton has been touring with Bicycle Adventures for the last six years. In his youth, motocross was the sport of choice, but as it is an expensive sport, 19 year old Kempton decided to turn to another 2-wheeled activity—cycling.

Now, as an avid cyclist, Kempton travels around the world, seeing new places, meeting new people, and cycling as much as he can along the way. I couldn’t wait to catch up with the cycling enthusiast to get a glimpse behind the scenes and hear more about his career, travels, and hobbies.

 

How did you first develop an interest in being a guide for Bicycle Adventures?

“I had been guiding in a limited capacity for another company and received a bulk email saying that Bicycle Adventures was looking for guides.”

So Kempton jumped at the opportunity to pursue his two great passions—cycling and world travel. It’s been six years, thousands of miles, and innumerable moments of sheer cycling delight.

 

Was there a defining moment in your life or an experience that made you really want to be a guide?

How a Legend Is Made: Behind the Scenes with Kempton Baker

“Not one crystallizing moment. More like the realization that if I wanted to continue going on cycling vacations, I should guide before I go broke. I had been introduced to cycling vacations via being a guest on 15 or so tours in various places with other companies.”

Luckily for Kempton, he could make a career out of his passion, something we all hope to achieve! His days as an amateur cyclist are exactly what turned him into a professional.

 

How did you prepare for your job? Education? On-the-job training? Apprenticeship?

“My main prep was being a customer, seeing the daily rhythms of a bike tour and experiencing the daily life on the road.”

Practice makes perfect, as they say, which was true in Kempton’s case. He not only grew as a cyclist, but also in his personal development.

 

Who helped you the most along the way in your career as a guide or who was your role model for the job?

“I don’t really want them to know this fact, but Bicycle Adventures owners Todd Starnes and Brad Barnard have really helped mentor me and added to my continued development as a person.”

While Bicycle Adventures was founded in 1984, Todd Starnes became the owner in 2008. Although he is president, he makes sure to join about 6-10 tours every year to stay on top of quality and scout new adventures. Todd is Vice President Brad Barnard’s former coach.

Working for Bicycle Adventures keeps Kempton busy, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

What does a typical day on tour look like for you?

“It’s a frenzy of activity that only ends when my head hits the pillow. You do get into the rhythm that I mentioned, though. You soon realize that all the fires needing water are just a matter of fact during a normal day on tour. I try to be like a duck—calm on the outside, but paddling like hell just under the surface.”

There’s always something going on when you live life on the road, but most of the time it’s incredibly enjoyable! You certainly get to meet and work with all different kinds of people, which is a big positive for Kempton.

 

What’s your favorite part of the job?

“It’s seeing folks have that moment when regular life has melted into the background, and they are just living life as it comes up under their wheels. Also, meeting people who are very different, yet have something in common—cycling. I stay in touch with many of my guests and have formed quite a few lasting friendships. The people part is my favorite part.”

Even though cycling is seen as an individual sport (there’s usually only one rider on a bike), bike tours create an opportunity to meet others that are like-minded in at least one way—the joy that cycling brings. Your tourmates will encourage you, teach you, and maybe even inspire you in ways you never imagined.

Kempton loves his job as a tour guide, but there are always obstacles that need facing. Sometimes they aren’t even on the road.

 

What’s your least favorite part of the job?

“My least favorite part is doing dishes by hand.You don’t know how much you appreciate your dishwasher until it breaks or you don’t have one!”

Technology has certainly advanced us greatly in the last century. Bikes have greatly advanced, too.

 

Tell me about your favorite bike or even your first bike.

“That’s like asking a parent who their favorite child is! I love them all equally… Okay, my Parlee Altum may have a slight edge, but don’t tell the others. My first bike was the quintessential Schwinn Junior Stingray with the Banana Seat. I wish I had it today.”

Kempton personally owns 7 bikes! He’s clearly passionate about cycling and that passion gives him a beautiful outlook on his life.

 

What is your most memorable experience so far as a Bicycle Adventures guide?

“As a guide, every day I get to experience things that, for most people, are a once in a lifetime experience. I remember the moment I came to that realization, and I have the same huge grin now as I did then.”

I mean, does it get any better than that?

Kempton takes his job very seriously—so seriously, in fact, that he gave me insight into his daily tour preparation.

 

Do you do anything special to prepare for a bicycle tour?

“I sit and face west for 13 minutes each day at noon. I repeat over and over that I’m okay and that people like me. Okay, not really, but that sounds like something I should be doing! I just make lists, and double check them 14 times.”

He can cycle, and he’s funny! But he also has wise words for what makes a successful tour.

 

How do you define a successful bicycle tour? What’s your main goal?

“The very basic definition of success for a bicycle tour is that everybody leaves with every drop of blood they arrived with—no crashes and no injuries. The more intricate definition has to do with making connections with people and seeing that moment of real relaxation that I mentioned earlier. Also, seeing riders have “wow moments” when they go around a corner and see something amazing. And finally, seeing them achieve things that maybe they weren’t sure they were capable of doing. All those kinds of things go through your head as you decompress from the whirlwind.”

I was really impressed with how thoughtful his answer was. Not only do the tour guides care about your physical well-being on your tour, but also your emotional health. It’s no wonder that Kempton (and all of the other tour guides, for that matter) receives many positive reviews.

 

What was the best compliment you ever received?

How a Legend Is Made: Behind the Scenes with Kempton Baker

“When someone tells me that I helped them do something that they had no idea they were capable of doing, it really resonates. It’s hard not to get jaded to the statements, “This has been the best vacation of my life,” and “This is the most beautiful place I have ever seen,” but I try hard to listen to each one and let the person know that I am in the moment with them.”

All of the tour guides want to help you accomplish your cycling goals as well as see incredible views and have memorable moments on the road. They will make sure you have a lot of fun along the way.

 

What makes you laugh?

“My own stupidity does often!”

Humility and honesty—two great qualities, and ones that Kempton possesses. He also makes sure he never cycles without being prepared.

 

What’s usually in your jersey pockets when you’re on your bike?

“Left Pocket: Wallet with money and I.D. Center Pocket: Hat and pump, vest or jacket (if needed), in which case, the hat moves left. Right Pocket: Phone.”

While on tour, make sure you always have the essentials, including a properly-fitting helmet.

For Kempton, cycling=life.

 

What do you do on your time off, what hobbies/activities do you most enjoy?

“I am an avid cyclist and ride almost every day. I have become fairly narrow these days and don’t do much that isn’t cycling related. I’m happier than ever.”

How cool is that? He loves what he does so much it’s both a career and a hobby. #lifegoals

And how could you not love what you do when your job is as fun as Kempton’s?

 

What’s your favorite funny story about yourself or your work as a guide?

How a Legend Is Made: Behind the Scenes with Kempton Baker

“When on a tour in Colorado following the USA PRO, we were staying at the Sky Hotel in Aspen. They supply robes to all of the guests, which are tiger striped or leopard print. I had all of the guests come to breakfast in the robes, and we took a group photo in them that got a bit of a raised eyebrow from the office. At the end of the tour, the other guide and I put on dresses loaned to us by a guest and did podium presentations for the trip awards. We posed for the traditional kiss on the cheeks pics with each guest as they received their awards. That’s one trip that pops into my head, but many are similar.”

Not only do the guests have a fun time on tour, the guides do too. And the fun doesn’t only happen while on the road—it can sometimes be found in the simplest things like hotel robes.

Kempton’s attitude towards his tours promotes a great balance of hard work, but lots of “play” at the same time.

 

What’s unique or special about the way you approach your work at Bicycle Adventures?

“I try to wake up each day with zero expectations—be a blank slate and just take things as they come. I feel like high expectations are a big pitfall. It’s like if somebody tells you, ‘You have to see this movie, it’s the funniest movie ever!’ Then you go and say, ‘It’s funny, but not the funniest ever…’ That’s how expectations let you down.”

The exciting part about traveling is that you never know what to expect. Even if you’ve been to the same place many times, you’re bound to have a new experience each time you go.

Cycling is always a new adventure when enjoyed with friends. Kempton has many fellow tour guides that make his job that much better.

 

Where is your favorite place you’ve ridden so far?

“The Camino de Santiago! It has become part of my soul. I am forever attached to it. There is no other bike tour in the world like it. It has the potential to change the way you see yourself and the world around you like no other. It’s all the other people who are doing it for every reason you can imagine. Hearing their stories and seeing their triumphs and defeats is very eye opening. It’s my happy place, I wish I was there right now.”

Kempton has ridden this pilgrimage route around 50 times and led 20+ tours along it. With this kind of expertise and knowledge, he has a way of making an already incredible journey into something truly life-changing.

 

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

“There is no better way to really experience a place than the bike. A car is too isolating and on foot you don’t cover enough ground to see much. On the bike you see, smell, taste and hear the environment around you. You can also easily pause to engage a local or see an attraction and learn even more. I’ve been on almost one hundred trips and I feel like I’ve only barely scratched the surface of the possibilities. Get out there and get out of your comfort zone, it will be the best thing you have ever done!”

 

Ready to join Kempton (or any of our amazing guides) on a bicycle tour?

Get in touch today to see how easy it is to plan the bicycle tour you’ve been dreaming of—and if you’d like more information about how bicycle tours work, sign up for our free email course today!

11 Incredible Road Rides You Really Have to Try This Fall

road-rides-fall

Just because summer’s drawing to a close, there are still some awe-inspiring travels and trips you can enjoy in the cooler autumn weather—especially if you love riding a bike. In fact, fall is the perfect time to explore the fantastic scenery this country has to offer from the saddle of a bike.

So if you’re a dedicated road rider and you’re looking for something exciting and out-of-the-box to challenge and refresh you, take a look at these incredible road rides calling your name this year.

 

1. Do a “dream ride” around the rim of Crater Lake.

11 Incredible Road Rides You Really Have to Try This Fall

Oregon is a top destination for adventurous cyclists for good reason—its rugged coast, and of course, its crown jewel, Crater Lake. We think the 35-mile ride around the rim of Crater Lake is one of the most spectacular one-day road rides in the world, an opinion confirmed by Bicycling Magazine.

From an elevation of 6,500 feet, the views are simply breathtaking, and with plenty of climbs and descents, it’s an exhilarating challenge you’ll never forget. If you’re thinking of a bicycle trip in September, Crater Lake should be at the top of your list.

 

2. Watch the whales and smell the flowers on San Juan Island.

11 Incredible Road Rides You Really Have to Try This Fall

In just a single day, you can have two incredible lifetime experiences: Pedaling past (and touring, if you’d like) acres of sweetly scented lavender fields at Pelindaba Lavender Farm and hugging the coast on the Whale Trail at Lime Kiln State Park to see pods of killer whales. Did you know that Lime Kiln is one of the best whale-watching spots in the world?

 

3. Marvel at the Columbia River Gorge on the Mark Hatfield Trail.

11 Incredible Road Rides You Really Have to Try This Fall

With Multnomah Creek to the left and Mount Defiance to the right and the Columbia River below, the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail is eye candy for the nature enthusiast. The 60-mile trail is closed to vehicle traffic and packed with interesting details such as the elaborate Depression-era stonework that forms the trail’s guardrail. It’s another Bicycling magazine top pick for road-riders. You won’t want to miss the views of the Columbia Gorge from the seat of your bike.

 

4. See some splendid limestone palisades as you cycle through Spearfish Canyon.

11 Incredible Road Rides You Really Have to Try This Fall

South Dakota is known for its unusual and eerily beautiful Badlands landscapes (and Mount Rushmore, of course). But if you’re looking for a view with a truly spectacular “wow factor,” there’s nothing like the palisades in Spearfish Canyon. Did you love the waterfalls and canyons in the movie “Dances with Wolves?”

You’ll see it all—and lots more—in an amazingly up-close-and-personal way on a bicycle tour of South Dakota’s western frontier.

 

5. Cross the Continental Divide on the Going-to-the-Sun Road (Logan Pass) in Glacier National Park.

11 Incredible Road Rides You Really Have to Try This Fall

You can guess just by the name that riding Going-to-the-Sun Road is going to be awe-inspiring. This 50-mile stretch crosses the Continental Divide at Logan Pass and is flanked by towering glaciers, cascading waterfalls, explosions of blooms, and rugged wildlife like bighorn sheep and mountain goats.

It’s an epic adventure from the saddle of your bike—a bucket-list experience for the thrill-seeking cyclist inside you.

 

6. See the hidden side of Hawaii riding through Pahoa and Kalapana.

11 Incredible Road Rides You Really Have to Try This Fall

Imagine yourself cruising along a quiet network of roads through banyan trees with the heady fragrance of the eucalyptus forest surrounding you, your ride punctuated with alluring peeks of the sparkling blue ocean and pounding surf. That’s the Hawaii the locals love best and you can experience it yourself en route to Volcanoes National Park on a tour of Hawaii’s Big Island this fall.

 

7. Find your cycling heaven on the Hell’s Canyon Scenic Byway.

11 Incredible Road Rides You Really Have to Try This Fall

The views from the rim of Hell’s Canyon are simply staggering—it’s the deepest canyon in North America. And even if you can’t see the Snake River far below, you won’t really care. Carved by millions of years of erosion, the canyon plunges nearly 8,000 feet in places, easily dwarfing the 6,000-feet drop of the Grand Canyon. Of course, you’ll want to descend to the river level below for even more spectacular views (and maybe a little whitewater rafting if the spirit moves you).

 

8. Ride the High Road to Taos through the Sangre de Cristo mountains.

11 Incredible Road Rides You Really Have to Try This Fall

Want a taste of Old Spain right here in the United States? Love the jarring juxtaposition of snow-capped mountains against a jewel-toned desert landscape? The High Road to Taos is all that and more, a dream ride for fans of Ansel Adams and Georgia O’Keefe. You’ll love meeting the artisans practicing their ancient crafts in the remote hilltop villages—and a few nights in Casa Benavides, an inviting adobe inn, will refresh your soul. Can you think of a better way to spend a week in September? (Honestly, we can’t).

 

9. Cycle in the shadow of the spectacular saguaros on the Starr Pass.

11 Incredible Road Rides You Really Have to Try This Fall

Is there a more iconic symbol of the desert southwest than the Saguaro cactus? Imagine cycling the serene roads through Saguaro National Park with these prickly giants, some soaring 50 feet into the sky, towering over you, casting their shadows across the road. There are actually very few places to see these rare cacti up close—and Arizona’s Sonoran Desert just outside Tucson is the only place to see them clustered in dense Saguaro “forests.”

 

10. Glide through the Lost Coast in California’s redwood forests.

11 Incredible Road Rides You Really Have to Try This Fall

Dream of riding California’s gorgeous coast but hate the idea of masses of car traffic? You’ll love cycling the Lost Coast, the only piece of Cali’s coastline unmarred by a major highway. Picture yourself lost in redwood forests, coasting through tranquil valleys, and cruising past panoramic views of the turquoise ocean and milky beach.

And if you’re up for a challenge, tackle the “Endless Hill,” an 8-mile climb that forms part of the “Tour of the Unknown Coast,” one of California’s toughest century rides.

 

11. Cruise in technicolor through Utah’s Kodachrome Basin.

11 Incredible Road Rides You Really Have to Try This Fall

It took 180 million years to create the stunning spires and hues in the Kodachrome Basin (and yes, it really is named after Kodak’s color film). And the name is utterly appropriate, because it’s a location that begs to be photographed. Unimaginably blue skies, gold and crimson sandstone chimneys and “hoodoos” all punctuated by brilliant evergreen scrub. Is it any wonder Kodachrome and its neighbor Red Canyon are two of the most picturesque of Utah’s national parks?

Are you itching to climb on your bike this fall for one of these incredible road rides? Why not get in touch today and let us help you bring your dreams to life? And if you’re not quite ready to have a chat, sign up for our free email course to learn everything you ever wanted to know about planning a bicycle tour vacation.