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.

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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.

Mickelson Trail, from Guide to Guest

Pretrip2
Preparing for South Dakota

“There were side bets going on, I was wondering if I could relax and let others work…” I told Jill, Brad Barnard’s wife, “I am going to prove them all wrong…” – Teri Smith, Bicycle Adventures guide on her first trip with Bicycle Adventures as a guest. The following story is from her Facebook Page.

Pre Trip: Leading up to this Custom “All Dawgs” Mickelson Trail tour in South Dakota, Dave, my husband, was feeling a little uneasy… By Memorial Day, however, the weekly bike rides had become fun, and on this day we hit a trail in the Columbia Gorge that would feel similar to what we would encounter on the Mickelson Trail with Bicycle Adventures. Next stop, Rapid City, SD!!!

Taking a trip as a guest, and not a guide was a first for me. Having never been in the state of S.D., I had zero expectations. Dave and I were blessed enough to find the best United Airlines employee in Portland and received standby tickets for an earlier flight out of Denver. She also went ahead and scheduled our bags to be on the earlier plane. All worked out, and all but three of the All Dawgs crew filled many seats on the 3:45 to Rapid City. (They call these trips the “All Dawgs” trips because the participants are all rowdy UW alumni.)

Pretrip3

Parks, cool alleyways, surprising restaurants, presidential statues, and smiles of friendly locals filled Rapid City. We had a fabulous night with friends! After having dinner, I laid down ready to sleep. Soon after, I looked at the clock and almost immediately thought of our guides, Carrie and Renee. They were probably outside, finishing up. Maybe shopping for our lunches or trying to organize packets. Oh boy… quiet mantra in my head to let these thoughts go, I fell into a sweet slumber, ready to ride. The next morning, on our way to breakfast, I saw Todd Starnes carrying the water jug to be filled and felt a small twinge of guilt… but changing into bike clothes and sharing in the fun banter about the coming days melted those thoughts. David, my husband, was about to see what I have been doing all of these years and I was about to share a passion with him. It could not be a better day!

Day 1: Waking up in darling towns is always special. As a guide, our faces light up just as a guest’s will when we see something interesting. The biggest difference between the two roles is that, as a guest, I was able to have the time to explore and discover little hidden gems. On this day, we explored Hot Springs, SD, had a delicious cup of coffee, wrote in chalk on a table, took goofy pictures of Brad Barnard (would have done that anyway), saw some incredible nature moments, watched a film about Tatankas, and had a very memorable (50th) birthday surrounded by love. Phone calls from Charlie and Jalen that weren’t interrupted by work capped off a perfect day!

Day1
Rails to Trails…what better way to see parts of our country that only train engineers, passengers, and folks on horseback used to see.

Day1.2
Well, hello beauties! Tatanka, or Bison, are powerful and beautiful creatures. Their eyes have stories to tell, and this day allowed ample opportunity to learn their history, see them up close in their natural environment, and to remind us all that we must stay diligent in our respect of all living things.

Day 2: The All Dawgs week with Bicycle Adventures continues to shine. After a heavy storm last night, we slept in a bit and woke to sunny skies and lower temps. Our ride is just 17 miles with about 1,200′ of elevation gain, but it bookends a visit to Crazy Horse Memorial and culminates in Custer at Sylvan Lake Lodge… read the picture caption to follow along on our memorable day!

Day3
Old architecture makes me happy… and a bank turned coffee, ice cream, and beer shop makes me even more so. Perfect combo!

Day3.2
On this tour, we watch a movie, take a bus tour, and explore the grounds at Crazy Horse Memorial. There is a lot to learn, both about the family who made this happen and continues to work their father’s vision and about the monument itself. Thank you for bringing us here!

Day 4: Today, our rest day, was PACKED and WONDERFUL! We asked if we could hike early, and Todd, Brad, Jill, and David joined the two of us at 6:30 a.m. for a hike to Black Elk Peak (once known as Harney Peak.) Black Elk Peak is the highest natural point in South Dakota at 7,242′. It is also the highest point east of the Rockies. Leaving early, we were able to walk without seeing other people until we hiked out, saw some mountain goats settle in place for their morning sunning, and made our way back to the lake for an afternoon paddle. A visit to Eye of the Needle and Mount Rushmore capped a beautiful and adventurous day!

Day4
Sylvan Lake Lodge to Trail 9 to Black Elk Peak, then Trail 3 to 4 for a round trip of just about 9 miles… perfect! Sore legs all around at the end, but the BEST views and lots of stories to share. Don’t miss this!

Day4.2

Day 5: Today our intrepid group rode from Hill City to Rochford, then into Deadwood, SD. We have 23 miles to ride with 1,300′ elevation gain… David is feeling legs today but is staying strong and intends to finish this week with over 100 miles. Others in our group (all of us!) are feeling our legs, too, but the beauty of the Mickelson Trail (well, one of the beautiful things about this place) is that the grade stays around 1-3 percent and is doable. Slow or fast, your riding style doesn’t matter. Just doing it takes you on a ride through time, brings a sense of becoming one with our beautiful outdoors, evokes moments of “I can’t wait for our next tour,” and allows all of the senses to be present in each moment. We all feel very blessed to be able to ride this trail, and I am very much in my happy place.

Day5
Another little gem in the city park at Hill City. Here, early in the morning with no one overseeing your time, you can walk inside this old cabin and read about the history of Hill City. South Dakota is amazing, and YOU should visit, too!

Day5.2
Al, Doug, and Betty enjoying the trail

Day 6: Riding in Spearfish Canyon to Cheyanne Crossing is just plain fun! We all enjoyed a nice long downhill today, and David decided that, next time, he’d like to go on the Bryce/Zion trip. I am down… you in?

Day6
Brad and Jill take in the beauty of Spearfish Canyon. It does not disappoint.

Post Trip: To say the last six days were wonderful would be an understatement. I do believe that David and I had what was arguably the best trip we have ever taken together. To quote Dave, “I have heard that you will appreciate the country better from a bicycle. Having had that opportunity, I understand what Teri and the others are talking about. The world slows down around you, allowing you to be one with the beauty as you pedal each day, sharing time with new friends…” Brad Barnard took some photos of the two of us along the way, and I am sharing one of those now… I did not have a hard time being on a trip as a guest (sorry Deb!) but I did truly enjoy looking at what I have done for work from the other side. Renee, Carrie, and Todd did a very good job during our trip. We felt cared for, informed, pampered, heard, and each day that passed was better than the last. Being on a trip during my birthday was such a wonderful blessing, and the entire day I felt special. THANK YOU to everyone for sharing in this trip with me, and now I shall return to what I am passionate about… creating the “best vacation” experience for those I am lucky enough to guide. I really do feel like I work alongside the best in the business, and I hope you will ride with us soon so we can share our passion with you.

Posttrip
David, Jill, and Brad playing around on rocks…

Road Cyclists: You’ve Got to Try MTB, and Here’s Why

road-cyclists-mtb

We do all kinds of tours at Bicycle Adventures—rails to trails, road tours, mountain bike tours. The fact is, we love riding our bikes. Period.

And now that we’ve got that disclaimer out of the way, here’s a little secret: Mountain biking is flat-out awesome. If you’re a committed road rider, you really owe it to yourself to try mountain biking.

If you’re hesitating, let’s start with a little humor—and six great reasons we think MTB really is incredible. Ready?

  1. How about the obvious? No cars. Does anything harsh your mellow faster than heavy traffic?
  2. You get to commune with nature, up close and personal. If you’re a city person, how often do you get to enjoy that? It’s the perfect time to meditate, listen to the sound of the birds, smell the fresh air, revel in the sight of the trees and flowers and sky. And fresh air is such a tonic.
  3. Like on the road, mountain bike riders enjoy competition. Roadies have their KOMs to protect and MTBers look for hole shots and bits of trail side flair, But it’s all about having a good time…the camaraderie of the bike, enjoying the ride—you know what we mean.
  4. So many choices! Cross-country, all-mountain, enduro, downhill. Road riders get…the road (not that we’re knocking all the amazing road choices like TT, Road Crit, Century, Commuter, so it does kind of balance out in the end, doesn’t it?)
  5. It’s an awesome, dynamic workout. Road rides are great for cardio endurance, but mountain biking gives you a more well-rounded experience. And if you do both, you have an amazing advantage over people who prefer just one or the other. The leg strength you get from road riding translates beautifully to the trail—as does your road-biking cardio endurance. Straight mountain bikers may even have trouble keeping up with you!
  6. Mountain biking increases your focus. Mountain biking takes a lot of concentration. You’re paying attention to sharper curves, tree roots, banked corners, narrower riding spaces like forest roads or trails. You need to make faster decisions. Even if you’re on a flat, cruisy forest trail, that focused attention translates into better skills that in turn translate to better road riding skills. Specifically, technical skills like cornering and braking. On the mountain bike you are always working to center your balance and maximize traction control so that you have a better understanding of how the brakes affect the traction and weight placement affects the corners.

 

These are not your parents’ MTBs…

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All fun aside, mountain bikes have come a long way. An MTB magazine did a casual survey, asking casual riders if they could spot the differences between two bikes of the same model, one from the year 2000 and one brand-new this year.

And while the riders struggled to identify the cosmetic changes, everything changed once they climbed on the bikes. The suspension on the new bike was remarkably improved with rear air shocks, the cockpit was more ergonomic for greater stability and control, and a modern, intuitive drivetrain replaced the clunkier one of the past.

And it’s true—every detail has been reimagined. Tires and wheels for example: Larger diameter wheels roll over obstacles that would have stopped older wheels. Tubeless wheels allow for a wider footprint on the trail which translates to a considerable traction advantage—and they all but eliminate flats!

The frame and suspension designs have also come to form. Modern bikes are efficient and effective. That means you can have a bike that is quick and capable for climbing but have a plush and active suspension which opens up a much wider range of trail options. In the past you could pick one or the other, climb or descend. Now you can go anywhere. It also means less fatigue from the rough terrain.

Here’s what our own Bicycle Adventures team is saying about today’s MTBs:

The bikes have changed dramatically making it easier and more forgiving, —- lighter, better suspension, more relaxed geometry, dropper posts, better gearing, easier shifting, better brakes.” Todd Starnes, President

 

I’m convinced! How do I get started with MTB?

Road Cyclists: You’ve Got to Try MTB, and Here’s Why

If you’re ready to get your MTB groove on, we have a few suggestions to help you get started.

  • Do a local clinic or camp. If you’re a road rider, you’re going to need new techniques—descending, cornering, even arm and foot positions are different on a mountain bike. It’ll also give you an opportunity to try new bikes to see what you like.
  • The right clothes make a difference. You might consider ditching your spandex, at least in the beginning (or at least cover up that chamois with more street-style shorts). You’ll want to cover your body because you will fall at first and a layer of fabric can make all the difference to your skin.
  • Don’t worry about clips right away—just wear your sneakers. It’ll increase your confidence and it makes it easier to walk through technical situations when you will be walking your bike (and there are times we all walk our mountain bikes).
  • Hydration packs are an awesome invention,. Packs even come with a handy pouch to store your camera, keys, phone, and glasses—things that would otherwise bounce out of open pockets when you’re riding the trails.
  • Learn to shift often and early. You need to anticipate the terrain and shift before pedaling gets difficult. Timing is everything if you want to maintain momentum and overcome obstacles without gear-shifting fuss.
  • Rethink your attitude about walking—it’s a very normal part of the MTB experience when you hit steep terrain. It’s not a sign of weakness, it’s just an acknowledgement that you are in challenging terrain. It’s all good.

 

Ready to hit the trail?

When you’re ready to rock and roll, take a peek at some of our most popular MTB tours—and even if you’re still a novice, all of our Bicycle Adventures MTB tour guides are International Mountain Biking Association certified and can teach you the basics or give you a refresher in technique. No matter where you are in your MTB journey, you’ll enjoy these tours.

 

For Beginners

Road Cyclists: You’ve Got to Try MTB, and Here’s Why

The Leavenworth Green tour is perfect if you’re new to mountain biking. Starting in Seattle, you’ll bike the eastern slopes of the Cascades where the trails are smooth, the elevation profiles are forgiving, and the views are incredible.

It’s a five-day adventure with highlights that include riding the Cle Elum Ridge Trail, Cashmere and Mission Ridge (you can try your hand at hiking if you like), a chair-lift ride with your bike up Hogsback and an amazing assortment of trails to cruise down—plus awesome local craft brews and a soak in the hot tub. What’s not to love?

 

A little more challenge?

Road Cyclists: You’ve Got to Try MTB, and Here’s Why

Try our High Cascades Mountain Bike Tour—a seven-day trip through some of the most breathtaking terrain in the country. It’s almost a religious experience…rare and colorful trees, gorgeous views, and amazing wildlife (think eagles, mountain goats, timber wolves, marmots, and even bears).

And the rides—even their names set your pulses racing: Esmeralda Peaks, Angels Staircase, Starvation Mountain Loop, Cutthroat Pass. It’s not for the faint of heart, but the rewards are more than worth it. You’ll come away challenged and satisfied deep in your soul.

 

If only an epic adventure will do…

How about an international adventure? Our Slovenia MTB tour has it all—from the Alps to the Adriatic sea and everything in between. The Peca Mountain Bike Park is a mecca for MTB riders with 300+ miles of trails and paths straddling Austria and Slovenia. We also hit the Petzen Flow Trail, one of the longest in Europe, descending some 7-½ miles.

And if you haven’t had your fill of adventure on the bike, there’s also whitewater rafting, spelunking in Skocjan Caves, and hiking through Vintgar Gorge to round out the trip. This is truly an epic adventure for the die-hard MTB enthusiast (and we may still have spots available for our September 7th departure—ask today!)

 

Let’s do it!

If you’re thinking “I’ve read enough, let’s go!” why not get in touch today and we’ll help you plan your perfect Bicycle Adventure. There’s never been a better time to hit the trails—and we have a tour to suit every taste and ability level.

And if you’re not ready to take the next step but want more information about bicycle tours, sign up for our free email course and learn everything you ever wanted to know about planning a cycling vacation.

See you soon on the trails!