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You'll hear it from anyone who has taken an adventure vacation: Guides can make or break a trip. Aside from the outstanding meals and lodging and the carefully selected routes, your vacation is about personal service. Finding your favorite drink at lunch (after casually mentioning it the day before). Getting a lift in the van when you need it (and feeling fine about taking it). Learning about the wildlife, geography, and history of the areas we travel through.
Our guides are selected and trained for unparalleled personal service. Their backgrounds vary, but all share a love for the outdoors and, most importantly, a desire to help people make the most of their vacation. There are several ski instructors, a political analyst, an Emmy-winning journalist, and a college professor, among others. Almost all are college graduates. All are mature adults with expertise in leading our tours and extensive knowledge of the region we travel through. Almost all of last year's guides will be returning to lead our trips again, so you can count on having experienced leaders who love what they do.
What is special about our personalized service? We treat guests as individuals, not just as customers or as a group. We may be the only outfitter whose leaders call you the week before your trip starts to introduce themselves, double-check pickup and rental information, and answer any last-minute questions. During the tour, they spend time with all guests. They have the authority and responsibility to adjust the routes and activities on their trip to meet each person's desires and abilities. One person may want extra miles, while another prefers to spend more time at the pottery shop. You'll feel the trip runs smoothly, yet is very flexible. Our guides make it all happen.
Typically, two tour guides will accompany each tour. One will drive the support van and trailer, while the other cycles from group to group offering support, mechanical assistance, tips on riding techniques, and directions as needed. Some smaller tours may have one leader who drives the van and does a limited amount of cycling.
We never cut corners on guide support, on our larger tours we usually use three or four leaders and two support vans, each pulling an enclosed trailer. This allows one support van to carry all the luggage and travel ahead of the group to ensure every detail is ready to go and your luggage in your room at the next inn before you arrive. Meanwhile, the second van provides support and snacks and handles lunch. We always have enough vehicles to be able to shuttle everyone at once if the trip requires it.
Our tour guides usually work one week, return home and have the next week off, then lead a trip the following week. The week off between trips allows our staff to rest after each tour, have time for their personal lives, and spend several days at the office getting equipment ready for their next trip, buying supplies, and reviewing trip logistics. This schedule allows our leaders to be refreshed and better prepared to serve you.
Most guests who travel with us are convinced that their trip leaders were the best, and they hope that their next Bicycle Adventures tour will have the same guides. They soon realize that all of our leaders are just as skilled and accommodating. They'll make your vacation truly special.
Our hiring process for new tour leaders is quite selective and exhaustive. Each year several 100 people apply to work for us, and, after initial interviews, the most promising candidates are invited to one of two all-weekend interviews in Seattle. Each weekend consists of a long bike ride, followed by a group dinner and interview. On Sunday each candidate is tested for skills, including diagnosing and fixing a sabotaged bicycle, loading bicycles on top of a van, making lunch, maneuvering a van with attached trailer and telling the group how they would handle a variety of situations that might occur during a tour. All of this done under close observation of our interview team. The final hiring decisions are made by the interview team, which is made up of guides, office staff and our owners. This long interview process ensures only the best people will be guiding you to your ultimate vacation experience.
Upon being hired, new leaders undergo an extensive training program, starting with a three-day training session attended by all the new guides and several senior leaders and managers, then a year of on-the-job apprenticeship supporting senior Head Guides.