Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Creating the Perfect Southern Tier Bike Tour

Our flagship event is our annual 2-month bike ride across the country from California to Florida - the Southern Tier Tour. I used to think that if we just conducted the trip often enough, we’d finally get it down to perfection. But after years of thinking that next year would be the year, I realized that every year, another challenge is thrown our way.

Roads close for construction and we have to reroute our cyclists. Heavy rain makes the Mississippi River rise; our ferry won’t run, so we suddenly have to commandeer cars to drive our bikers two hours over the nearest bridge.  The only hotel in town tells us it’s changed ownership and lost our reservation.  We scramble to find another hotel in another town, and hope our cyclists won’t be too tired to bike there. Every year, if it isn’t one thing, it’s another. We’ll never be done creating the perfect tour.

Over time, I’ve learned that breaking them down into manageable smaller tasks, the obstacles become easier to tackle. I call on my staff, our tour guides, our cadre of consultants (accountant, attorney, etc.) and my colleagues in the industry for help. Sometimes they come up with the wildest ideas that turn out to be the simplest solutions. And every year gets easier as I learn what’s worked from the past.

It’s not unlike what the women who sign up to bicycle the 3000 miles across the country with us must feel. Their tour at first must seem so insurmountable. But with a little training, a daily cue sheet outlining the bike route for the day, and a host of support around them, they find themselves at the Atlantic Ocean two months later.

This year's tour starts in 10 days. To follow some of our riders, read their blogs:
JoAnn Bary
Linda Beiler
Sue Hersman
Lois Nafziger
Rita Rowe

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Future Tour Planning

Just as our current touring season is getting underway, we're busy working on bike tours for future years. For beginners, we're bringing back our Katy Trail tour in Missouri, as well as creating a new Canal Trail and Spa tour in upstate New York.

A new moderate tour will be a shorter, 4-day tour in Michigan, designed by one of our guests - thanks Mel! It includes a winery visit, a climb on a 240' sand dune off Lake Michigan and a ride to the International Friendship Gardens.

Our newest advanced tour will be a 2-week trek around Lake Ontario. We're designing it with our cross-country cyclists in mind, with longer days, dinners out of the trailer, and our trusty Subaru SAG wagon.

We also have a lot of international travel plans in the works, so I'd love your input. Click here to cast your vote for where you'd like to travel interntionally with us.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

North American Handmade Bicycle Show

I plan to check out the North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Richmond, Virginia later this month. It will be a great opportunity to drool over all the beautiful bikes being made out there. If you're going to be anywhere near Richmond on Sunday, February 28, let me know. It would be good to see you. We can talk about how many bikes we own (I have 5) and why we need another one....