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

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