After decades of pounding my poor body on basketball and tennis courts, running track, 5ks, half marathons, triathlons and military training, my feet, ankles, and shins have taken a beating. Recently I have even felt the pain creeping it’s way up into my knees. I’m still young, but I feel like an 80-year-old woman! Sometimes just walking my dogs causes an old injury to flare up.
This past year was spent being relatively sedentary because most of my go-to exercises were off limits. I was feeling out of shape, discouraged, and even a little depressed at the thought of not being able to do the outdoor activities I once enjoyed. The idea of being confined for an hour on an indoor cardio machine like a hamster on a wheel has always seemed like an unbearable chore.
There is a large cycling community in Austin, but I have resisted road bikes because the skinny tires and riding on the street intimidated me. Plus, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to keep up. Recently I was invited on a 45-mile ride, which I turned down because that was too far for me. There’s no way I’d make it! My friend assured me that I could. So, I said I didn’t want to spend the money on registration. My friend had an extra ticket… damn! I was out of excuses. To my surprise, it turned out to be a blast. And, I made it…barely! I also made a few new friends, and left with huge sense of accomplishment.
A good friend of mine recently started a bike tour business, Velo View Bike Tours, specifically designed to help Texans escape the heat and ride in the mountains of Colorado. I’m signed up for one of his bike vacations next August and the trip is my motivation to spend more time on my bike. (Nothing like 14,000 ft mountains to get my butt in gear!) I’m nervous, and excited at the same time. I am determined not to be the person slowing the group down.
Last week I sat down with my friend Shannon to get a little more information about the tour. “I’d always hear people talking about their friends going off to Colorado and doing these awesome climbs and having to wear arm-warmers in the summer,” he said. “Everybody wanted to do it, but nobody really knew how. I put together a tour last summer for a group of friends who wanted to ride in Montana. We rode up into Glacier National Park and it was just spectacular! The whole thing was such a perfect fit for who I am – the cycling, the planning, the travel, the photography. I knew starting a bike tour business was right for me.”
After months of exploring Colorado and the Carolinas, Shannon launched Velo View Bike Tours last fall with tours starting in the summer of 2013. The tours are relatively short (little more than a 4-day weekend) to make it easy for cyclists to find the time off. He’s priced the tours well under any other tour company in the market. The idea is to allow guests to enjoy a complete bike vacation without having to use all of their paid time off or their entire travel budget. Something I appreciate, and removes yet another excuse I tried to make.
Despite the low price, he made it clear that this is not a cheap vacation. Using group rate discounts, he’s been able to get reservations in luxury hotels (most with in-house spa facilities for post-ride massages…yay!) without having to increase the price. He also wanted to make it easy for guests to budget for the trip, so everything except for alcohol is included in the price – accommodations, all meals, full SAG (vehicle that carries water, snacks and repair equipment), luggage transport between towns, etc. All I have to pay for is the flight!
Speaking of flights, he is only doing tours from cities served by Southwest and Frontier, two of the most bike-friendly airlines around. He has also made arrangements with bike shops in the destination cities so that guests not wanting to deal with airlines at all can either rent a bike or have theirs shipped. “The idea is to make the trip as easy as possible,” Shannon said. “Basically I took all of the excuses I’d hear out on the road and I built a business model around knocking them down – it’s not too expensive, it doesn’t take that much time, the bike doesn’t have to be a hassle, I can show you where to go and where to stay. If you want to get away, there’s really no excuse not to!” He’s right, there are no excuses not to, trust me… I tried!
I am looking forward to the trip and excited about this new adventure. I’m even more excited about the butt and legs I will hopefully be left with… have you ever seen the legs of a cyclist?!
My new year’s resolution for 2013 is to become a cyclist so I do not collapse this summer on the bike tour. As well as learning to play the guitar of course… I really mean it this year!
More details on Velo View Bike Tours (including group discounts) can be found at their website: www.VeloViewBikeTours.com