I was at my favorite ice-cream shop, Salt & Straw, and I faced the usual dilemma. Should I go for my favorite ice cream in the world, the Strawberry Honey Balsamic with Black Pepper? It’s available year-round. Or should I try one of the funky limited-time specials, like the Apple Frosting Caramel Crackers? I might not ever get a shot at this one again.
What a lovely (first-world) problem to have. I would have been happy either way. I know this because I had a sample of the new stuff, and then a scoop of my standby.
And I savored every ounce of it – partly because I had done a good hard ride earlier that day, meaning I was indulging guilt-free for the moment. And that got me thinking about cycling, while I was eating ice cream, and… wait, do I have a point here?
Yes, actually. My point is that bicycle touring in our region offers a lot of flavors, and you can hardly go wrong with any of them. (How’s that for a sweet analogy stretch?)
One of the things I was most curious about when I joined up with BRNW was if there were any big differences between our riders and those on the other tours I’ve worked on. And the answer is, not really. Some people enjoy riding a larger or smaller tour, but overall there are way more similarities than differences in the core groups of each event.
There are multiple well-run bike tours you can ride around here. And one of the things I like about my fellow tour operators is the way we work together and help each other out. We have a national conference every year, where we openly share ideas, strategies, technology… because the overall ethic is that if we all put on good tours, we’ll get more people out on bikes, and there will be enough riders to keep all our events going strong.
So whichever tour you choose to do, you’re likely to have a great time – I mean, it’s the ride-eat-chill-sleep-repeat cycle no matter who you’re riding with, and there’s plenty of scenery to go around here out West. So they’re all a blast.
And to me, that says as much about the riders as it does the events. I’ve followed my curiosity into five or six very different careers over the years, so I’ve experienced a pretty good cross-section of people. And the riders I meet on bike tours are some of the nicest, most appreciative and interesting folks I’ve ever met.
Here’s a story that illustrates my point. Last August I was sitting in the caterer’s trailer at the tour I was running in New York. The caterer works for a company that runs several restaurants, caters huge weddings and small exclusive events, and employs over 1,000 people. He and I were adjusting the amount of food at the rest stops. Then we relaxed and got to talking about the bigger picture, and he said something that sticks with me. “At every kind of event we do, I hear from the guests when stuff goes wrong,” he said with a sigh. But then his face lit up. “But this bike tour is the only time I have people actually seek me out to thank me for how good the food is.”
That about sums it up for the kind of people we bike-tour operators get to deal with. (Well, 97 percent of them, anyway; the other 3 percent is a story I’ll tell another time.) We’re here to show you a great time on a bike, and you’re along with us to have one.
So, getting back to the ice cream analogy: There are many delicious flavors of bike tours out there for you to experience. We don’t expect to be the only one you ever taste. But you can’t blame us for hoping BRNW is your favorite.