Martin surprised me with a six-day cycling trip to Hawaii's Big Island for my 60th birthday. What a great way to start a new decade - riding a bicycle in paradise!
If you tuned in a few weeks ago, you saw my post about the impacts that Hurricane Irma had on the Florida Keys in September of 2017. I’m back to tell you about the recovery. I got the fantastic opportunity to show these beautiful islands to some Backroads Trip Leaders over three days. We biked 165 miles from Miami to Key West, showing solidarity for our Keys friends as we road on bikes from All Keys Cycles.
Looking through the window of the bus that was driving me from the airport through town, I understood this trip was going to be very different. I could see many people walking the dusty streets of the capital in oppressive heat, some of them carrying jugs of water on their head. For the first time of my life, I was in Africa.
We handpick the most scenic biking routes--from the Rocky Mountains to the Tuscan countryside. Our biking trip leaders know the least trafficked cycling routes and also the most terrific stops--the trattoria where you can lunch al fresco, the olive orchard perfect for a picnic, the best spot to pick wild blueberries. A Backroads bike tour is a dream vacation. Can you already feel the wind in your hair and the sun on your face?
It isn’t just cool that we’re a group of chicks on bikes, it’s phenomenal that we’re a team of women riding vintage bicycles in a historically male-dominated Tuscan race. We’re five Backroads Trip Leaders who have each led trips in Tuscany, and we’ve been planning to partake in the famed L’Eroica vintage bicycling race together for almost a year. This is my second experience racing L’Eroica in Tuscany, and this time I feel like I belong.
What happens when 65 Backroads employees take almost 600 DaVita staffers on vacation together? It’s called Tour DaVita and it’s the biggest deluxe camping and bicycling trip that Backroads runs! This annual event was extra special last year — not only did it mark Tour DaVita’s 10th anniversary and a return to Nashville where the bike trip originated, but it was also the largest with nearly 600 riders, almost 400 tents, 250 miles of cycling, one enormous catering operation, two mobile shower trucks, a mobile dialysis center, live country music and tons of Tennessee sunshine. Right now we’re gearing up for another incredible tour in Washington at the end of September!
Over the decades, we’ve learned a thing or two from our guests, our own excursions and our intrepid leaders. While I could write a book on our evolution, I’ll narrow it down to a brief(ish) list of my favorite improvements in recent years.
Backroads Trips aren't cheap. We get it. As a Backroads leader, it's not uncommon for me to hear (always from someone who hasn't traveled with us yet) "I could go there and do it myself for half the price." When I hear someone say something like that, I usually just smile and say, "Well, there are certainly a lot of ways to travel, but you'd be surprised at just how much you get from a Backroads trip." And the reason for my smile is that, having seen firsthand what our guests experience in the course of their trip, the question of "Where is the value?" is hardly a question at all. I've lost count of how many guests have expressed to me how worthwhile their experience has been. So what is it? What makes a Backroads trip so well worth the price?
My husband and I love to travel. Years ago, we were on a trip to Paris and we took a day excursion to the Loire Valley. As we traveled by bus through the countryside, I was stunned by the beauty yet dismayed to be seeing it from a bus. We are active people and I was sure there had to be a better way!