Sightseeing via local bunch rides
After signing her up just on 12 months ago, our Global Operations Manager, Anna, has really lived up to her title, spending a large portion of this year travelling overseas for work - primarily to the U.S; and making the most of her opportunities by using the experiences to exploit her passion for cycling, adventure and travel. Yeah, that’s kinda why we employed her; together with awesome skills in project management, business systems, knowledge development, customer support, client liaison, content creation and sales delivery.
She’s taken her bike with her to the various destinations and/or hired quality road bikes wherever she’s gone, joining in local bunch rides, gran fondo events and creating her own adventures – living, breathing and loving bicycle tourism at its finest.
Here’s what Anna has to say of her experiences:
“I love being able to travel with my bike, and feel so fortunate to have had the experiences I’ve had this year, travelling overseas as the Global Operations Manager for CycleLifeHQ, progressing some important work, and making the most of every opportunity to explore new places by bike. It’s such a great way to see and experience a place as a local. I’ve also found that joining in the local bunch rides is a great way to meet new friends, and I’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity which various cycling clubs and bike stores across the globe have shown in welcoming me to their destination.
My general approach has been to research and then reach out to local cycling clubs and groups ahead of my visit to their destination, introduce myself, and ask if I can join their rides.
I’m glad CycleLifeHQ is working to make this easier for others in the same situation, so that – in future – someone just like me will be able to visit the CycleLifeHQ destination page and access all the information and contact details for local clubs and rides right in one centralised one-stop-shop; saving time researching the various groups themselves. A big part of our ‘why’ and central premise and purpose behind everything we do, is to make bicycle tourism better and easier for everyone - cyclists, businesses and communities.
Joining local rides not only provides opportunities to experience the area as a local and make some new friends, but also takes the hassle out of where to ride, navigation and any other issues or uncertainties about getting out by bike. Guided tours are great, but for many of us who are used to fast-paced bunch and training rides, being able to simply pick-up with a local club where we left off with our own club when we boarded the flight is awesome.
Ahead of my first trip to Colorado in May this year, I emailed and sent facebook messages to a few local clubs. Some friendly folk at the Rocky Mountains Cycling Club got in touch and made me feel really welcome to join in the local rides.
I also discovered that road racing and time trial champion Kasia Niewiadoma was in town (Boulder) during my trip and that the local Rapha Club House was hosting a community ride with Kasia. I still can’t believe I had such an amazing opportunity to ride and chat with Kasia and get all her tips and advice on hill climbing ;) I made some new friends along the way. And, of course, Strava has been a great way to stay in touch with many of these new friends, and to be inspired by their later rides and adventures.
Initially, I was really intimidated walking in to the Rapha clubhouse and not knowing anyone, surrounded by another 40-50 cyclists, all keen to also meet and ride with Kasia. I waited quietly for the ride to commence and, as soon as we got going, riding alongside others in the bunch, I quickly got chatting and realised we were all there just to have fun, be social and make new friends. Everyone was really welcoming and friendly, chatty and lovely. So much that I visited the store again during the week to say hi to those I'd met on the ride who work in the store, and to make use of the cafe and great coffee to digital nomad-ise!
But before I could do any of this, I needed to get to a local bike store and have them reassemble my bike for me. Enter LTD CycleWorx. These guys were super awesome. On recognising some logistical issues I had to get my bike and bike travel-box back to my accommodation (and reverse again on departure), staff member Jim offered to drop off and pick up my bike and box to my airbnb en route to and from work. Over and above the call of duty and greatly appreciated!
Needless to say, as a mecca for cycling, triathlon and all things adventure, I fell in love with Colorado. On heading back to the US a few months later, I made sure to incorporate some more time in Colorado. Yes, another perk of my job is being able to work from almost anywhere in our wonderfully enabling digital age. Again, I know I am incredibly fortunate to be able to do so and to live my dream.
On heading back to Colorado in August, I had Cenna at Cenna’s Custom Cycles reassemble my bike for me after it was packed for the flight. I arrived at Cenna’s bike shop Saturday morning just as he and his crew were getting back from their morning ride. One of the group immediately made me a great espresso and she became an instant friend (I’ll befriend anyone who rides a bike and makes awesome coffee!). Cenna was such a friendly and welcoming guy and told me about his Wednesday night gravel rides. Luckily, it was my gravel bike I had with me, and so I absolutely took the opportunity to join in. This was a great adventure and showed me areas of Longmont I never would have discovered by myself. After the ride, we all went out for a bite to eat and had a great evening sharing stories and adventures. I also love that Cenna's 'why' is to sell cycling, not bikes. It's all about the experience and sharing his love of riding with others. - You're a great champion for it Cenna!
This trip also provided me with opportunity to take a short period of leave from work to travel across the country, including to Minnesota. After logging some rides on Strava, a local cyclist, noticing I was visiting the area, reached out to suggest I join in their local bunch RASC ride on a Wednesday evening. Again, it was great to ride with some new people, meet new friends, and have a chat along the way. Thanks Carolyn!
In October, I stayed a little closer to home, but travelled to Bendigo, Victoria – a regional city I had never visited before. My visit coincided with the Bendigo Cycling Classic gran fondo event which, of course, I entered and loved. As a triathlete, one thing I really enjoy about cycling events, is the opportunity to ride with others, the sense of camaraderie and the ability to have a chat along the way. I discovered an exceptionally strong cycling culture in Bendigo. In a town of 100,000 people, I’m sure at least 70,000 of them are road cyclists!! A bit later in the week I joined in one of their early morning bunch rides; again making new friends, enjoying a friendly coffee afterwards and not getting lost along the way with local guides riding their regular route. There were many local bunch rides from which to choose. I, of course, chose the one that clearly stated they end with coffee!
My final travel for the year was to attend the annual Bicycle Tourism conference in San Antonio, Texas. Again, I emailed and sent fb messages to local clubs before arrival. I was again overwhelmed by the welcoming nature and generosity of local cyclists; members of two separate groups who even offered to pick me up at my hotel for their respective Saturday morning rides and drive me the 20 miles out of town to get to the ride start; and have me back in time to catch my return flight home later that afternoon.
My bike hire experience from Bike World, Pearl District was super easy with great customer service and support. The bike performed beautifully. Shame about the weather. I came to Texas completely underprepared for a wet and cold ride. Luckily, the good folk at San Antonio Wheelmen loaned me: leggings courtesy of Kelly; toe covers courtesy Bill; and fleecy jumper courtesy Adam. Not your typical cycling attire but it meant I stayed warm and enjoyed the ride!!
My experiences have been extraordinary, and made possible by the incredible generosity, and friendly, welcoming nature of others.
The global cycling community really is quite exceptional, and one of which I love being part.
Particular shout out and thanks to the following awesome clubs and businesses who have helped me out along my journey, in the order of when we met:
And I received some great swag from various clubs and shops too, for which I'm really thankful and wear proudly.
Let’s see what 2019 will bring! After a very productive strategic planning session among the multi-national CycleLifeHQ team in San Antonio during our time there in November, it’s an exciting road ahead…”
In her local hometown, Canberra, Anna encourages visitors to join in her local bunch ride every Friday morning, leaving from the Red Hill SupaExpress at 5:45am for a 30km route, finishing with coffee at Double Shot nearby in Deakin. Ride leader, Brendan, is co-owner of the Red Hill SupaExpress, with a vision and passion to support an active, healthy community hub from the shop, and living and breathing this through everything he does. https://www.facebook.com/redhillexpresscyclingteam/