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Working as cycle tour guide

Posted: 29 Aug 2011, 1:02pm
by ericonabike
I've recently taken early retirement and am looking at various ways of both increasing my cycling activity and supplementing my income. It occurred to me that there seems to be anincreasing number of cycle tour operators offering guided tours, which must mean there are some opportunities to work as a tour guide. I'm reasonably competent mechanically, can speak French and Spanish and love touring, so this seemed like a possoibility. I'm doing some other research as well, but wondered if any forum members hadany experience, advice or suggestions they might like to offer?

Re: Working as cycle tour guide

Posted: 29 Aug 2011, 4:10pm
by eileithyia
When it goes wrong it drops on you fair n square... possibly. Sorry not wishing to put dampener on it, and it would be a cyclist's dream job or not.

A friend was a tour guide for an Amercian group visiting strategic parts of the stages and riding some of the climbs of the TdF. I believe they were vehcile assisted to a point where they could start the climbs etc. Hotel accomm with promised wine accompanying every meal inc in price. Except the wine was not, and friend had to order the wione and stand the bill each night; on his credit and it took several weeks for the co. to reimburse.
Other downsides; 1 chaps bike needed attention, rest of group were got to cycling point and then man n bike were taken to bike shop, once bike was fixed it was too late for customer to ride up and due to closed roads they were unable to get close to the climb. Customer was extremely unhappy and blamed friend etc for everything.
You need a very thick skin!

Alternatively met a chap who doing some tours at a YHA in NW on one occasion. What he was actually doing was ridiing up to a hotel on the borders where the hotel had a package deal of rides out daily that he would lead. He was very enthusiastic and said most people were very friendly and usually stood the drinks rounds each night etc., so he did not have to put his hand in his pocket for many day to day expenses. His accommodation was part of the deal.
The downside was a lot of middle-aged overweight people who had not done a lot of cycling who needed to be shepherded around quite a bit at their pace.

Re: Working as cycle tour guide

Posted: 29 Aug 2011, 9:06pm
by ericonabike
eileithyia wrote:The downside was a lot of middle-aged overweight people who had not done a lot of cycling who needed to be shepherded around quite a bit at their pace.

I could empathise with that - losing my daily commute to work has increased my own waist band a bit. That and the other downsides that you point out don't seem too great to be honest - I'm pretty thick-skinned and working in PR has meant dealing with all kinds of people!

Re: Working as cycle tour guide

Posted: 30 Aug 2011, 8:54am
by eileithyia
Am sure that working in PR is a good grounding for such a job. Not sure who you would approach, there are firms like sporting tours advertising in the cycle press, though they do use a lot of former pros or top of the sport amateurs for their guides/runs leaders etc.
1-2 people I know have had trips to Majorca or to the tour and it does seem a little bit of who you know and not necessarily what you know.
Often these trips are for relatively fit people looking for that bit extra for the racing season. But it might be that there is scope to take their other halves on shorter runs if you were not fit enough to do the fast rides, I believe they do have a variety of abilities on these rides/trips.

Alternatively become a 'tour leader' via CTc and lead a couple of holidays yourself to see how it goes?

Good Luck

Re: Working as cycle tour guide

Posted: 26 Jan 2020, 10:46am
by Marcus Aurelius
Be careful what you wish for. As a paid tour guide, absolutely everything becomes your problem. Mechanicals, your problem, medical episodes, your problem, riders biting off more than they can chew, your problem. Navigation issues, definitely your problem, incidents / accidents, guess what? Your problem. It may sound like a great idea, the reality is somewhat different. You’ll almost certainly not get to enjoy the ride / scenery, there will be too much else going on. The only people enjoying it, are the people who own the business. If you try to be an owner / guide, that’s a really tough gig, and with increasing competition, far less lucrative.

Re: Working as cycle tour guide

Posted: 26 Jan 2020, 11:15am
by Richard Fairhurst ... -nightmare is a fun recent article on the subject.

Re: Working as cycle tour guide

Posted: 5 Feb 2020, 10:44pm
by Neil Wheadon
It's not easy
Having done nearly 80 for CTC Holidays, it's not all about being a good cyclist or being able to repair bikes. That helps (a little) but there are other things
You need to be good with people, empathy is important. You need to be able to have a plan B, C or even Z for most situations. You also need to appreciate that even though you are dealing with adults, they are in a relaxed holiday mood, so you need to make decisions. You also need to be able to take a bit of criticism and listen to people, involve them in their holiday. You'll also need to develop a slightly thick skin as things will be said and not necessarily within your earshot. You'll need to hold your nerve and your head, be relaxed and remember that one person can potentially ruin a holiday for everyone so you need to be aware and have a quiet word. In short cycle skills are useful but they are not the main thing.
Good luck

Re: Working as cycle tour guide

Posted: 6 Feb 2020, 1:49am
by simonhill
I wonder if Eric will update us on this. He posted it 8½ years ago, but is still active.

Re: Working as cycle tour guide

Posted: 6 Feb 2020, 8:27am
by Morzedec
Come on, come on, stop moaning or I'll make you ride an extra 50km today. No, you can't gt off to have a pee, we need to keep on riding. What do you mean you are hungry, I bought you a bun five hours ago. Got a sore backside? - bend over, and I'll slap some Dubbin on for you. No, there aren't any charging points around here, so keep pedalling. Just another week, and you will be well ridden-in. Of course this is fun: everyone likes rain, don't they? The nearest station? - dunno, never use them. Some paper? - I told you not to drink that bottle of rough old red. Never mind, I'm sure you wife will catch up before we stop at the campsite. No, sorry, I know that you are but a lonely widow, but that's not included in the price.

All good fun: I started to do a little gentle hosting in France a few years ago, usually riding from the ferry ports with people until they get more confident with arrangements, language, campsites, and the like. Not really experienced any major problems yet: teenage boys wanting to ride too far too fast, teenage girls who won't 'cover up' and so get sunburnt, those widows, people arriving with rubbish unserviced bikes, and couples with vastly different capabilities - but apart from that, not really any problems at all.

I lay down the law pretty strongly before we start out, make sure that we stop every hour for a short break, keep people well fed and watered, show them how to read a map, but perhaps most importantly try to teach 'cadence', in that it's not how fast but how far you go each day.

Got four bookings so far for this coming summer, all of whom sound at least half-sensible, so I'm looking forward to the coming season.

Happy days,

Re: Working as cycle tour guide

Posted: 6 Feb 2020, 9:25am
by ericonabike
Didn't expect to see this thread resurface! For the record I did two two-week sessions for Marmot tours one summer, supporting riders on the Raid Pyrenean. It was hard work, but involved driving the support van rather than leading a group on the road. As others have said, you need good people skills, not least because the riders were so varied. You had trophy hunters, taking up cycling rather than golf as a break from their day job as a senior manager. There were club cyclists, lone cyclists, fat cyclists and racing snakes. But the thing I found most difficult was remembering all their names and faces! I've never been good at that, and at the end of the four day tours it was beginning to show...

I'd recommend it to anyone, as long as you're realistic about the rewards and drawbacks.

Re: Working as cycle tour guide

Posted: 6 Feb 2020, 10:12pm
by RickH
I've not led tours but I did several with Bike Adventures when I was getting back into cycling after 2008, starting with LEJOG. We had the same leaders several times.

One thing need to be clear is what sort of a tour it is. Are you expected to ride as a group (or groups)? Are you being guided? Or are you following instructions and creating your own groups or staying solo if you prefer (and that can vary during the trip)? How much support is there? How much freedom is there to deviate from the route & do something different?

As long as people know what to expect (& what not to expect) then things should go reasonably happily.

Re: Working as cycle tour guide

Posted: 11 Feb 2020, 4:58pm
by pga
I am a cyclist and rambler. I have led guided day and longer rides and walks for many years for family, friends and club members. I have also led for cycling and walking holidays companies during that period.

I generally prefer to lead cycling tours with family, friends and club members. These are people you know well and can anticipate their likes and dislikes. However I prefer to lead walking holidays for holiday companies. The clients are usually people you have prior knowledge of and often have to estimate their likes and dislikes. These can vary considerably within a group. I usually led more leisurely paced walling holidays. This meant that there was less pressure to keep to strict schedules with a group of mixed abilities. Some companies are better than others in ensuring that group members are as compatible as others.

Walking generally keeps a group together much better than cycling where a group can quickly separate even in flatter areas. With a cycling group you need to have good mechanical skills, especially if group members are using their own cycles.

I too was interesting in leading CTC cycle tours. I went as deputy with Tony Gore in the Scottish Borders. Tony sets extremely high standards and his rides are a delight and highly recommended.
I enjoyed the tour but realised the volume of pre-tour work that Tony had put in to ensure that everyday was perfectly planned for the group. Hence, I did not follow up leading for CTC tours.
On the hand, other companies do the pre-tour planning themselves and leave the guides to just follow pre-planned rides. I have done some of these but again the problem of keeping a group together was a challenge. Tony Gore's tours on the other hand were excellent in allowing the group to ride as they wished, joining together with other members to meet up at elevenses, lunch and three's.

I hope all this is useful. I enjoy leading and meeting old and new friends. Enjoying other people is the key. You will not get rich - I never have - unless things have changed.

Re: Working as cycle tour guide

Posted: 11 Feb 2020, 5:59pm
by Cyril Haearn
Seems a bit too organised for me, is there a uniform? :wink:
As a teenager I cycled alone, met enough interesting people at the Youth Hostels