Customer Story: Colombian Inspiration

Our impressive road cycling holiday in Colombia, Emerald Mountains,  has been inspiring Skedaddlers for some time now! Recent rider of this route Cathy MacDonald felt so motivated by the incredible Colombian roads on offer that she sent us in a poem summarising her time away with us…

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There was a group of 16 with Skeddadle
On the saddles of their bikes they did pedal
From the heights of Bogota
To the seas of Cartagena
They splashed, puffed, bumped and showed their mettle

They thought that Letras was tough
But Tomas said that’s not enough
Add 14 percent grade
Avoid the roads that are paved
Now that’s our Colombian stuff

Potholes, protests, rain, dogs and heat slowed us down
Tito, Oscar and Juana were there to bring us around
Andrew brought up the back
With a quip and a fix to many a flat
So all arrived safely by sundown.

So raise a toast to this group
A thoroughly gritty troop
We’ll miss the “rolling” hills
Cold showers and rice meals
Adios amigos, hope we meet again soon.

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Cathy now joins our growing list of Customer Competition winning entries – we’re sure you’ll agree this is a worthwhile winner! If you’re feeling inspired, read more about our road cycling holiday in Colombia for a chance to experience this beautiful (and challenging) part of the world yourself!

Seven Stages of a Guided Cycling Holiday

It’s time for the next (and probably our favourite so far) instalment of a series of handy two-wheeled tips brought to you by our guide and former Cycling Weekly Fitness Editor Hannah Reynolds! Here are seven common stages Skedaddlers go through before, during and after being away on a guided cycling holiday with us…

Stage 1: Decision making

Peruse the Skedaddle website like a kid in a sweet-shop. So many places to ride your bike and every picture is filled with sunshine and smiling cyclists. Do you go for the hills and delicious foods of Tuscany? The historic roads of France, touched by the wheels of professional cyclists? Is it the relaxed vibes of Spain and plates of tapa that attract you or do you want to challenge yourself on the big mountains of the Alps, Pyrenees or even Colombia?

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One destination catches at you more than the others, your imagination is sparked. In your mind you are already flying along on your bike, sun on your face and wind at your back. Shake yourself from your daydream and phone the Skedaddle office for a chat.

Stage 2: Anticipation

Your holiday is booked, you have sorted the logistics of how you are getting to the arrival point and whether you are taking your own bike or hiring a Skedaddle trusty steed. Now is the time to iron out your last minute concerns ‘how big are the hills? Do I have the right gears? How should I pack my bike bag? Will I be the oldest? Am I fit enough?’, the patient Skedaddle staff answer all your questions assuring you that these are questions they hear from most people on most trips!

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Pack your bags and treat yourself to some new kit for the trip, even if it is just a pair of cycling socks.

Stage 3: Bonding

Arriving at the airport you start looking around for other potential cyclists; ‘ooh he’s got a bike box, is he on my trip? Oh look they have a cycling T-shirt on. I think that guy shaves his legs, they look really smooth. Am I really staring at a stranger’s calf muscles?’ Thankfully you spot your Skedaddle guide who corrals the random gaggle of strangers into a group, makes introductions, grabs the bags and directs you all to the transport. Conversation in the van is subdued and polite, mainly focused on the journey so far, but gradually it moves onto some cycling chat and things start to get livelier.

Meeting for your first evening meal you wonder if it looks bad that you’ve gone for a pint instead of a half, after all you do have a bike to ride in the morning, but then the person next to you starts discussing the wine list and before long everyone is chatting and talking across each other.

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Stage 4: Trip Bubble

By lunch time on day two you will be well ensconced within the trip bubble. Your group are now close knit friends with their own jokes (often at the expense of the guide). Nicknames will be developing (in fact you might never use their ‘real’ names again after intros on day one) and you’ll be recognising your fellow riders by helmet, bike and jerseys as much as their faces.

Your day will now start with putting on your Lycra and your routine established into a simple pattern; breakfast, ride bike, coffee stop, ride bike, picnic, ride bike, cold beer, wash kit, dinner, sleep. Life on the road becomes very simple.

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Your biggest concerns are whether the climb comes before or after your coffee stop, whether your guide has bought enough bananas and who ate all the cola bottles from the Haribo pick-and-mix. Oh, and how cold the beer is at the end of the day and whether the hotel has a pool.

Stage 5: Challenge and achievement

Did we mention the C word? Everyone is going to encounter at least one ‘cheeky climb’ on a trip, on some trips there will be many! Everyone approaches the first climb of the trip with trepidation, even those who are very fit and strong. It is the first test; has your training paid off? Will you make it to the top? Can you do it without stopping? Will you be first or last? The truth is no one knows until the first climb has been tackled.

You learn to interpret Skedaddle guide speak; ‘this one is a bit cheeky’ – its short, a bit steep and it going to challenge you, if your guide says it is ‘tough’ you know it will be. As a group you support those who are nervous and cheer for them as they appear at the top. You learn the difference between drags and climbs, between hills and mountains. With the encouragement of your guide and a van full of cold water and Haribo sweets to bribe and cajole, you slowly but surely reach the top.

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As the trip goes on you recalibrate what you find a challenge. After a few days you find yourself saying, ‘well that wasn’t too bad’ and ‘worth it for the view’. Climbs that on day one would have daunted you are now a piece of cake, just a little aperitif to build up an appetite!

Stage 6: Separation and Denial

You reach your final destination of the trip, corks fly and bubbles are drunk. You flex your pleasantly tired legs, now complete with cyclist’s tan and rippling muscles not there at the start of the holiday and climb off your bike for the final time. The bikes are packed away into their boxes for travel. Your trusty hire bike stripped of your saddle and pedals is loaded into the van to wait for its next rider.

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Dinner is a final chance to reminisce, stories are told, photographs shared and contact details exchanged. Those without an early flight to catch wander off into the darkness to explore the possibility of finding a local night club, seeing as they don’t have to ride bikes tomorrow.

Breakfast the next morning is subdued, no one is in Lycra! Where the morning before there had been a cohesive band of cyclists today there are only organised travellers in civilian clothes towing suitcases ready to head in their different directions. Hands are shaken and good-byes said but already thoughts are turning to time tables and take off times, and the heap of stinking washing in the kit bag.

Stage 7: Looking to the future

The holiday is over and its back to normality, after days on the road at first you enjoy the comfort and pleasure of home. Finding clothes in a wardrobe instead of fishing around in your kit bag but putting on proper clothes instead of cycling kit feels strange and your plain bowl of cereals is not as exciting as the hotel breakfast buffet.

Instead of working through the pile of missed emails you start your first day back in the office uploading photos to the group’s Dropbox folder, desperately clinging onto the last feel-good vibes of your trip away. Despite a full in-box you ignore emails from your co-workers but immediately reply to anyone who had been on your trip or anything with the subject line ‘cycling’ or ‘holiday’. You compare notes on how you would much rather be riding your bike in the sunshine than sat at work, bemoan the poor quality of coffee and snacks available compared to on the trip.

Start discussing your next destination with the new friends you have made. Look up the trips mentioned by your guide who seems to have ridden their bike in every interesting and sunny destination in the world. Casually download some trip notes, even though you aren’t actually planning on booking anything just yet and you aren’t sure how much holiday you have available. Check calendar just in case you do have some extra free time you had forgotten about. Phone Skedaddle office for a chat, enquire about a couple of different trips, find out they are nearly guaranteed. Put in your application for holiday.

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Feeling inspired? Check out our full range of cycling holidays on our website to embrace that Stage 1!

Guide Profile: Gualtiero (Wally) Rossano

Our Italian team is like no other! Gualtiero, or Wally, joined us in 2016 and has since led a number of our Italian trips, including the epic road cycling journey, the Grand Traverse, and our new place-to-place MTB tour, the Via Francigena. Striving under pressure and always looking for a challenge, Wally has a soft spot for both road cycling and mountain biking. In our quest to share our incredible guides with the world, check out our Q&A with this inspiring Italian guide…

Full name: Gualtiero Rossano (Wally)

What do you like most about Saddle Skedaddle?
The thing I like most about Saddle Skedaddle is the feeling of being among friends; the Guides Week for me was a great experience to get know other guides outside of work. Sharing the passion is wonderful!

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1. Give your best pie
ce pre-trip of advice for customers…
Everyone is very welcome here! The Saddle Skedaddle team is at your disposal; our goal is to make your holiday unforgettable! Enjoy the ride and make it safe. At the end of the trip we will all have a new experience and we will have many more friends.

2. Which trip are you most excited about in our holiday range?
All the  Saddle Skedaddle catalogue of course, haha. But if I must chose one or two trips, I think that China and Scotland Coast to Coast would be a dream to ride!

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3. What would your chosen superpower be?
I would be Spiderman or Wolverine, it’s a hard choice 😉

4. What item wouldn’t you be without on a trip?
I have a lucky amulet that follows me on all my cycling adventures (I’m also an ultra distance biker), it’s an earring, handmade by a friend that in the past was an goldsmith craftsman. All other essentials are embedded in the Skedaddle mechanic kit, but the luck is not included 😀

5. What’s your favourite power snack and why?
My favourite power snack is peanut butter! So if I can’t be Spiderman or Wolverine, I can always be Super Goof 😀

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Huge congrats on winning our March Guides Competition, Wally! Be sure to check out Wally’s Instagram page for ultimate cycling inspiration.

The official blog of Saddle Skedaddle cycling holidays. Featuring everything from destination highlights to top picks from the team….