Once again Rich and I are off on another working vacation. Only this time he’s working and I’m vacationing! I think I got the best end of this deal.
The gig is with Bike Tour Vacations. The company is owned by an old neighborhood friend of Rich’s, Jim Plaunt. Although he defected and moved to Michigan, he hasn’t forgotten the appeal of Northern Minnesota, and still returns to lead bike trips through our beautiful wilderness scenery.
Last year Jim enticed Rich to co-lead a trip with him. Rich rather enjoyed his position as a “flunky,” helping out the cycling guests yet still being able to ride his bike for a large share of the trip. It was a great way to earn his way through an enjoyable tour. And the experience was good enough that he agreed to return and assist with two more trips this summer. Given an invitation to accompany Rich and bunk with the “paid help,” I easily decided to join the 5-day Minnesota North Shore Tour.
This will be an entirely new experience for me. Not the biking, but the whole concept of a supported ride. The norm is for Rich and me to take off on our own, traveling with everything we need in one set of panniers each. Sometimes for months. This time Jim and Rich will trade off driving the support van, transporting my belongings from hotel to hotel. I will cycle with only day bags on my bike, and no camping gear. I feel lighter already!
That same van will make stops for us. No need to worry about running out of water or long distances between food. They will be there for us with water and snacks on board. Any breakdowns will also be serviced by the friendly and handy co-leaders. And I hear we even stop for lunch. Since Jim handles all the lodging reservations and meals, Rich gets a bit of a break as well. Normally, that falls on his shoulders to research each night before we move on.
Perhaps one of the biggest adjustments will be traveling in a pack. How tightly we cycle together is yet to be seen. But mealtimes and evenings allow opportunities to socialize and enjoy local entertainment offerings. I’m looking forward to the extra company and camaraderie.
Rich jokes that since he’s the flunky on this trip and I’m a paying guest, I have a legitimate right to order him around. Hmm, it’s tempting… If I know what’s good for me, I think I’ll pass on that. But I’m still looking forward to going along for the ride.