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La Piazza Blog & Stories
Guest Spotlight: Alice Brownstein and Organizing a Group Bicycle Tour
cycling
October 10, 2019

Guest Spotlight: Alice Brownstein and Organizing a Group Bicycle Tour

cyclists smiling on european bike tour

Alice is a long-time repeat Ciclismo Classico guest.

Just recently, she completed our Andalucia adventure with a group of friends. These fellow biking companions have traveled with Alice on multiple trips, over many years.

I always have trouble organizing my wife and daughter on a five-day vacation. I couldn’t imagine what it takes to get 11 people on a bike trip.

So Alice and I took some time on the bike to discuss what it takes to get a group of ten of her friends –  and herself – organized and over the pond for a bicycle vacation.

How difficult is organizing a group trip for 11 cyclists? What are the biggest challenges that confront you?

It depends. The first time was hard finding people who are willing to spend money to travel and bike: it is a big unknown commitment.

However, once you have your core group, it is pretty easy to get people interested.

The biggest challenge is finding a convenient time-frame for everyone with their particular life constraints (work, school, etc).

How many group rides have you done altogether with Ciclismo Classico and where have you gone?

Seven trips in total. We’ve been to Piedmont, both Bike Across Italy trips (Bike Across Italy and Bike Across Southern Italy), Chile, Provence, Bike Across France, and Andalucia.

What do you like best about riding with a group of people you know well on a bicycle trip?

I enjoy spending time with good friends doing what we love to do. These trips give me the opportunity to catch up with the people I don’t always get to see as much as I would like.

I’d imagine you’d have to know everyone in the group fairly well to invite them on a 10-day bicycle adventure. How well do you know everyone? Are there often new editions to the gang from year-to-year if you leave the trip open?

I usually know the majority well. There are often new additions as well (this Andalucia trip was to have had new additions, but they had to cancel); or new people other friends have recruited. I think we have only “closed” the group once. Spain was to have been a “closed departure,” only because we initially had enough people.

I think there are benefits to both leaving the trip open to new people and closing the trip with only the people we know.

In a closed group, you know everyone. You know there won’t be any annoying, demanding people. But, you miss out on meeting new people.

I’ve enjoyed the people we’ve met on other trips. And two have become very close friends.

Getting people to commit to the trip must be difficult. How early in advance do you get commitments from everyone? Do most people commit as soon as you ask them or do they leave you hanging on?

We usually plan pretty far in advance, usually around a year out (some of us need to do this job-wise). Most people commit when we ask, some take a month or so.

If you are trying to close a trip, you do need to get people to commit more quickly. If you aren’t closing the trip, people still need to decide rather quickly because if the trip is popular it will fill. However, this doesn’t seem to be a problem with our group.

Seems the group leader may be under a lot of pressure to get everyone together. Are you typically the group leader or do you change it around from year to year? Are there some people who don’t want to organize a group?

Kirsten or I are usually the instigators. No one else seems to do it, so I would guess there are a lot of people who don’t like to organize. I have a bit of that type A personality trait in organizing people, so I like to do it!

Often people who travel with friends only see each other a few times a year at home. How often do you see and talk to the people in your group? How many times do you travel together? Is this the only time you get together each year?

The people in Seattle I see pretty regularly, I would say once a month or so. The ones who live out of town, I see a few times a year.

I travel with this group pretty frequently. We do other trips together (work, continuing education, hiking, swimming, and just visiting).

I think this is an important point. Travel can be difficult and sometimes you enjoy someone’s company in the town you both call home. But when you travel together, you discover to be incompatible for some reason or another.

I would never close a group with people I hadn’t travelled with previously. (However, it is easier when you are doing a guided tour, many fewer decisions to be made).

Give me one fantastic memory that you had with your friends on any Ciclismo Classico trip.

It is hard to give one memory. I think there is one big composite memory: feeling happily tired after a lovely day of biking. Eating incredible meals and drinking fantastic wines adds to the whole “experience.” Talking about the next day’s ride, the next day’s excitement builds on the day before. We also love learning about new cultures.

Are you already planning another trip? Where to and when? How many people will you have?

Not actively. I think we are all interested in Sicily and Morocco and other locations, but don’t have a time-frame planned yet. But, we will travel together again. Probably another eleven of us or so.

What makes Ciclismo Classico the best solution for your group travel?

It’s a great combination of really good riding (and not easy), delicious food and wine, and education about the local culture. All of this is possible because of their amazing guides.

Are you ready to organize your group cycling tour? Check out this blog for more details. And if you have a group and have questions, be sure to check out our Group Organizer FAQs. Then, when you’re ready, contact us and we’ll do the rest!

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