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Archive for August, 2009

How long is your weekend?

How long is your weekend?
There were two milestones that shifted my understanding of time.  The first occurred when I was in 3rd grade and I realized that summers were actually not half of the year and that school actually was longer than summer.  I still remember not fully comprehending this revelation.  This adjustment of perceived time vs actual time might have been valuable.  I doubt it.
The second milestone occurred my first summer leading bicycle tours in Vermont.  I realized that weekends were, in fact, one day events.  As I sit in a friends cabin 3 hours from my home in Boulder, on a Sunday morning, I’m reminded that I may have it within my own power to bring back Sunday.
How I learned this lesson: Guiding bicycle tours through the quaint villages of New England still rates as one of my favs in my long list of careers. The company offered both week and weekend tours. The weekend tours particularly taught me a lot about the expectations “normal” people (non service industry folks like myself) put on these not so rare recurring parts of the week.
To set the scene for you, myself along with a partner guide would arrive at remote B&B in a hideous yellow van with a large cow face (with sunglasses-trademark) decal on the side…  24 bikes precariously balanced on the homemade roof racks.  The drive from our barn/office or our last tour were long and on back roads as in Vermont “you can’t get there from here” hold true.
Upon arrival we would literally jump out of the van and get to work unpacking the bikes, safety checking each one, going over the names, dietary restrictions, room and bike assignments in hopes that we could complete our tasks prior to the first guests arriving.  We never were successful.
Our guests….would pull up in black Mercedes or clean 4wd with NY or NJs license plates.  Sometimes in  weekend rental cars out of the city or at the closest airport with infrequent flights on prop planes.  They were generally stressed, had high expectations of what they wanted to accomplish for the weekend (we never knew what these were prior to arrival but they tended to range from meeting a future spouse to starting their training for the tour-DE-France.  On the weekends there were more singles than couples, mostly type A. If they brought their own bike it was expensive and saw little use, if they rented it would take 3-4 “fittings” before they trusted that we actually had their best interest in mind and hadn’t hijacked the front brakes.
The plan was to arrive before dinner and after dinner have a welcome meeting and presentation of the weekend. Invariably they arrived late, missed the dinner or meeting or both.
On Saturday morning we were up well before dawn filling water bottles, preparing snacks, checking the route notes and   dealing with all of the guests who had arrived to late to be fit or listen.  We were incredibly patient…maybe I used up all my patience those years.
For those who have never been on a bike tour there were generally 3 options for  rides on both days…allowing everyone to be able to have a sense of completion and success.  One of us would ride along with guests (forward and back..starting with the stronger riders and falling back with the slower group. The other would be in the van, fixing any flats, filling water and offering snacks and support, giving rides if needed.
The interesting thing about weekend tours and city goers was that they weren’t interested in our options or suggestions. In general they were weekend worriers wanting to take full advantage of the money they had paid and the valuable time. They wanted to ride the 70 mile option…oh, and if I get tired pick me up at 50 or 57 or 63…be there exactly when I am tired, and shuttle me back to the inn (like a private jet request).
Sat nights were a different vibe. Everyone was tired and their walls were down. They had sweat, laughed, complained and explored together.  Invariably wine and talk flowed freely on Sat and we saw a glimpse of who these people were, and we liked it.
Sunday could have been another Saturday…three ride options and a full day of the weekend. But it wasn’t.  Sunday morning people were  sore from the day before, maybe a bit hung over, maybe they just didn’t want to get too comfortable for fear they would stay in Vermont and become a bike tour guide.  They decided to do the short ride to get an early start back to the city to avoid the traffic…often they even forgave the ride and left directly.  Their “weekend”…by explanation three full nights and two days, clasped into one day of escape, and the remainder of the time entering or existing this elusive states.

There were two milestones that shifted my understanding of time.  The first occurred when I was in 3rd grade and I realized that summers were actually not half of the year and that school actually was longer than summer.  I still remember not fully comprehending this revelation.  This adjustment of perceived time vs actual time might have been valuable.  I doubt it.

taking a full weekend

taking a full weekend

The second milestone occurred my first summer leading bicycle tours in Vermont.  I realized that weekends were, in fact, one day events.  As I sit in a friends cabin 3 hours from my home in Boulder, on a Sunday morning, I’m reminded that I may have it within my own power to bring back Sunday.

How I learned this lesson

Guiding bicycle tours through the quaint villages of New England still rates as one of my favs in my long list of careers. The company offered both week and (more…)

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