It was one of those sudden realisations that one comes to every now and then! That this is my 12th year in the guiding and biking holidays game. It doesn’t seem that long since I packed my trusty Marin hardtail into a bag and headed off to South America with all my worldly possessions in a rucksack. It’s been a wild ride and there’s no way that I could have predicted all the adventures that guiding has sent my way over the years.
Three years immersed in La Paz, Bolivia and Cusco, Peru was an incredibly rich and cultural experience. Guiding full time is hard work but the pure number of hours on your bike means that your fitness and familiarity with your bike are unprecedented. The fear is that doing what you love for a job can somehow dilute your passion, but I never found this was the case and inevitably days off were filled with more biking adventures and trail exploration.
Getting to ride in some of the worlds least developed and seldom visited true wilderness areas was a real privilege, and getting to share these experiences with guests from around the world is what makes this period a big highlight of my guiding career.
Back in my homeland of New Zealand with a Yorkshire lass in tow I got to spend a few years showing riders around some of the most beautiful riding terrain in the world. It is a long way to travel for a northern hemisphere riders but I promise you that the riding is easily worth the 24 hours of flying, especially if you have an local to show you around!
I’ve now been based in the UK for a bit over five years, exploring and leading tours all over the UK, from the rolling trails of the Chiltern Hills, the contrasting terrain of the White and Dark Peaks and the rugged alpine style trails of the Lake District. I’ve even opened a lot of British rider’s eyes to the hidden gem that is the moors of Northumberland! While it is easy to yearn for the sunshine of southern Europe or the long descents of the Andes, the quality and diversity of the riding in the UK is world-class. We should be proud of the trail network that this little island boasts!
Having recently completed an advanced guiding certification I’ve had been reflecting a little on the why I get so much out of guiding. It’s hard to quantify but there is nothing better than helping empower guests to have amazing wilderness biking experiences. Over the last ten years or so the level of professionalism amongst mountain bike guides has rocketed ahead, and I’m constantly inspired by my colleagues and their skills and expertise.
Luckily guiding isn’t necessarily a young man’s game so I get to look forward to many more shared adventures with the amazing people that make up our mountain biking community!