A Day in the life of a bike guide. I never got to be a girl guide, I had enough trouble behaving myself in Brownies, so I thought now I am a sensible and respectable grown up I’d try a different form of guiding.
Last week I was given the opportunity to go away with Rapha Travel as one of their bike guides. I would be joining some of their more experienced guides looking after a group of 9 ladies who wanted to tackle Mt Ventoux. Rapha offer a number of different trips, this one is called an ascent. It involved 4 days away riding your bike and conquering a particular climb.
As you can imagine travelling with Rapha is particularly Luxurious. I arrived on the first day to a beautiful 4 star hotel in Provence. The weather was set to be scorching topping out at 40degrees. I was already boiling. As a fairly tough northern girl, I’m not a massive fan of the heat. I was pretty apprehensive about this trip as I had no idea what to expect, my main concern was being too slow and all the guests having to wait for me at the top of the climb – that would have been less than ideal. I had managed to fit in a quick bit of panic training in the few weeks before. Thankfully with this and a specialized body geometry bike fit the Friday before I set off I felt pretty good on the bike and had plenty in the legs for supporting the guests.
My first job on arrival was to drive one of the Rapha super snazzy 5 series BMWs to the car wash and wash it – without crashing it, or running anyone over. Thankfully I managed this. Although it caused me great anxiety to drive such a fancy vehicle. So what exactly did being a bike guide involve other than cleaning cars? We did a lot of preparation. We organised and laid out the goodie bags the women would receive in their hotel rooms on arrival, we prepared the bidons with water and energy drink for the next days riding, we prepared all the ride food for the riders, we prepped the cars with cool boxes full of cans of coke and orangina, sun cream, first aids kits etc. We reviewed the routes and charged our Garmins ready for the rides ahead.
On the road our job was to guide obviously but also keep the guests riding together as best as possible and encourage them on some of the harder aspects of the ride. These girls didn’t need much encouragement, they all rode superbly on Mt Ventoux, no one needed a cheeky push and they all made it to the top with huge grins on their faces. It was so satisfying to see these women achieve their goal and be a part of helping them to get there. I really enjoyed that aspect of the trip and we helped them celebrate in the evening with a delicious meal and a little wine. Over the four days the ladies enjoyed some fabulous scenic rides in the sunshine fully supported by our team. They all seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves and many of them have signed up to come back for more.
What qualities do you need to be a bike guide?
- Patience – not all the riders will ride a the same pace, some will have more experience than others, your job is to ensure they all have a superb time and achieve their own personal goals. This can take time and patience.
- Phsyically fit and strong – there’s lots of riding, often up and down between groups and back to the cars, etc. Imagine you are the ultimate domestique shepherding these riders and proving food, drink and encouragement at all times. There is also lots of lifting and carrying of bikes equipement etc so being fit and strong is a definite advantage.
- Easy going – Even the best made plans have to be fluid depending on ability and weather conditions. You need to be able to be flexible and adapt to the situation.
- On the same theme you also need to be quick thinking, and use your initiative for the same reasons
- Good sense of humour – always a top quality and ideal if its been a tough day in less than perfect conditions you need to remain cheerful and keep moral high
- Self sufficient – you need to look after yourself to be able to look after your guests. It is your priority to ensure they have everything they need and have a top quality ride – to do this you need to look after yourself.
Would I recommend these trips?
Oh most definitely. The Rapha Travel trips do come with a Rapha price tag but for that you get an excellent service. You are fully supported on and off the road. You get luxury accommodation and top quality food. You can hire the finest carbon road bike with DI2 group set. Your bikes with be cleaned and serviced after each ride and ready and waiting for you in the morning. They choose stunning routes in scenic and challenging countryside. These trips are ideal if you enjoy riding your bike but also some of the finer luxuries in life – certainly a trip to treat yourself to.