The bike touring company Ciclismo Classico, which is based in Arlington, MA but considers the world its home, had to cancel all its European tours this year. But trying to salvage a bike touring season, they sponsored bike tours late summer following all the latest COVID-19 protocols, not to their signature destinations in Italy and Ireland, but in the Finger Lakes of New York and also Southern New Hampshire. This allowed adventure seekers to drive to the start and bike routes consisting of loops, out and back, so that they would be near their car at the end of the trip. These “close to home” tours were able to satisfy participants yearning for new experiences, outdoor activity, and camaraderie.
After 30 years as the founder and owner of Ciclismo Classico, Lauren Hefferon is no stranger to the ups and downs of the travel business. At the Dec. 8, 2020 Chicago Cycling Club virtual meeting, she said there was a similar downturn in travel after 9/11. One of the biggest impacts to a tour company of a travel decline is to the livelihood of the tour guides. For many of them leading tours is their primary source of income and with travel curtailed and trips cancelled, so did much of their income.
Pivoting a Tour Business
For Lauren, an avid cyclist since high school, she relied on cycling to help her come up with a plan to pivot her tour business. She would take long rides starting from her back door to do her thinking, and racked up over 10,000 miles this year. Some of the initiatives she came up with are:
The lure of exploring new places with other people resulted in a bounce back in previous downturns and it is expected to bounce back this time also. The question is when.
Vacation Planning Advice
Lauren offered the following advice for who are itching to make bike tour plans for 2021:
Cycling remains an ideal form of exercise for pandemic times. We can use this time to dream of all the places we want to visit so we will be ready to start tackling them when the time is right. Take heart, normalcy is in sight.
Sharon Kaminecki and others comment on adventures in bicycling and other stories