Covid-19 and the Cycling Tour Industry

As I wrote the title of this post I realized that there might not be a lot to say about this except that there IS no cycling tour industry at the moment, at least in France, Spain and Italy (where we operate).

John and I have been talking with clients about coronavirus for a while now and we have obviously had to cancel our first week-long tour in Spain next month. This is what we and our 9 clients are going to miss.

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Regarding ‘work’ we are now into May and we had a full month of smaller, local tours, some of which are now cancelled, others that are hanging on till the bitter end. We imagine that May will be a total write-off. Beyond that I don’t want to speculate.

Of course we are not alone and we are fortunate when compared with many other small businesses in France who have bigger overheads and employees to take care of. We work from home (and the road!) and have relatively low fixed expenses.

Regular bike tours can be run at the drop of a hat, assuming hotels are open and clients can get themselves to France, but our 3 ‘sportive’ tours, Haute Route Dolomites, Etape du Tour and Haute Route Ventoux, depend on other factors, namely the organizers being able to confidently run their races. All 3 above are still ‘go’ at the moment, so we’ll see.

We do have tours later on in the year that we have hope for, so there’s still planning work to do. I have also turned my attention to a ‘HighRoad’ tour that we have been thinking about for 5 or 6 years now: Provence. I’ve got Google Maps and Strava open right now and am trying to piece together a great string of 7 days that will offer lots of climbing, beautiful landscapes and great hotels/restaurants. It’s hard, but mainly because we are so spoiled for roads down here, especially if you consider the area closer to Nice as ‘Provence’. Essentially you could drop a pin on any small departmental road and you will have yourself a good riding experience. This is one of the best parts of my job, so don’t feel sorry for me. Here’s a teaser of one part we hope to include.

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Finally, a word on our wonderful clients. We had 9 riders booked for the Spain tour I mentioned above and 8 of them took a ‘coupon’ for a future tour instead of asking for a refund, which would have been more than reasonable I should add. One most excellent and loyal client has even sent us a ‘retainer’ for a ‘future tour’ that was far too generous, but it gives us hope and also plenty of motivation. My feeling with this forced confinement of most of the world so far is that once it’s over we’re going to be experiencing a Baby Boom in the cycling tour industry, as long as people still have the money to do them, of course!

I hope that all of you have ‘crisis proof’ jobs/businesses, or governments who will ensure that you will get through this one more or less unscathed.

16 thoughts on “Covid-19 and the Cycling Tour Industry

  1. There are crisis proof skills, probably: Nurse, carpenter, farmer, farrier. A parent wrote somewhere recently that if what you do for a living isn’t featured in a Richard Scarry* book, you’re probably dispensable.

    But no one has a crisis proof job. If you think you do, you’re not using your imagination. This is why it’s so important to go to France and ride your bike across the causses with Gerry when you have the opportunity, and not a moment later. You never know what shit is going to go down. If you die reminiscing with a photo of friends and mountains in your hand, you’re ahead of the game.

    *
    https://www.google.com/search?q=richard+scarry&client=ms-android-verizon&prmd=ivsn&sxsrf=ALeKk00qXjeS4NZUbiuL7mOX4q_DSMj32A:1585241562003&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwirrr6BzbjoAhUWmHIEHVbSBb4Q_AUoAXoECBsQAQ&biw=360&bih=560&dpr=4

    • I checked most of Scarry’s books and I didn’t see ‘bike tour guide’. He’ll have to do better!

      We look forward to seeing you and Wendy back (on the causses or not) soon!

  2. Hi Guys, you may get this twice…Word Press and I don’t get along so well. Keep me posted about your new Provence tour and let me know if/when you want me to spread the word. Hang in there…xx

  3. I’m sure it is tough even if others have it tougher. Hopefully this will be a short reprieve but I’m expecting it to last into summer. I’m booked to go through Paris en route to Eastern Europe in August, and guessing there’s a 25% chance that trip makes.

    Rich is right. This will end and people will have money saved, PTO saved, and they’ll be looking for adventure. Hang in there and enjoy the quiet(er) roads for the meantime.

    • Aaron, you’re having a hell of a time getting to Europe (recall 2013…)! I really hope you make it this time, for all our sakes.

      And yes, there’s no question that this is temporary. As for quiet roads, there’s none of that at the moment in France. We are restricted to a 1 km radius…but the neighborhood is quiet, yes!

      When you do eventually get to Europe I owe you a few guided rides and a dinner or two!

      • Apologies, Gerry. I forgot about France’s ban on cycling and didn’t intend to rub that in. Frankly that’s a baffling decision because of how prevalent cycling is in the country, how people need exercise and transportation, and how easy it is to socially distance on the bike. We are on lockdown here but are allowed to get out for a ride.

        Oof, 2013. Was it that long ago? I’ll make it out there soon. This time we had planned an eastern trip and tagged on a night in Paris just to get some rest and adjust to the time. But why spend one night in Paris when you can spend three? Hopefully our plans keep because I love chilling in Paris. I’m thinking the more likely obstacle is that you’ll have improved and banned travel from the US because of our infection rate.

        One day we plan to do a Southern Europe trip starting in Spain and heading East so we’ll be in your neighborhood. Assuming things turn around with the virus, that’ll probably be in a couple of years.

        Hang in there! I know all too well how tough it is to go from riding regularly to hardly at all. Hopefully things will improve soon.

        • No need to apologize, Aaron. I can only imagine that you will be in the same boat as we are here, probably sooner than later.

          If you two do end up spending a few days in Paris, let me know and I might be able to pop up for lunch or dinner!

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