Category Archives: news

Best Job in the World?!

Krystal’s Office

Honolulu’s Pedal Power Bike Tours Hawaii is the latest bike tour in our directory.  We had a chance recently to chat the with the owner, Krystal Vogel.

Krystal thought she had the best job in the world working as a guide for another bike tour company in Honolulu:

“I get to go to work!” I heard myself say one day.

And then last year she found out that the tour company was closing:

“I LOVED the job! I LOVED the people! I LOVED sharing every reason why I live here and why my heart belongs to Hawaii…we were all told that the company would be closing…..just not enough business to stay open………my heart broke a little.”

One of her co-workers joked that they should buy the rest of the bikes and just do it their own. That got Krystal thinking. There wasn’t enough business to support the shop rent and expenses and all the guides. But, one guide with six bikes working from her home, that might work. All she’d need were the bikes, a few helmets, rain gear, some spare parts, an air pump and and a corner of her house for a home office.  

She thought about it, hard, for three days. And came to the conclusion that:

“..if I didn’t try I would always wonder.”

She also realized that if it didn’t work out, at least she still had her biggest investment, the six bikes, to sell. So, she did it and:

“…it has been one of the best decisions I have ever made!”

Krystal started with open eyes and has learned a lot since last November. She’s had to learn about business, website development, SEO, bike mechanics, accounting, and more, all while giving bike tours every day.

“I went into it knowing that it would be difficult, and knowing that I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I was doing it for the love of it all, and that has made all the difference.”

The evening before each tour, Krystal loads up her bikes, two at a time, and drives them to secure storage at a hotel across from the tour’s start point on the Honolulu Zoo Trail. The next morning, she bikes from her home shop to recheck the guest bikes and prepare to meet her guests at the corner of Kalakaua and Kapahulu Avenues.

Most of her guests stay at hotels within walking distance to the meet up point. Waivers are signed and riders matched with bikes and off they ride off on Krystal’s “perfect route”.

So what’s it like to lead bike tours in paradise? We asked Krystal for some stories:

“One couple was so excited when we went past the mall and asked if they could return something really quick. No problem! and I just chilled outside for about an hour and waited. They brought me ice cream when they returned, and off we went!!”

“Then there was the sweet innocent young lady who enjoyed frequenting high end gentleman clubs and invited me to join her that evening instead of some random guy she met on Tinder, what else can you say but ‘OK!?'”

“A sweet young man and his girlfriend that had a great aunt that he had never met, and had lost touch with the family. She was last known to own one of the major lei shops in Chinatown 30+ years ago, so on a whim, we went to check it out. She was there! There was a lot of hugging and tears and I felt so honored to be a part of that moment!”

“The awesome little girl that called me Miss Krystal the whole tour and wanted to know EVERYTHING! Random photo bombs. And a mom that REALLY wanted me to date her son!”

“The Japanese man on his 60th birthday, (we didn’t speak each others language, but we understood each other perfectly!)”

“I keep in touch with most of my tour guests. It’s such a bonding experience sharing your world and the things you love, in such an intimate setting. There’s nothing better than the universal language of laughter! And it comes with every tour!”

Thanks for sharing your story, Krystal!

Bike Tour Beginnings

We have three stories for you about how bike tours get started.  The first two stories are from today’s news.  Third is a nice blog post from Austin’s own Brew and Bike Tours.

  1. The city of Houston is getting a new bike tour!  3rd Ward Bike Tours is starting up just this past weekend with a fleet of orange bikes donated by CYCLE Houston.  The founders, Alan Moore and Veon McDonald are combining forces to encourage locals to bike more, get moving, and stay healthy.
  2. The Locks Heritage District Corporation (in Lockport, NY near Buffalo) will be offering the Lock City Cycling Tour on Saturdays, starting July 8.  The seven mile tours are a home grown project, visiting landmarks in Lockport focusing on the Erie Canal’s namesake locks.  Sandy Guzzetti and her husband Mike started with an interest in local bike tours.  That grew to be ride chaperones for Explore Buffalo, and finally creating the new bike tours.
  3. Adam Watt, of Austin’s own Bike and Brew ATX tells his story about starting his bike tour company.  Here’s a snippet:

…I had fallen in love with tourism and when I went on a bike tour in San Francisco, I realized that Austin didn’t have anything like this. So, I brought it back home with me. Although I never had a “real” office job, I was able to take all those years of experiences at tour outfits, breweries, teaching, distilleries and skydiving and mold it around a business that perfectly fits me. Everyone wants to change the world right? Well this is my way of making people laugh and smile for those 3-4 hour that I get to ride bikes with them.  I mean, bikes and beer; what’s not to love?

Couldn’t have said it better myself  🙂

You Trek Utrecht?

Photo: Alper Çuğun

OK, shockingly, I seem to have originated this terrible pun.  Moving along, the Dutch city of Utrecht gained some fame in 2015, hosting the Grand Depart of the Tour de France.  As with most Dutch cities, bicycles are the most common mode of transport, with a third of journeys being taken via bike.  The city also boasts the world’s largest in-door bicycle parking lot.

However, only one of the three Utrecht bike tour companies seems to be currently operating:

  • Vintage Bike Tours is currently “not organizing any tours due to personal reasons“.  Here’s hoping that’s temporary.
  • One of Utrecht Bike Tours’ websites is down and their Facebook page hasn’t been updated since mid-summer 2016.  However this page is up and perhaps tours will resume on Saturdays this summer?
  • Fortunately, it appears to be business-as-usual over at Color Bike Tours.

But here’s something truly unique about Utrecht…they now have an entire book devoted to a bike tour.  “Rietveld in Utrecht. A heritage cycle tour” has been released to celebrate Gerrit Rietveld’s contributions to “the Style” during the 100th anniversary of de Stijl.

Photo: Arjandb

So consider putting the book into your Winkelwagen,   You can rent a bike right from the Centraal Museum.

“Fake Bike Tours”?

Yes, indeed, in these times of “fake news” there are fake bike tours.  Actually, Palm Beach Bike Tours has been around since 2008.  But now that there is a so-called “Winter White House” in Palm Beach…it’s time to take a fresh look at the Palm Beach area.

Photo: Nick Juhasz

Palm Beach proper faces the Atlantic Ocean and is home to Worth Avenue, the Flagler Museum, the Breakers Hotel, and, of course, the now (in)famous Mar-a-Lago (where the membership fee was just raised from $100K to $200K).  Palm Beach is a part-time home to roughly 30 billionaires as well as approximately 29,970 millionaires (the seasonal population being about 30,000).

West Palm Beach (and many surrounding communities such as Lake Worth) lie on the west side of the Flagler Drawbridge which spans the intra-coastal waterway and separates the wealthy from their servants.

Happily for us, there are bike tours on both sides of the bridge!  Visit Palm Beach has just started up two tours.  On the “rich” side, the “Guided Historical Bicycle Tour of Palm Beach” takes a:

“…journey into the then and now of the iconic Palm Beach Island with a guided 2 hour bicycle tour that travels along the famed Lake Trail as well as streets along the Atlantic Ocean all of which are lined with the mega mansions of the rich and famous.

Also enjoy the defining architecture and shaded areas of the flora and fauna and famous landmark buildings that make Palm Beach island so charming.

Your ride, which will begin and end along Downtown West Palm Beach’s beautiful Waterfront, will be filled with stories from a friendly local insider.”

And, on the “regular people” side of the bridge, the “Guided Bicycle Tour of Downtown West Palm Beach” explores:

“…downtown West Palm Beach on this 2-hour guided bicycle tour starting along the beautiful Downtown Waterfront.

Along the way, we will find hidden art murals, visit the Island Estuaries of South Cove and meander through charming streets as we visit of some of the cities historic neighborhoods we may even find time for a special visit to a historic bed & breakfast.  You’ll interact with art, pass by mega yachts and hopefully find hidden gems along the way”

In addition, ME Productions has also introduced a Palm Beach side tour.  The route sounds similar to Visit Palm Beach’s tour…both rides taking advantage of the very egalitarian Lake Trail which runs through the backyards of the super rich.

Vayable Looks Viable

Photo: Vayable

Have you heard of Vayable?  The best way to think about it is as the AirBnB of travel tours/experiences.  The equivalent of an AirBnB “Host” is a Vayable “Insider“.  Once an Insider has signed up, they can list various local experience ranging from a quiet trip to the local farmer’s market all the way to a ride on a jet.  Read what Fast Company had to say.

What does Vayable mean for those of us interested in bike tours?  Well, we’ve dug through their listings and found about 65 CITY bike tours.  Searching is a bit imprecise, so you still have to dig through the results.  One thing that we noticed is a smattering of insiders who also operate a local bike tour company.  There’s nothing wrong with that in our view, but we already include those listings here at BTBT.

At this writing, we see about 60 bike tours run by a single local.  Many of them look pretty great and quite a few are in a city that does NOT have a commercial bike tour company.  In fact, that’s how we discovered Vayable.  Memphis does not have a bike tour company, which we’ve always found surprising.  There’s plenty to see and the city’s bike infrastructure is improving.  Check out Nick’s two tours on our North America page.

Should we add all the rest of Vayable’s tours to our directories?  For now, we’re reviewing each one.  Tours in cities, like Memphis, which do not currently have a tour are our top priority.  Regardless of what city you visit, we’d like to have an bike tour option to show you.  For cities which do have tour companies, we plan to be more selective.  One of the benefits of taking a bike tour is meeting your fellow riders and perhaps making some new friends.  A private tour with a local is also a good chance to make a new friend, but we still prefer that dynamic of a handful of people, from who-knows-where, experiencing a new city together.  So we’ll be reading reviews and looking for only the best tours, especially if they offer something unique.

Update:  It seems that AirBnB is also the AirBnB of experiences now.

Progress in Memphis

It’s Martin Luther King Jr day in the U.S.  Rev. King was assassinated in Memphis in 1968.

The timing is coincidental, of course, but we’re happy to say that we’ve finally located a few bike tours in Memphis.  Surprisingly, there still doesn’t appear to be a commercial tour operator (other than a couple of pedal pubs).  But there are two guided tours available from Nick at Vayable.  We’ll have more to say about Vayable in an upcoming blog post.  Nick’s tours are Memphis Today & Tomorrow and Barbecue Bike Tour.

In addition to Nick’s tours, we’ve unearthed three self-guided tours:

We also hope that AIA Memphis will once again be hosting last year’s Architect’s Bike Tour this September.  Stay tuned to this page for updates.  It also features four self-guided bike/walk architectural tours to explore Downtown and Midtown Memphis on your own.

Progress in the Metroplex

CowTown Electric Bikes

We’ve updated Welcome to DFW.  This Youtube video shows a new tour in Dallas from DallasCityTour.  So far, no mention on their website though.  On the other side of the Metroplex Things are looking up in Fort Worth too.  Until recently there was only one, running once per month.  CowTown Electric Bikes came on the scene about a year ago (!?) with three guided tours, three self-guide tours, and rentals.

In other Metroplex news, bike infrastructure just keeps getting better and better.  In addition to the ever-improving Trinity Strand/Skyline Trails as well as the Katy Trail, working its way north out of downtown Big D.

Staying in Addison on a recent road trip, we stumbled into Vitruvian Park‘s excellent hike/bike/explore trails that connects to even more infrastructure in the Galleria area.

Even for those who live in the giant Metroplex, there’s a lot to keep track of!

Play us out, Jimmie and Stevie Ray.

St. Petersburg Goes Bike Tour

Photo from Bikes and Brews St. Pete’s Facebook page

Update:  Unfortunately, Bike & Brews St Pete has gone out of business and seems to be for sale.

Here at BTBT we try to keep our bike tour directories current.  Sadly, some tour companies don’t make it, but we usually find more new tours to add than those defunct ones we have to remove.  Well…I guess they may end up being a defunct tour after all….here’s hoping someone takes it over.

While updating our St. Petersburg (Russia) links, we stumbled across Bikes & Brews St Pete in that other St. Petersburg in Florida… It wasn’t that long ago that this St. Pete was known as God’s Waiting Room (PS: There’s still a bar called that).  And retirees still abound, but the Millennials are coming in hordes.

Which comes first, Millenials or craft beer/bikes/dogs/cafes/farmers markets/etc.?  We don’t care because we love those things too.  And Bikes & Brew St. Pete offers you a chance to check out the resurgent town.  Founded about a year ago, they ride cruiser bikes and offer a:

“3+ hour historic bike tours of downtown St. Pete. Includes a drink at 3 brew spots in town.”

With at least eight breweries in town, along with plenty of craft beer bars, you should have plenty of choices.  Chances are that you’ll stop, of course, at Cycle Brewery and see a bit of street art on your ride.

Want to keep riding after your tour is over?  Just this fall, Tampa’s Coast Bike Share was extended to St. Pete.  You still have a half dozen breweries to check out, not to mention:

If you happen to be visiting Tampa, the Cross-Bay Ferry is a great way to get from downtown over to St. Pete.  No traffic and pelicans are virtually guaranteed.