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!”
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 Bike and Brew ATX.
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.
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.
…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?
While visiting family in Atlanta, an extended BTBT team rode the Fall in Love with Atlanta tour from Bicycle Tours of Atlanta along with a few other guests. When we arrived, all eight bikes were ready to go, identified with name tags for each rider. BTofA’s website asks for height and age info when booking to provide an appropriate bike for each rider. That’s not only helpful to find your bike, but doubly nice since it makes it easy for the guide and riders to learn one another’s names.
After stopping for an iconic downtown Atlanta photo, we paused again to explore street art along a short section of the Atlanta Beltline (including one of three “tiny doors” that we encountered). From there, we rode the Freedom Park Trail passing by The Carter Center. A few shady streets later, we arrived at Little Five Points, Atlanta’s “answer to Haight-Ashbury”. Little Five Points is proud to have exactly three non-local establishments: The post office, a Starbucks, and an American Apparel.
After more shady residential streets and another short stint on the Freedom Park Trail, we entered Inman Park proper. Sadly, we rolled PAST the King of Pops HQ & Walk Up Window. (“Mmmm, popsicles…”) Several blocks later, we stopped for a story about a pair of iconic houses, and their connections to the Coca-Cola company. A bit further on, we discovered the butterfly flags marking the first neighborhood in Altanta to gentrify.
Next up, a fast, dark ride through the heavily graffitied Krog Street Tunnel followed by a photo taking break at the Cabbagetown terminus. Heading west along Wylie Street, we encountered more murals along the concrete railroad embankment. We then circled back to Sweet Cheats for a brief cupcake and bio-break.
Just about everything. The location of the shop and tour route are nearly ideal to experience a cross-section of Atlanta.
The bikes were in very good condition (a couple were brand new) and set up for us in advance. The name tags were a nice touch.
Walt was an enthusiastic, knowledgeable guide. Sara was learning the ropes and having a second guide to help with intersections in busy Atlanta added to our safety.
Plenty of water provided before and after the ride.
What Could be Better
One of our riders had requested an e-bike. She wasn’t able to use the throttle, but the pedal assist worked fine. Kudos to Walt for emailing us after the ride to explain the quirks of how that bike usually works.
I sure could have gone for that King of Pops popsicle 🙂
After seven months of “settling in” to New York City, I finally decided to explore parts of the city outside of the neighborhoods I normally frequent.I conveniently live in midtown, yet I rarely make it to Lower Manhattan. One of the best ways to explore intricacies of a big city is by simply walking it, […]
Tour de Amsterdam organises bicycle tours in the area around Amsterdam. Accompanied by a tour guide, you cycle through the unique flat Dutch landscape past windmills, dikes and farmhouses. You clock up mileages but we make sure that there is enough time to visit fishing-villages such as Monnickendam and Marken. The perfect combination of cycling and sightseeing! We would like to share our passion for cycling with you.
Tour de Amsterdam’s tours range from around 90 minutes to 4 hours. The Prologue Tour is a little over 20 miles at a reasonable pace. Although their tours are a bit more strenuous than a city tour on a cruiser bike, that’s pretty doable for most casual cyclists. And, believe me, we are nothing but casual cyclists here at BTBT.
They have top ratings over at Tripadvisor, although you might have to get some help translating from Dutch (but our high school German skills seem to think those are pretty good reviews).
We’ve talked about many DIY city bike tours, including a few of our own. Bikabout is probably the biggest database of rolling your own bike tours. We love both the “official” commercial tours as well as the random, local, sponsored-by-whomever tours.
What we hadn’t considered is the Strava-fication of the city bike tour. To wit, here’s a great looking “tour” of Barcelona on Bikemap.net. This is the first we’ve heard of bikemap.net even though they’ve been around since 2008. Of course, there’s Strava, MapMyRide, RideWithGPS, et al. But, all of these great services have ROUTES, not TOURS. What’s missing is the information that goes with the route. The sights, historic details, where to eat and drink, the cool local spots – those are what make a nice route into a great #citybiketour.
The various mapping apps/websites seem oriented to training, racing, and commuting. Bikemap.net, though, appears to be a bit more angled toward touring, both longer distance as well as city “tours”. But without the research, writing, and presentation of details along the route, at best it’s still just a pleasant route.
(You didn’t think we were going to say “curate“, did you?)
So, if you’re headed to a city and find a cool route online…ride it! And take some notes, do some research, and write your own city bike tour. And, send it to us to publish on BeenThereBikeTours!
There are now well over 350 city bike tours in BeenThereBikeTours‘s database. We’ve been around for about 10 months now. So, try as we might, we haven’t ridden all of them or even been to all seven continents (yet). By the way, are there bike tours in Antarctica? People do ride there and there’s even a fat bike expedition to the South Pole coming up in 2016! It’s only $70,000 to ride (airfare not included), so sign up soon.
Sadly, there are no cities in the Antarctic, so we’re not including the South Pole ride in our listings. But, we did just add a cool-looking city tour in Newcastle, UK. Since we’re not independently wealthy, we find many of our tours with old fashioned creative Googling. Recently, we’ve been working on Australia. Plugging major (and not so major) cities into Google along with “bike tours” is usually a good start. Newcastle, New South Wales is a city of about 150K in Southeastern Australia that appeared likely to have a city bike tour. And a quick Google of “bike tours Newcastle” turned one up, however it was the aforementioned Newcastle Cycle Tours in northeast England, only about 1000 miles from being on the other side of our planet from Newcastle, NSW.