People think that a Cycling tour leader is a nerd that just likes to ride his own bike.
Let’s put this way, usually you need some more skills. Let’s have a look to some of them.
1- Inspiring motivator
You are leading a group of Italians in Brittany, notoriously a place where it never rains, when suddenly it starts a day not listed in the catalog. If you are a good motivator you can make them appreciating the mystic experience of a day under the rain, and as well how lucky you all were in being there, exactly in that rare raining day.
2 – Psychologist
First day of the tour and first climb: competition on the air, and the slightly out of shape guest starts suffering, then starts complaining about rear derailleur, about sweat on the eyes, about the fact he never was gifted a bike in his childhood. Don’t let situation getting worse, reassure the guest and remind the rest of the group that a beautiful landscape needs to be seen slowly. Also because you are suffering as well.
3 – Nurse
The second level of first aid training is mandatory. You are not a physician, but you should know how to stop a bleeding, know the basics of CPR, don’t be scared by blood during a bruise medication.
Then of course you need to know how to manage a group in an emergency situation, because sometimes people fell off, even if not shown in the catalog.
4 – Mechanic
Ok, repairing an inner tube it’s easy, but try to put back on a rim a Schwalbe tire, using just your fingers. You should be able to dismount and repair a chain within a time closer to 15 minutes than a three days.
5 – Creative, and lucky
Luckily there are some glitches during a tour. If every tour was the same we’ll be killed by boredom. You should never loose your temper, or at least don’t show it to guests, and start immediately thinking about a B,C,D plan. You are leading a bike&boat tour, so no van assistance during the day. You broke a rim, what you do? Easy, just pedal to the next village and find a bike shop. Well, you are in the middle of nowhere, so? So, you ask help to your nicest looking guest to stop the cars to look for help. Then, after something like 10 cars in one hour, you’ll stop a van of builders that give you the bike they had with them. Easy.
6 – Wine & Food Connoisseur
Well, you don’t need to be a sommelier, you just should recognize a Merlot from a Cab, you should know what’s a ungrafted vine, have an idea about different ways to rank wine in the world, know that Gewurztraminer is not a swear word in Swiss dialect.
May be you are not exactly a chef, but you must know how to set a nice looking picnic in the middle of the countryside, and of course present properly the 35 different kinds of french cheese you bought for your guests.
7 – Knowing another language, at least, and have an idea about the place you are visiting
A tour lasts average a week, and you’ll spend lots of time with your guests. You have to speak their language. But it’s enough a level that allows you to talk about sub-primes, about last exhibit of Hirsch and the market of modern art in China, and about European foreign affairs, of course.
If you are leading abroad, you should know a bit the local language, and local costume as well, enough to understand that your approach in a Corsican bar should be slightly different from the way you act home.
8 – Brave
You need to be brave when, leading a biking trip in the french alps, still 10 km to the mountain dew and a fog that doesn’t let you seeing the gps, still there’s someone that keeps stopping to take pics.
You need even more bravery when, leading a group of young Brits bikers, after the ride you can’t stop at the six pint. And the morning after they are fresh like a rose. Miracle of genetics.
9 – Real love for guests
Your guests saved money and invested the time in that holiday with you. You are responsible for creating emotion and fun, and if you are not having fun you’ll never being able to have a fun group. But it’s an easy job, it’s quite rare, almost impossible, having an idiot on a cycling trip, a person that decide to spend the holiday on a bike it’s always a great person.
You start with a group of guests, and at the end they are friends.
10 – What about the bike?
Oh, yes: you must be a nerd in love, as well, with the bike.