The Philosophy of Trip Planning
Discover just what it takes to plan and execute a successful premium cycling adventure
The Philosophy of Trip Planning
With nearly a quarter of a century of planning and running cycling adventures on the Thomson Bike Tours palmares, it’s fair to say that I have developed a clear idea of what makes a trip successful. Whilst the process and the detail is a complex operation, the philosophy behind it is surprisingly simple. In this article I’d like to share the six key elements that make the perfect trip.
Since setting up Thomson Bike Tours in 2001 I must have covered over 300,000km on the bike and haven’t grown one bit weary of doing so. One of the reasons behind that is the simple enjoyment I have in introducing new cyclists to the most best cycling experience imaginable. But what makes these trips work? Well, a large number of factors including the quality of the ride leaders, the support, the wealth of experience in logistics and many more factors. But the most important thing is the philosophy behind the routes themselves. For each and every trip that I create, I always consider the following six pillars. My planning philosophy.
Be Clear About The Purpose
It goes without saying that a route must be good, but what makes it good? You have to define what makes it good by giving it a purpose and working towards that goal. Should it be as challenging as possible, should it explore new roads or take in cultural sights. You must consider the audience and cater to their needs.
All About The Ride
We have developed a reputation for ‘cycling first’ trips, this is our mantra, it really is all about the ride. We may showcase a region, take in cultural sights and enjoy local cuisines, but the route always comes first. We never sacrifice that goal, the rest falls into place.
Consider The Balance
The narrative of a trip is operative, the balance has to be right — including creating a narrative throughout the week. I always consider the 6 rides as a set, not as standalone rides, this keeps it interesting throughout the week. This is a real artform, you can’t box the format and replicate it everywhere. In the Dolomites the climbs are the hero, in Portugal it’s about the journey. The purpose alters the narrative.
Define Your Personality and Live By It
The Thomson signature is essentially selfish, it’s what I would want to do if I were riding myself. I’ve covered so many miles that I truly believe in my instinct. Thousands of cyclists have bought into that and helped to crystallise the Thomson personality. We do what we do better than anyone else and we stand by it. Our trips cannot be franchised, templated or copied. They are the very essence of our brand.
Let The Seasons Decide
It may sound overly simplistic, but it is certainly essential. Certain locations are at their best at certain times of the year and you can’t will it to be different. Weather, humidity, traffic, local traditions and countless other factors all come into play. Over the years we have pinpointed the ideal times of the year to visit each destination.
Route Planning is a Craft
I always challenge myself to better a trip, even if by 1%. We take on feedback, we listen to ride leaders and guests and we learn from our own experiences. Whilst we may recce a route several times before it goes live, we’ll still see if it can be improved upon. Ultimately I have a true believe that route planning is a craft. The more time and care poured into it, the better it will be.
These are my key pillars, but don’t take my word for it. Join is and see for yourself. The greatest cycling experiences are there for the taking and we’d love to have you along for the ride!