Happy New Year to all. By now we are all realising that this new year will still resemble, in some ways, the old year many of us were dying to get behind us.
Life is a road - quite a bumpy one these last 10 months and it appears that the road ahead will continue to be that way for a bit. Nonetheless, that same road is my life, our lives. So we just need to stay on it and make the best of it.
Our new year here in Spain has started off in an unprecedented manner. As I write here in my upstairs, she-loft, my skylights have about 50 cms of snow piled on them. Yes, while we do get snow in the mountains, this much snow in Madrid capital, Toledo, Valencia and other places is very exceptional. Actually, it has been exactly 50 years since the last big snowfall in these parts and weather bomb Philomena is out to set a record – the snow is still coming down and accumulating dense and heavy.
I was putting off writing this blog post hoping we could talk about Spring cycling plans and new trips, however as Covid continues to put our world to test, it is neither responsible nor fair to incite anyone to make travel plans at this point. Yes, we have a schedule of tours for 2021 and our booking policies are totally flexible, but we still have a long road ahead of us and a lot to figure out.
At the same time, I am hopeful that 2021 will truly be a transition year; a year where we stop holding our breaths hoping Covid (and all its mutations) will finally disappear, hoping things will go back to “normal”. I really want it to be a year where we finally figure out how we reconfigure life so we can all get back to work, school and seeing loved ones, safely. A year where our hospitals and healthcare systems are restructured to cope with this new reality in addition to our old one. I look forward to a year where we think outside the box, responsibly, to figure out what the future of sports, culture, travel, and leisure will look like. I sincerely hope that while we think about all these things, we also think about how we achieve a fair balance and level the playing ground for all our fellow humans and our environment.
I know this is a tall order….and I know I, like many others, have been thinking a lot…
I have also asked myself; does it make sense to continue developing a boutique hiking and cycling experience business, amid a pandemic that far from over? I have consulted other businesses similar to Go Cycle Tours who have gone from 35-40 tours a year to 0 in 2020. I have worked with the local business association in Gredos and local businesses in El Escorial and Segovia where lots of small family hotels, restaurants, bars, shops, B&Bs have struggled to keep their businesses alive – some temporarily closing to keep the banks off their backs while others are racking up serious debt just to stay open safely.
I am lucky. I have my digital and business transformation consulting services business to fall back on (a bit ironic in these times). And, I am no stranger to weathering bad storms. I also believe that times of crisis provoke intense innovation (opposite of desperation) and that if you look hard enough there is opportunity in these dire times.
Since crossing the Atlantic Ocean from my native Canada to Europe over 30 years ago, I am still convinced that humans have an adventurer spirit in their makeup. We have an innate desire to discover, learn, and evolve. We have crossed uncharted oceans when we thought the world was flat, we have scaled what were considered unclimbable mountains without maps, we have been to outerspace and back many times and have found other universes beyond our own. So, with that context, 1, 2, 5 even 10 years of Covid will not break that spirit.
Nor will it break mine.
I will continue to share these wonderful places, peoples and cultures with you and others because it is just part of what we do as humans, it is a part of who we are. Travel is an adventure of discovery; experiencing, learning, and sharing. It provokes our curiosity, entices us to live through our senses and see the world, again and again, through the eyes of wonder and amazement.
I for one and not ready to give that up…not yet.
So, while it may be some months before we can physically get together again, there are still ways we can armchair-share some little adventures mientras tanto – in the meantime.
I have organized a section on the Go Cycle Tours website called Virtual Travel – this is the direct link https://www.gocycletours.net/virtual-travel-cycling-food-wine . Here you will find some cycling videos to accompany your indoor training or just to watch out of curiosity, you have a 5 stage Spanish wine tour and 15 new recipes from this side of the world to share with family and friends.
I will continue posting more photos, videos, recipes, wine tastings on our Instagram (gocycle_tours) and Facebook (GoCycleTours) pages. Please send along any questions you may have or even suggestions or requests. I am happy to keep your curious and adventure-longing spirit satiated these months until we figure out how we can continue this wonderful low carbon journey of discovery, by bike or on foot, of these off-the-beaten-track paradises we regenerate though our cycling and hiking tours. Yes, this is the start of not just responsible, but regenerative tourism.
Stay healthy, safe and sane - keep pedalling and keep smiling.