We asked one of our new guides, Sam Clark, to give us a run down of his experience during new guide training this past April. Here’s his story below…
As a class of candidates, our applications were whittled from the hundreds to less than fifty. Via Skype interviews we were pared to twenty-two. After a day-long gauntlet of tests and mind-bending in Madison, the final twelve received break-of-dawn notes under our doors telling us to meet in Room 1: We were selected for training.
To last the process meant reaching deeply into one’s bag of tricks. What’s your best animal call? Can you open a guest’s beer without a bottle opener? How about toasting two strangers on their 20th wedding anniversary? Know what local pickled vegetable pairs best with cheese curds? We had to prove ourselves as equally adept with sprigs of garnish as we were with a fully loaded trailer; as comfortable with cable cutters as we were with salad forks. To become the best in the business, we were painstakingly vetted, tested, tried, and trained.
There were also the challenges you’d expect. We spent the wee hours of too many nights rooting through dark trailers together, troubleshooting troublesome derailleurs, and glaring at uncooperative GPS software. During training I saw the wrong side of 5:30 a.m. more times than I have in the last year. I re-learned the art of the two-minute shower, and how to speed-iron khakis before social hour.
Most memorable were moments with my head thrown back in laughter. If you’re lucky enough to have a new guide on your trip, maybe you’ll find out who does a great impression of Jerry Seinfeld, or you’ll learn whose grandfather changed his full name to Dickie Ray Ray. As a group, we’re a collection of raconteurs, poets, quick wits, and comics; of athletes and polymaths. Each new guide possesses the requisite determination that brought us through collective adventures across Nevadan deserts and over interminable Yukon climbs. Most importantly, each new guide has an ease and joy for good company, and a predilection for great conversation.
This spring eight of us begin our careers riding sweet bikes in the world’s loveliest locales. We get to spend our summer with guests from all over the world, from a spectrum of generations, with shared passion for bicycles and new places. We’re the luckiest people you know.