My wife and I are ten-year veterans of Trek Travel and have enjoyed many memorable wows. Here are three of my favorite moments:
Words and Photographs by Bob Joy, Trek Travel Guest
Cycling up Mont Ventoux was on my “sprocket list” ever since I watched Chris Froome win a dramatic summit finish in the 2013 Tour de France. The opportunity to climb it convinced me to sign up for the Provence Luxury trip last June. To be truthful, the prospect of cycling through Medieval stone villages, sampling French wines, and taking a cooking lesson from a Michelin-starred chef also played into the decision.
The Giant of Provence looms 6,200 feet above the surrounding landscape. The most famous (and difficult) route to the summit is from the south and starts, conveniently enough, just outside the Trek dealership in Bedoin. The first six kilometers rise at a relatively tame 4%, but the final 16 kilometers have an average gradient of nearly 9%, with some sections of 11% or more. (For comparison, Alpe d’Huez is only about 14 kilometers long and has an average gradient of 8%.)
The limestone summit of Mont Ventoux is well above the tree line and the weather can be unforgiving. Even its name–Ventoux–means windy in French. Fortunately, the winds were light on the day of my climb. At age 65 I knew my ride would not be Strava-worthy, but I didn’t anticipate that it would become an unrelenting three-hour grind. Each time I contemplated giving up, my Trek Travel guide Tara Hetz was there with the van to refill my water bottle and cheer me on. Without her encouragement I doubt I would have made it. Now as I look back on it, I take pride in the fact that I accomplished something few cyclists in the world can claim. In a word, it was “epic.”
At the other end of the comfort spectrum was the week we spent on the Barcelona Villa trip. My wife and I will never forget the “pinch me” feeling we had as we toured the historic stone villa that would be our home for the next week. Like other trips in the One Collection, we appreciated being able to unpack our suitcases for a week and feel like residents instead of tourists. Each day we cycled to a different destination for lunch. One day it was an elegant country restaurant. Another day we had a memorable tasting at an outstanding Spanish winery. And the final day we climbed up to a restaurant perched high above the Mediterranean Sea to dine on regional specialties on the outdoor terrace.
However, it’s not necessary to venture to France or Spain for a memorable experience. The Bryce and Zion trip was a photographer’s delight from the very first day. After our bike fitting in the parking lot of the Boulder Mountain Lodge, we set out for an orientation ride along a lightly traveled road called the Burr Trail. At one point I caught up with another member of our group who was standing astride his bike. When I asked whether he needed assistance he said, “Just listen.” When I did, I realized he had discovered something rare: a place where there was no wind, no traffic, and no sound. We both silently stood there for a few minutes enjoying the nothingness.
Soon after resuming my ride I rounded a bend and was floored by the unexpected vista of red sandstone walls of Long Canyon. It was the first of many awe-inspiring moments we enjoyed that week.
But if I had to choose just one favorite trip, it will always be the next one!