Podcast: Trek Travel Gravel Trips for 2023 with Amy Davidson

podcast trek travel gravel

Our partner in podcasting, The Gravel Ride Podcast, sits down this time around with Amy Davidson of Trek Travel, to discuss the explosion of gravel travel trips in their 2023 line up. With three North American trips (Bentonville, Vermont and Virginia) and three European trips (Girona, Tuscany and Swiss Alps), Trek Travel has some amazing gravel trips planned using the local knowledge of their experienced guides.

The Podcast

Trek Travel Website

Automatic Transcription by The Gravel Ride (please excuse all errors)

[00:00:00] Craig Dalton: Hello, and welcome to the gravel ride podcast, where we go deep on the sport of gravel cycling through in-depth interviews with product designers, event organizers and athletes. Who are pioneering the sport

I’m your host, Craig Dalton, a lifelong cyclist who discovered gravel cycling back in 2016 and made all the mistakes you don’t need to make. I approach each episode as a beginner down, unlock all the knowledge you need to become a great gravel cyclist.

This week on the broadcast. We welcome Amy Davison from track travel. Trek travel is literally having an explosion of gravel trips for 2023. They’ve been in the gravel game for a few years with their gerona gravel trip, which I took at the end of 22, but they’re back for 23 with an expanded roster of six trips, three in north America and three in Europe. I’m excited to sit down with Amy and go over all the details. Before we jump in i need to thank this week sponsor athletic. athletic greens

I feel like everybody’s been talking about athletic greens recently. I was just listening to Ted King’s podcast and he was talking about his daily athletic greens routine. Like me, he takes athletic greens every day. My personal routine is mix it with a cup of ice. I love it. Cold. guess the big question is why, why do I take athletic greens? As you may recall, I’ve been taking athletic greens for going on five years. I was looking for something that would replace my desire to have a multivitamin in my life. I knew I wasn’t getting all the nutrients I needed in any given day in a simple powdered format.

Athletic greens contains 75 vitamins minerals and whole food sourced ingredients, including a multivitamin. Multi-mineral probiotic green superfood blend and more, it all works together to fill those nutritional gaps in my diet, it helps increase energy and focus aids with digestion and supports a healthy immune system. All without the need for a counter full of pills.

Let’s start your 2023 with a simple, sustainable nutritional habit. So, whether you’re looking for peak performance, better health, we’re just covering your bases. Athletic green makes it easy to invest in your energy immunity and gut health. Every day in a simple fashion, simply visit athletic greens.com/the gravel ride and join health experts, athletes, and health conscious go getters around the world who make a daily commitment to their health.

Athletic green to the special offer for podcast listeners, simply visit athletic greens.com/the gravel ride. And you’ll get a free year supply of vitamin D and five free travel packs today. Again, that’s athletic greens.com/the gravel ride. Without business behind us let’s jump right in to my interview with Amy Davison from Trek travel

Amy, welcome to the show.

[00:02:52] Amy Davison: Thank you for having me.

[00:02:55] Craig Dalton: I’m excited. I just learned about the massive expansion of gravel travel trips the Trek is gonna be offering in 2023. After my wonderful experience in Gerona, I had to get you on the line and talk about everything that’s going on before we dig into some of those trips.

Let’s just start by, uh, let the listener know where you’re from, who you work for, how long you’ve been working at Track Travel.

[00:03:20] Amy Davison: Sure. I live in Spearfish, South Dakota at the North Edge of the, the Black Hills, the great place to ride. I work for Trek Travel and I I’m a trip designer for trip travel, but I started back in 2005 as a.

So, had a couple different roles here. I absolutely love working in the cycling industry, so it’s, uh, led to

[00:03:44] Craig Dalton: a long career. Yeah. I imagine all that time guiding yourself has left you with a pretty good sense of what it takes to design a trip. As a trip designer, what does that really mean?

[00:03:58] Amy Davison: Hmm. Well, trip designers are the ones who build the structure.

We book the hotels, we design the routes and build the routes in the software and book all the restaurants and basically just put the shell together. And then we convey it. We’re sort of the, the hub of the wheel. We convey it to every team within trick travel. Explain it to sales. And then we hand it over to the guides when it’s time to run.

And when they’re running the trip, it’s really their baby. And then we work very closely with them to sort of tweak it and modify it. But we then sort of take it back at the end of the season and massage out anything we wanna change and then get it ready for the next year. So we’re actually planning, we’re working in about three years.

at once. So it’s very different than being a guide when you’re, when you’re out there guiding, you are laser focused on each day of each trip and really the hospitality end of taking care of the guests. So it’s, uh, it was incredibly beneficial for me to be a guide and then turn into a trip designer.

And that’s how most of our trip design teams won. They were. and they then sort of wore both hats. And then some of us just moved into the trip design world and some of us continue to

[00:05:18] Craig Dalton: wear both hats. That makes sense. How long has truck travel been in business?

[00:05:24] Amy Davison: This our 21st year.

[00:05:27] Craig Dalton: Wow. And, yeah. Has historically, have the trips always been on the road or were there off-road c.

[00:05:33] Amy Davison: Mostly on the road. We did have mountain bike trips for a while, but this is our first foray into gravel, aside from Giana gravel that’s been around for a couple of years. But, uh, yeah, primarily

[00:05:46] Craig Dalton: road far. Interesting. So, you know, obviously I’ve got personal experience on that Jer Gravel tour. What was it that was sort of suggesting that an expansion would be, uh, you know, greeted with enthusiasm from your, from your.

Well, just the growth

[00:06:03] Amy Davison: of gravel in general. I mean, it’s just exploded over the last several years. And all of our well met a big contingent of our guides and our team loves to ride gravel, and that’s what they’re doing in their free time, whether they’re bike packing, they’re just out riding the gravel.

And so we’ve been talking about it for, for a few years because it’s just, become such a big industry and the, the pandemic probably delayed this launch by, by a bit, but because of the scarcity of bikes and the uncertainty of everything basically. But

[00:06:40] Craig Dalton: When you, as you introduced J, the Gerona gravel trip originally, were there, what kind of things were going through your mind in terms of bringing some of these, a newer athletes to gravel offroad?

Like how do you think about trip design to make sure that everybody joining the trip is comfortable with the progression of technicality or amount of climbing or what have you? Mm-hmm. .

[00:07:04] Amy Davison: We have what we call rider levels and we rate every trip and we, so we are going for a variety of trips. And then we rate each trip going to the rider level and we spell out on our, on our website how difficult it is.

And that includes distance, terrain so how hilly is it? And also surface type because, you know, gravel. Very broad, and we do our best to sort of, put them into a matrix so people can see the range of trips that we offer, and then select what might be the best for them. And then we, I spend a lot of time with our trip consultants sort of explaining all this in detail so they can help steer people in the right direction.

So we do try to offer a a, a breadth. Of options for people who may have more experience or less experience. And then we also, when we’re designing the trip on each day of the trip, we have multiple ride options. So we try to allow, uh, for different rider levels, like on any given day, the guides will help steer people toward what option might be best for them any day of the week.

Because as you experience sun, Each day’s ride is quite different as well. And Jerome, I know they, the rides kind of build in technicality throughout the week and other trips like Shenandoah Valley, they build to a big climb at the end of the week. Uh, but the, the climb is an epic ride in their area, but it’s actually paved the climb and the sun paved.

It’s just part of a, a larger loop and much of the loop is gravel. So each trip is different. And really the goal is you identify an area that is desirable, would be a, would be a great place for the trip, and has of course wonderful gravel riding. And then I like to say, you see what the area offers you and then you take advantage of it.

So I don’t go in with a preconceived notion of, I’m gonna design this trip in this way and it’s gonna be for these people. I go in with a, let me learn about this region. Let’s see what the best, you know, what it has to offer, and then we’ll design accordingly. And then we’ll describe accordingly. Because, you know, we, our, our, even our regular trips there’s a, there’s a wide variety of types of trips.

So we don’t try to force anything, we just try to call it what it is and,

[00:09:38] Craig Dalton: uh, make it shine. . Yeah, it was, it was definitely interesting, and I noted it in those, the first day of the J travel, the, the gravel tour was just that assessing of the rider’s abilities. Mm-hmm. , and it was pretty easy, you know, it was casual.

It wasn’t like anybody was testing mm-hmm. , you know, can you break, can you skid, can you go over a log or what have you. Yeah. But you could tell that the guides were being conscious of like, okay, what’s the, what’s the dynamic of this group? What are people’s eagerness? Do people wanna ride? All day long, do they wanna not ride some days?

And it became surprisingly easy to strike that balance in our group. Mm-hmm. , you know, the few, few guys from California that I went over with, we were eager, eager to ride as much as humanly possible, so mm-hmm. , you know, on occasion we’d come home and say, we, Hey Mickey, we wanna ride some more. And he would give us a GPS route and we would just go out there.

Pedal to our heart’s content while others were electing to take days off. And to your point, like there definitely was a progression in, in skills, in elevation and everything along the way. I don’t think anything would’ve you know, been out of reach of, you know, most gravel cyclists, but there definitely would’ve been days that if you were a beginner, and one of the guys in my crew was a little bit more of a beginner that mm-hmm.

a couple of the. made him think a little bit more. You don’t really get that. Yeah. On a road bike, you put on the brakes, and even if you’re descending aldus, you just keep the bike in control and it’s, you know, it’s no harder than your local mountain. But with the gravel, I think with everything, you know, all the natural terrain in front of you, it’s often a little bit challenging and your eyes get wide and you think, can these bikes really withstand this treatment?

Yeah.

[00:11:22] Amy Davison: Yeah. It’s. , it’s definitely some, like you said, you have to, you have to think more and gravel and really watch your speed on this descent. And the guides are incredible. They, their wheels are turning before you meet them. They, they get a little intel on everybody and, uh, their wheels are turning immediately cuz they always wanna make it the best trip and.

For every single person on the trip. And that first day is critical in sort of getting to know people a little bit during the bike event, and then sort of, you know, as assessing how everyone’s doing during the ride because they’re, they’re already planning the next day, the next day and the next day. So yeah, it’s.

It’s, it’s quite a feat, but they’re, they’re really good at it. And when they know the terrain like Nikki, you know, it’s local and j it’s uh, it’s pretty special what they can do, even with a larger group of people. Like, like you said, they, they’re more than happy to give you some extra routes or, you know, go on another ride with you after everyone else is done and having close ride beers.

. So it’s, yeah, it’s really, it’s

[00:12:39] Craig Dalton: really a fun time. You mentioned the bike fit element of it, and this was my first trip where I’ve ever ridden a bike provided by the organization. Mm-hmm. , obviously I was excited them being truck bicycles. In Jer in 2022, it was the, the Dnet, but I believe for, for 2023, you’re moving over to the checkpoint.

Mm-hmm. .

[00:13:00] Amy Davison: We are, yeah. Very exciting. Checkpoint SR seven. Top of the line, electronic shifting. It’s, uh, shaman, it’s, and it’s a two by, so a two by 11 speed. Uh, we’ll set it up to bliss and we’re gonna bump the wheels to 40 fives instead of the stock forties that come on them. And, uh, yeah, it’s gonna be a great ride.

And I think that the rationale is we really want these trips to be accessible. Everyone and we thought this is the bike that provides the most comfort and the most stability and can handle the widest variety of terrain, cuz we also have to select a single bike for all of these trips.

[00:13:44] Craig Dalton: That we all thought would work.

I, I think you’re spot on there. I think, you know, it’s, it actually to me it has two benefits. One, for newer riders, having the fatter tire is gonna make ’em more comfortable. It’s gonna make it roll over stuff easier. A little sp smoother ride. But for more experienced riders, those 40 fives are gonna allow you to really tear it up and get after things and have a lot of fun.

Mm-hmm. ?

[00:14:06] Amy Davison: Mm-hmm. . Yeah. I have a, have the same bike here at home, so I’ve been really enjoying. Trying it out and it’s just, and it actually rolls great on pavement too, so, it’s, they’re just so, there’s such versatile bites

[00:14:21] Craig Dalton: there. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I have to say I was a little bit jealous cuz Mickey was already on a checkpoint and I was eyeing his big tires that from time to time as we got in the roof for terrain, cuz that’s what I typically ride at home.

Yeah.

[00:14:34] Amy Davison: Yeah. The. All, I would say, all the guides who could get their hands on a checkpoint in the last couple years, uh, who ride gravel have, have absolutely

[00:14:42] Craig Dalton: taken advantage of that. Yeah. So we, we we’re moving from one gravel trip in 2022, all the way to six gravel trips, both in North America and in Europe.

I’d love to just kind of talk to you about a, let’s first get on the table, where are we going in 2023, and then B, let’s just talk a little bit about each.

[00:15:04] Amy Davison: Sure. Yeah. Yeah, it’s very exciting. This has been the, the better part of the second half of 2022, and my world has been spent putting these together in collaboration with, uh, a lot of our guides and other tDCS.

So we have three North America and three in Europe. In the North American trips in, in order are Batonville and Vermont and Shenandoah Valley, and. , the European trips are post J with that, the spring trip. And then we’ll do Tuscany and then we’ll do Swiss Alps and then we’ll come back to Jer.

[00:15:41] Craig Dalton: Amazing. And when you say an order, is that a chronological order throughout the year when the trips are offered? Alright.

[00:15:48] Amy Davison: Spring. Yeah, by season.

[00:15:51] Craig Dalton: Gotcha. Well sort of taking ’em one by one. And let’s start in North America to begin. Bentonville, Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, and then Vermont. Mm-hmm.

What attracted you to those areas? And maybe as we go through one by one, just kind of give a highlight of what, what people might expect on that trip. Sure.

[00:16:09] Amy Davison: Boy, we, we, we debated many, many, many destinations and at the end of the day, we were. Kind of zeroed in on destinations where we have guides who live there.

That was a big factor because planning gravel, uh, having local knowledge is indispensable in, in planning the best routes. And, and so that was one big factor. And then all kinds of things sort of come into play. But we were. Pretty quickly narrowed it down to three that were relatively close to each other.

And and then of course you have to cherry pick the best times to ride in these places. So, you can’t pick all spring destinations, for example, so you’re playing with all kinds of things and put, putting the puzzle together. But Batonville we, we actually had a, a good shell of a. Put together for Bentonville that we offered as the self-guided trip a couple years ago.

And we have a guy who lives there. And, uh, so we, that one was, that one was a no-brainer because Bentonville has got the, all the infrastructures, everyone knows it’s the mountain biking capital of the world. It’s, it is incredible for mountain biking, but it is also incredible for gravel. You talk to any of the locals there, they’re like, yeah, it’s pretty, it’s pretty special.

And the beauty of this trip is it’s five days and so you can always tack on a few days on either end, grab a rental mountain bike and go hit the trails either before or after. But the gravel there is outstanding without being too difficult. It really is. We’re riding mostly in Rolling Farm. And the, the highlight of the trip is of course modeled after the big sugar race.

So the gravel on the, uh, sort of northern side of town is absolutely epic. It’s fast. Yeah. And it’s, it’s fun And it’s beautiful. So you’ve got that, but you also have a great hotel in town. The 21 C Museum Hotel, which is an art museum, turned into a hotel on the square and the food is incredible. So we’re going to eat at the preacher’s son and Conifer and the hive at the hotel for dinners.

So this trip is absolutely packed, and I didn’t even mention the art. We’re gonna also visit Crystal Bridge’s art museum in addition to riding through it, but, , we’re gonna visit the campus for like an introductory tour so that that trip is just absolutely

[00:18:39] Craig Dalton: packed. Great stuff. Yeah. It’s such a great community and it’s mm-hmm.

dark when you arrive there, just how infused cycling culture is. There’s bike paths everywhere you need to go and yeah. You know, as you said, the gravel is great. It’s very accessible, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun as an experienced athlete too, as you, you know, as you ramp up the speed going down those hills.

Oh yeah. Rocks on those. You know, it, it’s exciting and exhilarating. Yeah. But again, like if you’re, if you’re going a little bit slower, it’s totally accessible to a lot of riders and then all those great things to do in Bentonville, like it definitely, I can see why that made it high up on your list of places to put a trip.

[00:19:19] Amy Davison: Yeah. I mean the, it’s really special when you arrive in a town. You just feel like, oh, this is home for cyclists. Like they love bikes, they love bike people, they’re everywhere. Yeah. How about

[00:19:34] Craig Dalton: that was really special. Yeah. Yeah. And to your point about like geographically locating the trips, you know, within a reasonable distance, it’s probably lost on many listeners that you’ve got a lot of logistics.

You’ve got vans you need to bring to bear. You have the actual bicycle. You need spare bicycles, spare parts. So there’s a lot of moving pieces to this trip that make it logistically complicated for you at Trek Travel. But honestly, logistically simple for the guest because we just arrived with our shammy and our helmet and our shoes.

And you’ll take care of the rest.

[00:20:10] Amy Davison: Yeah, and we don’t even have to bring a helmet cause we have those too. But that is one, I think one thing. always has set travel apart is our partnership of Trek and the bikes that we provide. And if you look at gravel whether the gravel tourism industry most, uh, well, I can’t name that’s not true.

Most do not include a bike and I will just say no and include the bike like a checkpoint SLR seven. Electronic shifting. I mean, it’s all the bells and whistles just like our damani is for our regular trip. And, and so that that is one really exciting sort of piece of the puzzle that, that sets us apart.

And it, it absolutely, yeah, our business is complicated. It always will be, but we all tend to thrive in the chaos and do our best to present a, a seamless experience for the guests. That’s the. .

[00:21:10] Craig Dalton: Yeah. And then I guess if we’re going chronologically, next step would be domestically would be the Vermont Gravel Bike tour.

Mm-hmm. , do you wanna jump into that experience?

[00:21:18] Amy Davison: Yeah, absolutely. So Vermont has been in the tri travel portfolio since the company began. Uh, we’ve always run trips outta Sto Vermont in the Green Mountains, so that, that’s where this trip begins. We’ll start at the Green Mountain in Insto, uh, and do a couple of rides around there.

We’ll do a sugar tasting there, or a sugar tour. Learning about maple syrup and how it’s made, and of course, do a taste of it. So you get a little Vermont flavor in there. And then from there we’re gonna ride from hotel to hotel, and we’re gonna go to the northeast kingdom and stay in a, in, out in the country.

Just outside of Eastbrook. So a lot of people know that area for great mountain biking as well, but there are endless gravel roads. I’m think of Vermont as the home of gravel really. They’ve been riding gravel there before. Gravel was cool because they have more gravel than pavement. It’s just everywhere.

So, the rides there are about 70% gravel. And, and they’re hilly. Can you go from the Green Mountains up to. It’s equally hilly in the Northeast Kingdom, but, uh, very rural. I would say the highlight is the ride from hotel to hotel. You pass through prospering, which is a small town very accustomed to cyclists and outdoor enthusiast of all sorts.

And we’ll have lunch at the general store called Jenny. As we pass through. I think that’s gonna be a, a great experience just to. I feel like experienced small town life in, in Vermont. And then we will end with at, at the, we’re staying at a small in, in, at Brooklyn to end the trip and they are cycling enthusiasts there and they also put on fabulous meals.

So I’m, and I think it’ll be, it’ll be This spectacular trip. Incredible food throughout high-end accommodations and phenomenal dirt road

[00:23:20] Craig Dalton: riding. That’s so fun. It’s such a pretty state. I’ve only ever ridden on the road there, but, but definitely aspire to ride gravel once I get back there.

[00:23:29] Amy Davison: Yeah. Yeah. It’s, uh, it, it’s gonna be good one for sure.

[00:23:34] Craig Dalton: And then next up on your, your summer tour of gravel in the United States is the Shenandoah. In Virginia, that was probably the one on your list that I was most surprised about. So can you talk a little bit about that trip?

[00:23:47] Amy Davison: Yeah, absolutely. I was actually looking at another region and it just sort of wasn’t panning out and I I just kept driving and went, uh, to Harrisonburg.

One of our trip consultants lives there and we’ve kind of had it on the radar for a while. We also have a contingent that lives in North Carolina and. Loves to come up to Virginia to ride. So it is a well kept secret and that’s is another place where as soon as I got into town unannounced I started knocking on doors and immediately I was like, yes, this is a bike funded town.

These people love to ride. They’re excited about bringing more cycling, tourism to the area. And it’s , it’s unique in that it, it’s a valley, obviously Shindo Valley, but it’s got the mountains on both sides. The Allegheny Mountains and the Smoky Mountains. So you’ve really got everything at your disposal.

So we’ve got riding in rolling Farm country, and then you’ve got Epic climbs on either side of the, so we’re gonna feature. I climb to what’s called reddish knob, which is one of the high points of the state. It’s on the West Virginia border and that, that’s actually a paved climb through National Forest and a paved descent, but the rest of that loop is gravel.

So it’s gonna be an epic day at the end of that trip. Panoramic views at the top and a nice change up from the rest of, of the writing, but, It’s a destination where I think it’ll surprise and, and delight people because maybe you haven’t heard of it, but if you dig just a little bit, you’ll, you’ll see that there’s a, there’s quite a cycling culture there, great mountain biking as well, and almost anywhere there’s gonna be great mountain biking.

Gravel is gonna go hand in hand,

[00:25:41] Craig Dalton: so, . Yeah. Yeah. I think there’s a lot of people in Virginia right now listening who are saying, hallelujah, . Yeah. Don’t let the secret out, but, but we are proud of where we ride. I told Yeah, ,

[00:25:53] Amy Davison: I feel a little bad about that. But

[00:25:56] Craig Dalton: yeah. You know, gravel riders we’re, we’re sort of, we can blend in.

Right. I, I yeah, I have a little bit of experience in that area on the mountain bike, as you, you were mentioning. It’s a great mountain bike area, and when I was cutting my teeth as a young mountain biker out of Washington DC we would get into that region on our mountain bikes to go race some of that kind of classic East Coast races down

[00:26:16] Amy Davison: there.

Okay. Yeah. Yeah. It’s and I also, I recall having guests on a trip in California, uh, years ago who were like, you’ve gotta come to Virginia. They were live, they live near DC and they were like, it’s absolutely epic. You would love it. It’s the riding is endless. Like you have to come to Virginia. So, Hopefully they’re listening and they’re probably like, it’s about time

It’s been so long.

[00:26:46] Craig Dalton: Nice. So now let’s hop over to the, uh, to the European trips. I forget the chronological order. Are we starting in Gerona over there? We’re starting

[00:26:54] Amy Davison: in Gerona, yeah. Yeah, because Okay. It’s just. got great weather spring and and fall. So we’re starting in j that is our, uh, only level four trip, which means it’s a little more advanced.

So the, some of the gravel riding is more technical. We, it’s the only trip where we incorporate some single track and some connectors that say are unmaintained roads, so they get a little more gnarly. What we’ve been seeking out elsewhere. So that that is one thing that sets Jonah apart. And the other thing is, we’ve had it running for a couple years now, so it’s a well-oiled machine.

We have a handful of local guides there who love it. And it’s, it’s really their trip. I mean, they, they’ve made it what it. So a lot of a lot of culture, uh, infused there, a lot of local knowledge infused there and great little hotel in the center of this charming little town. So, yeah,

[00:27:58] Craig Dalton: absolutely, and I’ll, I’ll refer the listener back to a couple episodes where I’ve interviewed both our guides while I was over there and gave a little bit of my day to.

Of that trip as well as an original episode going back, gosh, I think mid pandemic when I was hoping to go very early on, maybe in Oh wow. 2020 that, uh, that you Yuen came on and talked about that trip as well, so, oh, we’ve covered that territory. I’m a big fan of Jer. I feel like anybody who’s. Into cycling knows that that’s just a hub and a, a great place to be.

[00:28:28] Amy Davison: Absolutely. Yeah. But what I guess I didn’t realize is how epic the, the gravel is there in addition to the road driving.

[00:28:36] Craig Dalton: So Yeah, a hundred percent. Like the, just so much of the Mickey was saying, you know, they had all these old rail lines that then got, uh, you know, repurposed into gravel roads and they just, they litter the town from every direct.

Yeah.

[00:28:50] Amy Davison: Yeah, it’s, I’m heading there in uh, February, so I can’t wait to do a couple of the rides that you got to go

[00:28:58] Craig Dalton: on. Awesome. Yeah. Awesome. And then what’s up O next Over in Europe.

[00:29:03] Amy Davison: Tuscany. Yeah. Okay.

[00:29:05] Craig Dalton: So Tus is

[00:29:07] Amy Davison: another Tuscany. Oh yeah, the Bianchi. It’s gonna be amazing. It’s another region that Tel has, you know, been, uh, running trips in forever.

And we all love it. Uh, it just never gets old. I got to guide there in 2015 and got to ride some of this gravel. So anyone who is a gravel enthusiast probably knows about the race throughout Bianchi and also the aka uh, vintage cycling race. And our trip really blends those two together. So we spend some time around Oli and, and near Sienna first hotels near Sie.

Uh, riding some of the bki and AKA roots. But you get to experience wine country and you get to have lunch, I think it is in Oli, and visit the AKA store. And you also get to have coffee and a little tour of Sienna where you’re watching the end of any race. So it’s like from clop cross races, Toki, they end.

In the Piazza in Sienna, and it’s just like an incredible experience. So we’re, we’re going to, uh, do that on the trip and then we’re gonna finish near Ticino a little bit further south. And the riding just goes on and on. And it was some of my favorite writing when I was there in Southern Tuscany where it’s a little less touristy and you’re sort of getting off the beaten path.

And we have a couple of guides who, you know, one in particular who really rides gravel a lot there and knows all the ins and outs of the gravel roads. So he got to put this together and, uh, he’s, uh, I think really made it shine. The other fun piece of it is that the second hotel is actually in equator, which we don’t typically stay in.

So it’s like a working farm that also is a hotel. You know, it’s the definition of farm to table dining, basically. This, uh, a agrima is very high end. It’s absolutely beautiful. And our final night will be a, a meal that is paired with wines from their cellar. Some of their, some of their older favorite ones.

So it’s going to be an absolutely epic trip with great riding. And of course, I mean, you’re in Tuscan, so outstanding food and. ,

[00:31:36] Craig Dalton: uh, to pair with it. Yeah. Super cool. I imagine, and, and I’ve never ridden there myself, but just seeing strata Bianca, that the dirt roads are, I mean, relative in the spectrum of these gravel trips in Ima, it seems like these are sort of smoother dirt roads than elsewhere.

[00:31:52] Amy Davison: I would say, yeah. Honestly, for all of our trips, the goal was to find. Smoothest gravel roads that we possibly could. So we’re not trying to search out the most difficult, gnarly technical riding. We’re trying to make these accessible to, to everyone who has even a bit of gravel experience. So they’re just comfortable riding on loose surfaces.

Cuz you can’t avoid hills and cornering and so you need a little bit of experience. But these, I, I would say Vermont. . The dirt, the dirt roads are super hard packed and like sometimes they’re just dirt. You, you don’t even have, you have very little gravel and Tuscany probably have more gravel consistently.

But the roads are, are fairly smooth. They’re just healing.

[00:32:42] Craig Dalton: Yeah. And are they sort of the punchy style climb?

[00:32:46] Amy Davison: Yeah, I would say Vermont and Tuscany are known for short, steep hills. That’s just the nature of the riding there. Uh, you really can’t get away from it. So, similar to our, our regular Vermont trip and our regular Tuscany trip.

These are, these are hilly trips. Batonville is a little flatter. It’s more like rolling farmland, Ando Valley, more rolling farmland with the big. . So they all are, you know, slightly different, but in general you can never escape hills and, uh, we’re looking for mostly smooth dirt roads with a, not a crazy amount of gravel, so relatively non-technical

[00:33:28] Craig Dalton: ready.

Got it. Got it. And then that final trip of the year heading over to the Swiss Alps.

[00:33:34] Amy Davison: Mm-hmm. . Yeah. This one is super exciting. Again, one of our guides lives there at the, this trip is on the eastern side of Switzerland in the Anine Valley, and it starts in a town called school. And one of our long standing, amazing guides lives there.

And she’s been dreaming about getting this trip on the, on our docket for years. So she put this together in addition with one of our troop designers who is a ski instructor in St. So that’s where the trip ends on the other side of the valley, uh, near St. Maritz. And you’re basically riding in the valley surrounded by the Alps and glaciers the entire time.

So that means that the terrain is hilly. Inevitably when you leave the valley, you’re going, you’re going up. So it’s more long, gradual climbs. But the, uh, what’s unique about this one is it’s mostly, uh, most of the gravel is on bike pads, and then most of the other riding that’s not gravel is still a designated bike route.

So it’s very little traffic there. I mean, that’s to be expected when you’re riding gravel to begin with, but here it’ll be. Very, very little traffic and a combination of gravel bike pond and really narrow paved lanes going from town to town up and down this valley. Then of course there will be a fondu dinner.

So people get to experience that and just incredible views of the, of the valley and the, it’s pristine. I just look at the pictures for that trip. . I, I, I have to

[00:35:19] Craig Dalton: go. It’s, yeah, I was gonna say that’s the only one I haven’t seen The pictures on the website are just ridiculous how scenic it is. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

It’s beautiful. I love it. Well, that’s super exciting just to one, get the overview of all these great trips that you have planned for 2023, and I’m super excited for you guys to continue to get feedback from riders as to what they like and don’t like about ’em and mm-hmm. . You knows what an exciting journey to, to sort of have six new trips on the calendar.

[00:35:51] Amy Davison: Yeah, it’s, uh, I’ve been doing this for a while and this is like unprecedented for me in terms of, you know, what I get to do on, on the day to day. So I’m really excited to get this out there. I know that our guides are too, I mean, everyone who helped design these trips is gonna be working them next year, and I know that they’ll evolve.

It’s absolutely the way. All of our trips work. We take feedback from the guides, from the guests, and the more we sink into a region, the more we learn about it, the better the trips become. So this will definitely evolve, and as we learn, I sure hope that the entire category just continues to grow. .

[00:36:31] Craig Dalton: Yeah.

You know, as I’ve said many times on the podcast before, I’m just, I’m a big fan of this idea of gravel travel and as much as I like going to do events and races, for me it’s more about being in that region and sampling a bit more. And sometimes I get drawn into, whether it’s the length of the event or just, you know, wanting to perform.

I’d limit my riding because I just wanna be able to complete that one day ride. And sometimes I leave those regions thinking, gosh, like I wish I was just riding every single day a little bit less. Yeah. Than putting all my eggs into this one one day.

[00:37:08] Amy Davison: Yeah. Yeah. I mean that’s the beauty of, of these vacations is you really can, you really get to sink into a region and see and ride day after day after day.

It’s kind of

[00:37:20] Craig Dalton: hard to go. . Yeah, yeah, totally. After that. Totally. Yeah. There’s something to be said for having nothing to do, but ride all day and pretty much have the logistics all taken care of for you. Mm-hmm. .

[00:37:34] Amy Davison: Yeah, I mean, I hear that from, from my friends. It’s, it’s truly what I love to do and my free time as well.

So now that I live in a place that is full of gravel, I. We have people visiting and we go out for, for four days, and it’s, for me, it’s the best vacation I’ve ever had. And for them, they feel like they’re on a TR trail trip, so.

[00:37:58] Craig Dalton: It’s, uh, I bet that’s really fun. You bet. You better watch out. You may have some listeners knocking at your door wanting a person to turn

Hey,

[00:38:06] Amy Davison: bring it on. I, I already have a planned .

[00:38:11] Craig Dalton: Thanks again, Amy. I really appreciate the time and I’m excited to revisit this conversation at the end of the year and see how everything goes. Yeah,

[00:38:19] Amy Davison: me too. Awesome. Thank you for having us and for bringing attention. Gravel travel. Hopefully it’s just gonna keep growing and I look forward to doing more myself discovering more destinations.

[00:38:33] Craig Dalton: Big, thanks to Amy for joining the show today. I’m super excited to hear that Trek travel is doubling down on gravel travel for 2023.

Until next time here’s to finding some dirt under your wheels.