Richard Scott of Kiwi Style Bike Tours leads cycling tours in both the northern and southern hemispheres. To the envy of most cyclists, he has nearly created the endless summer lifestyle. A world traveler and Oceania Games Cycling Champion, Richard has been leading tours in Europe, Australia and New Zealand for nearly 10 years. I’m happy to start The Hub’s 2014 interview series by chatting with Richard.
Ciao Richard, and thanks for the chat. What was your inspiration for starting a cycling tour company?
Kiwi Style Bike Tours started as a result of holidays to Europe in 2000, 2002 and 2004. The scenery around France, Italy and Switzerland was stunning and the towns and villages I visited and rode through were amazing. Rides I completed were dominated by stunning natural sights as well as beautiful and centuries old villages. I also saw some American companies touring around with groups and thought Kiwis would love to ride a bike here. But tripping to France can be a big deal with language issues, navigation problems, and not knowing where to stay or ride. I decided to take the hard work and stress out of travelling to a another country and provide rides we already knew were great, stay in hotels no travel agent would ever know about and reduce stress for Kiwis travelling to Europe who wanted to ride their bikes there, but found the prospect of doing this by themselves to daunting.
Kiwi Style Bike Tours is 100% New Zealand owned. As a New Zealander, what is the unique perspective that you bring to European cycling tours?
Our laid back attitude is the perspective we bring that other companies cannot rival. Kiwis are famous for their relaxed and friendly attitude toward others and we feel this gives us an advantage over other companies. Kiwis also bond well overseas so our customers feel more comfortable being looked after by fellow Kiwis. NZL is just a small country and it is not uncommon for us to bump into regular and new customers out on rides or competing at events on a regular basis. A large percentage of our guest meet us before we head away [on the tour] as well.
Are all your tour guests from New Zealand and Australia, or do you also have guests from elsewhere?
The majority of our guests are Kiwis. We have had a few from Australia and a handful from the UK.
Personally my favourite place to ride is Italy. The people are fantastic, the food is second to none and the rides are sublime but most Kiwis want to ride in France as the small amount of TV coverage we get of cycling events are usually French based events. So Kiwis want to visit what they see on the television. The Giro d’Italia is starting to gain in popularity with NZL fans and we hope there is a flow on effect with more people wanting to visit Italy. A large amount of our return customers choose an Italian trip and enjoy Italy as much as France, and in a lot of cases enjoy Italy more.
This has been the dinner venue for the last three nights. Perfect. pic.twitter.com/uo2j0JLA4H
— Kiwistylebiketours (@Kiwibiketours) July 13, 2013
Our Epic France Italy Tour as it takes in the best of both countries and finishes in the Dolomites. The Dolomites make this tour special. I have visited a large part of the world and the sights around the Dolomites are very very hard to beat!
What do you enjoy doing with your tour guests when they’re not on the bike?
Finding a local restaurant that is off the beaten track and enjoying what the locals eat and drink. A lot of our guests end up being our friends and once home in NZL we meet up with them on rides, cafes and share a beer and a BBQ.
Your first cycling tour each year is the Tour Down Under, what are some details of this tour?
The Santos Tour Down Under is like having the Tour de France in our back yard. Australia is an easy country to travel to from NZL. In Adelaide guests can meet the stars of cycling face to face and even ride home with them after a stage finish. The riders clearly enjoy being there and enjoy the event. This makes them very relaxed and approachable. Guests can expect long hot sunny days, a hotel just one block away from a great white sand beach, smooth roads with Tuscan like scenery plus great world tour race action.
What new tours do you have on tap for 2014/2015?
On the radar for the next NZL summer, we are looking at some Epic Back Country MTB tours around the South Island of NZL, planning for this starts in March. I’m really looking forward to planning this as we have some incredible off-road trails around the island and a lot in the high country below the Alps.
You have the real endless summer lifestyle – spending summers cycling in Europe, then returning to summer in Australia and New Zealand. I admit to being completely envious. Do you ever have a real off-season?
It is a bonus doing summer tours in both hemispheres but we do experience the worst of winter from August to early Sept. It is not fun leaving a beautiful 30 deg day in France or Italy and arriving home to -2 temperatures and snow!