Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Days #10-13: Adventure Cycling Leadership Training Class

Day #10 - Thursday

I spent the morning at Toole Park, along the Clark Fork River in downtown Missoula. My tent was still wet from the prior morning's dew, and so I took advantage of the sun and laid out the tent to dry in the grass. I then got comfortable in the shade of a tree, completed paperwork for the class, and spent a few hours reading some more short stories from my book of anthologies.

I was absolutely flattered to have a nicely bearded Montana man, named Bradford, approach me to offer his phone number in case I needed anything or wanted to hang out while I was in town. He had just come down from a bike ride in the mountains. After completing his very early morning shift. At the local donut shop.

Um, yeah. Welcome to Missoula.

Awhile later I rode over to the hotel to check in before class began at 4pm.

Thursday evening's class was primarily introductions. We took turns introducing ourselves, stating our intentions for the class, and providing some background about our touring experience. To assist in learning each other's names, we had to state all of the names of the people who had previously introduced themselves.

I did my introduction and then stated everyone's name. When I got around to Darryl (remember him from the prior post?), I said, "And this is Darryl. He and I did Warm Showers together last night." This statement seemed entirely harmless to me, but it elicited a loud chuckle from everyone else. Without familiarity with Warm Showers, I suppose it does sound rather funny.

Days #11 and 12 - Friday and Saturday

Both Friday and Saturday were jam-packed with learning and role playing. In modeling the experience of a typical day on tour, we took turns practicing meal planning, shopping, and cooking for 12 people.

Me, Adam, and Jody, making a very tasty African Peanut Stew.

One of the advisors, Joyce, gave a presentation about her beautiful custom-built touring bike and the gear she takes on her tours. I always thought I was an organized packer. But, my golly, it's comforting to know there's someone way more anal than me.

Joyce has color-coded stuff sacks for everything!

We had a fun no-obligation talent show.

Darryl sings some original songs.

Andrew rides his bike backwards.

Day #13 - Sunday

Today's Route: Missoula, MT to Greenbough, MT (31 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 521

'Twas the last day of training! And what a great couple of days it has been!
All in all, the training was quite good - far better than I had expected. I've done a number of leadership courses in the past, and they were always frou-frou. But this one was good. Well organized. Excellent advisors. And a fantastic group of fellow students.

Back (L to R): Adam, Andrew, Sarah, Alex, Christy, Josh, Darryl, Joyce, Art, Scott; Front (L to R): Mimi, Jody, Sue

Like me, Robin, the blonde chick in the back row of the below photo (second from the right), is from Portland. As it turns out, she lives on a houseboat on the same island where Jake and I live. It'll be great to have a new biking friend who lives less than a quarter of a mile away!

Back (L to R): Jerry, Steve J, Ann, Steve G, Danna, Tyler, Robin, Wally; Front (L to R): Neill, Joe

The class is now complete. I look forward to leading some tours with Adventure Cycling next summer! Woohoo!

Mission accomplished!

Update 12/10/2013: For any individuals who are interested in taking Adventure Cycling's Leadership Training Class, please know that taking the course does not guarantee that you will receive a tour leader position.

For one, at the completion of the class, you must be recommended as an eligible tour leader; not all class attendees are "tour guide worthy." Secondly, many eligible leaders graduate from the LTC each year. The pool of eligible leaders grows at a much faster pace than is needed to fill ACA's guide positions. Thus, it can take many years to obtain a tour leader position with ACA.

An email sent on 12/6/2013 by Arlen Hall (ACA Tours Director) with the subject "2014 Tour Leader Assignments" reads:

… If you were not selected for a tour, do not give up waiting for an opportunity. I would like to briefly share my story of success. I took the Leadership Training Course in 2004 in Littleton, Massachusetts. Once I was identified as a potential leader the waiting time began. I hoped to have an assignment in 2004 but was not offered one. I completed the Leadership Preference Survey in 2005 and I waited throughout 2005 as well. I completed it again in 2006 and had to wait again.  In the spring of 2006, I received an email and a phone call. Before the Tours Director could ask if I could... I said "YES I can" and then figured out how to make it work. Between then and 2011, I received more and more assignments until I had to start saying no to few. So... hang in there. …
Suffice it to say, although I was recommended as an eligible tour guide, I did not obtain a tour leader position for the 2014 year. I look forward to an opportunity arising in the coming years.

Update 8/9/2015: I helped staff the Columbia River Gorge event in June. It was great fun! (See Adventure Cycling Along the Columbia Gorge.)

After the class ended, I hopped back on the bike to continue the next leg of my journey.

Some folks playing bike polo in Missoula.

I had planned on riding only 30 miles today, as our course evaluations lasted through the middle of the afternoon. It's a good thing I had a short day of riding, as last night Adam and I went to hear Hey Marseilles, a Seattle band that was playing in Missoula. Wowsers! They were fantastic! (My favorite was the cello player. He was quite dreamy to watch, as he was practically making love with his cello. Hubba, hubba!) It was totally worth the 2am bed time and less than four hours of sleep.

Montana definitely has different scenery from Idaho. Big, blue skies. Wide open fields. Lovely tree-covered mountains in the background.

Ah, beautiful Montana.

Tonight I'm staying at The Lubrecht Experimental Forest, a 20,000 acre outdoor classroom and laboratory for the University of Montana's School of Forestry. There is supposed to be a campground here, but I can't find it. (And in all honesty, I haven't tried that hard.) I haven't seen anyone around, so I've decided to make a lovely picnic pavilion my home for the night. The pavilion offers both running water and electricity. I'll take it!

I have the whole pavilion (and perhaps the whole forest) to myself.

It's absolutely gorgeous here. Totally quiet and peaceful. Just me, the birds, and the trees.

I'm going to try Eric's method of sleeping on the picnic table tonight. This will be a first for me.


  1. Hey, it was good meeting you at the Adventure Cycling Association Leadership Training Course. I will definitely be following up on your cross country bicycle adventures!

    1. Great to meet you, too, Stephen! Thanks for following along!

  2. Thanks for the excellent Blog. I am attending the leadership training in October (could be chilly in Missoula!). I was just wondering if you have been contacted to lead any tours yet? Are you living in Seattle now? We live in Port Orchard near the Southworth Ferry Terminal and are Warm Showers members.

    Pete and Phyllis Keithly

    1. Hi Pete and Phyllis! Thanks for your note.

      The October LTC is going to be a blast! Two dear friends of mine from Seattle, Bill & Claudia, will be attending. A gentlemen named Stephen will also be attending. Stephen is going to bike to the class from Portland, OR. In searching the internet for some information on the bike route, he came across my blog and sent me a note.

      I have not been contacted to lead any tours yet. As you will learn at the training, once the 2014 tours have been scheduled, Adventure Cycling will send out a survey to all eligible leaders asking for their trip preferences. Early next year, leaders will be notified which trips they will lead.

      Yes, I am living in Seattle now. I've been in Seattle for most of the last seven years, minus a short stint in Portland earlier this year. I've taken the Southworth Ferry for a handful of local bike adventures. Port Orchard is beautiful!

      Have a great time at the training, and thanks again for reaching out!



I would love to hear your comments on this post!