You know me, I’m probably the last person on Earth to say there is something cooler than riding a motorcycle to the mountains. But probably there are a few things, like… flying. One year ago I was having a beer with one of my biker buddies in the French Alps and from one thing to another he said he would like to get the airplane license. Cool I said! From the exact same moment, the thought of flying begun making roots, somewhere in the back of my mind, undisturbed until now.
Well, it got disturbed a bit about 5-6 months ago, after seeing one of these movies when I thought: shit, I have to do this.
But was growing the idea peacefully as “need to do at some point” until this Thursday when, while being at my mom celebrating the Romanian National Day I’ve met this pilot (a relative). After listening a story about what it means to be a pilot, I remembered: Hey I want to try this. The pilot got back to me and said “oh, yeas you can try Microsoft Flight Simulator, it’s like the true experience”. No, no, I want the real thing I said, while watching my mom going all pale 🙂 .
What do you think I was doing the next morning? At 9:30 I called my biker buddy and asked: “hey what’s up with that airplane thing we talked about?”. We decided to meet today to talk about types of licenses, airplanes and stuff. After about one hour, I think he got convinced I’m into the real thing and said: “What would you say we go right now and take a 10 minutes flight just to see how it works for you?”. Well, you know me, I can’t say no to any adrenaline generating stuff! Here is a bit of my first flight (sorry for the bad pictures, I wasn’t expecting and I didn’t planned to have the right gear for this):
The first corner was the most weird: I didn’t know there is something keeping me on the chair, and it felt like I’m going to fall out of the window 🙂 That’s probably like riding passenger on a motorcycle – I now know why riding as a motorcycle passenger always impresses the ladies :))
Cristian: Hi Linda and thank you for accepting the interview. Tell us a few words about yourself.
Linda: I’m a team member with my husband, and we wear many hats… Architectural Design Business: Thornapple Design Company, my business training business: Training Focus, and our Motorcycle Tour Business: Canyon Vista Motorcycle Tours.
Cristian: So, you’re also running a motorcycle touring business? What is it about?
Linda: We cater to groups of 8 or more riders and provide tours customized to the group’s riding ability and interests. Most of our tours are headquartered in Historic Wellsboro, PA – home to the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, Scenic Route 6, and gateway to the PA Wilds. We also take groups into the Finger Lake District of Southern New York State, and often include “the other grand canyon of the east” – the Letchworth Gorge.
Cristian: What are the most appreciated tours?
Linda: The Big Woods West tour seems to be the most popular… it’s a great tour, and people usually find us when they’re looking for the PA Grand Canyon. It starts with a look at the canyon from above, and ends with dinner in the bottom of the canyon. Depending on the group’s interest, it can include a couple of historical museum stops, stops at MC Shops, a picnic lunch or lunch on your own. The tour moves into the big woods west of the PA Grand Canyon and includes scenic vistas along the West Branch of the Susquehanna River, as well as a ride up the twists and turns to Hyner View. We often see hang gliders from that vista. We then come back down and follow the Pine Creek through the bottom of the canyon, stopping for dinner at one of our favorite Creek side restaurants, then back to Wellsboro by dark. Tours usually include 2 nights lodging, a welcome party or dinner on the first night, Breakfast Buffet before kick stands up, Dinner the night of the ride; a bountiful Breakfast Brunch at our historical hotel on Sunday morning, and a surprise route toward home for the group… selected after a brunch discussion. Our knowledgeable tour guide rides with the group for ½ a day, then sends them off toward home.
Cristian: Who is your typical customer?
Linda: We mostly get groups who ride together anyway… clubs, organizations, and families. We’ve had Suzuki groups, Harley Groups, Mixed groups, Scooters, … you name it. We really enjoy the Women’s groups we’ve had! They know how to be safe and have a good time together!
Cristian: How are these tours organized? I’m talking about the logistics.
Linda: it all starts with a look at our web site at WWW.CanyonVistaMotorcycleTours.com
Then a call to either myself, or Bob our tour director. (570-724-2535 or 570-439-1006 cell.) Usually we deal with a group representative, who speaks for the group. We discuss the options, suggest they meet with their group and fill out our Ride application, which points out the choices they have to make. Eventually, once a ride is established, we send individual registration sheets out for each rider to complete that tells us the sizes and makes of bikes, any medical issues, etc.
Payment is usually ½ down to hold the tour date, and the balance due 30 days in advance. One group evaluation commented that it felt like a free tour by the time they got here. Paying in two installments was easy. And it hardly cost them anything other than some souvenirs and private refreshments after they got here.
Cristian: What do the tours include?
Linda: Tours include 1 and ½ day (or more) touring with a knowledgeable guide who will provide historical background and interesting stories about the area you are visiting; lodging, most meals, special attractions, a welcome night party or dinner. Can include other options such as an ice cream or dinner train ride on the Tioga Central; a covered wagon ride through the canyon; whatever the group sets up. We do all of the booking and arranging, the group just comes and enjoys!
Cristian: How did you come with the idea?
Linda: Bob has been riding since he bought his first scooter – a Bella – when he was 14 years old. We’ve been riding in this area since we came here in l975, and love the area. Bob figured we’d get to share the area we love with others, we’d help the community by bringing people here, and mostly, he’d get to go riding more and not feel guilty that he wasn’t working! We both love meeting the people and making good things happen for them.
Cristian: What would you say it’s different about the way you’re doing tours?
Linda: Ours are very personal… customized to suit the group. And we are personally involved with all the groups. We’ve made good friends along the way. Some of the comments are that the riders feel like they know us! We treat them like good friends and/or family and try to provide the kind of experience we’d like to have.
Cristian: Any success stories you would like to share?
Linda: Wow! I guess the very first tour we did was a success story because we were new at it and had a group of over 30 people as our first time out. I don’t know if Bob was as nervous as I was… but it all went really well with no major problems.
But as far as real successes, being chosen to do a tour option for the International Norton Owners Association annual Rally was a great experience. They were “camped” just outside of Wellsboro, and we provided a day tour to Watkins Glen, as described above , for I think 58 of them. It was so cool seeing them all lined up ready to take off from Ives Run Camp Ground, and then watching them along the highway! We brought them back to Wellsboro for a Bike Night sponsored by Canyon Vista and The Frog Hut. We’re still friends with a lot of those riders.
Cristian: What are the most important benefits as opposed to hitting the road by yourself?
Linda: Our Tour director knows the roads in the area, and will take you on roads you might find by yourself, but probably not on your first time out… or even second or third. He also keeps track of construction on the roads, and any issues that need to be dealt with. Because we live here, we know what’s going on where and when, and will provide that info to our groups. For example, we do not recommend a tour during Wellsboro’s Annual Laurel Festival which brings 40,000 people to the area, and fills all of the lodging a year in advance. The roads we’d like to travel are crowded at that time as well. It just isn’t a good time for a tour. A great time to come to Wellsboro for the Festival, however.
Another benefit is the safety factor. CVMctours has contacts in all of the places we ride incase we have a breakdown of any kind (people or bikes). If we have larger groups, we provide extra follow riders who communicate with the leader. Keeps us from losing any stragglers and we know if there is a problem behind us.
Cristian: Riding the motorcycle is also about food (at least in my case). What would be the most interesting places to eat in your tours?
Linda: Arrival night could be hearty snacks and beverages by the pool at the motel; a sit down white table cloth dinner at a local restaurant; a family style dinner at another restaurant; fun food like smoked pork barbecue or dynamite fried chicken or burgers at our local Dairy Bar – The Frog Hut; or bar food and beverages at one of our taverns who serve food.
Dinner in the Canyon overlooking Pine Creek is a great place to eat- everything from fantastic cheese steak sandwiches to pasta dinners. Depending on the size of the group and the weather, we can eat out on the deck and often see eagles, deer and fishermen. One group was large enough that they actually catered a Barbecue for us out on the lawn by the creek.
Brunch at the Penn Wells hotel is copious! There is food for breakfast or dinner spread out on the hot and cold buffet and it is all you can eat! Usually there is even a chocolate fountain for covering strawberries, pretzels, or sweets! And Starbucks Coffee.
In Watkins Glen we like to stop at the Seneca Harbor, which has a wonderful selection of great food and looks out over the length of Seneca Lake.
We try to schedule some ice cream stops along the way as well. Seems that Motorcycle riders crave ice cream!
Cristian: What makes a perfect tour in your opinion?
Linda: Having everything run smoothly as planned and everyone having a great time and getting along well, and all telling us at the end that they want to come back! Bob and I feel personally responsible… just as we would if we invited a group to our home for a party. We want everyone to be safe and have fun!
Cristian: I bet you get to meet a lot of nice folks on the bike on tours. But what about the friendship of bikers?
Linda: We’ve established some good friendships on the rides that we keep in touch with. We have two guys who come back every year and become the core group (which has now extended to include two other guys) for our “European/British bikes tour excursion” This one we let people sign into as singles or couples and actually build the group. That has been fun, and we’ve seen friendships develop with the riders as well.
Cristian: Tell me a bit about Watkins Glen/Finger Lakes/Glen Curtis Tour
Linda: This tour starts, like the others, in Wellsboro, with the group arriving in the evening – usually a Friday evening, though we encourage week day tours. In the morning, after breakfast, Bob leads them north on a surreptitious route toward Watkins Glen. Depending on the plan for the day, the tour may include the Glen Curtis Museum on the way, or wait and do that after the Watkins Glen part of the tour. The Museum features motorcycles and sea planes and a lot of history about a man who was once billed as “The fastest man on earth” on a motorcycle. He was a pioneer of flying at the same time the Wright Brothers were working on their planes. Lots of good History.
In Watkins Glen, if the timing is right and there are no races going on, we can arrange to get the group on several laps of the race track behind a pace car. One of our other loves is Vintage Racing, and Bob and I both work with the Sports Car Vintage Racing Association and the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Committee to help put on the Vintage Festival held in the Glen each September. So, Bob has lots of stories to tell about how racing started in Watkins Glen. After leaving the track he will lead the group along the original race through the streets and back into town for dinner at the Seneca Harbor. Then a leisurely trip back home… with maybe an ice cream stop along the way.
Cristian: If you were to start all over again, what would you do differently?
Linda: I wouldn’t try to do my own Web Site to begin with. The second one we did was so much better and was done by someone who knows what they are doing: Electron Monkey from Wellsboro. . We’re about to work together to re-do it again, just because it’s time for a change. Otherwise, I think we’ve done pretty well. We tweak and change a bit each time we do a tour, so it gets better and better, but it’s all worked well for us.
Cristian: And any plans for the future?
Linda: We plan to keep the tours we have, but are looking at some other options… just expansion on what we already do. Always looking for better ways to get the word out to people, so I really appreciate your interview, Christian.
You can contact Canyon Vista Motorcycle Tours at email@example.com or by phone at 570-439-1006.
Cameron Weckerley from examiner.com has an intersting article on repairing the bike plastics with an example of how to fix an old top-case. I don’t have much to say about it, just let me link to it, as it might come handy one day. So here it is: Repairing Motorcycle Plastics Part 2
Just hope you are going to need it because of too much riding and not anything else 😉