New Kids on the Bike
You’d be hard-pressed to find conformity among the ranks of B&R guides, but there are a few descriptors that seem to perennially apply to many members of our talented team. (Creative, enthusiastic and exceptionally fun certainly come to mind.) And after a few days spent in Beaune at our 2014 Guide Kick Off, I’m happy to report that our newest recruits are no exception.
On our official guide page we boast about Ron’s language skills (English, Italian, Hebrew and Chinese are all in his repertoire), but what strikes you most when you first meet Ron is just how genuine he is. They say good communicators know the value of listening, and while I’m not exactly sure who “they” are, I think they’d love Ron. I’ve met few people easier or more pleasant to talk to—and with a handful of degrees and the wealth of insight gleaned from a life spent travelling, there’s no shortage of fascinating topics to discuss.
It’s not at all rare to hear our guides say that they gave up their desk job to become a B&R guide, where their abundant passion and personality can be more appropriately harnessed. It is something of an oddity, however, to learn the desk job they gave up happens to be at B&R. But such is the case for Stef, and our travellers will be all the better for it; if you don’t get the pleasure of meeting Stef on trip this year, you’ll have to just take my word for it: she has a spirit (and a smile) that no office can contain.
I learned one of the most important lessons about Diego before he even arrived in Beaune for the Kick Off, when I found out how he was arriving: by bike. Not all that surprising, I thought, given the nature of our trips. Then I learned where he was riding in from: Barcelona, just a quick 800-kilometre jaunt! Suffice it to say, the guy’s got some pedalling prowess. Fortunately for me, he’s also a patient and incredibly helpful teacher, who coached this lowly novice rider with some much needed gear shifting advice. (Turns out those inclines are a lot easier when you’re actually in the right gear. Who knew, right?)
Zoe immediately had some common ground with her new colleague Steph, as she too shook off the shackles of office life to strike out on the road with B&R. Having spent the past eight years tackling climate change in Australia, Zoe’s decided to scratch “policy wonk” off her business card in favour of “adventurer.” (In addition to being shorter, it’s a much better conversation starter at parties.) Based on how quickly she’s made friends with both her fellow new guides and our savviest vets, I’d say she made the right decision.