Life On Two Wheels: A job like none other in the French countryside | SummitDaily.com

Life On Two Wheels: A job like none other in the French countryside

Leo Wolfson
Special to the Daily

Editor’s note: For countless Summit County residents, a bicycle is more than a machine — it’s a lifestyle. Every week during the summer, we’ll ask our most adventurous residents, “Where has your bike taken you?”

Few people get the opportunity to bike in Europe. Even fewer do it for three summers and get paid for it.

Breckenridge local Amanda Seidler can claim both of these feats. Seidler ran guided bike tours through Italy and France, with Tuscany as a specialty, from 1999 to 2001 through a local company, VBT Bike Tours. Her office: a postcard scene of lush green valleys and rolling vineyards. Her cubicle: a hearty, emerald-green road bike that helped her cruise through serpentine roads.

“It was life changing, both from the idyllic fantasy kind of experiences of living on the road and drinking fine wines and staying at four-star chateaus or converted monasteries, to also meeting some of the most wonderful people in life,” Seidler said. “The guests were of pro caliber.”

Before taking the job, Seidler was an active Summit County resident, biking or skiing most days of the year. One of her ski school colleagues told her about the opportunity and encouraged her to apply because of her qualifications. She spoke some Italian and French but hadn’t used either in their native settings.

Although skeptical, she eventually applied for the tour gig and was met with the hardest interview of her life. She nailed the three-hour interrogation, and, two weeks later, found herself on a flight to Europe.

On the job

The difficulty of the biking itself varied, with a combination of easy, medium and difficult tour options. The Tuscan region provided some of the most challenging riding, which Seidler compared in one of her scrapbooks to, “A woman so voluptuous that no man can resist her incessant curves, even when he discovers that she’s fickle in her direction.”

Each descent was seemingly always met with a hill, but Seidler learned a few tricks to help keep her guests’ minds off the task at hand. She would often call out gelato flavors until they got to the top of a hill, which drew bursts of laughter amid pants and coughs. She and her fellow guides were also sometimes known to run ahead of the group and cover 10-percent grade signs before their guests could see them. A sag wagon van typically followed their group with food, water and other supplies, but when a gas strike hit France, she and her bike guides had to get creative.

“This meant loading up my bike with our week’s worth of snack supplies and water bottles, shuttling guests on trains (and) navigating an underground network of people for furnace fuel,” Seidler said.

But, it was the little things along the road that made the experience so memorable for her. The tours revolved around biking, but they also featured a number of cultural activities.

“The tour was both a crescendo in cultural opportunities and cultural experiences, and the riding and the scenery just got better and better after each day,” Seidler said.

The tours visited hot spots like Rome and Paris, but guides also gave guests the chance to meet and interact with real locals — an opportunity not typical on the average guided tour.

“You’re privy to a special layer of the countryside, not stuck in the vortex of tourism,” Seidler said before letting her mind drift to another world. “One of my favorite rides was biking through the olive groves of Tuscany during harvest, seeing old people on rickety ladder, stretching up with miniature rakes to comb out the olives, which plummeted down to the nets on the ground.”

Growth in the countryside

More than the job or adventures, Seidler most valued what she learned as a person. Not only did she guide Americans while with VBT, but she also gave tours to Dutch, Austrian and Spanish citizens. She believes that tending the melting pot helped her garner a greater understanding of the world.

“I think I’m a lot more flexible and agreeable and accepting of people of different ways,” she explained.

When Seidler goes cycling now, she takes time to enjoy the beauty around her, rather than rush to the finish or focus on the workout. Take, for instance, a recent bike trip with a friend around Lake Tahoe.

“At the end of the day he looked at me and he goes, ‘OK, I think I get it now: When you go for an all-day bike ride, you like to stop and take photos, and taste food, and talk to people, and absorb the scenery and get the vibe,’” Seidler said with a laugh. “Yeah, that’s the VBT in me…. Bicycling opens the doors to the smells, the local flavors, (the) insider opportunities that I don’t think you’d ever have travelling any other way.”

Back to CO

After working with VBT in a human resources position until 2005, Seidler decided to hang up her European excursions and focus on Summit County living. These days, she makes the steep roads of Breckenridge her home and can often be seen chugging on a eclectic collection of bikes, including a vintage bicentennial commuter, an antique penny farthing and a classic K2 road cycle.

Seidler also utilizes her past experiences to volunteer at bike rides like the Courage Classic, where she drives vans to assist bikers, just as she did in the VBT days.

“It was so much fun and it is a special skill to learn how to ride along riders, and especially the bikers that give you the thumbs down or ‘please stop’ signal,” Seidler said.

Seidler’s effervescent personality isn’t going away anytime soon. In September, she’ll get to relive that fondly remembered part of her life once again, only this time in Portugal.

“I heard the world’s best roads for driving … is right where we’re going to be,” she giggled. “I was like, ‘Oh! Can I rent a bike? Can I do that 20-minute loop?’”

If interested in taking a bike tour with VBT, check out http://www.VBT.com or call (800) 245-3868.


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Life On Two Wheels: A job like none other in the French countryside

Leo Wolfson
Special to the Daily

Editor’s note: For countless Summit County residents, a bicycle is more than a machine — it’s a lifestyle. Every week during the summer, we’ll ask our most adventurous residents, “Where has your bike taken you?”

Few people get the opportunity to bike in Europe. Even fewer do it for three summers and get paid for it.

Breckenridge local Amanda Seidler can claim both of these feats. Seidler ran guided bike tours through Italy and France, with Tuscany as a specialty, from 1999 to 2001 through a local company, VBT Bike Tours. Her office: a postcard scene of lush green valleys and rolling vineyards. Her cubicle: a hearty, emerald-green road bike that helped her cruise through serpentine roads.

“It was life changing, both from the idyllic fantasy kind of experiences of living on the road and drinking fine wines and staying at four-star chateaus or converted monasteries, to also meeting some of the most wonderful people in life,” Seidler said. “The guests were of pro caliber.”

Before taking the job, Seidler was an active Summit County resident, biking or skiing most days of the year. One of her ski school colleagues told her about the opportunity and encouraged her to apply because of her qualifications. She spoke some Italian and French but hadn’t used either in their native settings.

Although skeptical, she eventually applied for the tour gig and was met with the hardest interview of her life. She nailed the three-hour interrogation, and, two weeks later, found herself on a flight to Europe.

On the job

The difficulty of the biking itself varied, with a combination of easy, medium and difficult tour options. The Tuscan region provided some of the most challenging riding, which Seidler compared in one of her scrapbooks to, “A woman so voluptuous that no man can resist her incessant curves, even when he discovers that she’s fickle in her direction.”

Each descent was seemingly always met with a hill, but Seidler learned a few tricks to help keep her guests’ minds off the task at hand. She would often call out gelato flavors until they got to the top of a hill, which drew bursts of laughter amid pants and coughs. She and her fellow guides were also sometimes known to run ahead of the group and cover 10-percent grade signs before their guests could see them. A sag wagon van typically followed their group with food, water and other supplies, but when a gas strike hit France, she and her bike guides had to get creative.

“This meant loading up my bike with our week’s worth of snack supplies and water bottles, shuttling guests on trains (and) navigating an underground network of people for furnace fuel,” Seidler said.

But, it was the little things along the road that made the experience so memorable for her. The tours revolved around biking, but they also featured a number of cultural activities.

“The tour was both a crescendo in cultural opportunities and cultural experiences, and the riding and the scenery just got better and better after each day,” Seidler said.

The tours visited hot spots like Rome and Paris, but guides also gave guests the chance to meet and interact with real locals — an opportunity not typical on the average guided tour.

“You’re privy to a special layer of the countryside, not stuck in the vortex of tourism,” Seidler said before letting her mind drift to another world. “One of my favorite rides was biking through the olive groves of Tuscany during harvest, seeing old people on rickety ladder, stretching up with miniature rakes to comb out the olives, which plummeted down to the nets on the ground.”

Growth in the countryside

More than the job or adventures, Seidler most valued what she learned as a person. Not only did she guide Americans while with VBT, but she also gave tours to Dutch, Austrian and Spanish citizens. She believes that tending the melting pot helped her garner a greater understanding of the world.

“I think I’m a lot more flexible and agreeable and accepting of people of different ways,” she explained.

When Seidler goes cycling now, she takes time to enjoy the beauty around her, rather than rush to the finish or focus on the workout. Take, for instance, a recent bike trip with a friend around Lake Tahoe.

“At the end of the day he looked at me and he goes, ‘OK, I think I get it now: When you go for an all-day bike ride, you like to stop and take photos, and taste food, and talk to people, and absorb the scenery and get the vibe,’” Seidler said with a laugh. “Yeah, that’s the VBT in me…. Bicycling opens the doors to the smells, the local flavors, (the) insider opportunities that I don’t think you’d ever have travelling any other way.”

Back to CO

After working with VBT in a human resources position until 2005, Seidler decided to hang up her European excursions and focus on Summit County living. These days, she makes the steep roads of Breckenridge her home and can often be seen chugging on a eclectic collection of bikes, including a vintage bicentennial commuter, an antique penny farthing and a classic K2 road cycle.

Seidler also utilizes her past experiences to volunteer at bike rides like the Courage Classic, where she drives vans to assist bikers, just as she did in the VBT days.

“It was so much fun and it is a special skill to learn how to ride along riders, and especially the bikers that give you the thumbs down or ‘please stop’ signal,” Seidler said.

Seidler’s effervescent personality isn’t going away anytime soon. In September, she’ll get to relive that fondly remembered part of her life once again, only this time in Portugal.

“I heard the world’s best roads for driving … is right where we’re going to be,” she giggled. “I was like, ‘Oh! Can I rent a bike? Can I do that 20-minute loop?’”

If interested in taking a bike tour with VBT, check out http://www.VBT.com or call (800) 245-3868.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.