In the Twin Cities & across the country // Explore the White Mountains of New Hampshire with Vesta Velo Women’s Cycling Tours
Trail recommendation by Virgina Schrader, an operator and owner of Vesta Velo
The Trail: The Bear Notch Loop –`40 miles
Start: Typically we meet at Frechette Auto on Passaconway Road in North Conway, NH. Take a right out of the parking lot onto Passaconway and we’re off on a beautiful, scenic loop through the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Continue making right turns on Bear Notch Road, Route 302, River Road, West Side Road and, finally, right again on Passaconway. The entire loop is approximately 40 miles.
End: We end where we begin…in the parking lot at Frechette Auto.
In Between: Canopy roads, waterfalls, stunning mountain vistas, roaring rivers, covered bridges . . . and the quaint and picturesque villages of Bartlett, Glen & North Conway. Part of our ride takes us on one of the favorite “blue highways” of northern NH—the Kancamagus Highway. And Bear Notch Rd offers not only stunning scenery but challenging uphills that make us work for the magnificent cruise down on the other side.
When to Ride: We ride this route from late May to late October. Passaconway Road and Bear Notch Road are closed during the winter. Every season is different. In the spring, the trees are just starting to bud out and the white water is fierce as it flows down the mountains into our lakes and streams. In summer, all the wild flowers are in bloom (have you ever seen a rare cluster of Ladies Slipper from the seat of your bike?), while the fall brings the magnificent reds & golds & coppers of autumn as the leaves turn & the air starts to chill. Every season is an inspiration.
VESTA VELO – a unique cycling tour company just for women
Why did female only cycling tours appeal to you when creating Vesta Velo versus co-ed tours?
Last summer we started a weekly women’s ride which proved to be an amazing success. It didn’t matter what kind of bike you had or if you’d ever ridden a bike before, you just needed the desire to be outdoors with other women engaging in a super-healthy endeavor. What an inspiration to see women returning every week to get their fix of fun, freedom & camaraderie! And, quite frankly, riding with women is a lot more fun and rewarding than riding with men. Don’t get us wrong–we regularly ride with our husbands– but men seem to focus too much on the technical aspects of riding…the equipment, the gear, the wattage, output, speed, etc. Women just want to be together with other women–to socialize, get some exercise, and have fun doing both. Watch the video, Sh*t Cyclists Say, and you’ll see why we’d rather ride with women.
Click HERE to see the YouTube video!
How did you initially find an interest in cycling?
Did you have to overcome any obstacles when pursuing your passion for cycling? I got hooked when I was in college. I didn’t have a car and it was my only way of getting around. Through my college years, I met other riders and we bonded over the bike. I got my first car the last semester of my senior year and I was sad because I felt as though I was trading in my bike for a car and my backpack for a briefcase. I still rode quite a bit though; mostly weekend club rides up until my kids were born. I had to put cycling on the back burner for a number of years because of the kids, but embraced it again once they got older. Now, I can’t imagine not riding. It’s such a big part of my life and this winter, I have become quite dedicated to commuting, riding my bike to work and back even in sleet, ice and snow. It’s very addicting. I use commuting to wake up and wind down. Yet another phenomenal aspect of riding a bike!!
What demographics does Vesta Velo typically attract? Is there a social aspect that is naturally part of the tours?
Women who want to do something amazing for their physical and mental health. These are women who are in their late 40s, 50s and 60s and believe they are about to enter into the best phase of their life. Author, Marti Barletta, refers to these women (me included) as Prime Time Women™. Barletta states, “…they are vibrant, healthy, active and enormously influential. They know what they want, and they’re willing to pay for it.” So, basically, we’ve done our mothering, we’re successful in our work, we have discretionary income, we have time and we want to have FUN!! My close friend and business partner, Jeanne, and I wanted to share our love of this sport–with all its inherent health benefits–with those who may be entering a new, perhaps less encumbered stage of their lives.
What do you think is the biggest benefit from cycling, on a personal or more general level?
Cycling is huge for me in terms of fitness and well-being. I love seeing the world on 2 wheels. To me, the bicycle has the unique ability to foster feelings of freedom, joy, power, strength, and independence. Who, upon honest reflection, cannot say that they are not a better person for having pedaled a bike?
If you want more information on Vesta Velo or to book a tour of the Bear Notch Loop, visit: http://www.vestavelo.com/
Special thanks to Virginia, operator and owner of Vesta Velo, for guest blogging our Friday’s Where to Ride!