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  1. #1
    Bike MN palmadot's Avatar
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    high school bike tour

    I was planning on offering a cross country tour for 7-12 graders at our school. It would be a self reliant tour carrying bags and camping. They will buy food in stores on the trail with own money. I wonder how much I should charge for the trip-price will include training, camping fees, and maps. Im thinking 60 days; 83 miles a day with a rest day once a week. Does this sound okay?

  2. #2
    Two H's!!! TWO!!!!! chephy's Avatar
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    60 days, 83 miles a day???!!! That's some 7-graders!

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    Ah, I don't think I could make the ride....and I'm on the bike every day. Kids who don't ride would just wilt.

    I'd also go nuts in charge kids for 2 freaking months!

    Over half the kids would quit in the middle of the trip.

    There would be a really nasty crash-- most likely somebody getting hit by a car.

    Honestly-- I think you're crazy! But in a really good kid loving way.

    What part of the country are you in? I'd look for a really nice, mostly bike path trip, of 40-50 miles a day for 6 days with a rest day in the middle. Makes plans for a sag wagon and a bail out option for the quiters. Get help with camping and cooking. I'd like to have one adult support staff (rider or sag wagon) for every 3 kids. It would take me a whole year to set up a ride like this. But it is possible!

  4. #4
    Senior Member bronskcloosper's Avatar
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    I'd say only dedicated High Schoolers could do it.

  5. #5
    nm+
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    FWIW, there is a group that does this and other trips called SHP (http://www.bicycletrips.com/).
    You'll need more than you think for example: lawyers to write up wavers and plans for every contigency.
    I'm currenty riding cross country and will tell you that 80+miles a day is too much to ask for most touring cyclists. Your asking for 8-hours a day of hard riding from kids. When you're riding accross you want to be able to stop and see whats going on, and you just can't do that pressing that hard. I don't think they'll be having fun after a few weeks. Also note that when they hit the first mountain range that 80mi average is gonna collapse and your gonna hyave to pull a number of century days to cath up.
    I wouldn't look for more than 60mi averages from 16 year olds unless they're in very good shape. Forb 7th graders, I'd want below 50mi averages.
    Also, you'll want to have some sort of quality control on the bikes. For cross country, things liek 36 holes wheels are a must, there are 200+mi streches without bike shops.
    Speaking of that you'll need to work in wiggle room. Bikes do break, people get sick, and 20-30mphy headwinds happen in both directions (and it sucks, hard, think very long 50mi days)
    Breaking bike parts for more than 20 years
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  6. #6
    Two H's!!! TWO!!!!! chephy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tacomee
    I'd look for a really nice, mostly bike path trip, of 40-50 miles a day for 6 days with a rest day in the middle. Makes plans for a sag wagon and a bail out option for the quiters.
    This is a lot more reasonable (except I am not sure how you fit a sag wagon on a bike path ). Unless the kids are dedicated cyclists with several years of club riding and touring experience under their belts - getting them to cycle 80 miles for 2 months is sheer madness. Ain't happenning.

    As for how much you should charge... well, you'll have to work it out! Plan out your route and your stopping points and then find out motel/campground fares, estimate how much food is going to cost etc. If you are going to have a sag wagon, figure out how much to pay the driver, how much gas is going to be used up... I don't know anything about insurance, but it seems highly desirable to me, so factor that in... Be prepared for the unexpected (and factor that into the price accordingly). After you work all the costs out, think how much you want to earn.

    There is no other way to estimate how much the trip should cost. How is it going to be helpful if some BF member just spits out a number? What if the number turns out completely wrong (like a different order of magnitude!) ? It might also help to look for paid tours similar to yours in setup and duration and see how much the organizers are charging: just to get a very rough, ballpark idea.

  7. #7
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    I'd try to get parents to help out with the sag wagon/camping/feeding, then try shaking down your local bike club for help on the ride. The money part of it would be the easiest-- lots of parents seem to come up with plenty of $$$ if they don't have to see Jr. for a week. (very sad IMHO)

    The whole insurance thing is complex and costs $$. I'd try to get some other non-profit to help out and use their policy.

    As a guy who's taken kids for century and double century rides....be perpared for lots of drama. With more than 3 kids on a ride, it's just a fact that at least one of them will have their undies in a bunch at any given time. It can reall wear a person out-- hence the need for lots of adults to deal with crap.

    Not to say that riding with kids isn't enjoyable......

  8. #8
    jwa
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    Quote Originally Posted by tacomee
    Over half the kids would quit in the middle of the trip.

    There would be a really nasty crash-- most likely somebody getting hit by a car.

    Honestly-- I think you're crazy! But in a really good kid loving way.

    After years of experience with middle-school age kids (3 of my own; Boy Scouts; Science Olympiad; etc) my initial response is the same as those posted. But I keep thinking about a book I read years ago - "Hey Mom, Can I Ride My Bike Across America?" - used to be available through Adventure Cycling, probably on ebay or Amazon now - written by a teacher who did, back in the 1980s, what you're talking about. I don't remember all the details, but teacher/author & his wife lead half a dozen middle school kids cycling 'cross country, with no deaths nor psychiatric hospitalizations involved. I kept thinking at the time, you'd sure need the right bunch of kids, and the right leader, to pull this off - yet several of the kids didn't even own a bike the year before their trip.

    A few quick questions come to mind:

    - This is a school group - what school district rules must you follow? Boy Scouts require that 1 adult never be alone with any kids - always 2 or more, to prevent any opportunity for (acusations of, or actual) impropriety. Does the school district have other stringent rules? If a parent meets the group along the trail & spends a night or 2, must the parent pass a criminal background check like my school district requires of such volunteers?

    - Are you the right leader for the trip? I've learned the hard way that, despite my best intentions, I'm good for a 3 or 4-day trip with the Scouts, but the Lord simply didn't give me the temperment to spend a 2-week High Adventure trip with 12 year olds. Maybe your skills should put you driving the sag wagon, orchestrating communication with parents, campsites, fixing the bikes, etc. rather than living with the kids fulltime.

    - What are the ground rules for such a trip? If one kid gets appendicitis, does the group wait for him until his parents fly in? What about one adult? What about you? What about the kid who wants to meet you in Nebraska because he's got summer soccer camp first?

    All that being said, what a great experience it would be for the kids! If you've got a core group of students/parents in mind, I'd vote: start doing the background work, training, etc & plan a trip summer '08. Give the parents a list of equipment for birthday suggestions, or for the kids to budget their money to buy. Talk to a few successful scout troop or church mission leaders about developing & carrying out duty rosters, leadership positions among the students, etc. If you can tie in with a local non-profit org., I'm sure there'e easy grant $ available if you develop this as a youth fitness project, with training over the year towards the big trip.

    Then, report back here or on crazyguy about your progress, roadblocks, parent issues, whatever - to give the next [bighearted? generous? naive? ] adult who gets this idea a head start on the process! Keep us posted!

  9. #9
    Because I thought I could ks1g's Avatar
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    Start small with a couple of days-1 week tour closer to home - use it to gauge enthusiasim and the level of participation and support. Also to work out logistical kinks. If the high school has a bike club (hint - START ONE) or outdoor adventuring club, they might be able to help. Practice rides and gear checks are essential.

    My son's Scout troop has done the C&O Canal towpath several times; I went on last year's ride; which we did self-supported over 5-6 days with a resupply midway through (parents drove up and hosted a picnic and brought clean clothes). We had rising 8-graders through 15 year olds and not quite a 1-1 adult:boy ratio. Also helped we had several experienced adult cyclists riding and the towpath is an excellent route (car-free and flat except for the detours).

    Even though the route is flat, it is NOT smooth and by the end of the trip everyone was ready for a couple of days break. We planned 30-40 miles each day (one day was a 50 miler to meet a merit badge requirement) and had plenty of water and rest stops. This also gave our guys time to get off the bikes and just be kids. I know other scout units have done longer trips as part of their "high adventure" program for older scouts. I read last year of a troop that did a coast-to-coast ride!

    Many areas have well-mapped touring routes to/from/around some landmark or recreation area of interest. I'd start with one of those. In the northeast, the C&O Canal, the Great Allegheny Passage, long loops on the Maryland Eastern Shore, the Erie Canal, several loop routes around the NY State Finger Lakes, and routes around Lake Champlain come to mind.

    +1 on the comments about make sure the legal aspects are all addressed well in advance. I'd be concerned about the ability of younger riders to adhere to road safety when on anything busier than a country lane. And don't be surprised what kind of bikes they bring! (That's what the gear checks and practice rides are for.)

    Another idea that just occurred to me would be to identify a 1-day charity ride and organize a "team" around the school. This would attract kids and their parents and the logistics and scope would be more managable.

    This will take a great deal of planning and preparation but will be a fantastic experience if you and they make it happen.

  10. #10
    Slow Rider bwgride's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ks1g
    Start small with a couple of days-1 week tour closer to home - use it to gauge enthusiasim and the level of participation and support.
    This is a good suggestion. Try a few 2 or 3 day trips and plan to ride about 30 miles a day. Short trips will provide more goofing off time for kids, which they will enjoy more.

  11. #11
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    Wow! That's quite an undertaking. Before you decide on a price, definitely find out how much the liability insurance for this will cost. Waivers notwithstanding, you need a pretty hefty policy to cover you in case someone gets hurt.

    You will almost certainly need multiple adults on this trip to help keep things in order. I don't know what ratio of kids to adults, but something like 1 adult per 5 kids might be appropriate. The other adults may need to be paid as well as you. You'll need male and female chaperones unless there are only boys on the trip.

  12. #12
    jwa
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    Quote Originally Posted by ks1g
    I'd be concerned about the ability of younger riders to adhere to road safety when on anything busier than a country lane. And don't be surprised what kind of bikes they bring! (That's what the gear checks and practice rides are for.)
    Agree. My own kids' biking skills took a quantum leap after they took driver's ed - they understood much more clearly concepts such as right-turn lanes, watching for traffic turning toward them at an intersection, etc.

  13. #13
    Two H's!!! TWO!!!!! chephy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tacomee
    Lots of parents seem to come up with plenty of $$$ if they don't have to see Jr. for a week. (very sad IMHO)
    If this only happens a few days a year, I can sure as hell understand the parents! This is sad:

    Quote Originally Posted by supcom
    Before you decide on a price, definitely find out how much the liability insurance for this will cost. Waivers notwithstanding, you need a pretty hefty policy to cover you in case someone gets hurt.
    Such trips used to be about fun and great experiences before. Now they are about worrying to death about legal matters...

  14. #14
    addicted to coffee velotimbe's Avatar
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    Dont listen to the naysayers..... Many adults have negative views of teenagers that are not founded in reality.

    The students will be able to handle it just fine, I work for an organization that does just such a thing. We take teenagers on 2-8 week bike tours, unsupported, one of which is cross-country.

    Our company charges $4140 for that trip, and we are for-profit, I would bet that you could get away with charging around $3500 for the same thing, if you were just covering your costs and not paying yourself.

    I have accumulated over 250 on-road days and over 6000 miles on unsupported tours with teenagers. They are the greatest people in the world for a bike trip because they have tons of energy and are willing to try anything. They are better than any adult group, I find adults are the whiners when they have bad weather, or dont like the hostel, etc. But teenagers are resilient and wonderful people to tour with. I would highly reccomend your endeavour, and I would even help you plan and/or lead it if you are serious. I am a schoolteacher as well the rest of the year.

    If you plan it right too, you dont have to worry much. Liability insurance is not as much as you would think if you have proper rules and policies in place. The company I work for has been in business for 37 years and has a safety record greater better than any other outdoor recreation camps. We were the first people in the world to invent bicycle helmets (our first trips wore kayak helmets before real bike helmets were invented), we also invented nylon panniers (canvas was before, and it always got stuff wet), and we were the first people to commission Cannondale to make their panniers in bright red and orange.

    If you go at it with a can-do attitude, and make sure you get everything in order, it will be a great experience.

    If you have questions for me, or need help, my email is krueg252(AT)umn(DOT)edu
    gunnarroadiesurlylonghaultruckergiantcypressstgunnarruffiantrekfuel90

  15. #15
    Two H's!!! TWO!!!!! chephy's Avatar
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    Hey, velotimbe, that sounds great! Good for your company - what a wonderful employer to work for!

    I still say however it depends on the particular teenagers. At least one got to have some shorter test tours to make sure the equipment is in order and all the kids can handle the distance. Does your company do any such thing? Does it test kid's equipment (what if somebody shows up with a crumbling banana-seater! )?

  16. #16
    n00b
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    if i was in highschool i would totaly do it. that sounds hienous (good)

  17. #17
    addicted to coffee velotimbe's Avatar
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    insuring the student is coming with proper equipment is a part of any summer camp. The students sign up months in advance, and are given plenty of information on what to bring, and they are given a checklist to bring with their bike to a bike shop. Many students that can afford (or parents) this type of trip typically purchase a new bike for their students for these trips, which we make suggestions. Our current list of favorites is the Trek 7.2, 7.3, Giant FCR line, Jamis Coda, and Cannondale T800 (For those with more $$). Despite what people mention on these forums, I have personal experience with Trek 7.2s working better and lasting longer than more expensive "touring" bikes (e.g. Novara Randonee) on these loaded trips. I personally ride a LHT, and it really doesnt serve the purpose better than the hybrids for these kids. So dont fret about kids having to get expensive bikes, it is truthfully not that big a deal, so long as they dont bring dad's schwinn suburban.
    gunnarroadiesurlylonghaultruckergiantcypressstgunnarruffiantrekfuel90

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