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People Behind the Scenery - Our UK Biking Specialist
4 Min Read
21 March 2024
People Behind the Scenery - Our UK Biking Specialist

We’ve pulled back the curtain so you can peek at how things work behind the scenes here at Macs HQ. Get to know some of our experts, specialists, fellow walking enthusiasts and small business owners who meticulously plan your trips, do all the logistical legwork and provide 24/7 support, so you can have a memorable, stress-free trip. 
 

Spotlight on Rhona, our UK Sales & Biking Specialist 

This month we’ve interviewed Rhona, one of our UK Sales and biking specialists who has also featured in some of our self-guided biking videos. We talked about her favorite biking destination, some packing and safety tips and how easy self-guide biking holidays really are. 
 

  • What made you fall in love with biking?  

The feeling of freedom. You can cover so much ground on a bike, so they’re perfect for exploring. It’s also a huge love of my family, so it’s really special to have a shared interest. To be honest, I wasn’t that into biking until I did my first trip with Macs (huge thanks to my manager at the time, Erin, for organizing this!) I completed the Cycling in the Heart of the Cotswolds with my dad, and I just fell in love with all things bike and now I seem to have 3 bikes living in my dining room! 

 

  • What’s a common misconception about biking vacations? 

That you need to be a cyclist to enjoy the vacation. This is so wrong as all you need is a sense of adventure. There are lots of easy trips for your first time where the routes are easy to follow and are mostly flat. I’d normally recommend that a first-timer should hire an e-bike as they help to flatten any hills and reverse the wind! A great trip for a first-timer would be our Canal du Midi in France.  

    

  • What's your favorite and Wishlist biking trip? 

I loved our Cycle Sicily's South self-guided trip, I completed this last summer twice! Once with my parents as part of a Macs photoshoot and then immediately after with my boyfriend. We had the best time. This was his first experience of a biking vacation and now he’s hooked! This trip gave us a great combination of really nice biking, culture and amazing food and drink. One of our favorite parts of this trip was that we were able to stop and have a swim during the day and then hop back on the bikes to carry on to our next hotel.  

Cycle Sicily's South

On my Wishlist is the Via Francigena by Bike trip. This is one of our newer trips and since it was introduced, I’ve had my eye on it as I just love the idea of completing a section of the famous Via Francigena and also riding into Rome. I’m lucky enough to be completing this trip in April so will report back with all my top tips! 

  Three cyclists in front of Noto cathedral

  • What's one thing you make sure you pack? 

A good pair of biking shorts. If you’re spending consecutive days in the saddle you need to make sure that you’re comfy - there’s nothing worse than a sore butt!  

  • Who do you bring on your biking vacations? 

My number one choice is my boyfriend as we’ll normally bike together anyway, but he’s a lot stronger and fitter than me so each ride is a bit of a race (and a race that I always lose!). But if I fancy something a little more relaxed, I love traveling with my parents. They‘re both great cyclists but a little less competitive and let me stop for more coffees.  

two cyclists in Modica

  • How do you know which type of bike is best for your trip? 

This really depends on the terrain that I'm covering on the trip, but I’d normally go for a hybrid bike as this give you a relaxed riding position so you can sit up and take in the views.  

  • How do you navigate routes while biking? 

All of our trips have the route information on our app so it’s really easy to follow on your phone. I’d recommend buying a phone holder so that you can be sure your phone is securely attached to your handlebars.  

On the Macs app, you can opt to have the screen 'always on' by tapping the little padlock on the map screen. Then when the app is mounted in the phone holder on the handlebars, it’ll stay on, and the arrow will stay centred on your location. You can also tap the compass, so the orientation of the map matches your surroundings, like GPS does. So, it's visually clear if your next turn is left or right.   

  Three cyclists looking at directions on their phone

  • Is it easy to do self-guided? 

Oh my goodness it’s so easy, and what better way to travel and have someone else take care of all the boring logistics? You have the freedom to travel at your own pace knowing that you have a lovely hotel booked at the end of the day.  

  • What's the difference between e-bikes and hybrid?

I get asked this so many times a day! Hybrid bikes are your classic push bike with no power assistance. The name hybrid comes from the types of terrain it can cover so it’s good on and off the road.  

An e-bike is a power-assisted bike, so you still need to pedal in order to get it moving, and I think that is quite a common misconception. On e-bikes, you can choose different settings like eco or turbo. This indicates the level of assistance that you can get. The best way I can describe an e-bike is that it will flatten the hills and reverse the wind.  

  Three people having lunch at a cafe in Sicily

  • Do I need tons of biking experience?  

No, but I’d recommend that you do some training in order to prepare for your trip. It’s still meant to be a vacation at the end of the day so we want to make sure that you can get the most out of it.  

  • Favorite type of bike? 

Oh, hard question! I have 3 bikes (gravel, mountain and road) and not sure I can choose a favorite, but at the moment I’m focusing on my road bike as we’re training for an event coming up this summer. I prefer to stay away from cars as much as possible so often find routes on quiet back roads and it’s amazing how much ground you can quickly cover. 

   a cyclist sitting in front of a field next to the Danube river

  • How fit do you need to be?

 Very similar to our hiking trips it’s best if you have a good base level fitness so that you can get the most out of the vacation, but you definitely don’t need to be clocking up the miles every day in preparation. We have lots of trips for different abilities so there’s something for everyone. 

  • Are there any biking events you’d recommend?  

I love a closed road event - there are lots of them all over the UK. I’m taking part in the Caledonia Etape in May. It’s based up in Pitlochry, Scotland and has the most stunning 85-mile route! It’s going to be a real challenge for me as it’s the longest ride I’ll have ever done and there are lots of hills, but they also have more accessible lengths, so it’s great for everyone to get involved.  

  • Do you have any biking safety tips?  

  • Wear a helmet  

  • Wear bright colors so that you’re really visible on the road 

  • Get a set of bike lights 

  • Take a puncture repair kit with you and know how to use it (all our bike hire comes with this, if you have never repaired a puncture before it's not that hard. Check out YouTube for a tutorial or head to your local bike store and they’ll be able to show you what to do). 

Check out our self-guided biking trips

Kirsty Schneider

Written by

Kirsty Schneider
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