November 12, 2013
If you had three, possibly four, days of bike-touring experience, would you agree to take 10 kids on a six-week cross country trip? No matter how you would choose to answer this, Mike Lessard, Adventure Cycling’s newest tours specialist, answered, "yes!"
Mike grew up in Greene, Maine, and after graduating with a degree in recreation management from the University of New Hampshire, Mike worked at Apogee Adventures as a hiking guide for three years in Washington State, New England, and Puerto Rico.
The following season, Mike got the opportunity to lead Apogee’s American Coast to Coast trip from Charleston, South Carolina, to San Diego, California. With less than a week of touring experience, Mike faced six weeks, 10 kids, and 2,800 miles, appearing confident while trying to figure out his own system and seeing states that he had never been to before. “A sharp learning curve — basically we got dropped off at the end of the country and started biking,” he told me. Along the route came acts of kindness and a great surprise. Two weeks into the trip the Wall family in Eldorado, Arkansas, opened up their family farm to the group. The Wall’s went above and beyond, providing beds, laundry, home cooked meals, and a taste of true southern kindness. Mike felt like he was in the groove and had learned how to be a bike tour leader. Countless memories and experiences were gained and good food continued to fuel the group across the country.
The following summer, Mike led the same tour and was amazed at what a different trip it was from the year before, even though the route was the same. Both years Mike loved watching the kids grow and learning how he grew as a leader and teacher.
We are excited to welcome Mike Lessard the Adventure Cycling Association tours department.
Photos courtesy of Mike Lessard
ON THE ROAD is written by the tours team — Lydia, Darrah, Mike, Mandy, and Arlen — tours specialists and intrepid bicyclists, covering all things related to the Adventure Cycling tours department. Check out our 2014 Guided Tours today!