Spain 2022, Part 1 of 3
My wife, son, and I just got back from a 12-day Threshold Tour (aka work trip) in Spain, and it was a dream come true for us. The background story is the content for this blog, and the following two blogs will discuss the trip properly.
In the Beginning:
Early in 2019, about 90 days after selling my business, I gathered people I professionally trusted to help my wife and me create a vision for what we should do with the rest of our days. Selling my business created sufficient wealth to pause and survey the people and places around me before acting. Since I never had this luxury of extra time and extra money, I invested in a professional strategic planner to guide the conversation. My wife and I agreed that we would only be better off if we elicit some thoughtful and objective opinions about the unique combination of skills Linda and I should consider offering the residents of Earth.
The group voiced what we already knew but was convinced that neither of us had developed. They said I am a strong mentor, and my heart to see people overcome mediocrity creates trust. It gives others enough courage to let me lead them into the unknown. My wife’s skill was equally apparent to the group. She is called to help others feel safe and cared for, and she extends hospitality to all who cross her path. Our combined skills lead us to a vision statement.
Transforming lives by challenging & conquering perceived limits.
Those words formed our identity. They matriculated into the website’s color scheme, and we wrote words and created outbound messaging to make people want to work with us. Our business didn’t require a plan that included growth plans into remote regions or thoughts on markets we didn’t understand. We were a husband-and-wife team, and our goal was to take our strengths and give back to our community. Concurrently, we saw no way to separate it from our faith. This context became the core of our new community-facing identity.
Half of the group quickly pointed out that I teach, guide, and inspire action. Linda helps others feel comfortable while being curious. It seemed like the two of us were a match in this business. Threshold Academy was born.
Our friend Megan joined us two months before this meeting on a post-business-sale celebration in a rural part of Spain. Megan already owned a boutique travel company, but she didn’t do a high adventure as we intended. We flew to Madrid, rented a car, and drove to Andalucia. We explored some of the great cycling routes of the area during some of the days, but mostly, we just drank lots of wine, watched the sunset, and enjoyed Spanish weather.
“We ought to do a cycling tour here,” we thought. However, we didn’t have enough intelligence on either the area or the culture to plan something out. Once we got home, Linda and I contacted Chris and Helen, a couple we knew who did cycling tours in parts of Europe. They agreed to host us in a nearby piece of Spain that they called home while taking us cycling. We coordinated the visit around our youngest son’s Spring Break, and he, in turn, invited his girlfriend at the time to join us. Linda and I both knew that we each would need an assistant if we were to organize an epic tour through the mountains and the desert, and it made sense to integrate Rachel and Alex into our “real” Spanish Cycling Tour reconnaissance trip.
During the first week of March of 2020, Alex and I rode up and down the mountains of Marina Alta, enjoying the views of the sea and the desert landscapes. Meanwhile, Linda and Rachel explored quaint towns and old architecture in the nearby city of Javea, Denia, and Xalon. Each night, Helen cooked a meal sequence that worked for us. Linda and I are omnivores, while Alex and Rachel are vegetarians, and Helen knows how to accommodate both types.
There was no way to know that the world was in the early stages of experiencing a has since been defined as COVID-19. While we were there, we met one person who was scared to shake our hands, but we were a long way from understanding what was happening. Soon, though, the world began closing, and we headed back to Madrid on nearly empty highways. The airport was almost void of travelers except for people like us trying to get back home. We listened to the news and wondered if we would ever return to Spain to execute our dream.
Once we reached home, the fear of COVID-19 was deeply entrenched in the world’s governments and the media, and we decided we could not combat that. We had a good idea about how to “do” a Spanish cycling trip with a group, but there was nearly no value to attempting to market it and sell it with the world telling everyone they will surely die if they expose themselves to this virus. The world wasn’t ready for international risk, even though a few individuals (like me) were more than prepared to begin traveling.
However, at the end of 2021, we began to put our vision into the market to see who might want to try cycling in Spain. Quickly, many of the athletes that I coach signed up. Some agreed to bring their wives. Then, someone I didn’t know decided to jump in. Soon, all the available space at the villa was full, and I labeled our trip as sold out. I began saying no to people who wanted to come.
Linda and I spent more time planning the trip than we did “doing” the trip. Alex and Rachel broke up, but Linda was able to recruit Cristal to help her. Alex remained my helper, and both of us worked on the preparations that we knew would be instrumental in fueling enthusiasm while we were there.
Alex and I created cycling routes based on our experiences, and we made a few of them up based on smaller sections that we had ridden and remembered. Linda thought through was items she would need to bring with her vs. what was available at the local grocery stores and the kitchen at the villa. One of our three suitcases was filled with items we needed to have to make folks feel welcome and safe.
Every few weeks, I used my skill as an author to add value. I sent out an email that included both trip contents for the riders and inspiration for what was to come. When we were a month away from travel, we had a pre-trip zoom meeting to set expectations further and answer the group’s questions. We told stories from our last trips, and I was away from the details once we had them finalized. (or, so we thought).
When the trip was over, Linda and I took an extra day to hang out at the villa and enjoy each other and the experience that we had created. All the participants had departed us, and Alex left with them to get back to college in Arizona. She and I debriefed on what we did right, and we decided to change a few agenda items that didn’t work for either the participants or us. When we finally returned the keys to the housekeeper and began our drive back to Madrid, I held Linda’s hand as we started our hours-long campaign through nowhere Spain back to Madrid.
“Linda, we done good!” I told her. Our combined skills shone like a bright light on the trip. She could not have done this without me, and I could not have done this without her.
People got to ride where the pros train. They went up many categorized climbs of the sort we do not have in this part of the USA. They got to stop at roadside cycling cafes and look at the routes they had just taken with a sense of wonder in their eyes. They got to go downhill super-fast at the end of the Confrides ride, back into town.
Linda made sure people had a great breakfast before they hit the road each day, and she made sure that there was a dinner menu that accommodated seconds and thirds, as cyclists eat a lot!
Once we got back home and unloaded our stuff, I was glad to see that I never needed the items in the first aid kit that accommodated road rash. My wife returned to the kitchen all the things she brought, and we were glad that we carried extra cutting boards and our coffee cups with us.
We are already planning next year. Cristal says she is willing to come back and help us. Alex is also returning, as he made more money over Spring Break than working in his lab at Arizona State. Dates are set, and the routes are already being tweaked.
Come, join us next year. It promises to be even better.