Meet Colin- TWV Trips Leader & Program Facilitator

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Colin has been a part of TWV since 2015. Besides being a Bike Club and Bike Science Program Facilitator, he has led our Morley 2016 trip and is about to leave with our 2016 Badlands to Banff trip this week! Follow along on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! 

 

 

Name: Colin King

Job Title at TWV: Program Facilitator and Trips Leader
Favourite travel destination: Hard to pick just one, but I love visiting the ocean!
Favourite thing about TWV: Sharing what I love with with young people, and inspiring them to be more active outdoors.
When I’m not at TWV, I can often be found: Riding my bike on the roads of Calgary and area, hanging out with my dogs, and exploring out in the world around me.
Best bike tip: Ride your bike and have fun in whatever way is fun for you, just be considerate and safe while doing it. Also never forget your ABC check!
Who was your role model growing up: The world is full of so many amazing people, its hard to just pick one. The first person that comes to mind is Steve Irwin. He was an excellent role model because of his passion and excitement for nature and sharing it with everyone else.
Best advice received: Learn to accept help from others! Sure you can probably carry all that stuff on your own, but what’s the harm in sharing the load with someone who offers.
TWV should plan a bike trip to… Jasper! I love our mountain parks and I think a bike trip along the ice fields parkway would be amazing!

Item I never forget on a bike trip: Sunglasses (with interchangeable lenses)! I can’t ride my bike without eye protection.

If I could only have one food for an entire bike trip, it would be… Tacos!

Favourite quote: “Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” – Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky

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Meet Allison- TWV Trips Leader

Allison Flach

Allison is leading our Argentina Youth Bike Trip with her cousin Darren from July 7-26, 2016. Watch for updates from their trip on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts! Interested in joining a TWV Trip in 2017? Click here

Name: Allison Flach

Job Title at TWV: Trip Leader (Argentina)

Favourite Bike: Linus!

Favourite Travel Destination: India

Favourite thing about TWV: TWV encompasses all of the best things in life: community, bikes, and the life changing impact of travel and experience!

When I’m not at TWV, I can often be found…on a trail in the trees, on a yoga mat, my bicycle, or somewhere in India. (in the trees, on a yoga mat, or my bicycle).

Best Bike Tip: through the Indus and Nubra Valleys, Ladakh, Northern India

Who was your role model growing up?  I was blessed to be surrounded by a close family of strong, remarkable women from whom I learned strength, courage, and compassion. Notably, my Grandmother, Aunt Monica, and of course, my amazing mother, who is the embodiment of selfless generosity and love.

Best Advice Received: My dad always told me that if we act from a place of service to others, whether that be in family or work, we will find happiness and fulfillment. I believe this to be one of the greatest truths of life.

TWV should plan a bike trip to…  Ladakh, India!

Favourite Quote: “The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them”.

Want to meet other members of the team? Say hello to Rick, Laura, Madeleine, Colin, Simone & Tanille!

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Meet Darren- TWV Trips Leader

Darren is leading our Youth Argentina Trip this year with his cousin Allison (her bio will be in next week’s blog!) We’ve loved having Darren volunteering in the office as he prepares to take youth from Canada, the US and Argentina on the adventure of a lifetime! For more information about our trips for youth, adults and groups– click the links. Follow the Youth Argentina Trip on our Facebook, Twitter & Instagram and at the hashtag #TWVTrips2016.

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Name: Darren Flach

Job Title at TWV: Trip Leader, Volunteer-of-all-trades

Favourite Bike: My LKLM Discover touring bike…an obscure Chinese brand which I have nicknamed ‘The Beast’. It is indestructible, and is currently in Thailand, patiently waiting for me to continue my around the world trip!

Favourite Travel Destination: Leh, Ladakh, India. A magical place if there ever was one.

Favourite thing about TWV: I love that TWV uses the bicycle as a vehicle for change in the lives of kids. I firmly believe in this.

When I’m not at TWV, I can often be found… in a coffee shop, sipping a Cappuccino, in a creative bubble, plugging away at my book.

Best Bike Tip: Just get your butt on a bike. As often as possible!

Who was your role model growing up? Both my father and my grandfather were my role models. My dad because he had the courage to pursue a career doing something he loved and my grandfather because he enjoyed life more than anyone I have ever met.

Best Advice Received: From my uncle: “If you are going to blog about your travels, don’t just say what you did, write about your feelings.”

TWV should plan a bike trip to… Oh!! The Manali-Leh Highway in the Indian Himalayas. A wild, wild, wild ride!!

Favourite Quote:Life is uncertain, eat dessert first.

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Cycling Argentina- A Participant Perspective.

Meiting Lai participated in our 2016 Youth Volunteer Trip to Argentina in 2015. She shares her insights about the adventure and provides really helpful tips for those who are joining the ride! **Click on the photos without the captions to see more notes from Meiting!**

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Quick break while on the road

Hi! My name is Meiting Lai and I had the opportunity to participate in the youth volunteer trip to Argentina during the 2015 summer. I hope this post will answer some of your questions, whether you’re on the edge deciding to participate on the trip, or if your trip is coming up next month!

Trip Overview

 

This is the trip overview for my year:

  • Day 1: Salta Prep Day
  • Day 2: Salta – El Carril 35km
  • Day 3: El Carril – Dique Dabre Corral 35km
  • Day 4: Dique Dabre Corral – Alemania 51km
  • Day 5: Alemania – Yesan River 50km
  • Day 6: Yesan – Cafayate 30km
  • Day 7: REST DAY!
  • Day 8: Cafayate – Quilmes 55km
  • Day 9: Quimes- Trout farm 35km *
  • Day 10: Trout Farm- Tafi del Valle 40km *
  • Day 11: REST DAY!
  • Day 12: Tafi del Valle – Yerba Buena 109km
  • Day 13: Cultural Exchange
  • Day 14: Wrap up

 

*Uphill days, get ready to drink some herbal altitude teas

In total we biked more or less 450km! (Hover over photo for details)

A little bit of Advice

How athletic am I? How in shape do you have to be to keep up?

Okay let me begin by saying I am not the athletic type at all! I participated in my school’s swim team and cross country but I am ridiculously slow. In fact, the only time I got a medal that was not for participation, was at a race where there were only 3 runners in my category ….🙂

Everyone starts the trip at different levels but after biking for 2 weeks, we basically end up on the same level. The trip is designed to be adaptable; we start off riding around 17km-30km a day, and eventually move on to biking 100km! There are plenty of rest days in between for your muscles and stamina to grow.  The trip leaders are also very knowledgeable, understanding, and approachable. They disperse themselves so that there is always someone at the back and front.

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If you don’t bike a lot, I would say to explore Calgary’s bike paths or even bike to school. Personally I found it so surprising how far a bike can take you! I live on the edge of the city and taking an express bus downtown would take around an hour, but on the other hand biking would also take me around an hour (17km). Also try to build your cardio by doing long jogs but at a very manageable pace.

Know how to use bike gears for those killer hills (there’s no one that complained more than me) and again, learn to pace yourself!

What about food?!! 

The Argentinean diet is heavily based on cheese, bread and meat. However,  we had all sorts of special diets from different participants that were vegan, vegetarian, and pescetarian that were well fed. Sometimes we ate out in restaurants, treated by our hosts , and sometimes we made food especially while on the road. We were split into different committees of 3-4 people and we rotated responsibilities every day, such as food preparation.

Pack appropriately

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Rainforest

Remember that while it’s summer here in Calgary, it’s winter in Argentina! On one of our last days, we were zigzagging our way down from a mountain through a rainforest. But it wasn’t like what you thought a rainforest is at all! Don’t get me wrong the scenery was really beautiful like we were placed in a car commercial, but it was not the humid, steamy and warm environment we expected. I suppose the day itself was a bit chillier than average, but it was a combination of the little body activity required from going downhill, constant wind and the damp environment  that made basically everyone put on all the clothes they had at the top of the mountain; we’re talking about 3-4 layers here. I personally made the mistake of not bringing gloves and had to resort to making DIY gloves using socks and wrapping it in plastic bags…but on the bright side, there’s something about collective suffering making you that much closer with everyone! As we made our way downhill, the weather managed to change so much that we were back in our t-shirts and shorts. The scenery alongside every moment was absolutely beautiful, and I would consider this one of the most memorable moments of the trip. So what have I learned:

  • Pack clothes that you are comfortable to move in
  • Bring warm clothes that are easy to layer
  • More socks! (Many of my friends had to reuse many days old socks…)
  • Sunscreen (reapply too) I can’t emphasize this enough! You are out in the sun all day
  • But above all, pack lightly! Remember that you are carrying whatever you packed, for a near 500km.
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Calm before the storm AKA before our first hill day (we biked up those hills in the background!)

Even in the middle of never-ending deadlines, assignments and exams, I often think back to the experiences I had in Argentina last summer and they are truly unbelievable. The fond memories I gained from that adventure are none like the others, and will probably be irreplaceable in the future as well. Take advantage of this opportunity to live in the moment, learn to stop and smell the roses, even when you’re back in your daily cycle.

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It takes a village: Building a TWV bike trip.

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They say it takes a village to raise a child. The same might be said for organizing our youth bike trips. The trip leaders take on a lot of the work but there are so many moving parts (beyond those of the bikes of course!) that make these trips a success. A lot of work by the whole TWV team goes into making our adventures safe, life-changing adventures for our participants.

It typically starts with Colin, our Trips Manager, who works to organize the groups, makes schedules and calendars, manages the participant paperwork, liaison with group leaders, books campsites & hostels and spends long hours shopping for flights and making sure our youth get to where they need to be to start their adventure. He answers parent questions, runs pre-trip orientations and leader trainings and often leads a trip in the summer as well.

Madeleine, our Program Coordinator, has been taking care of a million tiny tasks that contribute a great to deal to trip success. Organizing on-trip program activities, preparing trip binders for leaders, re-jigging hostel reservations to fit our now larger groups, sorting through and purchasing new equipment, dropping off and picking up leaders, sending pictures to me and providing support to Colin are only a few of the tasks she’s been involved in lately.

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Our Bike Club facilitators (in addition to being awesome at that too!) take on extra responsibilities, which include, the tremendous job of tuning up our bike fleet (more than 50 bikes this time!) for the trips, driving leaders and equipment, keeping our storage areas under order and helping to confirm trip details. Some of them are also Trip Leaders, which means they take on additional responsibilities for groups, budgets, travel, safety, passports, meals, youth development and group management. We are fortunate to have this incredible team of dedicated individuals on board. They truly have an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ mentality. Thanks to Jill, Tara, Molli, Colin, Kayla, Mike and Simone for all their work this year.

Trip season for Rick means that he’s communicating with program partners and funders, making lists, working on gear, wrenching on bikes, purchasing additional equipment, working on program evaluations, coordinating and running trip leader trainings, and occasionally saddling up to be a part of a trip when required. I think that’s the part he likes best.🙂

We’ve been fortunate to have Darren volunteering around the office the past couple of months and he’s been helping us with tasks including driving leaders and gear and the countless loading and unloading of the van that happens this time of year. Darren will be leading the Youth Argentina trip in July with his cousin Allison and has been busy getting ready for that too!

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This year we’ve been fortunate to work with an evaluator to understand the true impact our program is having on the participants. Anne designed our evaluation tool, is collecting interviews and other data so we can understand the participant experience more fully. I’m excited to see and share the results of this exciting initiative. Thanks Anne!

For me, as the communications director, my job is to collect pictures and stories about the incredible adventures that our youth are on. I also act as ‘at-home’ support for changed plans, weather advisor, driver, occasional cook, photographer and equipment hauler and I’m a emergency response plan team member. I post content that the trip leaders send me to our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so that parents, funders and program partners can stay informed. I write blog articles, edit videos, connect with media and try my best to tell the story of TWV as it’s happening. I’m really fortunate to be able to meet incredible youth, passionate parents and inspiring supporters of our work. They all have such awesome stories that I love being able to share with the world.

This list only scratches the surface of the effort that everyone is making so these trips are a success and I haven’t even mentioned the work our bookkeeper Tom does to process payments and write receipts, the home front support that Rick’s wife Tanya provides the entire team.  There are also many hours by other volunteers and the work by our program partners do in getting their youth ready to take a trip.

By the end of this year, we’ll have had 83 days on trips with 115 participants. It takes a lot to get geared up for these trips but to see the smiles on the youth, hear the feedback from parents and our program partners and to get to explore more of our great planet from the seat of a bike- it’s definitely worthwhile.

Join the Ride!

Laura

Colin

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