Words - by Keat Tham
The sound of my phone vibrating to confirm the payment of my trip to Tasmania was barely audible over the hearty din going on in the izakaya we were in, 9000km away in the onsen town of Takayama, Japan.
Fast forward 5 months and I was being picked up by the CycleHosts team at the tiny airport of Devonport, Tasmania and loaded into the mini-bus for the short drive to Penguin.
I had the familiar uneasiness of being in close proximity to a bunch of people I did not know. It is a situation that scares me a lot even now, but one I have increasing learnt to embrace. My holiday in Japan with CycleHosts really changed my perspective in embracing the unknown – that while scary, could also be a whole lot of fun.
Tasmania was a place I had on my bucket-list, but I’ve always created excuses to not visit. I came to realise, all those months ago as I sat (slightly intoxicated) in that faithful izakaya, that I was for the first time, in a long while, really enjoying myself – and that made me commit to a second CycleHosts trip.
Penguin, population approx. 4000, is a small quaint town where we called home for 4 nights across the extended weekend in March. Our little group of 10 eager cyclists were led by Diane and Ben, the Directors of CycleHosts, with Hannah and Roey – a great team and two of their wonderful ride hosts – who intimately knew the surrounding area and were our local hosts for the weekend.
One of the main reasons why I decided to partake in my second trip with CycleHosts was really how I felt about the way they conducted Japan trip. Never did I feel like Ben, Diane or the local hosts were “tour guides” and that I was on a “tour”. I remember feeling very much like part of a larger collective – and as the days progressed, we all grew closer and (for my part) would call all who attended the Japan trip – Ben, Diane and the hosts included – my friends.
The trip to Penguin, Tasmania, did not disappoint in that regard. Ben, Diane, Hannah and Roey were the only people I knew going into the trip and hence I had a lot of trepidation. But the itinerary they planned and the warmness of all the people involved facilitated a fantastic vibe amongst all of us.
Hannah and Roey were excellent local guides who took us through some fantastic roads that frequently reminded me how much more there was out there than just life at work. Penguin and the surrounding towns that Hannah and Roey took us to served up some fantastic coffee and food that nicely complimented our ravenous group of cyclists. The trip ended with me feeling like I’ve only just scratched both the surface of Tasmania and the group that I was with, and in both aspects left me wanting more.
I began this piece with the purpose of writing about my experience with CycleHosts in Tasmania, but as I progressed I realised that it was the atmosphere that CycleHosts has managed to instill in their ride groups (in both Japan and Tasmania) that formed the basis of my great experience.
I believe no matter the locale, CycleHosts would probably deliver on these great adventures as I feel a big part of it involves the people you experience this with. This is probably no coincidence given the CycleHosts’ mantra of “The Places You Go, The People You Meet”.
I for one eagerly look forward to the next time I can discover some place new with CycleHosts.