This month our Travel Professional Interview is with Andy Levine, President and Founder of DuVine Adventures, an active adventure company focused on enhancing life through authentic travel experiences. DuVine operates multiple trips in more than 16 different countries worldwide; each tour specifically designed to maintain a sense of balance between adventure and luxury – immersing each traveler in the local culture while providing luxurious accommodations, good food and fine wines. The mission is to bike, eat, drink, sleep while exceeding expectations every day at every turn; no detail to small, no surprise to extraordinary, no nuance to subtle.
1) For many of us, you have a very enviable job. Did you purposely choose travel as a career or, as is often the case, did travel choose you?
I wanted to share my experience of travel with others – I had been living in France and gradually began to see a vision emerge – a way to combine my passions for cycling, great food, great wine, and luxury accommodations into one comprehensive whole: bike eat drink sleep. A simple mission, an amazing result. To this day I still strive to hold true to that vision and craft each tour with the same passion that led me into this career path.
4 and 5 star hotel accommodation; Michelin starred meal, full van support; professional and knowledgeable guides; wine included with all meals; tastings at some of the finest local vineyards; top of the line bicycles….
3) What is a typical day on tour like? Is there an average ride length?
A typical day starts with a delicious breakfast before we head out on the road to explore the countryside by bike. Throughout the day we will make various stops, whether that’s a visit to a winery for a tasting, to explore an historic site, tour a local cheese shop, meet the café owner in town, a roadside picnic, etc. There is a freedom to traveling by bicycle, an encumbered freedom that allows you to pause at will and take in all the sights, sounds, and aromas of the region you are exploring. On average, you will be cycling between 3 and 5 hours out of the day. You will eat lunch on the road, be it a picnic or at a local restaurant, and return back to the hotel for a few hours of downtime before you meet up for dinner that evening.
4) Do people have to be serious cyclist to handle a DuVine bike trip? What happens if someone’s legs run out of steam before the end of the day?
We cater to a wide range of cycling abilities, from novice to professional level cyclists. We offer guests a range of “comfort zones” to select from, allowing each guest the ability to choose what would work best according to their perceived level of cycling ability. That being said, there is always van support on the road for those who would like a break from the bike, be it a climb they feel is too challenging or if they don’t feel they can complete the entire route that day.
5) DuVine tours seem to emphasize food and wine as much as the actual cycling, making them perfect for active foodie-oenophiles. Can you tell us a little about the food and drink aspect of a DuVine trip?
Our motto is bike eat drink sleep, and each tour is designed to emphasize each of these elements. We visit some of the finest restaurants in the area, focus our picnics on the freshest of local ingredients, and strive to provide the most authentic experience of both the food and wines of the region. We include visits and tastings to some of the best vineyards in the region and include wine with all meals. While each tour focuses on the bike eat drink sleep elements, we have created some tours that highlight one facet more than others. We offer a Chef on Wheels series featuring renown chefs who not only ride alongside you on the road, but share their culinary secrets and creations with you throughout the week. Some of our tours are more wine-centric while others focus more on the riding: more mileage and challenging days in the saddle. However, each tour still maintains elements of each of four core ingredients.
6) What kinds of travelers choose a luxury bike trip? Can families bring kids?
We offer tours that appeal to a wide range of guests – couples, singles, and families. The majority of our guests are still in the work force and enjoy a more active approach to a vacation. We have honeymooners, guests celebrating anniversaries or graduations, summer vacations, and birthdays. We also offer scheduled departures, custom-designed family tours, and the ability to privatize a tour for your own personal group.
Family trips: The Czech Republic & Austria, the Loire Valley, Switzerland, Ireland. Strong riders: Our pro series tours and Cannondale tours Honeymooners: Tuscany, Champagne, and Provence
8) Do clients need to bring their own equipment and is there a “dress code?”
We provide all necessary equipment for the bike. Many guests prefer to use their own pedals and shoes so they bring them along and our guides handle the rest. We recommend bringing comfortable, breathable clothing for cycling during the day and casual evening attire for the night. Regarding “dress code,” Ireland is the only destination that men will need a jacket for dinner.
9) How many people are on a tour together? Do you simply ride from point A to point B as a group each day or can individuals stop for a break or detour for some sightseeing?
We limit our group size to 14. Our smaller group size offers a more intimate experience and better all-around service from our guides. Groups usually average between 8 and 10 guests. Your guides provide you with daily route instructions and a map each morning and ride alongside you on the route, leading the way and providing roadside support. Guest can stop along the route to take pictures, etc. Guides are also available to lead extra rides if guests are looking to extend their time in the saddle.
10) How much do you personally ride? Do you ever join the tours?
I ride as much as possible. Living in Boston, I don’t get out as much in the winter months, but I am on the road the moment the weather warms up and the days brighten. I am also lucky to be travelling throughout the year, giving me more opportunities to ride when the weather at home isn’t cooperative. I make a point of joining tours every year to visits guests, and I usually devote a solid month or so to make my rounds and visit different regions and guests. I’m also on the road creating new tours every year, personally riding and selecting the routes.
11) If I only let you pick one, what is your all-time favorite area to ride?
That’s a tough question…. Let me qualify that by saying my all-time favorite area to ride RECENTLY is on the French island of Corsica. ______________________________
Thank you, Andy, for sharing your travel style of bike, eat, drink, sleep!
If you would like to know more about DuVine bike tour itineraries, contact Covington Travel’s Adventure Specialists.
All photos courtesy of DuVine Adventures.