Q&A with SpiceRoads Bicycle Tours in Thailand

SpiceRoads Cycling is a bicycle tour company operating across Europe, Asia and Africa. Since 1995 they’ve been sharing their passion for travelling by bicycle and curating extraordinary cycle adventures in over 30 countries. A tour by bicycle presents the opportunity to get up close and personal with remarkable cultures, characters and landscapes in a way that no ordinary tour could. We find out more about the tours and the experiences in Thailand – read on to see the world differently!

Please introduce yourself will and tell us more about your role within the business.

Hi, my name’s Will Shoubridge. I handle SpiceRoads’ UK partnerships through both direct consumer and agency channels.

When did you fall in love with cycling and was creating something like SpiceRoads always your dream?

I grew up in the rolling hills of the Yorkshire Dales, so it was only a matter of time before I became hooked on cycling. I’d always known SpiceRoads as a company to have pioneered cycling itineraries in Asia that you commonly see throughout the industry now, so joining this intrepid mindset was the real attraction for me.

Tell us more about Spice Road….how did the idea come about and the journey to establishing it?

SpiceRoads was the creation of our present owner Hamish Keith, spawning from his years of experience as a tour leader and a long love affair with cycling. The Thailand tours he’d designed were only sold through tour operators originally but for various reasons they weren’t selling well enough. As Hamish knew how good these tours were and his clients really enjoyed them, he saw an opportunity to market them directly through the internet. He built the first SpiceRoads website from his home in Chiang Mai. You’ll actually find our ‘North Thailand by Bike’ tour is still very much the original tour operated in the 1990s. By 1996 we also had bike tours in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos and in 1998 in Myanmar. In 2000 SpiceRoads became Asia’s first dedicated cycle tour company and grown ever since.

At Spice Road there is a belief that there is no better way to see the world than by bicycle. What makes exploring on two wheels so special?

For me, cycling offers that unique pace to discover your surroundings and connection with nature. It’s not too slow or too fast. What you experience on a ride will only enhance the appreciation of the destination. Everywhere you travel in the world, bicycles are typically the local form of transport, so it’s an immensely effective way of immersing yourself in a culture and reaching areas no other forms of transport can. There’s also the challenge of the ride itself, when you discover new things about yourself. It’s a very intimate travel experience.

What can Spice Road clients expect from your service and tours?

SpiceRoads only do cycling tours, so we focus all our energy into this style of travel. These are essentially cycling tours created by cyclists, designed with the correct ingredients and balance to make it successful. The tours are fully inclusive and supported, which you see less of these days, and this really contributes to streamlining the trip. It’s also really important to our clients that we build in real distances appropriate for each grade category and the bike is definitely not just another mode of transport on a holiday. The best services, equipment and accommodation are selected for our clients without being overly exclusive or expensive and using expert local leaders is absolutely paramount.

Who is a typical ‘Spice Roader’ – if such a person exists!

This is actually much broader than you’d think. It really depends on the cycling style, which we’ve segmented in Excursions, Trails, Road, MTB Touring and Epic. You’ll more commonly see honeymooners and families on our short Excursions, an adventure traveller on our MTB touring range, seasoned thrill-seekers on the epic rides and more accomplished roadies that love smashing out the Kms on the road cycling bikes. Our core clients are typically between 35 – 60 years old and come from every corner of the world.

Why is Thailand such a good place to explore by bicycle?

Despite Thailand’s mainstream tourism boom, it is still hugely underestimated as a cycling destination. The northern, central and southern regions all offer immense variety for cycling and differing cultural experiences to match. It’s no surprise we have nearly 60 individual cycling tours in Thailand alone. The majority of Thai roads are some of the nicest you’ll find anywhere and riding point-to-point is very easily done. Thai people are extremely welcoming and serve up some of the most delicious cuisine on the planet – and cyclists need lots of food! Not to mention, along the way there is so much wonderful architecture, totally absent of Western influences, lush countryside and world-class beaches to stretch out tired legs.

Which is your favourite tour to date and why?

Mine would be our Road Cycling Bangkok – Phuket, which snakes down the tail of Thailand. It’s an entirely A-B coastal road bike ride through quiet fishing villages, beach towns and national parks on immaculate roads, eventually swapping between the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea. I’ve never had so much deliciously fresh seafood in my life.

Where have you not yet visited by bicycle (anywhere in the world!) and would still love to do so?

I’m a bit of a mountain junky and mountain biking in the Nepalese Himalayas is topping my list.

If you could share a tandem with anyone who would it be and why?

Steve McQueen. My best chance of looking cool on a tandem.

Top tip for a first-time visitor to Thailand?

Anything on a menu with the word ‘yum’ will mean spicy!

Find out more about Spice Roads on their website www.spiceroads.com