9 Questions About Life-Affirming Mountain Bike and E-Mountain Bike Tours: A Detailed Interview with H+I Adventures Co-Founder, Euan Wilson

H+I-Adventures-Switzerland Gearminded.com
Story by Dan Salcius

H+I Adventures crafts life-affirming mountain bike and e-mountain bike tours around the world. They are a small team dedicated to designing unforgettable small-group MTB and E-MTB holidays in places such as Switzerland, Namibia, Morocco, Italy, and Patagonia, to name a few. 

Euan Wilson, Co-Founder, and OG MTB Guide at H+I Adventures, connected with Gearminded years ago, to share life-affirming mountain bike tours with the cycling community. Since that first encounter, we’ve watched every mountain bike tour video produced by their team, all of which leave us awestruck. One thing is for sure: Euan and his team design life-altering experiences, giving attention to the bike and human element of travel and culture. 

Read our Interview with Euan Wilson of H+I Adventures:

It took us four years, but we finally joined Euan for a micro-interview. Keep reading to learn more about H+I Adventures: the business, the life-affirming tours, and everything in between. 

A sneak peak of H+I Adventures

1. Euan, can you please tell us about your roots (e.g., where did you grow up and where do you call home today?). Additionally, do you want to share any memories as a young cyclist or adventurer?

I grew up in a town just outside Glasgow, Scotland, and almost as soon as I could walk, I had a bike. I used to ride endlessly around our local area with my mates. So much so, my parents had to buy me a new bike every Christmas because the previous one had fallen apart from overuse.

BMX slowly morphed into mountain biking, which gave me the means to venture further away from home in search of adventure. This desire to escape into the unknown has stayed with me ever since.

As a teenager, I spent time in the Air Cadets. This is when I fell in love with the great outdoors. The time I spent in the Scottish wilderness with the Cadets, learning new skills and working as a team, allowed me to develop a deep respect for Mother Nature.

2. Euan, we want to understand your perspective on starting and owning an experience-based company focused on mountain bike and e-mountain bike tours. What influenced you to start the company? Can you explain a life-affirming mountain bike or e-mountain bike tour?

My wife Catherine and I started H+I Adventures back in 2007. We were frustrated by being unable to find the kind of mountain bike travel experiences we wanted. This was in the early days of trail mapping and mountain bike guiding, so information was sporadic and severely lacking in detail.

Traveling around Scotland and Europe with our mountain bikes, this lack of information often resulted in arguments and walking our bikes up trails that would have been a great descent. That, coupled with the chalet style of mountain bike vacation being the only way you could access a guide, it was a bit miserable, and lacking in any cultural interaction. 

So, being creative people, but having no talent to paint, play instruments or pen a bestseller, we found the outlet we were looking for — crafting world-class mountain bike experiences.

The crew assembled by H+I Adventures
The crew assembled by H+I Adventures working with the local community.

People often ask why we use the word ‘craft.’ For us, there’s a real art and skill in developing life-affirming mountain bike adventures. Every aspect of our tours is analyzed for two years before launch; we work with the local community, ride, eat, and stay in more places than I can remember to find the correct combination to tell our story in each location. Because storytelling and cultural immersion are all important. 

We think of our adventures as music. The ebbs and flows, with mellow parts, fundamental changes, and crescendos, all coming in at a certain point to tell the story and make you feel a certain way. That’s how we craft our adventures.

3. For current and future mountain bike and e-mountain bike enthusiasts, discovering H+I Adventures for the first time, how many trips do you offer, and how many countries do you operate tours? Which trip is the oldest, and which is the newest?

Currently, we operate in 16 destinations around the globe, with 19 mountain bike tours and 5 E-MTB adventures.

13 years ago, we started H+I Adventures with tours in the Scottish Highlands only, working in our own backyard where we could hone our style and expertise and develop the ideal recipe for a fantastic mountain bike adventure. All these years later, we’re incredibly excited to be moving with the industry to have launched our first 5 E-MTB tours in Spain, Croatia, Slovenia, Switzerland, and Namibia. It’s a fast-growing part of our industry and we’re keen to be at the forefront of innovation in E-MTB travel.

4. The H+I Adventures website provides so much helpful information for interested travelers, and it’s clear that each tour is much more than a mountain bike trip. Can you summarize who you design your trips/experiences for? (i.e., who’s your target guest(s)?).

I’m pleased you’ve noticed that our trips are more than just a mountain bike trip, that’s where all the hard work goes and sets us apart.

Catherine and I are still the main drivers of new tours and tour design, working hand-in-hand with our carefully selected local guides. We ensure a consistent level of quality is maintained across our range of adventures. Whether you join us in Scotland, Chile, Slovenia, or Nepal, you can be confident that you’ll have an incredible experience. A life-affirming experience.

H+I-Adventures-Switzerland Gearminded.com
Exploring ridge lines in the Swiss Alps

We offer many mountain bike adventures, from our novice + tour in Namibia to our advanced + Norway mountain bike expedition. Even our novice + tour is geared towards people who have previous mountain biking experience. You couldn’t come on that tour with no previous experience of off-road riding. You don’t need to be an expert, but you must know how to ride a bike and be comfortable on different trail surfaces. Guests must be up for an adventure!

5. H+I Adventures offers an abundance of epic adventures. However, for novice riders, Namibia is the sole destination. What makes the Namibia safari so special? We have to ask — how close do you get to African wildlife on this trip?

Yes, Namibia is an adventure like no other. I have been to Namibia several times over the years, and I always look forward to going back!

Giraffe in Namibia with H+I Adventures
Giraffe seen on the Namibia e-mtb tour

I classify myself as an advanced rider, but I still love riding there. As long as your mindset is right, and you head out there looking for adventure riding and not searching for the best piece of singletrack on Planet Earth, you’ll have an unforgettable experience. 

Namibia E-MTB tour teaser video

The animals are a constant companion in Namibia, and you do get very close to them, safely and without interfering with their lives. When we are in the areas where rhino, lion, or elephants are roaming, we will hop back into the support van. We won’t take any chances with your safety. It’s important that we don’t disrupt their natural behavior by invading their space.

We are exploring the possibility of offering more introductory level tours, which will sit below our novice+ adventures and enable more people to experience the joy of mountain bike travel. So watch this space on our website!

6. With so many epic adventures on the H+I Adventures roster, I imagine that some guests choose the destination over their comfort level on the bike. How do you advise guests that want to take a trip that might be slightly more technical than their current riding ability?

It’s an eternal problem with mountain biking, matching ability with desire. But that’s our job, and we work very hard to ensure that all riders are on the right tour for them. We will be as honest as possible with people, and as long as they are honest with us (and themselves), we will get people on the adventure that suits them best. 

It takes years of training and riding to unpack what a customer wants to ride, compared to what they can ride. But that’s what we train for in the customer service team here at HQ. It’s tough to have to tell someone that a specific tour is just not for them. However, if that’s the truth, and we can’t find a more suitable alternative, then that’s what we say.

7. From what we’ve learned over the past few years following H+I Adventures, you want future guests to know that cycling is one of many aspects of your tour offering. Which trip offers the most memorable experience for the foodie? What about someone seeking immersion into another culture?

As soon as someone asks me about food and immersion into another culture, my mind immediately darts to Spain.

The Sierra Nevada, in Andalucía southern Spain, is one of those regions in the world where food and drink are woven into every aspect of daily life. Gardens are set out for food production, roads and trails are lined by fruit trees, cafés in the mountains still have mum cooking in the kitchen, and tapas in the evening over some local red wine is a fine way to spend a warm evening after a day on the mountain bike.

Spain mountain bike tour

“Riding with friends and wonderful guides through the Sierra Nevada is the ultimate way to experience the landscape and culture. The Spanish guide trio was simply in its own league. Proud of their beautiful region and culture and tasty food.” 

Jesper S., Denmark

In terms of full cultural immersion, the Morocco tour is hard to beat. You will truly feel like you’re experiencing the local way of life. In the hustle and bustle of Marrakech, but mainly when you head into the remote mountain villages where donkeys are still used for transporting goods, mint tea is a constant feature. Each household makes its own bread in a clay oven. The people are so welcoming, and every time we visit, we’re genuinely sad to leave.

Morocco mountain bike adventure video

“H+I has again produced a stunning bike adventure in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. Never-ending singletrack, a bit of hike-a-bike, mint tea stops with the locals and spectacular mountain vistas – what more do you need!” 

Sally E., Canada

See photos from the Euan’s Morocco trip summary

8. Interested guests can view your updated calendar and the corresponding itineraries — all of which account for COVID-19 changes. However, curious minds want to know what’s next for H+I Adventures. Can you share how you identify new destinations and what goes into the process?

Our immediate attention is on working with all of our customers to ensure that any tours we can deliver this year are done so safely, and that we’re making the process of changing plans for riders whose tours have been affected by COVID-19 as seamless as possible. 

We’re not known for standing still. So yes, we have plans in the pipeline that will satisfy the adventure appetites of our existing rider base and will also bring some fresh faces into mountain bike travel for the first time.

9. Lastly, for the bike lovers out there, what’s your bike of choice at the moment? Do you have a favorite of all time?

Bikes, good question.

I currently have two bikes on the go, both are Yeti. I have a cross-country fast Yeti SB100 for munching the miles. Still, this bike is surprisingly capable on the steep and technical trails, so I have it built with a slightly grippier front tire. And for fun and big mountain riding, I am enjoying taking the Yeti SB150 into the rough stuff! And I couldn’t possibly answer which bike is my favorite, they all have a place in my heart, but if pushed, the SB150 fits like a glove.

For now, we must let Euan and team get back to crafting life-affirming mountain bike and e-mountain bike tours around the world. But here’s what you can do if you didn’t get enough H+I Adventures talk over the past ten minutes. Head over to their site, review the list of tours, and start planning your mountain bike or e-mountain bike adventure.

Send pictures, please!

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