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How one cycling enthusiast turned their passion into a thriving tour business

Read on for our chat with Lauren, where she talks about everything from the initial inspiration behind Adventure Velo through to the breathtaking beauty of the Cotswold

a group of people riding bicycles on a road

Adventure Velo was born out of one woman’s newfound love of cycling. Just over a year from launch, the company’s become a successful cycling tour operator in the Cotswolds and beyond. “My motto is dream, believe, achieve,” founder Lauren Shaw tells us below; an attitude that’s as intoxicating as it is – evidently – effective. 

Not only does Adventure Velo offer a range of bespoke guided and non-guided cycling tours around the enchanting Cotswolds, it runs a bi-annual and wildly successful Ladies Weekend event – a real game-changer for women who want to try cycling but have been daunted by male-dominated clubs in the past. As if all that weren’t impressive enough, Adventure Velo wheels are soon to be spinning across beautiful landscapes overseas, too, with their Euro tour taking place this month. 

Read on for our chat with Lauren, where she talks about everything from the initial inspiration behind Adventure Velo through to the breathtaking beauty of the Cotswolds, and the self-confessed perfectionism that makes her business stand out.

Let’s go 🚴👇. 

Ticket Tailor: Take us back to the beginning… How was Adventure Velo born?

Lauren: Adventure Velo launched in February 2022, so we’re a relatively new family run business. I started cycling in 2018 to take part in a charity event called Ride the Night. I hadn’t ridden a bike in years! I trained, completed the ride and was hooked, going onto become a British Cycling Ride Leader and launching a ladies cycling club. One by one the cycling bug swept through our family – one at a time buying a bike and putting in the miles. We went from family rides with the kids, to epic adventures across Europe. Being a massive planner myself, I knew that I could organise amazing trips for great value. London to Paris, France, Belgium and Holland, King Alfreds way and many more – often dragging people along with me. From there Adventure Velo grew, organising trips for friends and family. Then, in 2022, we made it official and Adventure Velo Ltd was born. 

Ticket Tailor: Sounds incredible! How did things unfold from those early days? What were some of your biggest milestones and challenges along the way?

Lauren: Living in the Cotswolds we are so incredibly lucky with the riding that’s available, from the flat lakes to the crazy hills of the North; we have it all. I’ve ridden nearly all the roads in the Cotswolds – the good, the bad and the ugly. I wanted to be able to offer the beauty of the Cotswolds to our customers, as not everyone has the confidence to turn up in a new place and just cycle. We take the hassle and stress out of the equation, knowing that the routes and accommodation won’t throw up any surprises. 

We initially launched with our Ladies Weekend and this sold out within a week! This was a major milestone as a small business and is now one of the fundamental elements of Adventure Velo, running twice a year. I think one of the main challenges of a small business is meeting the expectations of customers. I am very passionate about what I do and if it’s not perfect I take it personally. We really strive to give our customers the best experience possible and try to go above and beyond with the customer experience we provide.

a group of people wearing helmets and standing on bicycles

Ticket Tailor: Tell our readers a bit about what makes the Cotswolds such a great place to explore by bike…

Lauren: What is there not to love about the Cotswolds! We have it all – countless country lanes, amazing villages around every corner and fantastic places to refuel (the cake stops are endless). We also have a vast amount of history and culture. We really are spoiled. In terms of routes – you could take a leisurely hop between villages, a ride around the Cotswold Water Park where you can even stop and have a go at paddleboarding or open water swimming, or head into the North to tackle some hills. The hills may be a grind but the views are 100% worth it.

Ticket Tailor: You’ve definitely got us feeling inspired! We’d love to know a bit more about your Ladies Weekend – what inspired it, and how successful has it been?

Lauren: I’m a Breeze Ride Leader and run a female cycling club, so I understand some of the barriers and issues that women can face in cycling. I’m a confident person and cyclist who’ll ride anywhere and everywhere – but I know that some women find turning up to a club ride, which are more often than not male dominated, daunting. (A large number of cycling events in general are male dominated.) 

Our Ladies Weekends offer a fun and supportive environment to do an activity that we love. No one gets left behind, the routes are challenging but doable and everyone comes away with a great sense of achievement. And the evening meal we organise gives everyone a chance to socialise and get to know each other. After the success of our first Ladies Weekend, we now run them twice a year and can also offer bespoke bookings in the same format – either guided or non-guided.

Ticket Tailor: Your European tour sounds like pretty exciting and ambitious stuff! How did that come about?

Lauren: We launched our European tour in October 2022 and it sold out almost immediately. Both myself and Dan (an Adventure Velo guide) rode Dunkerque - Bruges - Rotterdam - Ghent - Dunkerque in 2021; a self guided trip organised by myself. We had such an amazing time – the cycling infrastructure is amazing, the route is flat and there’s so much to see along the way. 

Since then we’ve returned a couple of times and really love the route so wanted to offer it as an Adventure Velo tour. We’ve slimmed it down so we don’t cover as many miles and won't make it as far as Rotterdam, but will have plenty of time to explore what the route has to offer. We are particularly excited as the route covers part of the Paris-Roubaix route along the pavé de Willems à Hem and into the Velodrome. If we’re lucky we may be able to do a lap or two. After launching the Euro tour we were also contacted by a cycling club so we’re very excited to also be running a bespoke trip for them. 

Ticket Tailor: What about the logistics of your tours? How challenging does it get to organise everything?

Lauren: I think the main challenges we face as a small business is having to rely on others – the saying if you want a job doing properly, do it yourself really rings true. Finding suppliers for bike hire and accommodation that’s going to provide the level we want to provide is hard. We’ve had to change suppliers during a tour as they just didn’t meet the standards we require and expect, for example. We are slowly building a fleet of hire bikes and hope to secure some investment in the future to really push Adventure Velo forward.

Ticket Tailor: We have to ask… how’s your experience been of using Ticket Tailor?

Lauren: We love Ticket Tailor. As a small business, we love how it takes away the hassle of keeping track of bookings. We can have all the information we need on the Ticket Tailor platform which looks super professional, plus terms and conditions and payments all together. Previously we were sending out booking forms, then payment links – Ticket Tailor cuts the process in half. We love the fact that we can add waiting lists and hold all the information as well as easily being able to offer discounts codes, which are super easy to set up. The whole system is very user friendly and easy to navigate.

a group of women sitting on a bench after cycling

Ticket Tailor: That’s great to hear! What would you say to someone who’s never tried cycling before but is thinking of giving it a go? 

Lauren: I would say just give it a go! If you’re nervous about cycling on a road, go to a local park or find an off-road trail; start small and build up. British cycling offers great free guided cycling in many areas, run by volunteers. They’re a great place to start to meet new people and become familiar with your local area. Cycling is really all about building confidence and then the rest falls into place… oh, and hardening up your butt! 

Ticket Tailor: Great advice! And what would you say to people thinking of turning a passion into a business? 

Lauren: Just do it! You have absolutely nothing to lose. If you have the knowledge and expertise then why not. I think you can achieve anything you set your mind to – my motto is: ‘dream, believe, achieve’. If you want something enough it will happen. 

Ticket Tailor: Finally, what does the future hold for Adventure Velo? 

Lauren: More riding and more tours. Getting more people on the roads and into the beautiful Cotswolds. Making Adventure Velo a household name. We would also like to introduce some new overseas tours and are currently in the planning for Lake Garda in 2023. 

Ticket Tailor: Sounds amazing! We can’t wait to see what you guys do next. Thanks Lauren!

To book your incredible Adventure Velo tour, head here >

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