Our team Jim Johnson, Founder & President The idea for BikeTours.com came from president and founder Jim Johnson, an avid cyclist and former Corporate America nine-to-fiver whose bike tour brokerage idea came from his own experiences abroad. In the early 90s, Jim was a freelance travel writer who felt that bicycling is the best way to explore a country, meet local people, and research destinations. And, of course, it allows for frequent stops for pastries or ice cream along the way. "When I was 15, I got bored in a summer exchange program in northern Europe and made my way across six countries before flying home. I’ve been back to Europe at least 30 times. Wanderlust is part of my soul." When he first started touring in Europe by bike in the early 1990s, he couldn't find an economical alternative to the $3,000-4,000 European tours offered by American companies. He also didn't want to do self-contained tours, where he would have to plan routes, book hotels and carry his own gear. He found that local European bike tour companies offer superb tours at a fraction of what their North American counterparts charge. Self-guided bike tours are often 50-70% less expensive than their U.S. counterparts but still include lodging, luggage transfers, rental bikes, detailed maps and route instructions, service hotlines, and other services. Many also offer guided bike tours – still half the price or less. In the late 90s, Jim told some friends about his travels, and they asked if they could come along. The next year, more friends—and friends of friends—joined the group. At one point, someone said, "You love bicycling and you love travel. You know Europe, and you have the contacts. Why don't you do this for a living?" In 2003, he left corporate America and launched BikeToursDirect (which recently became BikeTours.com) – not organizing his own trips but representing the local European companies he'd been working with for years. Over time, the number of companies has grown to nearly 100, who together offer 450+ tours on six continents. At home in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Jim was president of the local bike club for two years. He describes himself as a recreational cyclist – the same type of customer who uses BikeTours.com's services. "Travel, writing, bicycling, tour planning – over a period of time I have been able to integrate my passions into a livelihood," Jim says. "People tell me I have a dream job, but that’s only partially true. My job is making other people's dreams come true." Rachel Browder, Product Manager & Tour Operator Relations Rachel’s favorite travel experiences have been serendipitous, like wandering into a bar in Quito, Ecuador and finding walls covered with handwritten poetry from fellow travelers, or unwittingly stepping out onto the beach in Scheveningen, Netherlands on New Year’s Day and seeing thousands of people diving into the North Sea. Unplanned travel accidents are the best of all adventures. On her wish list of places to go (besides “everywhere”), Rachel has Spain, Chile (Patagonia!), Brazil (The Amazon!), Easter Island, Little Corn Island (Nicaragua), and Greece. Rachel loves Ray Bradbury’s words in Fahrenheit 451: "Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories." Brittany Williamson, Client Service Director A country girl at heart, Brittany grew up in Middle Tennessee. Since her family ran a working farm, opportunities for travel consisted of nearby camping and boating to stay close to the harvest and livestock. As soon as she could drive, she began expanding her horizons beyond the hills of her homeland. Brittany quickly discovered that travel made her feel complete as a person, and she started planning vacations for herself and her family so they could share their world experiences together.Although the planning stages are among her favorite parts of a travel experience, once a trip is underway, Brittany finds the organic unfolding of events thrilling. Getting to drive highspeed in Italy, sharing the perfect meal of braised pork, sauerkraut, and Austrian beer in a snowcovered Innsbruck, losing her way and rediscovering the correct route in Switzerland . . .these are among the treasured moments of Brittany’s travel. More than anything, sharing the magic and wonder of a new place, a big view, or another culture with her family and friends shapes how Brittany travels. Her next trip is always forming in the back of her mind, waiting to be presented to her travel companion like a sweet gift. Amy Bishel, Finance and Accounting Coordinator Recently hired - more coming soon! Ruth Ann Steen, Tour Advisor - Recently hired - more coming soon! Liv Leeds, Tour Advisor - Recently hired - more coming soon!