We, Catherine and Euan, are owners of H+I Adventures, which is an award-winning mountain bike tour company, delivering epic adventures in 11 (very soon to be 12) destinations around the globe. We cater for all levels of mountain bikers who want to ride singletrack, explore the world, new cultures and develop their riding in some breath-taking locations!
Euan I've been riding bikes for as long as I can remember. As a kid all I wanted for my birthday each year was a new bike, because the one from the year before had been ridden into the ground. When mountain biking took off properly, I went straight in with both feet and have never looked back!
Catherine I rode my first mountain bike in my early 20's when I took up a marketing role at the 7stanes mountain bike project in the south of Scotland and, despite a total lack of skill, I was quickly hooked on the adrenaline rush and sense of freedom that mountain biking gives you. Along with all the bruises!
Euan In 2004 we both found ourselves working for the same company in Glasgow - me as an electrical engineer, Catherine in marketing.
Catherine And shortly after starting I noticed Euan had a mountain biking screen saver, so we got chatting....and the rest, as they say, is history! Within two years we had moved to the Highlands of Scotland and not long after that, H+I Adventures was born and we were guiding mountain bikers from all over the world on our favourite trails.
Euan H+I Adventures was born off the back of our passion for travel and for riding mountain bikes in new and exciting locations in Scotland and around the world. When we first started travelling with our bikes we looked around for a high quality and professional outfit that we could travel with, but never found one. So, we thought we'd use our experience and understanding of mountain bike travel and do it ourselves! We wanted to change this sector of the market and set new standards, which is still true today.
Catherine Running adventures in 11 countries, for hundreds of customers a year has its challenges: geographical, physical, cultural, environmental, each with their unique idiosyncrasies. But that's part of what makes our job so interesting and diverse, and the passion for what we do is reignited every time we see riders grinning from ear-to-ear, high-fiving each other, and discussing where they'll ride next! That's what makes it so special for us, and the whole team - from reservations staff to the local guides in each country - gets such a buzz from sharing our trails and cultures with like-minded mountain bikers.
Euan Hearing first-hand from our riders about how their adventure went, how they felt and the unique experiences they had when travelling with us, gives us a real sense of satisfaction that makes it all worthwhile.
Catherine Yes, as part of the office-based team, I don't get to see all that happens during an adventure (what happens on the trail, stays on the trail!), but I do get to see riders in Scotland returning to HQ after their adventure, and to see the way they've transformed from strangers to friends, sharing stories and laughs, is really heart-warming.
Catherine That's a hard one, but I think I can narrow it down... a bit! The best day's riding, where everything has just come together perfectly for me, was in the Yukon, northern Canada. Amazing flowing singletrack that never seemed to end, and in sections, ran alongside the turquoise Yukon River - bliss. My favourite overall adventure was in Chile and Patagonia in 2015. From riding the flanks of volcanoes to standing under the Torres del Paine, to visiting a Mapuche community, and drinking Pisco sours under star-filled skies... I can safely say I'll be back in Chile to turn my cranks again sometime soon.
Euan How can I top that?
Catherine You can't, don't even try...
Euan Challenge accepted! I would say the best trail I have ever ridden was in Switzerland. I was riding with a good friend, I trusted his lines and he knew the trail, and we flowed down an 8km descent, hopping and drifting our way to the railway line in the valley, where we warmed our hands up on the rear can. Again anyone!?
And best trip? Nepal. Flying into Nepal on a clear day, the Himalayas are stretched out in front of you, and you spend your time trying to spot Everest, getting excited by the mountains and the possibilities, safe in the knowledge that you have brought your mountain bike to ride some of the best trails in the world.
And as soon as you land, the cultural immersion starts straight away! You're in the think of it. Scooters piled with five or more passengers, cows on the road and thousands of people. But once on your bike, even when you're still in the Kathmandu Valley, you're weaving through centuries-old paths that link villages and farms, where time seems to have stood still for decades. All of this before you even hit the big mountains...
Did I win?
Catherine Easy: my Yeti SB5c Beti. I've had it for several months now and taken it to Spain and Switzerland with me, and I'm completely and utterly in love with it.
Euan Well, every new bike, even if it's not yours is a great experience, everyone gets that new bike feeling off each other.
Catherine That's true, but my new bike is actually the best bike ever! It's so confidence-inspiring and smooth, and with the FOX 34 FLOAT 27.5 on the front, it's just the dream bike.
Euan Ok, you're right, this is my third Yeti SB5, and I have gone pimp, Di2 XTR, FOX 36 FLOAT 27.5, FOX FLOAT X shock, FOX Transfer seatpost, Enve wheels and I am genuinely in love with it. And what's the first thing I do with it? I show FOX riders Matt Hunter and Thomas Vanderham across Scotland on our Coast-to-Coast adventure...
Euan Culture, attention-to-detail and professionalism. Understanding what makes mountain bikers tick and how a ride should start, build up and finish, throughout the day and throughout the whole duration of the riders' time in that country, it's like a music track.
Catherine Being innovative, but at the same time staying true to your values, and never straying from them, no matter how tempting it looks to go with the latest trends. Riders love what we do, because of all the things Euan mentioned, and we have to ensure with every ounce of our energy that we're focused on our core values.
Euan Yes, a 50% repeat customer rate is a great testament to that! But as we say, 'You're only as good as your last BBQ!'
Catherine Funny you ask...
Euan We have just launched our latest, world-first, expedition-style tour in Norway. Based in the Norwegian fjords on an old converted minesweeper boat, being dropped off at the shores of the fjords and exploring the 1000m peaks that surround them.
Catherine In fact some of the pictures here are from that new tour...
Euan And, as I mentioned, this is a unique trip that spearheads an evolving and new way to mountain bike. We explore the mountain tops and ridges around the fjords by riding, pushing and hike-a-biking to the summits, before unleashing your bike for your hard earned reward, the descent!
Also, you can see a whole lot more from the new Norway tour on FOX Instagram and Facebook pages on the 17th - 19th October, as we take it over!!