CycleActive Cycling Holidays  shopping cart iconCycleActive Facebook
payments by Sagepay
  +44 (0)1768 840 400


When you travel with a bicycle you want to relax in the safe knowledge that you are in capable, experienced hands. Whether you’re on a one day experience or a multi-day journey the need for local expertise, combined with industry leading standards of service and safety, remains the same.

The Qualified Cycle Leader

For over 19 years the UK has had the world leading, government sponsored, MBLA (“Mountain Bike Leader Award”) qualifications available for every guide. There are award levels that cover everything from leading on dirt roads and easy tracks, to high level awards for remote environments or multi-day expeditions. Our international guides hold every level.

FACT: CycleActive is the only UK cycle company to put its guides through the highest level of National Governing Body MBLA leadership training.

So what does it add to your holiday experience?

A major benefit is the smooth, safe running of your holiday, which is of paramount importance when you’re cycling at home or abroad. This safety comes in many forms:

  • Knowing that your bike is checked daily, by someone qualified to spot mechanical problems and sort them out
  • Having a leader who can give tips or advice on how to be more skilled or comfortable on your bike, and get maximum enjoyment out of the cycling
  • having a leader who can manage emergencies (at home and abroad) with calm efficiency and the reassurance of high level Emergency Incident Management first aid training

With all of this comes an ability to inject fun, energy and great experiences into any trip. They are also directly responsible for your holiday, so they really go the extra mile to make sure everything runs perfectly.

The Local Expert

A local guide is your connection to the world around you, a vital link that lets you get closer to the culture, the people and the country you visit. For many this element of cycling is the most important part of any holiday – it’s not so much the cycling, but the connection to the world around you that is so enjoyable.

We select our local guiding partners with real care, and the guides we work with are some of the best you’ll find in the world. The enthusiasm for their home country, and for sharing its magic with you, really sets them apart and adds a dimension to your trip that is hard to explain or put a value on. If there are local guiding qualifications then they will have these too – topping up their knowledge on the history, ecology and other interesting topics that can help to enrich your holiday.

If we are running a trip with partners who have all of the skills, training and experience we look for, we do not send guides from the UK as well. However, in many countries around the world we know that running a tour with a local and a CycleActive guide makes a huge difference to the levels of safety, service and cycling flexibility.

One Guide or Two?

Choosing a cycle tour with two guides has a huge range of benefits, including:

  • Flexible ride choices, with easy options and challenging options on the same day (great if you fancy a lazy day, or for groups/couples of differing abilities)
  • Greater knowledge, thanks to the blend of experiences and skills that two guides can bring to the trip
  • Greater freedom, if you want to try something that’s different from the main itinerary, two guides can help make it happen
  • Smoother service, as everything flows more easily, from loading bikes, to moving bags to everyday tour management

In some countries, such as Cuba, we also have expert support drivers to carry the bags, or transfer us from place to place when the distance is too great to cycle (or we want a lift to the top of a long climb!)

If we are running a trip with one guide, we’re careful to ensure that group sizes are kept small, and the cycling level is very clearly shown on this website and discussed at the time of booking. This ensures that we can offer the best possible rides at that level of fitness or skill, with an expert guide who knows what you’ve come for – and how to make sure you get it.

Our approach has been refined over many years, and we’re proud of the enjoyment it brings to cyclists of all ages, abilities and interests. Not to mention the hundreds of “non-cyclists” who simply want to use cycling as a way of exploring and discovering new countries and cultures.

Here are the CV’s of our main UK-based team of international guides and instructors:

Rich Barnard (managing director)

Rich is probably one of the most in-demand cycle instructors in the UK right now. With years of experience on the trails and high in the mountains of the UK, Europe and Africa, Rich’s personal mountain biking skills are very impressive. He has a raft of coaching qualifications under his belt – British Cycling & MBLA Tutor, CTC MBL and National Standards as well as ML and other mountain/water qualifications from his “past life” as a senior instructor with the prestigious Outward Bound Trust.

As a leader Rich has tremendous expertise, and a great ability to get things done, working tirelessly to ensure that wherever he is in the world he’s running a great tour. His ability to manage, lead, motivate and take care of a group is a real asset to him, our team and anyone who travels with him.

 Rich Barnard CycleActive

Qualifications: British Cycling & MBLA Tutor & Mountain Bike Leader, Expedition Leader. CTC Skills Instructor. National Standards cycle trainer. British Cycling Level 2 Activity Coach. Mountain Leader Training Board - Mountain Leader. BSc Outdoor & Environmental Education.

Jon Chalmers (operations manager)

Jon began his outdoor career as an instructor with the prestigious Outward Bound Trust, working out of their centre at Ullswater in The Lake District. Whilst gaining an excellent reputation for his relaxed but effective style of leadership and training, Jon picked up a wide range of qualifications and experience with groups of all ages and interests.

As a mountain biker Jon developed his skills on England’s highest and most demanding peaks, combined with a great deal of time spent working and exploring in the Alps. His incredible ability to climb, descend, jump and drop off almost anything has to be seen to be believed. He moved to full time mountain bike instruction in 2008, and works for CycleActive full time as both a guide and an instructor, covering the whole range of courses and holidays we offer worldwide.

 Jon Chalmers CycleActive

Qualifications: MBLA Mountain Bike Leader. CTC Skills Instructor. Mountain Leader Training Board - Mountain Leader. BA Outdoor Leadership.

James Richards

James is undoubtedly one of the most talented all-round mountain bikers in the UK right now. His pedigree as a racer both cross country and downhill is hard to beat, and with his high level MBLA qualifications he not only has the skills, he also knows how to pass them on to others.

James studied Outdoor Pursuits and Leadership at College, but before working in this field he worked extensively in the bike industry, first for Orange Mountain Bikes (who he also raced for), then Pace Cycles then finally Biketreks of Ambleside. He now runs as many of our courses as possible from a range of venues and his unstoppable energy is a powerful motivator for everyone he coaches.


James Richards CycleActive

Qualifications: MBLA Mountain Bike Leader. British Cycling Level 2 Activity Coach. BSc Outdoor Pursuits and Leadership.

The routes were very well planned and it was obvious much work had been done by Dixi, Jani and others. Dixi 's organisation was excellent and he could not do enough for us.

  Andrew, Swindon
(Slovenia mountain biking holiday)


A really great balance of riding and cultural experiences, and scenery.

  Tracey, Bath
(Cuba cycling holiday)


Another excellent experience with CycleActive. Rich’s skills, teaching ability and enthusiasm are outstanding. He has the patience of a saint!

 Katy, Bristol 
(singletrack skills course)

"We finally plucked up the courage to book a cycling holiday in Cuba - CycleAcitve's itinerary looked not only interesting but flexible. It delivered on every level. Country and town cycling, great recommendations for food in the paladors, rest days (if you felt the need). A mix of singles and couples of all age groups moved to collectively enjoy the experience that is 'Cuba' - Go now before it changes you will not be disappointed with this intimate tour that will make you feel you got to know the real Cuba. Thank you CycleActive."
Biddy Notley
(Cuba cycling holiday)
The Cuba trip lived up to all our expectations. We got a taste of the country that you could not get any other way. We would recommend it to anyone wanting to get a little off the beaten track without sacrificing all their creature comforts.
(Cuba cycling holiday)

CycleActive newsletter

Newsletter CycleActive