Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Meet our Leaders: Sarah

I am all about travel, fun, and adventure! An LA native, I graduated from UCLA with a degree in Psychobiology & Anthropology. My semester in Spain created an insatiable desire to travel the world and immerse myself in other cultures. I have lived, worked, traveled and studied throughout the U.S., Mexico, South America, Europe and the Middle East. I consider traveling the best thing for personal growth as “it takes you out of your comfort zone and enhances your perspective on life“. According to me, “Traveling has helped me gain insight into who I am and what I want from the universe”.

Currently, I work as a certified personal trainer, fitness class instructor, and nutrition enthusiast. I pride myself on motivating others to work hard and obtain spectacular health. My goal is to make a positive impact on everyone that crosses my path and guide others to be the best they can be, both mentally and physically. As a trip leader I'm organized and responsible, yet incredibly friendly and open minded to new ideas. Aside from traveling, I love being a vegetarian, reading positive material, animals and speaking spanish.

Monday, April 28, 2008



SADDLEBAGS/PANNIERS are the ‘backpacks’ or ‘suitcases’ for your bike trip. In these small bags you can cram your tableware, tools, toothpaste, and clothes. Saddlebags have a low center of gravity on a bike, which helps the stability. They also leave the top of the rear luggage carrier free for your sleeping bag and pad (as well as group equipment-tents, pots, stoves.) Be sure to put the saddlebags on the bike with the pockets in the back. Otherwise you’ll scrape your heels as you ride.

Good deals on saddlebags can be found at www.nashbar.com. We recommend approximately 1800 cubic inches total for both bags.

HANDLEBAR BAG (optional)
is quite convenient for little items like snacks, maps, and camera. It makes your front wheel respond differently because of the added weight. It’s not hard to get used to and you’ll love having the accessibility of these little items rather than digging into your saddlebags.

attaches behind the seat in a variety of ways. The most secure ones attach to braze-ons on your seat stays. The bottom of the carrier should attach to the rear fender eyelets. Make sure you pack extra nuts and bolts that fit all parts of your carrier since these are the most common ones lost or broken.

(also called bungies or shock cords) are elastic cords with hooked ends of rubber-coated steel. You use them to strap a tent, a sleeping bag, foam pad, and cook set to the top of the luggage carrier. Multi-purpose, they also come in handy as a makeshift belt or clothesline.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Meet our Leaders: Patrick

Hi everyone! My name's Patrick Alley; I'm 26 and I live in Maryland.I love to bike because I like being outside and traveling. When I'm not pedaling, I also like to cook, read, talk to people, and learn new things. I've lived in three different states in the last five years (FL, NH, and MD) because I like to move around! Besides seeing the U.S. (mostly the east and west coasts), I've also spent some time in Canada. I wanted to lead a Trek where I'd never gone before because I love trying out new places. I have a lot of experience in leading trips – from New Hampshire to Florida, Maryland to New Mexico, and every trip I've taken has taught me a lot. For me, being a good leader is all about setting goals for the group and helping everyone meet them. I'll use my experience to make sure things go smoothly,but I'll also count on you teens to make the trip be what you want it to be. My trips have always been a lot of fun, and I'm sure my Teen Trek will be a blast too!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

During Trips and Ending of Trips

Our leaders are instructed to have kids call home at least once per week. We do not allow teens to bring their own cell phones, but leaders have cell phones In case of an emergency. Your teen may bring a cell phone with them if they are traveling alone before and after the trip, but will be required to leave it in their bicycle box for the duration of the trip.

Pickup for most trips is at 5 PM on the last day of the trip. Parents may pickup their teen at a designated meeting place to be specified by email.

Many Teen Treks trippers return home by plane. Trip leaders will see your teen off at the airport for a return flight. Make sure to book your teen for a flight between 6 and 9 PM for the last day of their trip. Make sure to email your teen’s travel itinerary to the Teen Treks office at info@teentreks.com by June 1.

Some Teen Treks trippers take a bus or train home from their trip. The information for “Airport Drop-offs” also applies to drop-off to a bus terminal or train station. Make sure to book all travel arrangements for drop-off between 6 and 9 PM on the last day of their trip. Email your teen’s travel itinerary to the Teen Treks office at info@teentreks.com by June 1.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Meet our Leaders: Jenny

Jenny O'Connell
Ultimate Frisbee Player/outdoor adventurer extraordinaire, was born in Albany,NY, the illegitimate daughter of Wonder Woman and a wealthy don of the Irish mafia. Her enthusiasm, spunk, and exquisite salsa dancing skills making her a perfect candidate for pirate stardom, Jenny took on a new crew (later known as Ithaca Women’s Ultimate) and spent many happy years bringing pistachios and the glorious sport of Ultimate Frisbee to Austria, Germany, Switzerland, France, Holland, Lichtenstein, Belgium, Scotland, England, Egypt, Italy, Spain, and finally Greece, where she led an expedition up Mt. Olympus. (Zeus is now her homeboy.) Jenny currently resides at Ithaca College, where she is learning how to train young pirates in the ways of music and lead people in the great outdoors. In her free time she can be found dancing the night away, learning how to juggle, and trying to teach herself how to beatbox and play flute at the same time.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Spending Money

The amount of spending money you send with your teen should depend on the area being visited, the thriftiness of your teen, and whether or not your teen plans on making any special purchases. The trip fee includes all meals and snacks (ice cream, donuts, cookies), admission fees, and even phone calls home. It does not include general junk food like soda, energy drinks, and candy, Teen Treks trippers should bring some spending money for bike repairs, postcards, stamps, extra snacks, souvenirs, etc.). We recommend $20-$50 a week for any of the US or Canadian trips, and $40-$70 per week for the European Trek. You may consider travelers checks or gift cards, rather than cash.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Meet our Leaders: Maureen

Hey all! My name is Maureen Gates, although everyone just calls me “Mo.” I’m psyched to be along for the ride as a leader with Teen Treks! I’m 26 years old, and work and play in my hometown of Rochester, NY. During the day I am a social worker for Child Protective Services, and after work can be found trail running along the Erie Canal and in local parks, biking around my neighborhood, and in the winter, snowboarding in the mountains. I’ve been lucky to do lots of traveling with my adventurous friends and family over the years. I spent some memorable time backpacking around Portugal and Spain, and while studying abroad in Belgium during college, traveled extensively in France, Italy, Germany, Holland, Scotland and England. I’m also lucky to have friends and family in Hawaii, Seattle, and California who have made my trips visiting them totally awesome. We will have a great time together on our trip – I’m very silly and promise to keep you laughing during every peddle stroke you take on your bike! I can’t WAIT to get the ride started and help make this an incredible journey with such a cool group of teens!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Airport Pick-ups

(all trips except European Trek)
You can have your teen picked up at the airport in the departure city the night before the trip departure date. An additional $60 fee includes pickup, dinner, and the hostel overnight. Book your teens’ flight to arrive in the departure city between 4 and 7 PM the afternoon or evening before the departure date (i.e. for a July 7 departure date, your teen should arrive at the airport between 4 and 7 PM on July 6). Email your teens’ travel itinerary to the Teen Treks office at info@teentreks.com. Your teens’ leader will pick them up at the airport and will have them call home to confirm their arrival. They will eat dinner together, prepare their bicycles for the ride, and if they have time, they may go out to enjoy a local activity in their departure city. Your teen’s travel itineraries and $60 pickup/overnight fee should be sent to the Teen Treks office by June 1.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Packing and Equipment

(especially no cell phones, iPods, Game Boys, or similar devices)
We do not allow any electronics on our trip to assure group cohesiveness. In the past we have had teens disengaged from trips due to cell phones and electronic music devices. Trip leaders will have cell phones in case of an emergency and they will have your teen contact you at least once a week.

Each Teen Treks tripper will need to bring a bicycle with 10-24 speeds and with 1 to 1½ inch tires; a rear rack; saddlebags; a sleeping bag; a foam mattress; and a helmet. A complete packing list is on the last page of this Ready to Go booklet.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Travel Arrangements and First Day

(For all trips, with the exception of the European Phantom Trek)
Book your teen’s flight, train, or bus to arrive in the departure city between 4 and 7 p.m. the afternoon/evening before the departure date (i.e. for a July 7 departure date, your teen should arrive at the airport/station between 4 and 7 p.m. on July 6). A trip leader will be there to greet and assist your son or daughter when they arrive and have them immediately call home to confirm their arrival.

One of your teen’s leaders will contact you soon after our Leadership Training in mid-June to coordinate airport/station pickup.

(For the European Phantom Trek)
Your teen should fly into Heathrow Airport by 10 a.m the morning of the trip departure date. Their leaders will meet them and the other teens at Heathrow Airport and assemble all personal belongings, bicycles, and group equipment. Your son/daughter will call home from the airport to confirm their arrival.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Can I make flight reservations now?

Please refrain from purchasing travel tickets until 60 days before the trip departure date. We do this because in years past we've had to move dates and trip arrangements due to necessary scheduling issues. With the airlines practice of locking in flights, charging high flight change fees, and in some cases not issuing refunds we don't want you to endure these headaches.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Can I rent a Bicycle?

We recommend using your own bicycle in terms of comfort, quality, and cost. It is significantly less expensive to ship a bicycle compared to renting a bicycle, and when you have your own bicycle with you for your trip you will be so much more comfortable. If a rental is needed we do have nice touring and hybrid bikes available.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Hear Brendan's Story!

This past summer I went on the Pacific Coast Teen Treks Adventure. I biked from Seattle, Washington to Vancouver Canada and back. Before going on this trip I was not an experienced biker at all, in fact, I could barely ride a bike without wobbling the handle bars. After the trip I was a good biker and could transport myself around. The friends I made on this trip was one great aspect. Yes, at first you’re nervous that you won’t make any friends, however, after a while you start to talk to everyone because you are literally spending twenty four hours a day with these people for over two weeks. It also seems weird hanging out with all these people you’ve never met before for so much time but when you go home it feels weird not being with them. The counselors are also very good at introducing and connecting the different kids with one another. I have been part of many other teen adventure organizations. Teen Treks gives you a lot more freedom and independence to do things. During the trip Iwanted to go running. As long as I went with a partner and told my counselor where I was going he was happy to let me go. Many of the other kids got to do things like shopping and eating at various pizza and doughnut restaurants. If someone asked me if this trip is worth going on, I’d say without a doubt. Definitely. The activities we didon this trip, the great sense of self pride I had after a hard bike ride, the food, and friends gained all made this trip an amazing experience.

~ Brendan Smith, Grade 11, Pacific Northwest Trek

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Can you imagine yourself...

“Can You Imaging Yourself…….”
· Eating breakfast on the side of a Walmart
· Biking in the rain
· Having everything which you brought wet
· Spending your 4th of July camping on a beach on
the Hudson River
· Waking up to learn that the Hudson River does in
fact have a tide
· Meeting a man named A.J. in Lake George Town
who has a 20-room R.V. all to himself
· Having a deep conversation with an ‘under-cover
cop’ in Nyack
· Enjoying a nice breeze down a hill only to realize
that you will be having to bike up it after finishing
the ice cream you are about to eat
· Enjoying the smell of manure breezing through
· Observing a city of ants enjoying their last seconds
of life on a log in a fire
· Eating too much Nutella, peanut butter, ice cream,
and cliff bars
· Biking through miles of corn fields
· Having the rain follow you
· Sleeping UP a hill (make sure not to sleep DOWN
the hill)
· Flying, in other words, biking without panniers after
biking for days with them
· Being lectured about what to say at the Canadian
· Staying at the Crown Plaza in Albany after sleeping
in a tent
· Laughing at all of the hilarious street and avenue
names (Ex: Moron Av.)
· Seeing the most amazing rainbow after sweating
your way up a hill completely wet

~ Annalisa Van den Bergh, Grade 11, NYC-Montreal Trek

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Safety First!

A CYCLING HELMET is required. It is perhaps the most important accessory you can bring on your trip. Even the best and most cautious rider can take a spill. Your head is a very delicate part of your body. Studies show that 80% of all serious bicycle injuries are injuries to the head. A well made, hard shell, lightweight helmet (Giro, Bell, MSR) can greatly reduce the severity of any head injury and may even save your life. So use your head and get a helmet!

A FRONT & REAR LIGHT for your bicycle is required. The battery powered lights are the best; they can double as flashlights in tents. Generator lights drain leg energy.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Packing your Bags

Roll your clothes instead of folding them and pack them into your saddlebags vertically. This creases them less and makes them more accessible. Storing your clothes in plastic bags will keep them organized and dry. Distribute the weight evenly so you're not trying to balance on a lopsided bike. A good place to keep your tool kit and any other items you may want in a hurry is in the smaller outside pockets.


Monday, April 7, 2008

Comments from a Great Trip Leader

I've always wanted to travel the world, so in March 2007, after 30 years and much delay, I finally applied for my passport. In July I still hadn’t received it, but my horizons were broadened wider than 10 trips around the globe.

One trek, 400+ miles, sixteen days; starting in New York City—perhaps the most ubiquitously American city—and culminating in Montreal—perhaps the most internationally flavored city in North America— is all it really took. It wasn’t the challenge of a formidable distance or the spiritually satisfying wonder of bicycling. Instead, eight teenagers and two team leaders are the key mathematic figures here. Well, that our thirteen rain days to zero complaints ratio, a testament to one of the most remarkable groups of 15-17 years olds I’ve ever met. More numbers? How about more than fifteen flat tires, two broken spokes, thirty mph winds, and seven crossings of the Hudson River? It all summed up to quite an experience to say the least.

Trailblazers, that’s what we were. I let the team know from day one in NYC: we were the first Teen Treks group to take this specific route; we would be setting the stage for every team that followed. It was a long distance, some city riding, some rural riding, and we definitely would be hitting some mountains in upstate NY and Vermont. I think they enjoyed this sort of responsibility; it let them know upfront to expect a challenge. And this is indeed what we got. On the fourth day the rain came, and oddly enough, the only days it didn’t rain where the days we were in hotels or hostels.

Enjoying our rides in the rain made the sunshine—when it was out—seem that much brighter. It made the green plant life that much greener. It made finding a place to eat and camp that much more of an adventure; and an adventure was what we promised. It meant taking breaks no longer relied upon distance or location, but instead meteorological conditions. We spent two hours at a gas station 20 miles outside of Burlington Vermont because of downpours, wind, and lightning. Then suddenly the weather let up, the sunshine emerged and led us into one of the most bike friendly cities in the US.
The bus ride back to NYC allowed me to really reflect on the experience. Undoubtedly it had a positive effect on my life. I hope my co-leader and I were able to positively affect the lives of the 8 young adults we accompanied on our journey. I’ve stayed in touch with several of them and I look forward to leading another trek in the future.
~ Tony Caferro, Teen Treks Leader

Friday, April 4, 2008

Sleep Tight!


The purpose of a sleeping bag is to preserve your body heat, thus keeping you warm. Since you have to carry the bag on your bike or on your you'll want it to be lightweight and very compact. It should also "breathe" (allow perspiration to pass through during the night). A waterproof sleeping bag would soak you in your own perspiration! A bag should be able to dry out fairly quickly if it gets wet, and regain its loft (thickness) immediately and continuously after being crushed all day in a stuff sack.

Weight and Size
A good three season (spring, summer, fall) bag should keep you warm (with foam pad underneath and inside a tent) to at least 40 degrees. Any sleeping bag being used for trips should have a total weight of no more than 4.75 lbs., and stuff into a sack about the size of one volleyball but no larger than 2 volleyballs.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Hear it from Teen Treks Parents!

"My son was challenged in so many wonderful ways while having a great time. The outcome was so much more than just the enjoyment of biking."

~ Pat Rogers, Teen Treks Parent

"My daughter, Diana, had the best time. This trip far exceeded her expectations. I cannot overstate the contributions of your two leaders. They led a two week trek that will always stay with her, in the most favorable way."

~ Jon Goodman, Teen Treks Parent

"Although Danielle was excited about her bicycle trip when I signed her up, she was terrified that first day. These fears were quickly dissipated, mostly due to the exceptional guidance and friendliness of the leaders. This leadership, matched with beautiful scenery, fresh air, and a good group of kids, made Danielle's trip a complete success."

~ Alan Jarashow, Teen Treks Parent