Marty and Jill Jemison take a load off while touring with clients in Europe. Jemison Cycling Tours’ 2013 schedule includes Girona, Catulunya, Tuscany, Provence, Burgundy, the French Alps and Southern Utah.
Marty Jemison rode in the European peloton for seven years and is one of just 29 Americans to have completed the Tour de France. He and his wife Jill built a house just outside of Park City more than 15 years ago with the intent of boosting his cycling career. “I have a big engine and all the climbing around here helped develop that engine,” Marty says.
But it's Park City’s year-round beauty and small-town gestalt that has kept the Jemisons in town. Retired from pro-cycling since 2001, Marty and Jill now run road cycling tours throughout Europe and Utah’s National Park districts.
What’s your favorite Park City ride, both on road and off?
On pavement, it's Wanship to Coalville to Henefer to East Canyon Reservoir, up the backside of Big Mountain, then to Interstate 80 and up Parley's Canyon. As far as my favorite mountain bike ride goes, it’s hard to choose just one. There are so many good trails in Summit County and surrounding areas that I'm always discovering new rides. I would simply say that our trails are some of the best in the world. I can access the top of the Flying Dog trail after a traverse from my house, so it's a favorite loop from out of my driveway.
What made you decide to become a road cycling tour guide?
When I clip both feet in the pedals, I am in my element. I spent more than 18 years of my life traveling Europe, mostly on the bike. We know Spain, France, Belgium and Italy better than many natives and love sharing that knowledge with our guests.
What kind of athlete do you need to be to participate in one of your cycling tours and how much riding can participants expect to do each day?
We average 80K or 48 miles per day, with our longest rides being about 100K or 62 miles. Our trips target a wide range of athletes from weekend recreationists to the more serious riders. The focus is definitely on vacation riding, meaning we put in the miles, but we take the time to see the surroundings. Our routes incorporate what is best to see in the area. I don't think there is a better way to see and experience new cultures than by bike.
Food is also a big part of the Marty Jemison Cycling Tours’ experience. Talk about what participants can expect in that regard.
One night we may dine in a “rated” restaurant and the next we may be eating from a “locals-only” kind of eatery. We have relationships with chefs, wine makers and various artisans in every area that we do trips. The cycling is a given and the teaser is the culture and all that it has to offer.
For more information about Marty Jemison Bicycle tours, visit jemisoncycling.com.
Melissa Fields is a Utah-based freelance writer. Her blog isutahvagabond.com.