Marc Anthony once said, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”
If you love mountain biking, then you’re in luck. There are lots of avenues to make your love for two wheels into a career.
If you dream of getting paid to ride your mountain bike, but don’t see any professional contracts in your future then it’s time to look up a job as a mountain bike guide. How do you do that you ask? Keep reading to find out.
How to Be a Mountain Bike Guide:
While being a mountain bike guide might be your dream job, it isn’t a walk in the park either. Your guide job won’t be like riding your favorite trails with your buddies, it requires specific skills and the ability to get your paying customers through anything.
Requirements to Become a Mountain Bike Guide
Mountain Bike Guide Certification: Not all jobs will require you to be a certified instructor although it certainly is a benefit on a job application. The Professional Mountain Bike Instructors Association (PMBIA) offers certifications from Level 1 to Level 3.
Bike Instructor Certification Program (https://icp.bike/) also offers certifications. In fact, there are lots of independent programs offering various types of mountain bike guide certifications. I would recommend finding a coupe of your favorite guide companies or positions and see what certification they prefer. Different companies, locations, and countries all have different requirements.
First Aid and CRP Certification: If you plan to be a mountain bike guide, you will need a First Aid and CRP Certification. Look up programs offered by the American Heart Association or by American Red Cross.
In addition to your certification, spend some time thinking through the difficult ‘what ifs.’ Mountain biking is a dangerous sport and if you are a guide for any significant amount of time you will likely deal with an injury. Scrapes and bruises may be easy to deal with, but if someone breaks a leg out on the trail, you will be responsible for splinting it and carrying them back.
Mechanical Skills: Finally, you will need to prove your worth with some mechanical skills. The people who go on your tours are not required to have any skills of their own, so you will be in charge of everything. You might not need to build an entire bike from the ground up, but you will need some more advanced skills.
Changing flats, fixing broken chains, and general diagnostic skills are a must. At the end of the day, you are responsible for getting your riders and their bikes on the route they set out to do.
What Is a Mountain Bike Guide’s Salary
Just like any job, a mountain bike guide’s salary will be contingent upon what company you work for and where you work. According to Comparably online salary generator, the average US Mountain Bike Guide makes $25,000 a year.
Other job sites estimate about $75-150 per day. The job usually comes with travel and accommodation covered if you are guiding in a unique location. Additionally, most guides can hope for a nice tip at the end of their workday.
What’s The Catch? The pros of this job are pretty obvious to anyone seeking out the position. You can ride your bike all day and get paid to show people your all time favorite trails. The cons on the other hand, might sneak up on you.
Being a mountain bike guide requires extraordinary amounts of patience. The reason that someone is hiring you is because they are not capable of completing the route of their own. Chances are you won’t be bombing down the descents at any record-breaking speeds.
In addition, you are becoming the Sherpa of bike riding. You will carry all of the equipment and make all of the logistical decisions.
Finally, most guide positions require lots of travel and weekend work. Most people will be hiring you as a part of their vacation package, which they will squeeze into their busy work schedule. This means you might find your busiest times during the weekend and during highly seasonal periods. Unless you guide in a location where fat biking is all the rage, you might be hitting a dry spell in the winter months.
Where Do you Find a Position as a Mountain Bike Guide
If you want a mountain bike guide to fit your current lifestyle, then the first place you should look is in your local community. Small guide companies will often service already popular mountain bike areas.
A local guide job will likely pay less than a national company, however it won’t require extensive travel, will usually have a more flexible schedule, and you will be guiding trails that are you already familiar with.
On the other hand, if you are looking for a complete change in career path and don’t mind being uprooted then seek out a more national or international career as a mountain bike guide.
- Trek Travel: This company has won all kind of awards on the bicycle tour front. This high end organization might be one of the harder companies to land a guide job with, however, if you do I’m sure you would be nicely compensated.
- Adventure Cycling Association: With over 47,000 miles of cycling mapped in North America, this company is widespread and is always in search for great leaders.
- Mountain Bike World Wide: This company gives exactly what it sounds like: mountain bike tours around the world. From advanced to beginner explorations across numerous continents. This seems like the dream company to work for if you have adventure written on your heart. (https://www.mountainbikeworldwide.com/bike-tours)
Other Jobs In the Mountain Biking Industry
Becoming a mountain bike guide certainly isn’t the right fit for everyone, but that doesn’t mean that you have to take your skill set outside of the cycling industry.
If you want to keep your hands dirty then consider one of these jobs out on the front lines:
- Mechanic: The job of a mechanic can take you across varying levels within the industry. The easiest place to get a job as a mechanic can be found in the back of your local bike shop. If you are looking for something a little more lavish then you can seek out a more experienced career as a mechanic for a top bike company or brand. If you really think you’re the bees knees of bike maintenance then start networking to become a professional mechanic for a race team.
- Team Manager: Have a degree in sports marketing? Consider seeking out a job as a team manager. A team manager’s duties can range from hiring riders to establishing race strategies, to organizing budgets, and much, much more.
- Coach: An education in sports performance, exercise physiology or exercise science could land you a position as a cycling coach, writing workouts and race strategies. No specific education, no problem! You can become a skills coach through day-long or week long courses.
If you don’t see yourself out on the front lines working with athletes or handling equipment the industry still has more:
- Bike Engineer: All of those bikes get made somewhere. If you have a degree and a knack for physics or math consider putting those skills into the newest geometry and the fastest bike this world has seen.
- Marketing: Consider being the behind the scenes marketing strategies for a team, bike brand or athlete. This could range from press releases, to commercial, or even social media.
- Sales: If you don’t ride it, then consider selling it. Work on the floor at a bike shop pushing product, sell brands as an independent representative, or land a job for a larger company.
Make Bikes Your Business:
The bottom line is, no matter what your specialized skill-set is, the cycling industry has a spot for you. If you dream of long days in the saddle, and riding on spectacular terrain then it might be time to looking up mountain bike guide jobs near (or far) from you.