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Big Dream Bike Tours: USA Cross Country Bike Tour

Greetings! Let me tell you a little bit about us and our company.

Big Dream Bike Tours LLC is a USA Cross Country Bike Tour company privately owned and operated by me, Paula Farmer, and my husband, Dana Farmer. Living along the American River Parkway in Gold River, California (just outside Sacramento), our lives together began with cycling, and continue daily with cycling at the center of who we are and what we do.

In addition to riding my bike, I am a certified personal trainer and specialize in nutrition, women, and seniors. Being gluten-free and lactose intolerant, I’ve faced the challenges of nutrition on the bike.

Dana’s cycling experience spans over many years as a Masters Racer. A great friend of mine once said after meeting Dana, “he has the best bike handling skills I’ve ever seen.” It’s true, he’s really talented on the bike. As a mechanic, he tends to the details of the bikes we ride and love.

While Dana is clearly from the “school of fast”, I am grounded in the “school of far”. Seldom having a friend who wants to ride a fun one hundred, I tend to be a solo rider. However, both Dana and I have learned the fine skill of the “social ride”, and we hope YOU will make the decision to ride with us across America.

Call now, let’s talk!

More information about who we are:

Dana and Paula Farmer

BIG DREAM BIKE TOURS LLC, Owners

Paula: I was a kid with a bike that was too big.  My dad had a mind to only buy one bike (ever) for each of us (I have a twin sister), so he bought big bikes. Being the smaller twin, that meant I learned to ride my two-wheeler standing up because I couldn’t sit on the seat and reach the pedals. Now, being a strong proponent of professional bike fits, this seems funny to me and makes me smile.  But, I did learn to ride my bike just like all the other kids and I clearly remember the day I gained my freedom.  Dad ran down the street balancing me as he held onto the back of my seat.  I remember screaming when I realized he’d turned loose, but I don’t remember falling, so I guess I didn’t. The next thing I remember about my young life with my bike was the officer who stopped to write a Safe Bicycle Rider Citation for me. I saw him coming and walked my bike across a cross walk.  It was two days before my seventh birthday.  I’m still proud.

So, how does one make the leap from a kid on the corner with a bike citation to owning a cross country bike tour company?  Honestly, my throat gets tight and my eyes well-up just thinking about it. Basically, there are two sides to the story – the professional, where the skill set comes from, and the personal.

PERSONAL

As my children grew up and developed interests of their own with friends, my time was freed-up, and I started riding again.  In college, years earlier, I lived in a dorm at Sacramento State University that sat right on the American River Parkway.  It wasn’t as developed as it is today, but it was wonderful.  Those were the days before bike clothes and bike shoes.  I had two choices the (one) day I shopped for a bike – a purple Peugeot or an orange Nishiki.  It was an easy decision – the Peugeot was $117 and the Nishiki was $110.  I was a poor college student so I went back to the dorm with my new orange Nishiki, put the bar on my shoulder and climbed to my third story room. For the next two summers, I worked at a local resort hotel located down the trail, leading family bike tours down the trail to Discovery Park. I loved that bike – all ten gears, and rode frequently until I began a family.  Years later I purchased another bike (now with 21 gears) and took a ride.  I remember it was an out and back ride.  Three miles out, and I had to stop twice to catch my breath, but I was hooked.  It became “all about the bike”.  I rode and I swam.  I got in shape and rode longer, enjoying every organized ride I could.  It was fun and the bike people were fun. These are the people everywhere that I now call “my” people.

Life moved forward, now with my third or fourth bike, my children are raised, and I want someone to ride with (all the time) who really knows what they are doing.  I want someone to look up to.  A mentor.

On our first date, Dana and I met for a ride at the Fish Hatchery on the American River Parkway just a block from where we live now.  That was in the spring of 2005.  We rode together, I went to his races, we married, and we bought more bikes.  In 2007 we decided to take a bike vacation and looked at tours, but didn’t know what we wanted to do, so I decided to plan our bike tour vacation myself.

Eight days, starting and finishing from our home, up and over the mountain to Lake Tahoe, around the lake and back.  Truly it was the best eight days of my life, and at that time I never would have believed that anything could top it.  The last morning we left Kirkwood Mountain Resort before dawn.  The mountains towered against the pre-dawn sky.  With stars everywhere, the moon hung just above the edge of the mountain’s silhouette. I stood there by my bike and wept.

The only other time I’ve felt that emotion was standing in the ocean in Boston, holding my bike.  It was the next year and I’d just finished riding cross-country from California. 

PROFESSIONAL

Two phases of my professional career allowed me to discover that I thrive on “having lots of balls in the air”.  For seven years I worked with hospital clients across the country launching nurse-line call centers.  Lots of detail ranging from data-base development to coordinating voice and data vendors, hiring, training, marketing, advertising, and finally launch.  It was a time when I traveled extensively across the US, stayed in lots of hotels and ate in many different restaurants.  I found out what was important to know and do when traveling from here to there, and back.

For the next eleven years, again I traveled managing accounts with some of the larger companies in the US. I also had the opportunity to develop a no-cost value-add wellness program which peaked my interest in overall fitness. Eventually I studied to earn a personal trainer certification from NASM.  This is a skill set that I find very useful personally, but have chosen not to pursue professionally.

And, last but certainly not least, I had the good fortune to work for a cross-country bike tour company for a season!

Today, I work from home in my sunny little office with a huge map of the US on the wall in front of me.  Multiple lines run across the map as I research routes and incorporate bike trails and points of interest into each tour day.  From my desk I see some of our bikes sitting in our entry (yes, in the house).

Dana: The lines between Dana’s personal and professional experience are often blurred.  Raised in a military family, he was born in Nuremburg, Germany in 1951 and later lived in multiple military locations, including:  Govenor’s Island, NY; Fort Ord, CA (twice); Fort Benning, GA; Hannibal, MO, and Fort Lewis, WA.

Contrary to the big bike I learned to ride, Dana’s parents bought him a small ten speed road bike when he was in the sixth grade.  He was hot stuff!  Later, in high school, he also developed an interest in running.

Drafted in 1970, Dana served in the Army for three years in Fulda, Germany, during the Vietnam War as a 71N20 Transportation Specialist.  Returning to the states in 1974, running became his main athletic focus. Living in Monterey, CA, he ran along the majestic Pacific Grove coastline.  Moving to Lake Tahoe in 1979, after building a mountain home at Incline Village Ski Resort, he continued to run.

Relocating to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1981, Dana continued his career in the lumber industry.  His passion for road cycling began to grow along with his interest in woodworking.  He developed a second business caning chairs, building wooden porch swings and captain’s beds, in addition to installing windows, doors, and hardwood floors.

He also traveled, returning to Europe ten times for vacation in France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Austria and Denmark. Highlights of those travels include a self-guided bike tour along the Mosel River in Germany with his son and cousins.  It was then that Dana discovered his true passion – for Jagerschnitzel with bacon and mushroom gravy, served in family guest homes along the river.  Two trips, 2001 and 2003, included following the Tour de France, traveling by RV and camping along the way.  Dana has fond memories of riding Alpe d’Huez multiple times.

Dana’s interest in bike racing began to grow in 1998 when he purchased his first USA Cycling Racing License.  Over the next twelve years he raced for four teams, including: San Jose Bike Club, Team City in Sacramento, Tuesday Velo, sponsored by Voler, and VOS, originating out of the Monterey area.  His racing history can be viewed on the USA Cycling site.

And then, crashes and other “issues” started to happen.  I mention this only because Dana is my hero, not only a Master’s Racer, but a master at recovery and rebuilding. 

August 2011 – Shoulder broken in four places on the Saturday morning River Ride.  A ride not for sissys.

June 2012 – Heart attack.  In his two previous races he dropped out saying he “had no kick”.

January 2013 – Broken hip.  Hit by a deer in the dark on his way to work on the American River Trail.

October 2013- Broke the other hip.  Mechanical issue on the trail coming home from work.

March 2014- Three broken ribs.  Hit by (another) deer on the trail on the way to work.

TODAY – a fitness level that puts much younger riders to shame, and a new passion for the cross country bike tour process and the people he will share that experience with.  His new people!