There are a lot of ways to make a living. It's particularly nice when you can combine your passion with your livelihood.
Waxhaw resident Bill Kniegge of Blue Strada Tours has done just that. Bill and his wife, Debbie, organize and conduct motorcycle tours, with a focus on all the N.C. mountains have to offer.
Bill began riding motorcycles when he was 12, held several executive marketing positions with motorcycle industry firms and began organizing tours while living in California.
When he and Debbie moved to North Carolina, the state's resources and hospitality led them to organize their current business.
Bill's answer to the “Why Waxhaw?” question was the same as my own. Bill said they visited downtown Waxhaw and “the place just spoke to us.”
He says the goal of their full-service tours is “to give our guests something to remember; we go out of our way to provide well-researched roads.”
Important elements, he said, “include beautiful winding roads, smooth clean surfaces and very little traffic. Memorable routes are combined with upscale accommodations and (the) best local foods of a particular area.”
A support vehicle handles luggage and necessities. Bill leads each tour, pacing the ride based on participants' enthusiasm and experience.
I was interested to learn that a significant segment of their clientele is international riders drawn to the Carolinas' natural beauty. That includes clients from Switzerland, who have some fairly impressive mountain scenery right out their own back doors.
When I asked about his favorite tour, Bill described the Grand Tour that stays in North Carolina for almost all of six days of riding.
“We get to show off the beautiful roads we have and also some of the unique cities and towns along the way. Asheville is always a pleasant surprise to newcomers, especially when they find out all it has to offer in addition to its picturesque location.”
He mentioned Marshall, Hot Springs, and Waynesville on the routes, which can include a half-day stop at the Biltmore House. Robbinsville and Deals Gap on the western side of the state have beautiful lakes and scenery and some of the windiest roads in the country, he said.
Another great tour, he said, is the Red Bull Indianapolis GP tour in August. It's a nine-day tour that starts in Charlotte and makes its way to Indianapolis for the United States F1 event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“I really enjoy all of our tours… but what really makes them enjoyable are the people that come along,” Bill said.
My wife and I have had similar experiences, albeit at much slower speeds on bicycle tours of Vermont, Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. New friendships happen with ease when you are sharing an adventure with like-minded individuals.
Blue Strada also offers self-guided tours, where experienced riders can be met at Charlotte airport hotels with Suzuki V Strom and BMW GS motorcycles.
Rentals run from three days to 30-plus days, and Bill and Debbie offer all levels of support. They also arrange custom tours for individuals, clubs and businesses that include experiences at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
To learn more, visit www.bluestradatours.com.