FAQs

So, you’re thinking of saddling up to join one of our cycle tours but got a few niggling questions? Then check out the following answers!

1. What are the main ingredients of an Otesha cycle tour?

2. I haven’t acted since primary school! Do I have to be a theatre pro to come along?

3. The thought of hills makes me queasy – do I have to be a cycling star?

4. What kind of bike is best?

5. I like saving-the-planet stuff but don’t know a ton – should I know my grey-water system from my wormery before I come on tour?

6. What type of training will I receive before embarking on the journey?

7. How does the group make decisions?

8. Can I come with my boyfriend/girlfriend/friend?

9. How much free time do we get?

10. What do most people find most challenging?

11. What will we eat?

12. What is the accommodation like?

13. How do I know what to bring?

14. What are the costs involved?

15. What does this project contribution cover?

16. What is not covered by the cost?

17. Are there bursaries available?

18. Does anything happen after the tour is over?

19. When should I apply?

20. This all sounds great but a tour doesn’t sound like my kettle of fish, how else can I get involved?

1. What are the main ingredients of an Otesha cycle tour?

Ah, the age-old question – what goes into the Otesha tour that makes it such a fun, unique and generally life-changing experience? Well, measure out a fair whack of cycling, add a generous helping of performances of the Otesha play and workshops, gently fold a bunch of other enthusiastic and fun-loving individuals into the mix, add a huge pinch of sustainable living and ta da!

2. I haven’t acted since primary school! Do I have to be a theatre pro to come along?
If you’ve never dusted off a copy of Shakespeare’s works… then that’s absolutely fine by us. All you need is enthusiasm and the willingness to throw inhibition to the wind when you play the part of  an Amazonian tree, a compost bin, or a handsome credit card, or even Simon Cowell…
All tour members will get training in the first week of tour too to learn some theatre skills and exercise those dramatic muscles! (Please note – three-week tours don’t involve the whole play, but there will be some assembly visits and lots of our past tours have taken it upon themselves to devise their own mini performances!)

3. The thought of hills makes me queasy – do I have to be a cycling star?
You don’t need to be a super-fit athlete by any means, as once you get on the road you’ll be surprised how fast muscles will appear and mountains become molehills. BUT what you do need is a willingness to train a bit (that involves loading up your bike and going for a few long-distance trundles) and to build up your stamina to manage at least 40 miles in one day by the start of tour. Not that we’re Mr. and Ms. Motivator, but we can provide you with our very own top tips to buff up!

4. What kind of bike is best?
It is essential that you have a road-worthy bike. You don’t need the latest shiny model, you just need a reliable steed that’ll see through those 1000-odd miles with you! The safest bet is probably a hybrid, and if you do have a mountain bike then we recommend you swap those hefty tyres for hybrid ones, to lighten your load! So get yourself down to a bike shop or bike co-op and make sure that your bike has been checked over for any kinks before you get to tour. There is a bike maintenance workshop during the first week of tour but this is more for on-the-road emergencies.

5. I like saving-the-planet stuff but don’t know a ton – should I know my grey-water system from my wormery before I come on tour?
No way. The tour is as much about learning as it is about teaching the issues of sustainability to others. We’ll post you a copy of our Otesha Handbook before you come on tour to get clued up on the issues and tour members partner up before tour as well to research an issue together. Most importantly, don’t worry – we’re still learning here at Otesha too (what’s a grey-water system again?).

6. What type of training will I receive before embarking on the journey?
The first week of tour is a training week, where you will focus on learning all sorts of skills before you hit the road. There will be workshops on public speaking, storytelling, theatre skills and the Otesha play, bike maintenance and safety, community-building and video-making amongst other things!. There is also time for tour members to get together and discuss issues surrounding sustainability and social justice. The training week is jam-packed and presents a challenging experience but builds a strong foundation for the weeks ahead. It’s okay if you feel that you could use training in all the skill-areas listed – that’s part of what the tour is all about!

7. How does the group make decisions?
On tour we use a decision-making process called “consensus” which allows groups to make collaborative decisions. No decision is made unless every member of the group can live with it and hopefully this gives every member of the group ownership over all decisions made. It involves lots of funny hand signals, so get those twinkle fingers ready. If you’re interested in learning more about consensus check out this guide.

8. Can I come with my boyfriend/girlfriend/friend?
As a general guide we’d suggest that couples consider going on separate tours, which makes us sound like right party-poopers, but any exclusive relationship on tour can affect group dynamics – especially in such a tight-knit group that develops whilst on tour. If you’re a close group of friends either consider going on separate tours too or just take your clique hats off!

9. How much free time do we get?
There is one day off a week while on tour to do whatever you like with – go for a walk, read your book, do laundry and catch up on emails – and you’ll need it, as the tour is pretty intense group living the rest of the time. Each team cycles, eats, performs and learns together, as well as sharing tents. This can be a new experience for many, but it is the basis of the incredibly strong community that each Otesha cycle tour team builds.

10. What do most people find most challenging?
It’s worth remembering that what is most challenging is also most rewarding… adapting to group living, consensus decision making, camping, cycling, hills, trailers, performing, public speaking, and general cycle tour mania all present challenges to varying degrees as well as missing friends, family, foods, showers, sofas, sanity… During the first weeks of tour potential challenges will be raised and discussed; tour members quickly become a close-knit community, which is as warm and cosy and supportive as a big knitted jumper.

11. What will we eat?
A lot. Food is an integral part of being on tour, not only because it will fuel you up those looming hills, but because its production and consumption is central to sustainable and ethical living and – let’s face it – we all love pukka tukka. During training week the group will use consensus (see question 7) to decide on a ‘food mandate’, which will set the precedent for how group food will be bought and prepared.  Each tour will establish their own idea of a ‘low impact’ diet but expect lots of yummy vegetarian/vegan food, bubbling stews, homemade hummus, local cheese and lots of Fairtrade chocolate  – yum.

12. What is the accommodation like?
We rely on the kindness of strangers when it comes to accommodation so it’s a real mix! Expect to lay your head down in fields, school gyms, village halls, churches, caravans and even the occasional bed…

13. How do I know what to bring?
Upon registration you will receive Otesha’s Cycle Tour Prep Pack that has a very detailed list of essential cycle tour kit! It’s got plenty more info about what it’s like to be on an Otesha tour too.

14. What are the costs involved?
This amazing opportunity that bridges volunteering, leadership skills and pedal power has a minimum fundraising goal of £800. The cost is a project contribution that will be applied towards the tour’s expenses and that helps Otesha, as a charity keep going! Tour member fundraising is an integral part of Otesha’s plan to make the cycle tours self-sufficient and it helps us be more flexible in meeting the ever-changing needs of the communities we visit. We believe that fundraising can be a great learning opportunity and a great way to reach out to your community and tell them about the fabulous stuff that you’re doing! We are also always at the end of the phone to provide advice, support and ideas on how to reach your goal.

15. What does this project contribution cover?
The fundraising contributes to the direct tour costs (including food and accommodation on tour), insurance, staff time to organise the tour and equipment costs, as well as providing essential support to Otesha.

16. What is not covered by the cost?
The project contribution does not cover your transportation to and from the tour, the costs of your bike and cycling gear or your spending money on tour (for stuff like chocolate or the occasional beer). You will be responsible for covering those costs yourself. Everything else is covered!

17. Are there bursaries available?
We feel it is incredibly important to ensure that our tours are accessible. Therefore we are offering bursaries based on need for people who think they’d have a really hard time reaching the fundraising goal. It is our goal to ensure that no applicant is turned away for financial reasons. If the financial cost is in any way a barrier to you applying, then get in touch with us at cycletours@otesha.org.uk and we’ll give you information about the bursaries we have available.

18. Does anything happen after the tour is over?
Why yes! We don’t let you go that easily – mwa ha ha…
After the tour wraps up you become part of our Otesha alumni crew which means you can get access to training to help you set up and run your own project and hear about all kinds of opportunities from funding to jobs to joining a bicycle dance troupe! We also have an exclusive fellowship opportunity for past tour members.

19. When should I apply?
Applications for our 2012 cycle tours will open on December 5, 2011. After that, it’s first come first served so apply early if you want to guarantee a place!  If you want to stay in the loop, sign up for our newsletter and you’ll be the first to hear about it when we set the routes and open applications.

20. This all sounds great but a tour doesn’t sound like my kettle of fish. How else can I get involved?
Have a look at the About Us section of our website for specific volunteering opportunities, where we get to use your skills and experience and you get to use ours and hopefully we all have a giggle and learn something along the way. Or invite us to visit you at your school, festival, summer camp or community! Contact us at cycletours@otesha.org.uk to see if we can perform the play in your area.

If you want to know anything else then drop us a line at cycletours@otesha.org.uk.