- About Our Tours
At the Iron Donkey we believe that the bicycle is a great way – in many instances the best way – to explore your environment while on vacation. Bicycle touring is particularly liberating, and apart from walking, you can’t get any closer to your surroundings. On a bike you can stop and get off whenever and as often as you like - with no worries about parking. Bicycle touring is better for your health and better for the environment.
The idea of a bicycle tour will conjure up different images to different people. There are those to whom a gentle 20 miles on level terrain with lots of en route stops is the ideal day. For others a 40 mile ride with a little bit of challenge here and there is more what they are after. And then there are the hammerheads who want to ride 60 or 70 miles a day with a couple of mountain passes thrown in for good measure!
We can offer you a bike tour whatever your level of biking experience, expertise and ambition. Our ability to offer this degree of flexibility is rooted in our comprehensive knowledge of the regions in which we run our tours. We can advise you on the itinerary that exactly meets your requirements with regard to terrain, riding distance, duration, challenge, sights of interest, accommodations etc. It is also possible to devise an itinerary that caters for both leisure and hardcore riders in the same trip.
Besides a unique degree of flexibility our tours also provide:
Tony Boyd founded Iron Donkey Bicycle Touring in 1997, with a view to running guided group bike tours in his native Northern Ireland. A teacher in an earlier life, Tony was drawn to bicycle touring from an early age. His numerous trips have included 3 year-long adventures, and it was the experiences during these that prompted him to set up Iron Donkey Bicycle Touring.
For Tony, the personal touch and the flexibility offered by the Iron Donkey are crucial. Tony knows all the Iron Donkey regions intimately, and if you have questions about any aspect of any Iron Donkey region or Itinerary, then he is the one to talk to. If you request a phone call to discuss the options for a tour nine times out of ten it will be Tony that you will be talking to when you pick up the phone.
Tony still enjoys guiding tours during the season but nowadays he concentrates mostly on tour region development, itinerary design, marketing and company strategy.
Wilma Heim, a German native, came to Ireland as a student in 1990 – and never left! She considers Ireland as home and is frequently told that she is more Irish than the Irish themselves. Wilma has built up a vast knowledge of the West, Southwest and Northwest of Ireland during the 15 years that she has spent organising and running bicycle tours in these regions.
Wilma joined the Iron Donkey in 2005, and as Ireland Manager she organises and guides all the tours in this part of the world. She herself is an enthusiastic cycle tourist.
Sheelagh Boyd (Tony’s sister) lives in California, having met her American husband Larry on a bike tour! An Iron Donkey stalwart since the very beginning, Sheelagh mainly deals with the administration side of our European tours – sending out booking forms and invoices, taking payments, emailing trip planners etc.
Norman Trotter is Mr Iron Donkey Northern Ireland. A founding partner in the Iron Donkey, Norman has recently moved from his senior corporate position in the drinks industry in order to assist in the future development of the Iron Donkey business. He brings to the business a wealth of experience in marketing, customer care and many years of hands-on hospitality. Norman is particularly keen to develop the Northern Irish market, a market which he believes is entering a new and exciting era.
Ian Davis lives in Bristol, a few miles from Bath where the Iron Donkey West of England tours start and finish. Tony’s brother-in-law, Ian has been involved with the Iron Donkey for several years, and has guided on many of the group tours. Ian is passionate about bicycle touring and has spent much of his down time pedalling around the lanes and byways of Wessex and the Cotswolds. If you sign up for a tour in this region, Ian’s smiling face will be the one that welcomes you at the start.
Giovanni Ramaccioni, a native of Umbria, is our highly valued Italian operative. Giovanni is passionate about the central Italy region, including Tuscany, Umbria and Le Marche. He is a rich vein of information about the countryside, the food, festivals, history, architecture, traditions – in fact just about every aspect of the beautiful environment in which he lives and works. Meeting up with Giovanni will add something a bit special to your Iron Donkey Italian adventure.
Giovanni is one of our highly prized and growing team of regional partners. Each of our partners lives and operates within a specific region – and most work as full time bike tour providers and guides within the region. Finding a suitable regional partner is the first step in the process of adding a new region to the Iron Donkey program. We search out partners that have a detailed knowledge of their region, who are passionate about what their region has to offer and who are committed to working with us to produce wonderful bicycle tour itineraries. We then work together with our partners to develop routes and route networks that fit the Iron Donkey blueprint.
Our regional partners will act as your guides on guided group tours and will provide your background support on self-guided itineraries. You will discover that they all possess a comprehensive and detailed knowledge about all aspects of their region – a knowledge that they are delighted to share with you.