Lead Guide (Road Cycling Holidays)
Why be inside when you can be outside?
My passion for anything outdoors and spending as much time in the fresh air possible, started at a very young age. From the age of 6 I used to set off on solo camping adventures and in summer I never spend much time sleeping in a bed as I preferred a bivac in the farmer´s fields underneath the stars (and many rain clouds).
Dutch by nationality, I grew up with road biking, speed skating and horse riding. My parents encouraged a free spirit and as I grew older, I started extending my outdoor activities further away from home and chose to study tourist management to allow me to travel. As work experience I went to Austria and got addicted to the snow… 6 weeks after my first day skiing, I entered my first ski instructor exams! As you can imagine, it was a steep learning curve and being surrounded by some 300 Tyrolean ski heroes, type Herman Maiers, Franz Klammers, Marcel Hirschers, I felt pretty incompetent. I was always last, could really not ski that well and had ´great fun´ trying to decode the Tyrolean dialects! I ended up staying in Tyrol for 7 years! Spending my summers as a raft guide, climbing, mountain biking and enjoying yodeling on the Alm huts! My Tyrolean became excellent, my German improved and skiing is still my biggest passion every single day I am on the planks!!
Looking for a new experience I moved to France, Meribel, mainly to improve my French and worked for a French Ski school. Let us say, it was a ´special’ and real French experience that left me with a better (and more selective) knowledge of French. For details, ask me sometime! In France I came in contact with Scots who brought me to bonny Scotland…
The first two years I combined the outdoors with my work as an holistic therapist but eventually returned to spending all my days in the hills: mountain biking, walking, climbing, skiing and camping, or on the water, rafting, canoeing and surfing as an instructor/ guide, sharing my knowledge and passion for the great outdoors with others as well as for personal fun. I did many of my outdoor qualifications here, for example the Summer, Winter and International Mountain Leader, Trail Cycle Leader and Mountain Bike Leader training. Scotland was the country that got me seriously back on my bike as it is the perfect country for MTB. Living in Aviemore, we had a great team of riders and we used to do crazy things like night riding in winter or little 3 or 4 days bothy expeditions, which mainly consisted of carrying the bike a lot on our backs and trying to get the whisky and the beer in one piece to the bothy! Many of us have now got back on the road bike too.
10 years in Scotland left me with a serious passion for whisky, an enormous bag of outdoor experience, the title of adopted Scot, a fine Scottish accent and top skiing skills on ice, windblown snow and heather! Whilst in Scotland I also worked a lot in the Alps and ski touring in the Oberland, I met some Basques who convinced me that their country was well worth a visit and soon I was invited to visit not just the Basque Country but also Asturias, Galicia, Cantabria and the Pyrenees! I was sold, moved across, learned Basque and Spanish. The north has such a rich natural environment, spectacular mountains, a wild coastline with fantastic waves, delicious food and the perfect climate for being active that it wasn´t long until it felt like home, despite the struggle with the many cultural differences. The Basque Country and Spanish Pyrenees are where I am currently based and from here I run since 5 years my own little adventure and guiding company, Mountain Minds, specialized in skiing, snowshoeing, hillwalking, trekking and climbing.
I am really excited to be part of the Marmot Team, to support you during your cycling holiday and make sure you have a fantastic, fun experience! I am looking forward to seeing you on your bike soon in some of the world’s wonderful places!
What our cyclists say about Christel…
Wealth of experience, real enthusiasm and pleasure to be around. Really nice manner while efficiently getting on with what was needed I MacCafferty, Classic Cols of the Picos 2016
Christel is a fab guide. So encouraging, never gives up on you & is always there to answer your questions!! Her experience as a guide and her knowledge of the local area left you in no doubt that we’d still be having a great day’s cycling no matter which route we took J Burke, Classic Cols of the Picos 2016
Thank you Christel for your encouragement, photos and the laughter, especially when I dropped my multitool on my foot. Where was the first aider when I needed one ! oh yes, too busy laughing! R Wheeler Classic Cols of the Picos 2015
So professional and hard working, while being fun and supportive. She was really knowledgeable about the routes, the area, bikes, everything really! The best guide I have ever had on a cycling holiday and I have been on lots. C Rank Classic Cols of the Dolomites 2018
Very encouraging and supportive and gave us all the info required to make the most of our holiday. A real asset to your company and in short, a legend. D, G and L Innes Classic Cols of the Pyrenees 2018
Christel is the best guide we have ever had on a holiday – absolutely superb. Always helpful, kind, supportive, fabulously well organised and a very inspiring woman to boot. You have a real gem there! K McPherson Raid Sardinia 2018
Christel met me at the airport and from that moment she always was available to answer questions and help. She worked so hard and dealt with every situation and event that occurred. Just brilliant. K James Classic Cols of the Dolomites 2018
Tireless, caring, supportive always, THE BEST. S Cummings Raid Dolomites 2018
Outstanding! So friendly and accommodating, nothing was too much bother. Very knowledgeable and approachable. A fabulous guide. A Stafford Dolomites Classics & Stelvio 2019