ExperiencePlus! Tour Leaders At Their Annual Gathering

The ExperiencePlus! Team

Though ExperiencePlus! has come a long way since our first bike tour across Italy in 1972 we are still a family run business. When our parents, Rick and Paola Malpezzi Price, set out from Forlí on their first bike tour across Italy (in fact, the name of the company then was Bike Across Italy), we could never have imagined where that road would lead us. Four decades later, Maria Elena and Monica, continue to craft bicycling vacations for travelers with the aim to create meaningful connections through bicycle travel.

ExperiencePlus! people – from our home office to overseas offices and all of our tour leaders in various countries – are as diverse as you can imagine. But here's one thing we all have in common: our passion for exploration and adventure. We are all engaged with life and outdoor activity, and are thrilled to engage with our travelers and share what we know. 

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The Owners

In 2008 Monica and Maria Elena Malpezzi Price bought ExperiencePlus! from their parents who began offering their first tours back in 1972. After working as bicycle tour leaders for most of their lifetimes, and as the daughters of two bicycle tour pioneers and travel enthusiasts they felt it was time to take the reins and lead the company to share their own style and passion for bicycle travel and people. As multilingual, bicultural and dual citizens (Italian-American), Monica and Maria Elena are thrilled to be leaders in their industry as they bring the company into the "next generation". In 2011 Maria Elena (M.E. for short) and Monica were honored to be named 2 of the Top 10 Guides in the world by National Geographic Traveler.

Monica Malpezzi-Price
Co-Owner, Based in Italy

Monica is co-owner and Director of International Operations. Monica oversees the development and smooth running of ExperiencePlus! Bicycle Tours as well as ExperiencePlus' sister company Cycle Europe, both based in Italy. Since leading her first bicycle tour at the age of 15, Monica is happy to still be involved in travel and is convinced that “slow” travel helps us all connect more to each other and the planet we live on.

Monica grew up living a trans-Atlantic life spending her high school years between Fort Collins, Colorado and Italy in the summer. Monica split her time between Eugene, Oregon and Italy during her undergraduate years and Washington D.C. and Italy during her graduate school years. Monica's extensive travel experiences throughout the years include France as a post-high school exchange student, India and Ghana for a semester each during university, and numerous countries traveled (by bicycle and not). Monica now lives year-round in Faenza, a town in north-central Italy, though her world travels continue.

Monica has a B.A. in Anthropology and a M.S. in Development Management and, although not following her studies exactly, she’s happy to be putting all of her travels, study and work experience to use in designing, managing and operating the bicycle tour business and continues to believe that bicycle travel is the best way to see the world! You can email her at: monica@experienceplus.com.

 

Maria Elena Malpezzi-Price
Co-Owner, Based in USA

Along with her sister, Maria Elena now co-owns ExperiencePlus! and manages the company's stateside growth and development from its headquarters in Fort Collins, Colorado—although she does still manage to travel to Europe and join on tour whenever she can. Maria Elena holds an MBA from the Leeds School of Business in Boulder, Colorado and earned a dual Bachelor's degree in Psychology and International affairs from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Together these disciplines enable her to insightfully focus her attention on day-to-day operations and user experience while maintaining a strategic vision for the business as a whole. In 2011 Maria Elena and Monica were both selected by National Geographic Traveler to be featured in their Top 10 Guides in the world. Although they do not go on tour as much as they would like, they aim to train and pass their love for guiding on to the tour leaders who work with them every year. Active in the Adventure Travel Industry and motivated to continually improve the whole industry, in 2016 Maria Elena was honored to join the Adventure Travel Trade Association's Advisory Board. More than anything, Maria Elena still loves to immerse herself in new places and see the world by bike. Her favorite trip—when pressured to choose—is the Camino de Santiago from Roncesvalles to Santiago de Compostela for its extraordinary combination of everything that makes a bike trek great: history, cuisine, landscape, pilgrims, great cycling and languages galore.

Tour Leaders

It takes a special person to be a great tour leader. Start with an unlimited supply of energy, and mix in talent, resourcefulness, knowledge of local history and geography, and a natural sense of direction for steering you to the most entertaining café in town. These kind, and funny folks will be there when you need them, and have a sixth sense for knowing when to help and when to let adventure happen naturally. Expert interpreters of their local culture and a passion to share a wealth of knowledge about the history and unique traditions of their home countries.

When you travel with ExperiencePlus! you're traveling with local experts. All of our guides are multilingual, and at least one of your leaders will be from the country you are traveling in. You will sometimes also have staff from our US or European offices join you. We truly believe we have some of the top tour leaders in the industry, many of whom have been guiding tours with ExperiencePlus! for over half a decade.

Sara Verlicchi
Tour Manager/Tour Leader

Sara, a native of Italy, has been leading tours with ExperiencePlus! since 2004. Sara graduated from the architecture department at the University of Venice in 2006 and currently pursues her architecture career with her father when she's not leading bike tours! She lives in the countryside near Ravenna and enjoys vacationing by bike whenever possible. She has toured on self-supported rides in Tuscany, Sicily, Croatia, Corsica and Costa Rica. As a high school student, she was an exchange student in Cincinnati, Ohio and she still loves spending time with mid-westerners! Her photograph was taken at the top of "passo della colla" in the Apennines during her first tour, from Venice to Florence. It also happened to be her 30th birthday ... what a great way to celebrate!!

"Our tour guides Cristina, Damiano, and Sara were just excellent. They each brought their own strengths and qualities to the tour, but also worked so well together to make everything flawless. They were very well "trained", very professional and extremely personable. They are a huge asset to your organization."

“Unbelievably went above and beyond any job description of tour leader. She was unfailingly willing to look outside the box to solve problems and she did it gracefully under pressure.  Sara was just fantastic.”

“One rainy day, Sara was able to organize several different itineraries (those who wanted to bike, some who wanted to tour Fiesole, some who wanted to go onto Florence).  Her ability to do this so well marks her in our minds as a terrific leader.”

“Sara is wonderful!! Knowledgeable, always in good humor, tactful, charming, and totally unflappable. She also indulged my desire to speak Italian from time to time!”

“I was so encouraged by Sara as she cheered us on!” 

Philipp Schmitt
Tour Leader/ Tour Manager

Philipp was born in Germany in 1969, although it wasn't long before his parents took him to Afghanistan where his father taught mathematics at the University of Kabul. Living at the foot of the Hindukush he climbed his first five "thousander" (over 16,000 feet) at the age 7 or 8.

When he was nine his family returned to Germany, but by the age of 16 his feet got itchy and the call of adventure became strong so he quit school, joined the merchant marines and sailed to South America, the US, Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. After three years he decided to return to shore and finish high school. Followed by the wish to study something where he could combine as many different things as possible. He ended up studying a combination of Business and Middle Eastern Studies in Bremen, Germany and spent one year abroad studying Arabic and working as an intern at the German Arab Chamber of Commerce in Cairo.

A myriad of jobs and a Master's degree later Philipp took to leading bicycle tours in Germany and Spain and his broad knowledge of languages, history, food and wine adds a special note to any tour.

"Philipp is the consummate leader; unfailingly kind to everyone, smart, funny, and good with people. He handles all situations with diplomacy and grace."
"Philipp is an excellent guide. He quickly attends to all details, including bike condition, accommodations, and food requests. He may be the best bike guide I have encountered in 15+ years of annual bike tours taken with three tour companies."

"If you can figure out how to clone Philipp as a tour leader, I would encourage it."

Sabrina Moriconi
Tour Manager

Sabrina describes herself as "one of those trilingual European-Americans" who doesn't really know where to call home. She grew up in Washington D.C., and spent summer months in Italy and Belgium. She studied history at Columbia University. She currently lives in Italy, close to Naples, with her children Marco and Giada. Sabrina began leading ExperiencePlus! tours in 1998.

  • With ExperiencePlus! since: 1998
  • Languages you speak? English, French, Italian and some Spanish.
  • Favorite bike item? My back rack pannier.
  • Favorite place to ride? Near the sea or in rolling terrain.
  • Next dream vacation? I'd love to go to Japan, Cuba, Chile, Argentina.
Joan Escosura
Tour Leader/Tour Manager

Joan was born in sunny Barcelona. Life in the big city fed his passion for escaping into nature with his mountain bike. He currently lives in Spain's Pyrenees. He got his undergraduate degree in tourism at the University of Barcelona, and has been working in different jobs all over the world ever since. He loves mountain biking, snowboarding, skateboarding, hiking, climbing, basketball and many other sports.

  • With ExperiencePlus! since: 2008
  • Languages: Catalan, Spanish, English, German, and French and some Italian
  • Favorite bike item: Bicycle shoes
  • Favorite place to ride: The Pyrenees
  • Next dream vacation: I have never been to the States. I would like to ski in Wyoming and cycle in Moab

"Our guides...Loreto, Joan, and Phillip...met the excellent high standards of ExperiencePlus! Fun loving and funny, knowledgeable, and extremely low key, they were a wonderful trio and marvelous traveling companions. They answered every question, attended to every request, and were extremely detail oriented. So hats off to the entire organization."

 "Joan was very organized and in control. Extremely friendly and willing to do what was needed to make the tour go smoothly and enjoyably." 

Juan Pablo Mansilla
Tour Leader/Tour Manager

Juan Pablo, or "Jata", was born and grew up in Santiago, Chile. He studied at the German high school of Santiago and later in Concepción, when his family moved there for work. Juan Pablo worked for many years in Chile's central valley as an Agronomist engineer in the fruit exportation industry. He then moved to the place he'd fallen in love with long ago: the magical Chiloé Island in Chile's Lakes District. He founded CHILOËTNICO, his own tourism company in 2000 and led his first tour with ExperiencePlus! in 2005 --  Bicycling Patagonia's Lakes District Plus! the Island of Chiloé. His years of experience in Chile's Central Valley were key to designing and developing the ExperiencePlus! Bicycling Chile´s Wine Country routes. With a deep knowledge of history, flora & fauna, Juan Pablo brings a richness and depth to travelers' experiences in Chile and Argentina. One of his goals is that when guests leave they will have at least one new piece of information about Chilean culture.

Anibal Marasi
Tour Leader/Tour Manager
Magali Faugeres
Tour Leader

Magali grew up in Arles and Occitane region in the south of France. She studied philosophy, and for 5 years worked as an environmental educator with children. After a year of volunteering and working in Nepal she decided to become a hiking and cycling tour guide. In 2015 she met the ExperiencePlus! team and is thrilled to now be a part of it, guiding tours mostly in the South of France, Provence and Brittany, and Italy every now and then. She loves sharing her passion for "slow" travel with her guests. She has lived throughout France and now resides in Avignon.

  • With ExperiencePlus! since: 2015
  • Languages: French, Italian, English, and some Spanish
  • Favorite bike item: Bicycle jerseys and shorts
  • Favorite place to ride: Around Cevennes, Luberon, and outside big cities
  • Next dream vacation: Croatia, go back to Andalucia and the Carretera Austral in Chile. 
Michele Quaresimin
Tour Leader

Michele was born in Vicenza where he still lives with his family: the super energetic Mattia , the lovely princess Aurora, and his wife Marta. He studied sport sciences at Verona University. When he's not leading tours he is a physical fitness instructor. Michele also roller blades and enjoys climbing, swimming, and alpine and cross country skiing. Sports are his life. One of his mottos is "mens sana in corpore sano," which means "a healthy mind and a sound body." So, he doesn't waste time on bad food or wine.

  • With ExperiencePlus! since: 2008
  • Languages: Italian and English
  • Favorite bike item: Jersey
  • Favorite place to ride: Everywhere in Italy
  • Next dream vacation: I would return to Cuba
Ante Vujanovic
Tour Leader

Ante Vujanovic was born and raised in Split, Croatia. He studied foreign trade and tourism at the University of Dubrovnik. In his previous life he worked in sales, then as a guide at the Mestrovic Gallery in Split. In addition to tour leading, Ante also develops and fine tunes bike itineraries, handles logistics, and is always scouting for new and attractive cycling routes.

  • With ExperiencePlus! since: 2012
  • Languages: Croatian, English, and some Italian
  • Favorite bike item: Sunglasses
  • Favorite place to ride: Croatia’s Brac Island
  • Next dream vacation: India and Nepal, but I’d go back to the Red Valley in Capadoccia/Turkey again.
Tika Walde
Tour Leader

Tika was born in Germany and moved to little town in the province of Chubut, Patagonia, Argentina, with his family when he was three. He studied to become a tourist guide in the Primo Capraro University of Bariloche and has worked as a traditional tourist guide of the Nahuel Huapi National Park. He is as passionate about cyclocross racing as he is about Argentina and sharing his love for his "home" country with our travelers.

  • With ExperiencePlus! since: 2009
  • Languages: Spanish, German, Portuguese and English
  • Favorite bike item: shoes
  • Favorite place to ride: I love to ride in mountain regions (up and downhill)
  • Next dream vacation: I would like to go to France, explore the area around Mont Blanc
Michela Bresciani
Tour Leader

Michela was born, grew up and still lives close to one of the most beautiful lakes in Italy, Lake Garda. She has a background in languages, studied  History of Art for three years, and graduated from the American University in Business Administration. Michela's done raft trips on the Tatshenshini-Alsek River in Canada, cruised the Queen Charlotte Islands, sailed through the Grenadine, and walked the Camino to Santiago. She loves getting to know people, learning about new cultures, foods and wine, and sharing her enthusiasm to help people get the most from their holidays.

  • With ExperiencePlus! since: 2012
  • Languages: I speak Italian, Brescia dialect, German and French
  • Favorite bike item: Shorts, shoes, safety items (lights, vest, etc.)
  • Favorite place to ride: Everywhere in the world, but it has to be a little challenging
  • Next dream vacation: I would like to go around the world

"Michela is a pleasure to have as our guide. We were so pleased to have her as our guide on our 2nd tour of this trip." (Bike Across Italy - Venice to Pisa, 2014)

"Andrea and Michela were both great. The three of them made a great team complementing each other in a superb manner. They always seemed energetic and enthusiastic. They were constantly looking to see what they could do for you. Fluent in English they were all a great source of information. Could not imagine a better team of tour leaders." (Bike Across Italy - Venice to Pisa, 2014)

Alain Rimondi
Tour Leader

Alain grew up and still lives in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy - home to Forli and the ExperiencePlus! European headquarters. He has studied tourism management in the area and worked in hospitality, starting out at a hotel reception - where he first encountered ExperiencePlus! when a group arrived and checked in. Alain left his hotel job for a year-long solo bicycle tour around Europe and discovered that cycling is his real passion.

  • With ExperiencePlus! since: 2015
  • Languages: Italian, English, French and Spanish
  • Favorite bike item: Cycling jacket
  • Favorite place to ride: The Dolomites
  • Next dream vacation: Iceland, Asia, or South America
Silvija Vukušic
Tour Leader

Silvija was born and raised in Split, Croatia, where she studied economics. However, she quickly learned that a desk job was not for her. She began pursuing her passions, falling in love with rock climbing and spelunking. She started traveling throughout Croatia with friends and biking naturally became a part of her lifestyle, as it proved to be the best way to get around Croatia's islands and stunning coast. Silvia worked her first bike tour at the age of 17 in Germany, and has since tried all kinds of jobs, but is always drawn back to guiding bicycle tours.

  • With ExperiencePlus! since: 2008
  • Languages: Croatian, English, and German and learning Italian
  • Favorite bike item: Shorts
  • Favorite place to ride: Croatia, Spain, Germany
  • Next dream vacation: I have never been and would like to go to Istanbul and Argentina. I would go over and over again to the Camino, in Spain.

"Since Silvija grew up in the area, I felt like we got an intimate glimpse into local life here."

"Silvija was an excellent and strong tour leader."

Cristina Taioli
Tour Leader

Cristina Taioli was born in Cesena, Italy (not too far from the “Farm”) where she also currently lives. She studied environmental sciences at the University of Bologna and is currently working on her Master’s degree in environmental cooperation and sustainable development at a university in Ravenna. Cristina has worked in marine biology research and education, with projects in Greece, Costa Rica, the Bahamas, Egypt, the Maldives, England, and Italy. She has also worked as an underwater diving guide in Thailand.

  • With ExperiencePlus! since: 1999
  • Languages: Italian, English, French, and Spanish
  • Favorite bike item: My bike jerseys and shorts
  • Favorite place to ride: France
  • Next dream vacation: Return to Indonesia to dive

"You have the best tour guides I have ever experienced. Cristina, Sara & Damiano are awesome!!"

“She’s funny, willing, terrific, helpful, competent, dedicated, hard working, very very good in handling people and in working with the restaurateurs, hotel employees, etc. This is a born leader!”

“Cristina was the perfect tour manager. She was always on top of the plan, the schedule and our concerns. Very approachable, friendly, accommodating. She always told us what to expect in terms of biking difficulty, food, all of it!”  

"Her humor and wit is great as a guide and I would only hope to tour again with her in the future!" 

Montse Bosch
Tour Leader

Montse was born and bred in Minorca, a beautiful, unspoiled Balearic Island in the Mediterranean.

Sports have had a great influence on Montse's life since she was a teenager. She loves cycling, climbing, hiking, and sailing, along with other adventure activities. She has been able to make a career out of her passion for the outdoors and has guided group kayaking, mountain biking, hiking, and horse riding tours along Minorca's coastline.

Montse also has a passion for learning and moved to Granada in southern Spain a few years ago to study English. She moved to the Basque country of northern Spain in April 2014 to get to know the area and discover new playgrounds.

Join Montse and share her love of traveling, discovering new places, and cultures at the pace she truly believes is best – cycling.

Jonas Blasques
Tour Leader

Born and raised in Portugal and in the Sultanate of Oman, Jonas has always travelled and lived abroad throughout his life. However, his home country of Portugal holds a special place in his heart. He is all about sports with Yoga, Rock Climbing and Surfing being a big triad in his life. He loves to talk about the World, the Mind and anything in between ... He is pretty sure he will love you once he meets you.

  • With ExperiencePlus! since: 2016
  • Languages: English, Portuguese, French and Italian
  • Favorite place to ride: Catalonia's Costa Brava
  • Next dream vacation: I'm living it ...
Yorgos Paraskevopoulos
Tour Leader/Expedition Tour Leader

Yorgos moved with his family from New York to his current home in Kalamata, Greece, at the ripe age of eight. He studied sociology at the American College of Greece. Yorgos met Rick and Paola (ExperiencePlus! co-founders) on the Greek Isles while working as a cruise director. You’ll find him on tours in Greece, Scotland, Italy and Turkey. When not guiding, he spends the winter months caring for his family's olive trees and producing exceptional olive oil and Kalamata olives.

  • With ExperiencePlus! since: 1999
  • Languages: English, Greek, and Italian
  • Favorite bike item: My “Fat Tire” jersey that a guest from Colorado sent me after a tour in the Czech Republic.
  • Favorite place to ride: Ireland
  • Next dream vacation: I want to go to Denmark!

“Yorgos was the perfect choice for tour leader; so accomplished and simply excellent.”

"Yorgos was fantastic on my Greece trip and the second time when I was able to travel with him in Scotland, he did not disappoint. He provides that special leadership that I've come to love from ExperiencePlus. Everything was taken care of; he has fantastic humor, and an ability to adapt to each guest and whatever comes his way."  

"Yorgos is the consummate professional. I was extremely impressed by his poise, his charm and confidence. I sense he has a sincere appreciation for how much this trip meant to us and that it was just as important for him. I never got the sense that he was just doing his job. I felt that he really connected with us as people and cared deeply that we had the best possible experience. My only negative comment is that I'm now going to have to put up with another year of my wife having a crush on him..."

Luis Pegado
Tour Leader

A native of Evora, Portugal, Luis owned a bike shop for more than 15 years in his hometown, which is located in central Portugal. He recently started guiding and loves working with people and has a new found passion for sharing his country with travelers. He enjoys cooking and baking at home and if you are lucky you will be able to try one his family's pastries when you go on tour in Portugal.

  • With ExperiencePlus! since: 2015
  • Languages: Portuguese, Spanish, French, and English
  • Favorite bike item: GPS and bike shorts
  • Favorite place to ride: The Alentejo plains at the end of the day
  • Next dream vacation: Tierra del Fuego
Loïc Tyberghein
Tour Leader

Loïc was born in the city of Liège and spent most of his life in Lincé, a small village near the Belgian Ardennes, just three kilometers from La Redoute, the most famous climb in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He studied at the Université de Mons in Belgium, went to Soria, Spain, for an Erasmus exchange and earned a Master's degree in interpreting Spanish and English. He learned Portuguese as an exchange student in São Paulo, Brazil. Biking is his first passion; his second is beer.

  • With ExperiencePlus! since: 2012
  • Languages: French, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, and working on Italian
  • Favorite bike item: GPS
  • Favorite place to ride: The Belgian Ardennes and the Dolomites
  • Next dream vacation: The Azores, but I go back to the Dolomites every time I can
Jessica Brenzikofer
Tour Leader

Jessica grew up near Basel, Switzerland, right at the borders with France and Germany. She studied geography and social sciences at the University of Basel. When she's not leading tours she works as a bike messenger in Basel, where she also lives. Her list of previous jobs is too long to list, she says.

  • With ExperiencePlus! since: 2015
  • Languages: Swiss German, German, Italian, French, English, and Portuguese
  • Favorite bike item: My super comfy shoes and my cargo bike
  • Favorite place to ride: Anywhere! I live in symbiosis with my bike.
  • Next dream vacation: Bicycle around the Baltic Sea
Lisa Merighi
Expedition Tour Leader/Tour Leader

Lisa grew up a few kilometers from ExperiencePlus's Italian headquarters and despite trying to find another place to call home, returned to Faenza where she now lives. She studied Art History at the University of Bologna and earned her Master's degree in museum studies at the University of Southern California. An avid traveler, Lisa bicycle toured around Asia in 2010. When not traveling, she enjoys cooking and baking for her friends.

  • With ExperiencePlus! since: 2010
  • Languages: I speak Italian and English; mangle French and Spanish
  • Favorite bike item: Touring bike and panniers
  • Favorite place to ride: Anywhere exotic where the roads are bad, conditions are prohibitive and wildlife abounds
  • Next dream vacation: Cycle the Pamir Highway; ride Manali to Leh

"A wonderful tour leader and could fool most of America with her perfect English!"

"We have done a number of bike trips, and Lisa stands out as one of the best guides ever. Knowledgeable, patient, able to deal with a wide variety of personalities, enthusiastic and FUN. The morning in Poland when we were all chomping at the bit to get going, and she put music on in the van to entertain us, which led to us all dancing by our bikes, was a highlight of the tour."

Ronny Buth
Tour Leader
Jo Kent
Tour Leader

Jo had a transatlantic upbringing moving between Canada, the US and the UK. She studied and worked in the fields of geology and database programming but eventually traded office life for a move to France to work in a vineyard. She now lives near Toulouse in the sunny southwest, and when not cycling enjoys trips to the nearby Pyrénées to hike, climb, and backcountry ski. By the happy coincidence of being the only female and the youngest member by about 20 years, she is also the unofficial mascot of her local cycling club.

  • With ExperiencePlus! since: 2013
  • Languages: English and French
  • Favorite bike item: Sugoi bike shorts and Icebreaker merino wool T-shirt
  • Favorite place to ride: Patagonia
  • Next dream vacation: Travel the Pamir Highway in Tajikistan
Andrea Garreffa
Expedition Tour Leader/Tour Leader

Andrea was born near the Cinque Terre in Savona, Italy, and raised in Bologna. He earned a Master's Degree in Communication Studies with a focus on environmental issues and has studied in Italy, Spain, California, and Washington, D.C. Since 2007 Andrea has been exploring new European cycling routes with friends. In 2015 he cycled across Central America, from Cancùn to Panama, and in 2016 he cycled across Cuba. Andrea knows how to bake a mean loaf of authentic Italian bread and loves working in his vegetable garden.

  • With ExperiencePlus! since: 2013
  • Languages: Italian, English, and Spanish. French... work in progress!
  • Favorite bike item: I love the "saltafossi" an ancient bicycle part that allowed cyclists to easily grab the bicycle and jump over obstacles, or to carry the beloved two wheels up to the apartment.
  • Favorite place to ride: Sardinia, The Alps, hills over Bologna, Tuscany, and the Balkans. Let's say anywhere there are hills and room for adventure.
  • Next dream vacation: New Zealand, Australia and South East Asia, then back to the magical island of Sardinia.

"Enrico and Andrea were superb! They work really well together. They were the most attentive and seamless guides we have ever had. We really appreciated that they made an extra effort to offer interesting experiences. It was clear that their contacts in Sardinia look forward to seeing them and welcome them. That made it extra special. They are by far the best guides that I have ever had. My husband and I would like to go on tour with them again. I simply can't say enough about them!!!!" (Bicycling Sardinia - Algero to Cagliari, 2014)

"Andrea and Michela were both great. The three of them made a great team complementing each other in a superb manner. They always seemed energetic and enthusiastic. They were constantly looking to see what they could do for you. Fluent in English they were all a great source of information. Could not imagine a better team of tour leaders." (Bike Across Italy - Venice to Pisa, 2014)

Anaïs Palomar
Tour Leader

Anaïs was born in Valencia, Spain. She lived there until she finished her degree in Oceanography. Her passion for travelling moved her far away and became a scubadive instructor to be able to join together her two main passions: the ocean and travelling. Since 2010, she has been travelling around the world in almost every possible way; walking, biking, sailing, hitchhiking, flying, driving... her backpack has become her home. 

  • With ExperiencePlus! Since: 2017
  • Languages: Spanish, Catalán, English, German
  • Favorite bike item: Saddlebags
  • Favorite place to ride: Natural Park of Serra de la Calderona, Valencia
  • Next dream vacation: Horseback riding through Mongolia
Roberto Laghi
Tour Leader

Roberto grew up in Faenza, Italy and lives in Avignon, France. After getting a Middle East Studies B.A. and a Master’s degree in Public and political communication, he worked for about ten years as a free-lance editor, journalist and consultant. He then moved to France - by bike - with his girlfriend, he wrote a novel, found a publisher but... something went wrong (and that’s why some of his friends call him écrivan maudit). He has also been a bartender, a drummer, a photography student, and a radio show host. He is a wine and tea lover and connoisseur. In his spare time he reads and cooks a lot, he grows chili peppers and he, sometimes, creates crossword puzzles for his friends. He is seriously caring for his natural leaven which he uses to bake a fragrant whole flour bread.
 

With ExperiencePlus! since: 2014
Languages: Italian, English, French, Spanish. In 2016 he started Russian lessons.
Favorite bike item: panniers (and the freedom that goes with them).
Favorite place to ride: he learned how to ride in the Appennini hills in Romagna so he will always love those places. But he says that the best feeling is whenever he rides a road for the first time.
Next dream vacation: planning a one year around the world bike trip!

Enrico Dal Monte
Tour Leader/ Expedition Tour Leader

Italian native Enrico dal Monte grew up in Vicenza and Venice. After graduating in Oriental Studies and International Politics at the University of Venice, he worked as translator and teacher in Australia, Italy, and Israel. He speaks six languages. Apart from his cultural passions, he loves snowboarding, trekking, volleyball, and biking. Enrico leads tours in Belgium, Italy, Spain, and France.

  • With ExperiencePlus! since: 2010
  • Languages: Italian, English, French, Spanish, German, and Hebrew
  • Favorite bike item: The vintage newspaper holder on my commuting bike
  • Favorite place to ride: Everywhere!
  • Next dream vacation: Sardinia, Sicily, and Andalusia over and over and for the first time Croatia, Greece, Catalunya, Argentina, and Chile

“Enrico is exceptionally outgoing and cheerful. He sees and works on the solution to problems before they become an issue.  A great guy with a can-do attitude.”

“Enrico and Cristina are the perfect team. I learned an amazing amount about Italian history, culture from them and they handled the logistics and group marvelously. They were amazing 11 on a scale of 10!”

Stéphane Brochemin
Tour Leader

Stéphane Brochemin was born and grew up in Lyon where he also studied and earned his degree in French literature. He has worked as a flight attendant, hiking guide, and tour leader, starting bike trips in 1996. He has adventured all over the world, breaking a leg in Kyrgyzstan on a climbing expedition, teaching skiing in California, and living in Iceland for a year. He splits his time between the beautiful village of Villard Notre Dame in Oisans home to only 12 hearty souls in winter, and his house in Chasselay between Lyon and the Beaujolais. His other passions include wine, chess, and perfecting his rose growing skills.

  • With ExperiencePlus! since: 2012
  • Languages: I speak French and English, and a bit of German, Spanish and Icelandic
  • Favorite bike item: Shorts
  • Favorite place to ride: Anything that goes uphill. The French Alps, for example.
  • Next dream vacation: I would like to go to the Andes
Silvia Cafora
Tour Leader

Silvia was born in Milan and has lived in Chile and Paris where she studied and worked as an architect. She holds a degree in sustainable architecture, which deals with green design. Passionate about public spaces, their reutilization, and the process of self-building, Silvia has collaborated with Architects Without Borders in Milan and worked on the first co-housing project in Italy. Silvia believes that biking is an urban way of life, a perfect way to get around, and the ideal speed in which to see the world!

  • With ExperiencePlus! since: 2012
  • Languages: Italian, English, French, Spanish, Russian and I'd like to speak Japanese
  • Favorite bike item: Bike bags
  • Favorite place to ride: In a rocky area near the sea
  • Next dream vacation: I'd like to go in Nepal, Vietnam and Sardinia
Javier Fernandez
Tour Leader

Javier was born in Granada, Spain. He attended the University of Granada for his undergraduate degree and is currently continuing his studies to become a psychotherapist. Most recently Javier's fallen in love with ultimate Frisbee, but has been enjoying a host of sports including soccer, skiing, rollerblading, swimming, and mountain biking his entire life.

  • With ExperiencePlus! since: 2016
  • Languages: Spanish, English and basic French.
  • Favorite bike item: cleats (clipless pedals)
  • Favorite place to ride: Pyrenees and Grazalema
  • Next dream vacation: Canada and Southeast Asia
Mark Mahan
Tour Leader

Mark grew up partially in the United States and Tanzania. He has called Italy home for the last 28 years, working as a bicycle tour guide for the last 18 of those. In his free time he likes to bake fresh bread and cook for family and friends.

  • With ExperiencePlus! since 2015
  • Languages: I speak Italian and English
  • Favorite bike item: A wool jersey
  • Favorite place to ride: Tuscany
  • Next dream vacation: Portugal or Ireland
Sophie Deslauriers
Tour Leader

Born and raised in Montreal, Canada, Sophie has been living in France in the Grenoble area since 2009 after making a 'small' detour by China. After studying history and then graduating from a business school, she worked for 13 years in Manufacturing operations. In 2015, she decided to leave the corporate life and get out of the office to go play outside, giving in to her love of travel and discoveries. A history buff, a foodie, an outdoors lover, she is just curious about everything and loves to share. If she doesn't have the answer, she'll find out !

  • With ExperiencePlus! since: 2016
  • Languages: French, English, a little Spanish and very basic Chinese
  • Favorite bike item: my helmet, because you only have one head!!
  • Favorite place to ride: rolling hills going through beautiful villages and sceneries like the vineyards of Burgundy for example
  • Next dream vacation: anywhere, everywhere!

 

Aleksandra Vida Mulic
Tour Leader

Aleksandra was born, grew up and still lives close to one of the most popular and beautiful lakes in Slovenia, Lake Bled. She studied Geography and Tourism in Ljubljana and as a student started working as a tourist guide for several tourist agencies in her area. More or less she stayed in tourism, working at the offices in commercial departments as well as a tour manager and a tourist guide. For some years in between she also worked as a teacher in a elementary school. She loves working with people, discovering new places and she loves her job which is her passion.

* With ExperiencePlus! since: 2017
* Languages: Slovene, English, German, Croatian, speaks some Italian and French
* Favorite bike item: Bike saddle and GPS
* Favorite place to ride: Karst area in her country
* Next dream vacation: New Zealand, Scotland

Blaz Pogacnik
Tour Leader

Blaz grew up in the Julian Alps close to Lake Bled, Slovenia. This beautiful area is where his passion for outdoor recreation was born. As a young boy Blaz climbed all the highest mountains around, and as a not so young boy, he climbed them again. His life has been commited to rock climbing, cycling and woodworking. After gaining a Bachelor degree in wood science and technology, Blaz worked as a salesman for two different companies, and then finished his Master's degree in entrepreneurship. Nowadays you can find Blaz guiding tours all over Europe, at home having fun with his family, or in the workshop cutting wood and gluing it back together.

With ExperiencePlus since: 2013

Languages: Slovenian, English, Croatian, Serbian, German

Favorite bike item: Tube patch

Favorite place to ride: Anywhere, as long as there are mountains around

Next dream vacation: Walking Iceland

Toni Elezovic

Born and raised in Split, Croatia, Toni has loved a variety of land and sea sports since childhood. For 9 years water polo tournaments allowed him to combine sport and travel as he explored Europe while traveling to tournaments. He then took on karate (blue belt) and triathlons. Toni still competes in national and international level triathlons (including World and European championships). He has even taken a place at the podium in national champions. When he's not taking his place on the podium, Toni can at times be found scuba diving, or on his favorite toy, the bike. An avid ocean lover, Toni holds a master degree in Marine Fisheries from the University of Split. He now links many of his passions together while leading bicycle tours in Croatia and sharing Dalmatian's beauty with travelers.

With ExperiencePlus! since: 2018.

Languages: English, Croatian

Favorite bike item: Full water bottle

Favorite place to ride: Kotor to Lov?en, Montenegro

Next dream vacation: Cuba, Dolomites

Our Staff

In North America, our worldwide headquarters is located in Fort Collins, Colorado, along the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Here are the folks who answer your phone calls and emails, send you your tour information and coordinate with our staff overseas to make sure you know how to get from the airport in Bari to the hotel in Matera. 

In Europe, our home base is near Faenza, Italy and anyone who has cycled with us on our Culinary Delights Plus! the Farm or the Bike Across Italy tour has had the chance to stop in for lunch. Lovingly known as "the Farm" our European headquarters are situated in the midst of peach, cherry, and apple orchards, not to mention the requisite small vineyard. As a child, Monica and Maria Elena's mother Paola, spent summers here with her cousins. Today it serves as home base for our fleet of 350 bicycles, our staff, and tour leaders as they return "to the barn" to relax between tours.

Julie Horton
Purveyor of Cycling Vacations

Julie is our in-house encyclopedia when it comes to bicycle travel. In 1994, her career in the adventure travel industry began as a guide on hiking tours. After ten years of leading tours in the U.S., Europe, Nepal and Thailand, Julie joined the ExperiencePlus! team in 2004. Julie's passion for helping people experience the world at a human-powered pace stems from decades of experience exploring roads less traveled.

"No matter the length of your trip you will gain inner strength and confidence, but perhaps more importantly it provides a better understanding of the people and area you ride through."

No stranger to the saddle, Julie is often on her bike when she's not in the office. She has pedaled over 14,000 miles though more than 20 countries and rides a century (100 miles) every year to celebrate her birthday. When her legs are in need of a (short) break she'll likely be seeking out the latest documentary, reading a book, or enjoying live music.

For help selecting the perfect adventure to fit your needs, or if you're in the mood for a great travel story, email julie.horton(at)ExperiencePlus.com

  • With ExperiencePlus! since: 2004
  • Languages you speak? English
  • Favorite cycling item? Cycling sandals and a white, long sleeve, button-down cotton shirt that a friend sewed pockets on for summer riding. I love that it's cotton and that I can still carry stuff!
  • Favorite place to ride? Some place mountainous, hilly, or with canyons, and with excellent opportunities for eating and drinking at the end of the day. Colorado, Sardinia, Utah, Croatia...
  • Favorite ExperiencePlus! tours? Discover Northern Argentina Plus! the Ruins of Quilmes, Bicycling Sardinia, Bicycling the Islands of Dalmatia Plus! the South Coast, and the classic Bike Across Italy: Venice to Pisa.
  • Next dream vacation? I'd like to ride the Divide route from Canada to Mexico, find an off-road route across the U.S., and experience Cuba.
  • Superpower? Sharing my passion for bicycle travel! Bicycle touring is a life changing experience.
Bruce Becker
Business Manager

Bruce comes from a long line of accountants. Until working for ExperiencePlus! Bruce led parallel lives working in accounting and management roles, while escaping to enjoy the outdoors and cycling in his free time. Much to his delight Bruce can now combine his passions as ExperiencePlus's Business Manager.

In the past Bruce worked in the insurance, software, construction and real estate industries. As far as his cycling pursuits go, Bruce enjoys getting out for a ride as well as building "bike cars" which he gladly embarrasses his children with when dropping them off a block from school.  When Bruce isn't on his bike or at the office you can often find him woodworking in his shop or packing up for his next camping trip.

  • With ExperiencePlus! since: 2018
  • Favorite ExperiencePlus! tours? I haven't been on tour yet! But I'd like to explore Poland-Slovakia-Hungary, Italy, France, Germany, Austria, or Chile/Patagonia.
  • Languages you speak? English.
  • Favorite bike item? Pedals, the connection to your bike.
  • Favorite place to ride? The high Rockies.
  • Next dream vacation? An ExperiencePlus! bike tour or skiing in the Alps.
Igor Baccini (Italian Team)
Fleet and Equipment Manager

Igor Baccini is our "Bike fleet and logistics manager" at our headquarters in Italy. He takes care of our bike fleet in Europe and during the summer season he has two bike mechanics working full time for him as he assigns bikes to all European tours and supervises the movement of all vans and bikes that leave our main headquarters in Italy. He also is one of our star tour leaders in Europe. In his spare time he can't get away from biking as he spends his vacation bicycle touring with friends. Ask him about his summer bike tours with his friends as he works on converting more of them to bicycle maniacs like him. He has been skateboarding since he was thirteen and loves to ride and help friends build parks and ramps. Although he does not drink coffee, does not follow soccer, and has a Russian name, do not be fooled, he is 100% Italian.

"Igor was very knowledgeable about the route and always ready to help when needed."

“Igor was just amazing. He constantly went out of his way to make sure everyone was happy. This guy seemed tireless as he worked on our bikes even after riding with us on some of the more daunting days. He was well organized, knew his stuff, but, most importantly, he was someone that was fun to travel with. The best way to describe Igor is that he took care of us like we were family.”

“This guy is excellent, and so conscientious.”

John Giebler
Director of Tours

John Giebler has lead tours in France and Italy and has been with ExperiencePlus! since 2000. When he's not leading bicycle or culinary tours, he enjoys putting his sommelier skills to to practice. In 2013 he became ExperiencePlus!'s Director of Tours where he oversees the quality and development of all of ExperiencePlus's guided bicycle tours. John loves music, cooking, and travels with his friends/colleagues in Italy. John was Head Produce Buyer for Whole Foods Market in the Boston area until – having always had an intense passion for food, wine, and travel – the travel bug became too strong in 1996. John got a great price on a round-the-world ticket that eventually led him to Europe. Getting back to his love of food and wine, he delved into the French culture working on small farms and harvesting grapes in Burgundy. After relishing several years living in France, John moved near to our Italian headquarters in 2006. In the past few years, John's European roots have grown deeper; in October 2011, he married in the charming medieval town of Brisighella.

"I was very impressed with John and Jonathan. They went out of their way to make our trip a wonderful experience. Their knowledge of the area helped to make this trip truly memorable."

"John was very knowledgeable about French history and provided us with additional experiences that made the trip very special like the olive plant visit and private dinner the last night. His interest in food and wine adds to the experience."

"John's training as a sommelier added another dimension to our already wonderful dining experiences. He accompanied us to a wine shop to make sure we could obtain the wines we wanted to take home with us!"

"One of the best -- calm, reassuring, totally in control, thoughtful, excellent communicator."

Massimo (Max) Malpezzi (Italian Team)
Italian Business Manager

Massimo a.k.a. "Max" is Paola's nephew and Monica and Maria Elena's cousin. He has worked with ExperiencePlus! longer than any other full time employee or tour leader. Between 2007 and 2013 Max retired from ExperiencePlus! to work as general manager for his family's restaurant on the Eastern Coast of Italy. 2013 marked his return to ExperiencePlus! as the Italian office Business Manager. If you are lucky you may even see him out on tour every now and then. Max enjoys photography, sailing, deep sea diving, and cycling. Most of all he enjoys spending time with his beautiful daughter, Eleonora. Massimo says what he enjoys most about his job is meeting great people and sharing his love of Italy with others.

Nadine Dirksen
Bicycle and Travel Support Architect

A German native, Nadine is a happy Colorado transplant who moved here from lush Bavaria to be with her American husband. She left the land of pretzels in 2012 and has been enjoying a fun life full of cycling, CrossFit, hiking, running and any other outdoor activity that involves her little black Dachshund-mix. When not having fun outside or at work, she tries her hand at different craft projects with varying success. Before joining the ExperiencePlus! family, her work life also included bridging cultural and international gaps but via very different means - working at an intellectual property firm and for a translation agency. She can't wait to help you bring your dream trip to reality and is as excited about your cycling adventures as you are. Please email her if you have any questions about your trip, need help booking extra nights at tour starting and/or ending hotels, or are left scratching your head trying to navigate train schedules and purchasing tickets. - nadine(at)experienceplus.com

  • With ExperiencePlus! since: 2015
  • Languages you speak? German (Bavarian!), English, and un peu de French
  • Favorite bike item? Jerseys! They can be awesome collector pieces, especially brewery ones.
  • Favorite place to ride? Pedaling from beer garden to beer garden (preferably in Munich)
  • Next dream vacation? I'm quite happy returning to Spain again, and again. (How can you argue with a three-hour lunch break?)
Betta Sazzini (Italian Team)
Tour Leader Manager

In 1996, Betta was the first ExperiencePlus! guide to be hired outside of the Malpezzi-Price family. In between guiding tours and her current position as tour leader manager, Betta spent 15 years working as an export manager for a multinational company. Happy to return "home" to ExperiencePlus!, Betta now oversees our (notably larger) team of tour leaders.

When she is not making sure all of our tour leaders are taken care of, Betta can be found mountain biking, hiking, camping and traveling as much as possible!

  • With ExperiencePlus! since: 1996 and 2014
  • Languages you speak? Italian, German, French, Spanish, and English.
  • Favorite bike item? Vintage jerseys.
  • Favorite place to ride? I like to ride anywhere immersed in beautiful nature.
  • Next dream vacation? New Zealand.
Jessie Beyer
Associate Marketing Manager

Originally from the suburbs of Washington, D.C., Jessie headed west for college and never looked back. She earned a Journalism and Technical Communications degree from Colorado State University, and has since worked in a variety of industries including radio, sustainability, and wine tourism. Jessie combines her passion for travel, cycling, and storytelling to help people understand the unique power of exploring the world from the seat of a bike.

A self-proclaimed travel junkie, Jessie has found herself on many extended adventures. She spent 2015 exploring many corners of the world including tramping through New Zealand's mountains, cycling through Europe, and hitching a boat ride down the Mekong river from Laos into Thailand. At home in Colorado you'll likely find her singing her way up mountain trails, talking to strangers, and seeking restaurants with patios and Spanish wines. Want to talk SEO? Email at Jessie(at)ExperiencePlus.com.

  • With ExperiencePlus! since: 2016
  • Languages you speak? English and enough Spanish to "get by." I also bug Nadine daily in hopes of picking up some German.
  • Favorite bike item? Socks! I love to wear bright socks and derive an odd sense of comfort from the way cycling socks hug my feet. I also love spandex, sorry world.
  • Favorite place to ride? I have yet to find a place I don't enjoy riding, sometimes it's just a matter of finding the right route. Freshly paved roads are always a fun find!
  • Next dream vacation? South Africa, Nepal, Vietnam and Turkey are next up on my "international to-do list." Domestically I'm always trying to tick a few national parks off my list.
  • Superpower? Teleporting people from their screen to to the saddle of a bike ... That and turning whatever my co-workers say into song lyrics.
Michele Boglioni (Italian Team)
Route Manager

Michele grew up in a village at the base of the Alps, in Lombardy. He studied Environmental Science in Milan and tried working in the environmental law field, but the call to adventure was too great. He headed to Australia for six-months of backpacking, then returned to Italy and started teaching at an environmental education school. He has also worked as a guide in a natural reserve and as a tour leader for other companies. Michele has a long history leading ExperiencePlus! tours and now takes care of route logistics and qualitycontrol on European tours.

  • With ExperiencePlus! since: 2004
  • Languages: I speak Italian, English and some Spanish
  • Favorite bike item: Front bike light
  • Favorite place to ride: Romagna hills
  • Next dream vacation: I would go over and over again to Northern Argentina

"Michele goes out of his way to make the tour great. He worked with the locals well, and was well liked by me and my fellow travelers."

"Excellent; he is smart, personable, friendly. He always added a ray of sunshine to the day!"

"Michele is outstanding. We have traveled with him before and continue to find his leadership and organizational skills exemplary. He is sensitive to safety and yet encourages and adapts to individual riders' interests and abilities. He is always helpful and has a great sense of humor."

Andrea Segura
Office Assistant

We prefer to call her Indispensable Andrea, as she helps the Fort Collins office stay afloat. She started with ExperiencePlus! as an intern from Colorado State University, and now works full time after graduating in May 2016 with a degree in Natural Resource Recreation and Tourism. If you book a trip with us you are likely to see a few emails form her as she sends you helpful information about your trip. Email andrea.segura@ExperiencePlus.com

  • With ExperiencePlus! since: 2014
  • Languages you speak? English and some rusty Spanish - but I keep practicing!
  • Favorite bike item? Rapha's Merino Arm warmers. These arm warmers are so versatile, I can wear them in all conditions.
  • Favorite place to ride? I love to be near water, so any bike ride with bodies of water in my view makes me happy.
  • Next dream vacation? I will keep going back to Costa Rica - I never feel more relaxed than I do there. My father's side of the family lives there so I try to make time to see them at least once a year.
  • Superpower? I'm a fast learner.
Andrea Strappa (Italian Team)
Facilities and Equipment Manager

Andrea grew up in Jesi, a small town in the hills of central Italy, an ideal location for spending holidays it the Dolomites or on the sandy beaches of the south Adriatic sea. He studied environmental sciences in Milan and worked as an environmental consultant before joining the ExperiencePlus! team.

When Andrea is not keeping things running smoothly in the Italian "farm", you'll likely find him hiking in mountains, leading Boy Scout events, or visiting his hometown of Jesi.

  • With ExperiencePlus! since: 2012
  • Languages you speak? Italian, English and Spanish.
  • Favorite bike item? A jersey.
  • Favorite place to ride? It's hard to say! Probably up on Marche and the Romagna hills.
  • Next dream vacation? My future targets are Tibet and Patagonia.

Awards, Memberships and Reviews