The Tour des Trees Event Is Just Weeks Away

Several TCIA members are planning to take part in this year’s Tour des Trees cycling event to raise money for the Tree Research and Education Endowment Fund (TREE Fund). You can help by supporting their efforts.

Vermeer’s Sam Van Maanen, right, with David White, TCIA president and CEO, during the 2019 Tour des Trees. Courtesy of Sam Van Maanen.

The Tour is an annual long-distance cycling adventure that serves as the primary public outreach and community-engagement event for the TREE Fund. TREE Fund research has produced better ways to plant and care for urban trees, making them more resilient, more resistant to pests and less prone to failure. The Tour also supports educational programs aimed at connecting young people with the environment and career opportunities in green industries. Since 1992, Tour des Trees riders have cycled through communities in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., planting trees, educating children and shining a light on the work done by arboriculture professionals as well as the importance of science-based tree care.

The 2021 Tour des Trees will take place from Saturday, August 28, through Friday, September 3, in Colorado. This year’s tour will cover 300 miles over the course of five days in the mountains in, around and between Denver and Boulder.

We polled a handful of those taking part to find out 1) if they have taken part before, 2) why they are riding and 3) what they are looking forward to – or dreading. Here are some of their comments.

Mark Crane, president, Mark Crane’s Tree, Inc., a 10-year TCIA member company based in Goleta, California

Two previous tours. Riding to support the TREE Fund and enjoy all the great people. Looking forward to riding and having good conversations.

Jeremy W. Baker, CTSP, owner, Potomac Tree and Shrub Care, LLC, a four-year TCIA member company based in Leesburg, Virginia

This is my 9th or 10th tour – can’t remember exactly!

I love trees and I love bicycling. This is a great way to put the two together while networking with other professionals in the tree industry and educating communities. I’m also a huge proponent of the scholarship aspect of the TREE Fund, as we need – now more than ever – young professionals who can enter the industry and help perpetuate the good practices that we strive to execute each and every day.

I look forward to all of it – heat, rain, chilly mornings, miles, mountain climbing, fast descents, planting trees, educating communities, laughing and maybe even crying. Oh yeah, and chicken – there seems to be chicken at every dinner, so I guess I look forward to that also.

Jeffrey Carney, retired utility forester working part time as a consultant for the Davey Resource Group, a division of The Davey Tree Expert Company, an accredited, 48-year TCIA member company based in Kent, Ohio

I’m doing the virtual event. Does that count? Ridden the Tour 11 times. I have always enthusiastically supported the mission of the TREE fund as a rider and a former TREE Fund board member. The future of our urban and community forests is very important.

I am looking forward to a virtual experience again, as travel to Colorado is not an option this year. So I’m looking forward to not dreading the climbing at altitude.

Steven Geist, plant pathologist and consulting arborist with Swingle Lawn, Tree & Landscape Care-Denver, an accredited, 73-year TCIA member company based in Aurora, Colorado, and a division of SavATree, an accredited, 35-year TCIA member company based in Bedford Hills, New York

Participated in 22 Tour des Trees (1998-2019). I did participate in the virtual event in 2020. If you count that one, 23 previous tours. I’m a serial Tour rider – or so it seems.

It’s habit forming. But, briefly, I’m doing my small part to enhance the urban forest. When I started out in my career in 1983, I thought for sure by now we would have all the research tools necessary to care for urban trees. In reality, we need more research now than back in the 1980s, with today’s invasive pests and climate change.

Looking forward to the first Tour des Trees in Colorado. I can ride my bicycle to the starting point! And seeing everyone again. Dreading? Well, I have a new Garmin, and I’m worried about downloading the routes to the device! I’m a technophobe.

Sam Van Maanen, corporate account manager with Vermeer Corporation, a 38-year TCIA corporate member company based in Pella, Iowa

I joined Vermeer Corporation in 2011. I signed up for and rode the Tour that year, which began in Virginia Beach and ended in Washington, D.C. Been doing it ever since, including 2020, which was virtual. The Colorado tour will be year 11 for me.

The tour is a pretty unique opportunity for people within (and outside) the industry to connect at a different level. There is obviously the “arbor” connection for most of the riders – along with a bike component that makes the tour what it is. Truly a great fraternity of people from all over the U.S. and beyond our borders, with many amazing people from Canada and one from England, who come back to ride and enjoy the camaraderie. You eat, sleep, wake and ride in a tight group all week and share each other’s stories from the road each day – and share the pain from some of the long and challenging days.

I would be remiss not recognizing the real reason the tour can take place if I stopped with the riders. The folks at the TREE Fund work tirelessly all year long to ensure this thing can happen. Imagine organizing a week-long bike ride for 75 to 100 riders in a different location every year. Scouting out the roads, lining up hotels, contacting schools and communities along the route to offer educational opportunities, identifying unique rest stops along the route, including our favorite – church ladies who love to offer some local flavor with home-cooked meals – and a host of other tasks that need to operate fluidly each day as the tour riders stretch across the miles. And all the volunteers who encourage us and repair our equipment late at night, move all the gear and our bags to a new location every day and, perhaps most important, offer a smile and a hug when we roll into the final destination every day (thanks, Jo…). None of this can happen without tour director Paul Wood and all those incredible, servant-hearted volunteers. A huge thank you to all of them.

Colorado is sure to offer some unique landscape, but with that is a whole lotta fun – can’t wait. During our pre-ride morning briefing, Paul will let us know what we can expect that day, and if he starts by saying, “This one might present some challenges,” you know it’s gonna be tough – and awesome!

Readers wishing to support individual riders in the TREE Fund Tour des Trees event can visit

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