Harold & Jonathan Torrence’s UK Bike/Rail Tour

Father and son visit historic London, Liverpool, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and numerous other cities in England and Scotland

In May 2022, Harold Torrence, EdD, business management faculty at Dakota County Technical College, and his son, Jonathan, a former DCTC student, went on an amazing bike/rail tour of the United Kingdom, visiting a variety of scenic and historical locations in England and Scotland. Harold shared a chronicle describing their adventure with DCTC News. You can read his first-person narrative below.

More about Harold Torrence…

Harold Torrence

Harold Torrence, EdD, teaches businesses courses at DCTC. Harold started teaching at the college in 2005. His areas of academic focus include Business Management awards:

Harold started teaching at DCTC in 2005. He earned a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) from Hamline University in 2012. He also holds a Masters of Arts (M.A.) in Management and a Master in Public Administration (M.P.A.) from Hamline. He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from UNITEC, or Universidad Tecnológica del Centro.

MSLA Tiny Desk Concert 2023

Originally from Venezuela, a country of nearly 30 million people on the Caribbean Sea in northern South America, Harold became a U.S. citizen in 2020 and has dual citizenship with Venezuela and the United States. Harold is fluent in both English and Spanish.

In 2009, Harold was named to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Minnesota 25 on the Rise, an award that recognizes 25 Latino men and women under the age of 40 from around the state who have contributed immensely to their communities.

In 2016, Harold was named a Minnesota State Board of Trustees Outstanding Educator. The honor is bestowed on Minnesota State colleges and universities faculty to acknowledge and reward exceptional individual professional accomplishment while encouraging ongoing excellence in teaching.

Harold has been married 23 years and his wife, Liliana, is a content leader for the Minneapolis Public Schools Office of Latine Achievement (OLA). Harold and Liliana have two children, Jonathan, 21, and Susana, 17. The family has one dog, a 10-year-old silky terrier named Jazz.

In his free time, Harold pursues his passion for music. He enjoys playing guitar, Venezuelan cuatro, ukulele, and other string instruments. He also loves sports, especially cycling, soccer, tennis, racquetball, and golf.

Harold with his wife, Liliana, daughter, Susana, and son, Jonathan, at DCTC Phi Theta Kappa Induction Ceremony Spring 2023

Harold Torrence Q & A

What do you love most about road cycling?

I love the sense of freedom and the active mindful meditation cycling across cities, towns, places while contemplating mother nature. You can basically go anywhere on a bike at a good pace, and it allows you to see so many things you cannot see in a vehicle.

I also prefer doing gravel cycling in the middle of rural Minnesota, where I have learned to enjoy the beautiful landscapes our state has to offer to the world and to all of us. I recently participated in the gravel race called The Heck of North in Two Harbors Minnesota.

What is your favorite memory from your 2022 UK bikepacking/train tour with your son?

There are so many good memories, but I guess a good one was when we rode from New Castle to Berwick. We stayed for one night at a wild-camping campground in the middle of nowhere, and the following morning we embarked on the most memorable section, riding through the UK National Cycling Network right next to the North Sea—unbelievably beautiful landscapes and fauna.

What advice would you give people thinking about going on a bikepacking tour in a foreign country?

It is very important to do your research to know how bike-friendly those destinations are. For example, it is fairly easy to do bike touring in Europe because the EU has set a priority to make the continent very bike friendly.

You should check the EuroVelo, which has more than 55,000 miles of cycling networks across many European countries.

I would also suggest going to YouTube and watch interesting videos from people doing this all over the world. I enjoy watching Ryan Van Duzer’s YouTube channel. He recently bike-packed across Sweden.

If you could make one thing happen on Earth right now, what would it be?

An Earth where fellow human beings learned to love, appreciate, and care for what we have now. An Earth free of hate, free of pollution, and full of life and joy.

About Jonathan Torrence…

Jonathan Torrence

Jonathan Torrence
Former DCTC student
Majored in Individualized Studies

Age: 21 
Hometown: Woodbury, Minnesota
Current residence: Menomonie, Wisconsin
High school and year graduated: Woodbury High School, Class of 2020
Extracurricular activities and clubs at DCTC: Multicultural Student Leadership Association (MSLA), Futsal Club, IT Club
Current higher education: Attending the University of Wisconsin–Stout to earn B.S. in Computer Science
Long-range higher education plans: Plans on earning a master’s degree, but not sure in what field yet   
Career plans: “I plan to work as a cybersecurity professional focusing on secure software development.”
Other degrees, diplomas, and/or certificates: Alongside his Computer Science major, he will be earning minors in Math, Information and Technology Security Management, and Computer Networking Systems and Design

One word that best describes your experience at DCTC:


Jonathan Torrence Q & A

Jonathan at DCTC Phi Theta Kappa Induction Ceremony Spring 2023

How did your studies at DCTC help you prepare for a four-year school?

Studying at DCTC helped me regain my confidence with my academics, as I had a rough period academically during the pandemic. Each course I took at DCTC helped guide me on my path toward a four-year school. I learned that I am more capable than I used to think I was. I will forever be thankful to DCTC for that reason and many others.

What advice would you give students thinking about attending a technical college?

I would advise students to go and attend a technical college if they are thinking of doing so. Because the hands-on and project-based focus of a technical college will really help students see if they truly want to pursue the career path they have in mind.

Three words that describe you as a college student:

What is your favorite memory from your 2022 UK bikepacking/train tour with your dad?

My favorite memory was riding with my dad through London to Cambridge. It was the longest I have been on a bike, as we were on the road for almost 10 hours. The 90 miles we did in one day showed me that I am more capable physically than I thought before I made the trip with my dad.

Even though I fell in downtown London in the early morning, I kept going. The way we traversed through the busy urban areas of London, to its quieter suburbs, and finally to the surrounding countryside is a journey I will never forget. 

If you could make one thing happen on Earth right now, what would it be?

I would make it so everyone can be empathetic to the other person’s situation, whether it be good or bad, or something in between. A world with universal compassion for one another would create a planet full of collaboration and great peace. 

Cycling and Riding Trains in the UK

Jonathan and Harold, Walton-on-Thames to Cambridge ride

by Harold Torrence, EdD

In the 1990s, humanity looked ahead to 2020 as a futuristic year, but we had a reality check when 2020 brought the world a once-in-a-century pandemic that affected all our lives. Personally, I could have either sunk into depression or embraced hope and individual renovation. We had the choice between staying in lockdown or escaping the boredom by going outdoors.

Harold and Liliana

Two good friends, Jose Ygnacio and Alec, had been asking me to buy a bike for months, but I did not listen to them until the pandemic hit. They shared how fun it was to go cycling on Minnesota gravel roads through Hastings and Welch. I finally listened and bought my first gravel bike in April 2020. I was 46 years old when this decision changed my life.

In the early days of the pandemic, I subscribed to YouTube Premium and started watching interesting channels, including several about cycling and bike touring. I was inspired to see bike-tour enthusiasts traveling the world and getting to know people from other cultures while living unforgettable adventures. Motivated by their experiences, I bought bikepacking bags, a lightweight tent, and camping equipment.

My wife, Liliana, was soon participating in this sea change. In April 2021, Liliana joined me on our first bikepacking adventure from our home in Woodbury to Afton State Park. We had an uncomfortable experience sleeping in our tent, but we spent a wonderful time together enjoying the beautiful St. Croix River Valley and watching the stars at night.

Jonathan cycling near Welch, Minnesota

My son, Jonathan, was also getting excited about cycling. After getting his gravel bike in May 2021, he started cycling on a regular basis, going on gravel rides with me and my friends.

In fall 2021, I started entertaining the idea of going with Jonathan on a European bike tour. One day, I decided to message Guillermo Buhrkohl, my dear high school friend, who had moved to London, England, several years ago. I shared my crazy idea to bike tour the United Kingdom from London to Edinburgh to Manchester to Liverpool—stopping in many towns in between.

Guillermo immediately supported the idea and said he would help us with anything we needed. Jonathan and I started planning the route and saving money for the trip. In December 2021, we bought airplane tickets from Minneapolis to New York to London for May the next year. We use the app komoot to plan the route and reserve Airbnb stays in several towns in the UK.

Harold, Jonathan, and Guillermo in London

On May 20, 2022, we arrived in London, and Guillermo picked us up at Heathrow Airport. Guillermo and I had not seen each other since our 1991 high school graduation. We reunited after 30 years—and it felt like we had kept the same friendship and connection throughout this time. I could not believe it! Guillermo, his wife, Tatiana, his son, Nico, and his princess, Martina, were super-special to us. We are eternally thankful for their friendship and kindness.

Our journey started on May 23 from Walton-on-Thames to Cambridge. I had planned an initial ride from downtown London to Cambridge following a 65-mile bike route, but due to logistical issues we ended up riding more than 90 miles, burning more than 3,000 calories on our first day. We had spent more than 10 hours cycling—and we were super-exhausted.

Needless to say, we changed our plans right after this experience, taking on a more reasonable trip, adding train riding to our cycling tour. We decided to take a train to Newcastle upon Tyne, our next destination, after staying in Cambridge for two nights. We loved walking around Cambridge, getting to know such a beautiful city and its historical house of knowledge.

YHA Cambridge

We also discovered YHA Cambridge, the local youth hostel system, and now we had another way to stay and discover many other cities throughout the UK.

On May 25, we rode the train from Cambridge to Newcastle upon Tyne. We loved the city of Newcastle. Changing our original plan was the best decision we made because now we had found the right pace for daily cycling and train riding to make our experience more enjoyable.

After resting a couple days in Cambridge and then in Newcastle, we embarked on another journey, traveling from Newcastle to Berwick-upon-Tweed. We did it in two stages, stopping at a rural campsite north of Morpeth. We cycled 47 miles with 1,900 feet of climbing.

When riding through Newcastle University, I had a little accident, colliding with a young cyclist. I hit my head against his shoulder and opened my eyebrow. Jonathan had to be my medic. ?

We departed an Airbnb in Sunderland on May 28. Once we arrived at our next campsite, we set up our tents and then enjoyed hiking around the area before having a memorable supper at a beautiful pub that evening. I had fish and chips almost every day on this trip. ?

After camping that night, we packed and got on the road, riding though lovely small towns like Alnwick on our way to Berwick. This 40-mile ride was particularly tough because it was raining off and on, and we had lots of climbing.

England gallery 1

We cycled along Route One of the National Cycling Network right next to the North Sea on our way to Berwick. Because we were so tired that night, we decided to ride a train to Edinburgh, Scotland, the next day. We had a crazy adventure that day—and you  can watch our YouTube video to learn more about it.

Our time in Edinburgh proved to be an amazing experience. We loved the architecture and history. We stayed at another youth hostel, and this time we shared the room with a couple people, which I don’t recommend.

After two nights in Edinburgh, we cycled 40-plus miles to Glasgow, Scotland. We truly enjoyed the scenery. We rode through the city of Glasgow and had a marvelous time visiting many places, including the University of Glasgow and two museums.

Scotland gallery

On June 3, we rode a train back to England and spent a couple nights in Manchester. Jonathan and I love the Premier League, so we took the opportunity to check out several football stadiums, including Emirates (home of Arsenal), St James’ Park (home of Newcastle United), Etihad (home of Manchester City), Old Trafford (home of Manchester United), and a couple more on our journey.

Julio Peña, Jonathan, Harold

On June 6, we cycled 35-plus miles from Manchester to Liverpool, where we had scary encounters with drivers for the first time. We could tell the culture and accent were different here. We cycled through Liverpool and fell in love visiting the birthplace of The Beatles.

We then rode a train back to London, where for three days we continued enjoying the city’s incredible museums and history.

Toward the end of our trip, I reunited with Julio Peña, a great friend from college. Julio and his beautiful family treated us like members of their household, and they gave us an amazing tour through Salisbury and Bournemouth. Julio and his friend, Edward, took us cycling along the Jurassic Coast from Bournemouth, one of the most awe-striking bike tours of my life.

We flew back home on June 14. Jonathan and I will treasure our UK bike/train tour experience in our memories forever.

England gallery 2

Learn more about the Business Management program at DCTC by contacting:
Room 2-110

More about Business Management at DCTC…

The Business Management program at DCTC provides working adults with the knowledge, skills, and abilities essential for success in today’s increasingly competitive business environment.

As a student in the program, you will acquire competencies that can be universally applied to global and local organizations in the profit, nonprofit, and public sectors.

You can individualize your degree by selecting a technical path. Certificates may be combined to earn diplomas.

Business Management degree, diplomas, and certificates

Business Management Program Datasheet

General and Operations Managers

Plan and coordinate the activities of organizations.

This is a very high-wage career that pays well above the statewide median wage of $24.25/hour


Median: $43.50/hour
High: $64.54/hour

Seven-county Twin Cities metro

Median: $49.15/hour
High: $72.66/hour


In Minnesota, there are 73,910 workers employed in this very large career, which is currently in very high demand and seeing high growth compared to other careers. Growth rate in the U.S. is 9.4 percent.

There will be a need for about 38,082 new General and Operations Managers to meet market demand between 2020–2030 This includes the demand due to replacement (workers leaving the occupation or retiring) as well as growth.

— Minnesota State CAREERwise Education (November 14, 2023)

View more videos from Harold and Jonathan’s UK Bike/Rail Adventure