Here’s part two of the run down of Cycling Europe’s 15 Top Tips for Long-Distance Cycling as revealed at this year’s Cycle Touring Festival. You can read part one – tips 1 to 5 in detail – in this post on CyclingEurope.org but here’s a summary of what we’ve seen so far seen:
- Do a trial run
- Never buy a one-person tent
- Don’t let the weather put you off
- If you see a mountain, cycle towards it
- Try to be lucky!
So let’s crack on with numbers 6 to 10…
6. Write about your adventures
It was never my intention of writing a book when I set off to cycle to southern Italy in the wet summer of 2010 but I was expressing my thoughts online via this website. You can still read those original post from ‘Crossing Europe…’ here. Indeed you can also read the posts from the second and third continental crossing here and here. But there are many other ways of recording your journey whether it be via social media or a more private diary. Writing provides a space in which to reflect carefully upon what has happened on your journey and helps put things into context. Was it such a bad thing that it rained all day long?
7. Avoid taking planes
When it comes to travelling, few things can be more of a hassle than taking your bicycle on a plane. There are ‘solutions’; bike boxes (as demonstrated here by Neil Wheadon) or using a courier service to do all the carrying (but not the worrying) as I did in 2015 when I flew to southern Spain prior to the trip from Tarifa to Nordkapp without Reggie the bike. More details here. But rarely have I been more flustered whilst travelling on two wheels than when, in the summer of 2013, I arrived in southern Greece after having stepped off a flight from the UK and tried to put the bike back into working order… without a functioning pump:
8. Find iconic places to start and finish your trips
Watch and listen:
See what I mean? Nobody would have ever described the flat where I was living in central Reading in 2010 and the place from where I set off on that first continental ride as ‘iconic’ (although I’m sure the architect would have had a good go at persuading you…), but for the other five departure and arrival points I had either spectacular views or magnificent structures (or both) to inspire me as I set off or help me celebrate when I pulled on the brakes for the final time and stopped cycling. Very memorable moments. Very memorable places. (Apart from my flat in Reading…)
9. Never look at route profiles
Can ignorance be bliss? As we’ve seen in top tip 4, “If you see a mountain, cycle towards it” but we don’t need the detail, do we? We don’t need to know how many false summits we are about to encounter or just how steep that section in the middle is going to be or, as I discovered in Greece in 2013 as I was cycling through the Peloponnese mountains (which, admittedly, I only realised were mountains when I crossed the Corinth Canal and noticed them looming vertiginously ahead of me) that there would be a painful sting in the tail of my day as the road suddenly decided to climb some 200 metres to my destination at Levidi. There’s no doubt about it; ignorance is indeed bliss and route profiles should be avoided.
10. Stay at Camping Castel San Pietro in Verona
A bit of a specific one but… There are many contenders for the top spot in my list of cycling-friendly campsites. The ones that leap ahead of the rest are those where a nice area has been set aside for travellers who arrive with a small tent but no car, the wonderful (if potentially confusingly named) ‘free camping area’. No hedges to prevent you from fraternising with your fellow campers, just a patch of hopefully luscious grass upon which to pitch the tent and relax. But at Camping Castel San Pietro, an establishment that clings to the hill overlooking Verona, the humble free camping area has been elevated to a small walled garden with vines providing the shade. Then there’s the cooking and eating terrace next door… and then there’s the view. On my jaunts around Europe, it has yet to be bettered.
So there we have numbers 6 to 10 in Cycling Europe’s list of Top Tips for Long-Distance Cycling. The final 5 tips will be revealed soon. Stay tuned…