The Cycling Europe Podcast mainly features, well, cyclists. The interviewee in this episode, however, is first and foremost a mountaineer. But he’s not just any mountaineer. His name is Tim Ralph and he’s a seven summiteer; a man who has climbed the seven highest mountains on each of the continents. In the last few years, he’s also taken up cycle touring and has just published a book called ‘A Life Accomplished: From Spain to Norway on a Bike’. So what can mountaineering teach us about cycle touring? What can cycle touring teach mountaineers about climbing mountains? And what happens when an experienced mountaineer sets off to cycle from Europe’s geographical southernmost point at Tarifa in Spain to its northernmost point at Nordkapp in Norway?
Earlier this week I received an email from WarmShowers, the accommodation sharing website aimed at cycle tourists, about their ‘forums’. Whenever I think of forums my mind turns back to the early days of the Internet when things were a little more ‘clunky’ than they are now. But they must still be a ‘thing’ and the fact that WarmShowers have them on their website would suggest that, actually, they are still widely used.
On October 31st last year, I posted a short message to Twitter (and similar messages on Facebook and Instagram as well as on CyclingEurope.org itself) that I intended taking a break from the whole ‘Cycling Europe’ thing to spend a bit more time doing everything else in life. I signed off saying that I would be back on January 1st 2022 and, right on cue, here I am. Happy New Year! I hope you’ve had a good Christmas and are all set to make the coming year better than the previous two…
October 2021 has been a quiet month on CyclingEurope.org; just two substantive posts, one about episode 40 of The Cycling Europe Podcast and the second reflecting upon the possibility of embarking upon a cycling trip around the Baltic Sea in 2022. Well, after quite some considerable thought and an in depth chat with a German chap called Bernd who cycled the complete route in 2019 (that will be published as an episode of The Cycling Europe Podcast later in November), I took a significant step in committing myself to heading off on a long Baltic cycle tour next week by buying a ticket for the ferry from Hull to Rotterdam on Monday 20th June 2022…
Anyone (well, almost anyone…) who has ever embarked upon a long cycle journey will recognise that there is a flaw in the process. It comes at the very end of your travels – perhaps even a few weeks or months after the end – when it dawns upon you that you no longer have a big cycling ‘thing’ towards which you can look forward. I replaced my doomed trip to Japan (scuppered by COVID) with a cycle around the UK in 2020 and, more recently, a trip to the Outer Hebrides in 2021. But I now find myself back at square one and I’ll be honest; I’ve been struggling to answer that all important question ‘where next?’
Simon Parker is a travel writer, broadcaster and newspaper columnist. He has travelled to over 100 countries on reporting assignments for the BBC, The Daily Telegraph and The Independent. He also has a sideline in cycle touring… In 2016 he sailed and cycled from China to London and in 2018 he set off from northern Norway and cycled 3,000km south to the southern tip of Sweden. His 6-week adventure is now the subject of a documentary available on Amazon Prime Video. PLUS: A message from Tim Moss about the Cycle Touring Festival 2021.
In these dying days of Britain being within the European Union, a retrospective photographic look at what the freedom of movement – across a peaceful continent of countries with shared values and aspirations – means in reality… That freedom is about to be curtailed for most people within […]