Despite being in Korea my sights have been set a little closer to home this week. After having a chat this weekend about plans after the year is over I got thinking about what I want to do, and a holiday plan started to form. I’ve decided that I want to spend a few months touring Europe, on a bicycle.
The original idea was to learn to ride a motorbike and go exploring on that, however, after a little research I found that it’s a very expensive option. Learning to ride a bike, getting a full licence and then a bike to go on would cost somewhere in the region of £1200, a little more than I’m willing to spend. The bike option is much more attractive financially, and the idea of propelling myself across Europe is also very appealing.
I’m thinking of buying a decent second hand bike with the necessary touring gear, luggage racks, panniers (saddle bags) and maybe even something made of spandex, but I think that last bit is optional. I reckon I could get all that for a few hundred quid, maybe less if I risk it and go real cheap, and that should leave me with enough to spend about three months on the bike. Food would probably consist of pasta cooked on a gas stove and the classic European bread/cheese/cold meat combo that I survived on when I was last in France. My accommodation is where things enter a slightly gray area. The laws and rules regarding wild camping vary from country to country, but in most places it’s not exactly legal. From what I’ve read online this doesn’t stop many travellers. So long as you’re out of sight, don’t start any fires, only stay the night and leave first thing in the morning then accommodation is free and easy.
Europe sounds like a great place to cycle, spring and summer in Europe should be beautiful. I’m thinking of starting from London and getting to Amsterdam on the ferry. From there I’ll make my way across Germany and into Poland, then south through parts of Eastern Europe. Eventually I want to end up in Italy and then up into the Alps, potentially stopping off to visit the Aberystwyth University Canoe Club on their annual trip to the French Alps. This trip was one of the highlights of my university career and it would be great to see them all again and jump onto a few of the amazing alpine rivers.
There is the small issue of that fact that I’ve never ridden a bike for more than a few hours, but I’m counting this as a minor detail. I’m not the least fit person on the planet and travel round Europe is pretty easy by train if need be. Different people online seem to have different attitudes towards training. Some say it’s an important factor, but mainly on shorter trips. On longer trips you train on route, building up strength over the first few weeks of the trip and getting stronger all the time. I think a few short trips might be a good idea, maybe riding to Wales and testing myself there.
Another thing to think about is whether to go solo or take a friend. From the sounds of it solo travel on a bike is great, and after my backpacking trip to India in 2011 I decided that solo was the only way to go. However, this seems like the sort of trip where having a friend along might make it a little more fun. It’s something to consider. I’ve got plenty of time, all this excitement and the trip isn’t going to be for at least a year.
You may have noticed that all the photos here, while all taken in France, have nothing to do with cycling. I did try to find even one photo of me on or with a bike, but 7 years of Facebook photos failed me ( An omen?) and all I could find were kayaking photos from the Aberystwyth University Canoe Club annual trip to the French Alps. I hope that’s OK. Thanks for reading.
James Vs World