Bikepacking, Europe adventure

It’s all about the journey, not the destination

This will be a short one, I am done! Tired! In 2 days I climbed over 4700m on a total of 225km. I didn’t count my kilometres, didn’t care what distance was left I just enjoyed every moment.

I’ve always dreamed of skiing here, never got to, but Riding through this ski country is for me as much fun. It’s impressive, breathtaking! These peaks, lakes, charming tyrolean houses, castles,…

I ride a cyclocross bike (34lbs fully loaded) and I can’t imagine climbing these hills with a standard touring bike. I may not be geared properly, 36t (single ring) in the front and 11-36 in the back. But I made it! I climbed everything 🙂

I will tell you more about my ride tomorrow, right now I just need to sleep.

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Bikepacking, Europe adventure

Au gré des vents

Too cold and too late, Italy will have to wait another year! I could take a train, but I had my share of trail and ferry rides for a while. The only way my bike is going somewhere it’s with me riding it.

Every night I map the next day’s ride and tonight I had to take the tough decision of riding towards France rather then Italy. I want to do big climbs, but I have to find warmer weather before I attempt a good one.

Switzerland has been really good with signage and has great cycling routes, I will follow route 9 which will take me to Geneva. I am always nervous the night before a good ride, tomorrow’s will have over 2000m of elevation and just over 100km. But as I like to say “I eat hills for breakfast ” 🙂

Hotel booked, food packed, bike checked, It should be a beautiful day!

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Bikepacking, Europe adventure

La routine

My daily routine involves a continental breakfast at the hotel. Every morning I have my croissant, yogourt and granola. I may take an apple and pastry for the road 🙂

I should also include stretching the muscles and verifying the bike, but I keep forgetting .

I read that it was surprisingly hard to find food in France when in rural areas and it’s true, there’s nothing and it’s the same in Belgium. I now load my front panier with extra food (that I buy at a grocery store) to get me through the day. I then like finding the perfect park bench and enjoy my piece of cheese, salami and crackers.

A town I slept in only had one food option, a regional and exotic restaurant. Once you passed the creepy exterior it actually was not too bad. If the lovely B&B host didn’t recommend it, I would have lived on my leftover peanuts.

There are plenty of lodging options, from camping, B&B to High end hotels everywhere. No camping for me this time. I shipped all my camping gear home last week, it’s been below freezing every night. It’s off season now, so it’s cold, but hotels are also cheaper 🙂

Where does my bike live? The higher end hotels are usually very nice and don’t mind me bringing my bike in my room, but I look for more budget friendly places. My bike had to live in garages and bike rooms, but one hotel in Strasbourg wanted me to lock it outside. I have a lock, but we all know how long a good bike lasts overnight in a city.

I just got to Switzerland and it will be my home for a few days and I already fell in love with it. It has everything for the perfect adventure; great coffee, chocolate, bakeries and mountains to climb.

The bike routes are super easy to follow here and very well marked. I barely looked at my phone for navigation. A steep climb started my day and a long gravel ride ended it, perfect!

My german is inexistant, so I keep trying to figure out what the signs say. Was it a street name or an instruction I should follow? Is that road blocked or is it the name of the next town? Keeps things interesting 🙂

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Bikepacking, Europe adventure

Je suis en vacance

I am taking a day off! If I keep telling my self that it’s a vacation and not a race, maybe I will take it easy 🙂

It’s great to aim for lots of kilometres, but what about enjoying a coffee along the canal? How about having time to explore the gravel road instead of the paved bike path?

The path along the canal was a good change. Peaceful and flat with less then 12 humans sightings when I was riding along the Saar but a bit livelier while riding on the Marne to Rhin canal.

I now reduced my daily distance to 100km, allowing me to take breaks, smell the roses and get lost. I do get lost a lot! but as a friend told me “Europe is tiny” so getting lost is just bonus miles 🙂 Google, Galileo, Garmin, Eurovelo5 apps, I still manage to take wrong turns.

My little bike is fixed, I got rid of the brake rub and all my gears seem to work. All nuts and bolts have been tightened . The cobble stones, gravel and dirt roads may be shaking my loaded bike a bit too much!

Time to enjoy a coffee and a book before exploring Strasbourg. There may be a lot more coffees happening today.

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Bikepacking, Europe adventure

Summer is definitely over

Not sure there will be any camping happening on this trip. I have been starting my days with a chilly 5C, crisp temperatures that stay low until late afternoon. It’s all fine, my planned routes seem to always start with a climb 🙂

Isn’t Belgium supposed to be flat? When it’s not hilly, it’s still not flat and SO windy. Luxembourg wasn’t that much different, with more fun climbs.

Glorious mornings, either starting in the fog along a canal or clear blue skies into vineyards.

I expected the Alps to be really cold at the top so I have all the warm clothing, I wasn’t expecting to wear so many layers at once everyday. I have yet to ride without sleeves, vest or leg warmers. But I am getting better at peeling layers off while riding.

Yesterday was a really tough day, I ran out of water and never found an open bakery or grocery store. My hilly 170km ride made me suffer. The cheese and apple I stole from the morning’s buffet may not have been sufficient fuel for the ride.

Today my 75km ride starting in Luxembourg ended up being 99.5km long, but was fun. I decided to let go of the technology and trust a map and signage. Eurovelo 5 is almost finalized here. I scrambled at first trying to find my way following the bike route, but when I entered Germany the route was marked at every corner and intersection.

The route took me through farm fields, forests, across little towns and along rivers. I ended my day in a more industrial city in Germany. I finally got to enjoy a very good pretzel and a wonderful coffee 🙂

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Bikepacking

Tout un départ

I was expecting to ride away from Brussels straight in the country side, see old castles and hear only my thoughts, but it took 70km to get there.img_0847I hugged my daughter goodbye, dropped the rental and road away…. just to ride back 5km later. I forgot my GPS in the car 😦

If I first scrambled to find my way the first time, I was way more efficient the second time around! But then a hill happened and my derailleur went into my spokes. No harm done, but A quick repair has to be done ASAP.

img_0827The ride wasn’t peaceful, but that made me forget the constant noise of the disc rubbing, the bad shifting and an unknown click in the crank.

To add the the fun I wasn’t having the Eurovelo app I was using wasn’t working, the signage was also inexistant. I did a few bonus Kilometres before I decided to switch my navigation tool. That’s when I switched to Google. The fun began, great roads, paves, citadels, castles, Abbayes, rivers and not real roads 🙂

img_0833img_0839img_0835My last 30km were spent riding along rivers (la Sambre et La muse) on a bike path. Beautiful, peaceful ride to make the day better.

img_0842At the end it was a great day, I had another great morning with coffee and pastry with by daughter, I rode my bike in Belgium and ate chocolates 🙂

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Bikepacking, Europe adventure

Europe, here I come

An unplanned but amazing change in my summer plans forced me to go on a transatlantic cruise to Europe. No more running race, goodbye cyclocross race season, hello Europe adventure! Eurovelo5 seems like a good route to follow, crossing 6 countries in 3 weeks sounds fun 🙂

My mom is turning …ty this year, we live 4511km apart, so the idea of spending a week together anywhere away from both our homes seemed like the best way to celebrate. We embarked on a Cunard transatlantic cruise, drank too much wine, ate too much food and enjoyed each other’s company (As well as my dad and daughter’s)

Since my daughter crossed the ocean with me and we also do not see each other a lot (She also lives on the other side of the country from me) We decided to visit Belgium together. Train ride, overnight ferry, rental car, lots of walking a bit of running and lots of fun, food, wine, coffee and good times.

After all that fun time, Why go home? Why not ride my bike around Europe?

My bike followed silently (except for the front brake squealing due to a bent rotor). Can you imagine how hard it is carrying it for 2 weeks without being able to ride it? I am now a pro at transporting a bicycle.It was packed for the plane, assembled so I could get to the cruise, ridden to a hotel, parked close to me on the train just so it could be taken on a ferry squeezed between a wall and a bike with mean pedals. It’s now disassembled again and waiting anxiously the start of our new adventure in the trunk of the rental car.

Anyone know a good bike shop in Bruges or Brussels? The bike with mean pedals may have bent my front rotor 😦

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