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

Withdrawal

It’s been close to a month since I got home, almost one month since I stopped everyday and I am going crazy itching for the next adventure.

The same thing thing happens every time I get back from a cycling adventure, probably just normal withdrawal steps.

I wonder why I ever left

You have to know that I live in one of the most beautiful place on earth! Supernatural British Columbia, Canada. I can ride the road, the trails, mountain bike, trail run and I can eat anything I want whenever I want.

I enrol in every race, challenge, training program available

The trip wasn’t already over that I had enrolled in a ultra marathon training program, just worried I would be bored when I got home. I also committed to running the full Vancouver marathon and join every Strava challenge I could find. Then life happens and some of the plans fly out the window!

Vive la simplicité volontaire

After living out of a single bag mounted under my saddle, I get overwhelmed with all the clothing and different sport options . Blue or black jeans? Sport bra or grown women bra? Trail running shoes or pavement runners? Gravel or road bike? Can we move in our sprinter van? Then Black Friday happens and some good deal can’t be passed and what about a new bike? Titanium? Custom new bike?

Then I loose it!

Where can I go? How long can I leave? Should I spend the year doing short trips and plan a very super long adventure for the following year? Can I leave tomorrow? What if I Road across the country? Road trip in Europe? What about cyclo cross season?

Not sure how to handle this, probably by continually riding everywhere, with friends and keep exploring. Any thoughts where I should go?

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Bikepacking, Taiwan

One last ride

Yesterday’s ride made me wish we didn’t waste time going to Kenting. We rode from Taipei to the northern tip of Taiwan using some really nice pike paths trying to avoid major roads. Clear blue skies all the way, ocean views and great company made this 100km ride very enjoyable. My butt is glad to not have to sit on the saddle anymore, but I wish I could stay longer and see more. We keep discovering new places and the riding route possibilities seem endless.

we got to ride with friends again today, we worked together to push through the headwind and visits areas even my Taiwan native friend never visited. If only we had time to go to the beach! We got to practice some cyclo-cross skills 🙂

Our last full day in Taiwan has been spent walking through Taipei. Ouch! I am a lot better at the two wheel exploring then the pedestrian thing. Cool bike shops, more great coffees and some food truck snacks.

I wish I could stay longer, but my butt and saddle aren’t friends anymore and I may need to get back to work and plan for the next adventure!

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Bikepacking, Taiwan

The end of the nomadic lifestyle

Getting back to Taipei ended up being really easy. There isn’t a straight answer when asking about bringing a bike on a train or a bus, you will be told that it depends on the train, the bus, the driver,… Luckily enough, we met another cyclist who took a bus and was told to buy plastic bags, take the wheels off and throw the bike in the bus, so we did the same thing, bought a roll of garbage bags at one of the so many 7-11’s took the wheels off and brought our expensive trash on the high speed train. One hour and a half later, we had travelled 370km and were riding our bikes on the street of Taipei!

Back in that organized chaos that is Taipei, all these scooters and cars going all directions, I kinda like it! First stop…eggs benedict at our favourite coffee shop 🙂

I am so happy to not have to pack my bag and bike for the next 4 nights.

The plan is to spend a few days taking it easy, ride my bike around town, taste every latte from all those different cafe’s, visit bike shops and relax.

Then Angela arrived to town! Not even a full nights sleep after her 14h flight, jet lagged, she invited us to climb a little mountain, just 800m of climbing in 24km. Thanks for showing me this route!

Tomorrow will be a flat easy day!

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