Bikepacking, Europe adventure

Vacation or training camp?

In 21 days I road 2000km and took 3 days off. I would wake up early enough to allow for extra time in case of navigational errors and limit my planned distance for the same reason. Riding long distance isn’t the same as racing or just trying to keep up with Brad. I get on the bike, turn the diesel engine on and ride. As long as I am not bored, I can ride forever.

I rolled in to Girona on a wet day, with my fully loaded bike greeted by so many pro looking roadies. First stop….the bike shop (Service Course). My little bike needed a lot of love if I wanted it to enjoy the riding to come. Stripped of all it’s bags and accessories it now looks and sounds like a worthy road bike.

Many coffees (Federal ans Espresso Mafia) later, I started the next part of my cycling adventure.

I reunited with my partner that I had abandoned in Vancouver over a month ago and the next day we were off to some amazing road riding. Using the Strava routes of the local bike shop we went on an easy road ride (not easy) to Els Angel with good climbing, amazing views and great descents.

My legs were not ready for Brad’s training camp pace, so I may have suffered a bit, but loved it anyways. Girona has so many quiet roads minutes outside of the city, I can’t wait to explore more of them.

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Bikepacking, Europe adventure

Follow the path

Euro velo routes are…..very different from one to another, from a region to another, sometimes marked, sometimes paved, sometimes inexistant,…

Today was a fun one, I am quite happy, because I actually thought it was going to be a boring day. The plan was take it easy, follow another canal, try to avoid the rain and get to my second to last hotel before the final destination.

Everything went according to plan, the canal was there, the rain was blown away by that insane wind and I made it to destination.

The canal du midi is a well known popular touristic destination, a huge project that was created over 300 years ago. I was actually excited to see it, until I saw it… I am pretty sure it is impressive somewhere, but not the section I rode. The bike path that follows it is also mediocre, but I liked it a lot 🙂  A pavement bike path along a canal is pretty uneventful, but a wet and muddy path is pretty awesome and challenging to navigate with a loaded bike.

Maybe they read my blog or it’s just to prove me wrong, but I met some nice cyclotourers today. Nice couple of teachers who quit their jobs and tour Europe. I was envious of their situation, but he was envious of my lightweight setup 🙂 They did not enjoy the mud/rock bike path at all!

A stop in Narbonne for a quick tourist tour and an awesome coffee/lunch break before heading to my hotel in a kinda abandoned off season beach town. The 20km of gravel and dirt to get to the hotel was just awesome, music on, no one in sight, it was awesome! Quite happy I didn’t take the road bike on this adventure.

I’ve enjoyed finishing my days early and visiting the cities, but Narbonne may have been my last city visit before Girona. The pedestrian areas and the patio dinning will have to wait until I reach my final destination.

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Bikepacking

Bikepacking vs cyclotourism

I am snobbed by the cyclo tourists people. No smile, hello, hallo or bonjour! The ebike and road bike people always wave back or smile, but not the cyclotourists.

Why? I am that different. I carry all the necessary stuff on my bike to camp (before I shipped it all back) ride, fix and maintain the bike, survive.

Is it because I am flying by too fast? Going further? Smiling more? Eating while I ride? Listening to music? Because I suffer less?

So bikepacking means I can ride my favorite bike, the best bike for the job, climb steep hills and ride on rough terrain. My bike is also light weight even fully loaded.

My bike is a cyclocross (goes everywhere) carbon fibre (comfortable and stiffer, more efficient) with hydraulic disc brakes (it stops when needed).

I carry only what is needed. I do my laundry in the shower every night, layer clothing for the different temperatures and bring pieces that can be used on and off the bike.

Why do Cyclotouring people need so much stuff?

There are little luxuries that I carry and add unnecessary weight, but after a day on the saddle, they are essential. My wool sweater, real lady bra and a book. I could live without them, but seriously…it’s a vacation not a torture fest!

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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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