Traveling by bike
Every cyclist has his or her own philosophy concerning bicycle travel. Some people set off alone in search of intense personal experiences, often carrying everything they need so they are free to go wherever they like or to change course on a whim. Openness is their motto, both to the people they meet and to the environment they are travelling through. They are usually warmly received wherever they go and they come back full of tales of marvellous encounters.
As one solitary cyclist confided to me: “Cycle touring does me the world of good, from my head to my feet, for my body and for my soul”.
Those who cycle in groups have the added pleasure of sharing the views, the meals, the cultural breaks, the laughter and the fatigue. For families, it is also an opportunity to teach kids about the art of travel and to do things together away from the everyday routine: perched on a saddle, parents and children take the same childish joy in their extraordinary adventure.
Many couples also like to take off on their bikes. The pleasure starts at the planning stage, deciding on and organising a trip that will satisfy each person’s tastes and desires. On the road, cycle journeys bring people closer together as they share the views, the experiences, the encounters and the effort.
However, a common misconception that must immediately be laid to rest is that cycle touring can only be enjoyed by the very fit. Of course, touring demands a certain amount of effort from the cyclist but by deciding what is comfortably achievable and organising the journey accordingly anyone at any age can enjoy a bicycle tour. The key is to go at your own speed and to do things in the way that suits you best: camping, hotels or bed and breakfasts. This variety makes meetings with other cyclists an enriching experience, as there are cycle tourers of all ages, from all countries and from all backgrounds. It is, perhaps, one of the few remaining activities where you can expect to meet people from all social groups.
Keep a log book of the journey
Bicycle travel also reflects the personality of the cycle tourist. For some, the physical challenge is just as important as the freedom; for others, it is the liberty to stop, start and change direction or objective that is most important.
For all cyclists, touring is a formative experience, a regenerating change of scene, of lifestyle, of country, of diet. On their return, many people feel the need to record their adventure for posterity. They carry a notebook in which they make detailed notes of the distances travelled, the things they saw and the regional specialities they tasted. They tell of their little mishaps and the moments of intense emotion. Often, they illustrate their account with photographs and post their work on the internet. This notebook is much more than a record of their journey; it is a way of continuing to enjoy it, of making it last a little longer.
EuroVelo 6 : a unique route
A large number of first-time cycle tourists get bitten by the bug and each subsequent holiday is seen as an opportunity to continue the adventure where it was last left off. EuroVelo 6 is an ideal route for those who would like to complete a long-distance bicycle journey one stage at a time.
For the curious, here are two blogs by courageous cyclists who have ridden the whole route from the Atlantic to the Black Sea!
A Franco-Moldavian couple with their two children, Julien and Benjamin, set off to travel the whole route from the Atlantic to the Black Sea between May and September 2006. A combination of two cultures and a true family adventure. “You arrive quietly under your own steam, which earns you respect and admiration. In fact, it is your fragility, your vulnerability that opens doors.”
Two students from Nantes did the route on a tandem – there and back! Their three-month 8000-km trip was a sporting achievement but also a true human adventure.
Liens avec des sites de voyage à vélo et forums de discussion.
Cyclo-camping International : a small, but very active organisation. Their annual festival, which is held in the third week of January in Paris, is a mine of information and contacts :
"Aventuriers du Bout du Monde" (ABM) is an association of travellers. The bicycle page on their website gives a large amount of practical information :
* A major discussion forum on travelling by bicycle (in French) can be found at :
The International Bicycle Fund is a major English-language website and contains information on new developments in bicycle travel :
Adventure Cycling is the American equivalent of Cyclo camping international. It provides a lot of practical information, discussion groups and route suggestions