Where to go? Looking for Inspiration

The time has come. Time to put ideas into plans; and make plans reality. I will have a huge long summer this year, from end of June till the start of October, so I am trying to find something to do that will be really memorable and fun. It will be hard but I am finding that I need, and want, to go one better than last summer’s 3000km around Europe. That was just the beginning.

The planning of a trip is a part that I really enjoy. I find you get a sense of fulfilment when you book those plane tickets or accommodation. You almost reach a point of no return; there is no going back now. I enjoy that feeling as it gives me extra motivation to see the trip through. However in order to start planning you need an idea which you can act upon. This is where I am struggling. I have so many. There are so many wonderful destinations to cycle and so many options of how to get there it can become quite overwhelming.

I really like the idea of SE Asia as I think that part of the world is really beautiful and I would love to cycle there. However I would also love to cycle New Zealand and Australia, oh and not forgetting my place of birth the USA! How to choose a destination? I am lost. Although I do want to go to all these places none are really jumping out at me or routes through them. I think I would much prefer to go through them on a trip around the world –during a gap year possibly. When planning my route last spring I knew Europe was the destination with it being right on our doorstep and easily accessible it was easy to plan and find a nice route. Job done. There is another option; I still haven’t explored much of Europe and countries like Croatia, Romania and Albania I have heard are really beautiful to cycle through. However the fact that I can only speak English and a modest amount of French I think may hold me back in these countries.

I have just finished reading Andrew Sykes ‘Cycling Europe’ and he used the Eurovelo 5 cycling route to take him from London to Brindisi, Italy. There are 14 Eurovelo cycling routes spanning 70,000km across Europe. Although not all finished yet they are predicted to be finished by 2020. Around 45,000km have been finished so far however as they are not totally completed finding maps is very difficult. I think the Eurovelo routes are a fantastic idea and if you want to know more check out their website. However as they are not totally finished I am not sure I want to use them this summer.

Eurovelo Routes

Eurovelo Routes

I am currently reading ‘Free Country’ by George Mahood a book based on a superb idea. Lands End to John O’Groats, without spending a penny. They just ask people for food, shelter, clothes and even bikes! A great read and it has really inspired me to do something of a similar nature because why should you have to pay lots of money for a good time? Relying on peoples good nature to get you by, I think sounds like a wonderful challenge, but where to do it from and to?

A cycling plan I have already made is that rather than get the train to St.Andrew’s in Scotland, for a week away with my girlfriend in summer. I am going to try and cycle the near 500km in two days. One route is 492km with 1000m of ascent and another is 421km with over 4000m of ascent, I think I’m going to opt for the latter because it sounds like a fun challenge! The reason for me choosing to do this is mainly because I wasn’t lucky enough to be in the 700 people who registered for the London-Edinburgh-London as when I tried it had all filled up.

I am still open to other forms of travel such as Mountain Biking or Hiking. I could pick a destination and try to get there ‘by any means’ which will add a good feel of adventure. One thing I am almost certain on though is that I will do it with Tom again. I am beginning to get a feeling that we will end up going on every future holiday together! However we form a good cycling team and it’s always fun when you go on holiday with your mates.

As of yet I am still undecided and open-minded –if you couldn’t tell already. If any of you have any suggestions I really welcome them. One thing I am sure of though, wherever I end up going it will be a good adventure. As Bilbo once said to Frodo “It’s a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

22 responses to “Where to go? Looking for Inspiration

  1. How about Ireland? Maybe a coast to coast? Or how about the Ireland Diamond? Hit all four furthest ponts of the compass?

    • Yeah I hadn’t really thought about Ireland, its easily accessible as well! Thanks 🙂 Hitting furthest points of the compass sounds awesome as well!

      • I just made up “The Ireland Diamond” :D, any project should have a name.

      • Well, if you go with it, you should enjoy it, nice people. Plus some great scenery for photos 😀

      • You could probably get the Irish side of the Giants causeway in too, plus there is always the Guiness, and they speak English 😀

      • Yeah there is a lot to see, and that is definitely a winner in my book, speaking english hah. You’re winning me, I think this trip will happen defintely at some point if not this summer!

      • I’ve twice cycled around the SW Coast of Eire – from Cork to Galway. I can recommend it highly. Down there I found the Murphy’s preferable to Guinness – and cycling a good distance each day meant I could easily burn off my daily fix.

  2. I spent a little time in Germany last year and found that the cycling and infrastructure really good. Think beers and sausages on the rhine as an afternoon stop!

    Oh and don’t stress, you have loads of time. I wish I had started cycle touring at 18 instead of 28 (now 30)! I have many places I want to go and worry I’ll never manage them all. The length of south america is one of my dreams and my husband wants to cycle across Russia.

    You could try and join up with a team doing RAAM:

    Yould could look at my friend emilys blog for inspiration too, she is cycling around the world, solo:

    The world is your lobster (bigger and better than an oyster).

    Oh and the eurovelo routes are a little hit and miss. Number 6 is alright but number 5 only exists as a concept!

    • Yeah if I did end up exploring eastern europe I would definitely go via Germany and all the beer haha. I do really want to do the RAAM at some point maybe in a few years when I have done some similar distances in that style of race. Thats definitely one for the future! Thats great thanks for all you’re advice and comments, I enjoy hearing other peoples opinions.
      Yeah I think the Eurovelo concept is absolutely great, however a bit more proactiveness is needed to get them finished and official detailed routes published 🙂

      • No worries, I love talking about bike and touring. Not too many comments though I hope!

        You don’t necessarily need to do the cycling for RAAM, the racers have mechanics and crews following in cars and campervans (the ones that sleep that is). A friend of mine does that rather than any racing, its mostly self funded and enormously hard work but fun all the same, on bike or off.

      • Yeah so do I! 🙂 No definitely not I enjoy hearing from other people. Yeah I think though I would want to be racing if I did it, otherwise I would feel that I was missing out on it, if that makes sense 😀

  3. I’ve toured all over Europe – and the best tour of all…. Barcelona to Nr. Toulouse and back. Depends if you like mountains (I do) but I thought there was nothing I’d rate below excellent for all of our time within the Pyrenees national park. The area of Spain just South is rather dry and barren, the area of France just North of Andorra was really lovely though. And fresh ‘fixed price lunches’ can’t beat ’em

    • Yeah I think mountains are great I got huge satifaction last summer when I cycled the Alps and Pyrenees. I have cycled in that region of France too, it is really lovely and I would definitely like to explore it again sometime. I am at the moment thinking of not having a destination just setting off on the road with just a 30L back pack and seeing where I end up. I think it would be nice to go on a bike tour which is open ended and which would give me the freedom to just make decisions on the road; either hop on a ferry to Ireland, France or The Netherlands. Thanks for commenting! 😀

  4. Well, Alex, I would say this, just back off the flight home, but you really can’t beat South Island NZ for views, roads and inspiration. Not just the west coast (now reconnected after temp loss of bridge in the rain) but S Island east as well. Great pix from Phil Malone at http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?o=1&doc_id=11513&v=V4, who’s already three years on the road. Met in Picton. You can fly to NZ for about £1000 return via Southern China (decent airlines these days), and I find packing the bike in a big, thick CTC plastic bag worked fine. Transsylvania is also awesome. We did it on a tandem four years ago, and loved it. Cheap and friendly.

    • Yeah I am defintely going there over the next couple of years! I have just got an offer from Oxford and they have huge holidays so I will be able to still go one some really good trips I think 😀 I didn’t realise how cheap flights were out there. Thanks for your opinion on the CTC plastic bag I still dont know if I’d trust it, if I were to get a plane I think I would play it safe and go for a Hard case although storing it at the other end may be difficult!

      • Well done on the Oxford offer, Alex. I suspect you’ll do very well indeed there. The plastic bag works, I find, because baggage handlers can see what they’re handling, and as long as sharp bits are taped up with cardboard, they respect it more than they would an anonymous box. I’ve tried both, and the bag wins out for. And, as you say, storing a hard case isn’t always easy, esp if you want to fly in at one end and out at the other.

  5. If the 3 choices are Ireland, France and the Netherlands, the. I think you can strike off the last one: great cycle lane infrastructure and most people speak English well but a bit wanting in all other aspects until you get to the eastern bit.

    If you end up back on the drawing board again, then there is always the old fashioned way: spin a globe and put a finger on it. You probably should decide first whether you want the northern or southern hemisphere… 🙂

    • I don’t know, last summer I only managed 2 days cycling in the Netherlands and really enjoyed it, the cycling was really care free and the areas where we cycled weren’t built up at all and were really pretty. I will probably be spending most of every day on the bike so the fact that theres not much there doesn’t really bother me too much however I think i would like some challenging hills/mountains. So I’m heavily considering the Alps/ Pyrenees again. Yeah that is always the fall back option 😉 think this summer I’ll be staying northern hemisphere and most probably europe. Thanks for commenting 😀

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