Victoria is currently in our fourth COVID-19 lockdown, and I find myself sitting inside, on a chill but sunny Sunday afternoon in late autumn, preparing for a European bike tour that might never eventuate, but even if it does, certainly won’t for quite a few years.
Let me list just a few of the barriers between Europe and ourselves:
- We (my partner and I) live in Australia, where international borders are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Europe is still in the grip of COVID-19 itself and it’s unknown how safe it will be to book any flights or accommodation. It means we have to plan for varying seasons and times of year and then
play it by ear.
- I injured my back in December 2020 and am not even out on the road yet, with a due date to return to cycling outdoors set as 17 September this year, and fully-loaded touring set as 17 March next year (12 months post-operation, due to the need to handle a bike weighing as much as 20–30kgs).
- I started planning for this tour a few years ago, before I had two kids living with me. We now likely have to wait until they are old enough to move out to be able to take a few months and do the trip right.
So why bother planning it at all? Well, primarily the answer to that question at the moment is: I’m bored shitless. But I also need something to look forward to.
Life never gives us what we want at the moment that we consider appropriate. Adventures do occur, but not punctually.
A broad outline of the trip
Approximate Riding Time
Bike and gear
To prepare for this trip (and others), I purchased a Surly Disc Trucker touring bike in June of 2020. We still have to procure a touring bike for Danielle — I’m looking primarily at mainstream touring bikes such as the Surly Disc Trucker in the small frame (Danielle is very short) or the Kona Sutra.
I already have a lot of lightweight camping gear we can use along the way, but we’re very uncertain of what camping provisions there will be in Europe, so we may end up taking some light gear as a just-in-case and relying on accommodation along the way.
I’ve also taken up French lessons during my mandatory stay in bed at the start of this year — I figure having some basic language skills will allow us to get along better with the locals. I’ve also enjoyed learning French a lot, so this has been a nice bonus.
Interesting resources used so far in planning
I’ve found quite a lot of good stuff on and offline, including:
- The EuroVelo bicycle network website: https://en.eurovelo.com/. We will follow the EV3 and EV6 routes.
- Some Marco Polo 1:800,000-scale country maps for France and Germany. This has been great for getting an idea of terrain and nearby towns, etc.
- The Crazy Guy On A Bike website. Although there’s been a lot of controversy around the owner/producer of this popular cycling forum being a bit of a right-wing nutter, there remains a great deal of fantastic information for cycle tourists of all countries and persuasions.
- Google searches of local towns and sights to see along the way.
- The BicycleTouring subreddit. Lots of up-to-date and friendly information is to be found if you dig deep enough.