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Bicycling in Europe

Bicycling is excellent way to directly access and engage your world, and there are few better places for cycling than Europe. It is a continent with beautiful coastlines, soaring mountains, and interesting and diverse cultures. The bicycle is an amazingly efficient vehicle to get from point A to point B, and is a real compromise [...]

Bicycling is excellent way to directly access and engage your world, and there are few better places for cycling than Europe. It is a continent with beautiful coastlines, soaring mountains, and interesting and diverse cultures. The bicycle is an amazingly efficient vehicle to get from point A to point B, and is a real compromise between the strictures of public transport and the slowness of walking.

When first beginning to plan your European cycling trip you need to have a plan, gear, and possibly a European health insurance card, like those available here .

Bike

Bicycle Luke's Travel Gear

Bicycle Luke’s Travel Gear

Your choice of bike will be of extreme importance when planning your bicycle trip across Europe. To do this you really need to decide what your goals are: Is riding the bike the reason for the journey or is the journey the reason for riding the bike? Are you going on embarking on an athletic event for the joys of biking or are you using the bicycle merely as a vehicle to access places and people you would never be able to otherwise?

If your answer is the former then you probably want to go with the best performance gear available — a sleek road bike will probably be your best bet. But if you decide to go this route you’re locked into biking, which is completely alright if your desire is little more than to go for a long bike ride, but if you want to do other things, like hike, take public transportation, or hitchhike, it may be better to find another option.

When I travel by bicycle long distance I usually go on a folding bicycle. Although I sacrifice a little in performance I am always ready to shift gears, so to speak, and travel via other means. All I need to do is fold the bike up and get in a bus, train, car, or even an airplane.

How to carry gear

Gear for bicycle travel in Iceland

Gear for bicycle travel in Iceland

How to carry your gear should be your next concern. I’ve tried everything from plastic milk crates tied on to my handlebars to real panniers, and I found that the more “pro” I go the better the all around experience will be. The only drawback to a good set of panniers is that it is sometimes awkward to carry them when not on the bike.

How to eat

A tuna can stove in action

A tuna can stove in action

Deciding your strategy for eating will also drastically shape your bicycle journey. The choices are: cook for yourself or eat out. If cooking for yourself you’re able to just pull over to the side of the road and make a good meal almost anywhere. Although this requires preparation — you need to stock up on ingredients ahead of time — as well as carry a stove (although a simple alcohol burning tuna can stove is more than adequate). If you don’t carry your own cooking gear you must then either only eat cold foods or always be on the lookout for restaurants.

How to sleep

light-weight-tent-600x450

How you sleep will also greatly shape your bicycle travels. The choices are simply: will you stay in hotels or sleep outside? Most bicycle travelers are at least prepared for camping, as all too often you will find yourself ready to bed down at night far from any hotels. There is one rule for tents here: as small and light as possible. Little, single person pop tents or Hennessey Hammocks are the best choices.

Conclusion

Traveling by bicycle is one of the best ways to really access and engage Europe. It gives you the freedom and mobility to go where you want, when you want to, and to stop whenever you please. The bicycle puts you in control of your travels.

Filed under: Travel Guide

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On occasion, VagabondJourney.com accepts guest articles in order to cover stories that we are not able to with our staff alone. To guest post with us, contact the editor. has written 27 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.