With Rummys' - anyone at all remember the unlamented Rummsfield? - 'new' Europe joining with 'old', there are even more countries added to those that we think of as Europe. A heap of different climates, cultures, cuisines, languages, landscapes etc etc all packed into a contiguous land mass. How can a cyclist resist?
There are plenty of well-known bike routes in Europe like the Romantic Road in Germany, the Danube Bike path in Austria, long-distance bike paths in Scandanavia and paths to Prague and beyond in 'new' Europe to name a few, that all beckon
Europe's possibilities are magic, the choices of where to ride are endless (and the temptations boundless...)
France My first experience with a packaged tour: 2005
August was the only time I could get away and it's not a great cycling time in the northern hemisphere - too hot, too many tourists and so-on - so, I took a commercial 'self-guided' tour of Provence in southern France. All I had to do was ride, my accommodation, my evening meals were pre-arranged and more importantly, my gear was taken from hotel to hotel for me
France My second experience with a packaged tour: 2008
Again, August was the only time I could get away and so I repeated the '05 experience but this time it's a very lazy couple of hundred k's along the Loire à Vélo
EuroVelo 6 A 3500 km ride across Europe: 2012
Yes, the EuroVelo 6 route crosses France!
And Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Serbia, Slovakia, Switzerland and Romania too - but I went to Turkey instead of going to Romania...
Europe Redux Another long ride thru Europe: 2014
A lazy loop thru Europe in 2014 via EuroVelo long-distance cycle routes 2, 4, 5 and 9
And the Rhine, and Nekar Radwegs as well as the R1 and a bit of riding in England...
France An incredibly lazy tour: 2015
A lazy doddle along the Loire à Vélo from Orléans to Saint-Nazaire, swinging across Brittany to Saint-Malo and Mont Saint-Michel before heading to the D-Day beaches for a (very) brief visit
And being completely indolent, I haven't created a new page, rather, you can see my Crazy Guy on a Bike blog. Of course, the sharp-eyed amongst you will note that this was a trikeless ride, I rode a (rented) 'wedgie'...
Germany/Italy Challenging myself: 2016
A non-lazy route thru the Alps in 2016 from Munich to Venice along the Via Claudia Augusta, again using a (rented) 'wedgie'
Albania Another challenge: 2017
A non-lazy packaged tour route thru Albania in 2017, again using a (rented) 'wedgie'
Switzerland/Italy Even more mountains: 2018
A 'pilgrimage' ride on the Via Francegenia from Zurich to Rome (using a rented 'wedgie' e‑bike)
Portugal Yet another challenge: 2019
Another 'pilgrimage' ride on the Caminho Português de Santiago from Lisbon to Santiago de Compostela (again using a rented 'wedgie' e‑bike)
What did I find?
Heaps of things! It's an obviously trite observation, but I learnt heaps about heaps...
A few quick 'take‑aways':
º all-in-all a 'self-guided' commercial tour is a very easy way to tour
º a 3 month solo ride is a ride of wonderous discovery, mostly of myself...
º 'Pilgrimage' rides/walks involve fabulous camararderie and end in great personal satisfaction, no matter how shit individual days have been
º using an e‑bike, I've tackled rides I would never have dreamed of attempting before, like riding thru both Swiss and Italian Alps
º and for what it's worth, those cheese-eating-surrender-monkeys were actually really friendly, welcoming folk. Nary a trace of the fabled uppity Frog...