If you are a regular visitor to Dave's Travel Pages, you will probably be aware by now that I am planning to cycle around the world beginning in April of 2015. If you are not a regular visitor, well, now you do know! Of course, its all very well saying that I will cycle around the world, but sooner or later, I will need to come up with a route. The world's a big place with many roads to choose from (preferably unsealed for that added sense of adventure!), and whilst I might not want to plan too exact a route, a rough direction would be nice!
The Problem With Choosing a Cycling Route Through Europe
So, as I live in the UK, and will begin my world bicycle tour starting from my doorstep, it only makes sense that the initial ‘phase' of the tour, so to speak, should be through Europe. The problem with choosing a cycling route through Europe though, is that there are just so many darned countries to choose from. In fact, even defining what constitutes Europe in the first place, let alone counting the countries in it is no easy task. Good old Wikipedia gives up an accurate count, and says that there are approximately 50 countries within continental Europe. If I was to spend just two weeks in each one, it would still take me over two years to cycle through every country on the continent, which is impractical, even on a tour which is planned to last between five and six years in length. It's unlikely then that my route will be able to see me cycle through every country in Europe (but never say never).
The other problem with choosing a cycling route through Europe, is that it is best to cycle some countries in certain seasons, and avoid them in others. Whilst cycling through Scandinavia in the depths of winter might prove to be a worthwhile challenge, for instance, its probably best avoided as I don't have specialist gear. Cycling through Greece in August would also present challenges at the opposite end of the temperature scale. Finding a happy medium in terms of seasons to cycle in is probably best.
The third problem in choosing a cycling route through Europe, is that there are so many long distance cycling routes to pick from. You wouldn't think that this should be a problem at all, but Europe is blessed with the ever-developing EuroVelo network, which links together cycle tracks and quiet roads all over the continent. There are at least half a dozen long distance routes which all have an appeal, and dozens of shorter ones scattered throughout different countries. Too much choice can be a terrible thing!
Perhaps the main problem with choosing a cycling route through Europe though, is deciding what I should see along the way. I don't want this to be a trip which just clocks up the miles. I want to be able to visit historical sites, take in scenic views, and experience local festivals and events. I also want to give myself the opportunity and time to see how people live in their own countries, and learn a little about their culture along the way. Should I sacrifice visiting Carnac for the chance to see the running with the bulls in Pamplona, or swap the beauty of the Norwegian Fjords for the wild side seen when couchsrufing Amsterdam? These are questions I will need to answer as I decide my cycling route through Europe on the first phase of my bicycle ride around the world.
What route through Europe should I take on my around the world cycle tour then? I have a rough idea of what I would like to do, but would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions. Maybe you might come up with something that I had not thought about at all, or you've cycled a route you wish you hadn't. Whatever the case, your feedback would be really appreciated, so feel free to leave a comment in the box below.