Exactly one year to the day since the e-Bike Cycle Tourists jetted to London from Brisbane armed with a crazy plan to set a new world e-bike long distance record, the time has come to sit back and reflect on what has been a truly life-changing year.
In the ensuing 12 months so much has happened that it is difficult to put so many memories and events into anything that remotely resembles a coherent context.
Suffice to say our crazy plan didn’t turn out to be so crazy after all.
So much so, that we have now well and truly dropped the word “attempt” from our vocabulary after finally passing German adventurer Maximilian Semsch’s previous world record of 16,047 kilometres on a sunny winter’s day in Portugal in January.
But don’t think for one moment think that claiming the world e-bike long distance record as our own is the end of the story.
Far from it, that was just chapter one.
But before we move on to chapter two and beyond, the one year anniversary of the start of our journey is as good a time as any to provide a condensed recap for people new to our e-bike adventure.
In short it has been a truly amazing year in the UK and mainland Europe on our Haibike xDuro Trekking RX electric bikes (and our Gloria city e-bikes courtesy of sponsors Cyprus E–Bikes while we are in Cyprus).
The First Major Goal was Plymouth in the UK
After picking up our Haibike e-bikes and Tout Terrain Mule cycle trailers in London, purchasing last-minute cycling and camping equipment and generally getting used to riding our new e-bike – trailer combination, we took a deep breath and headed off from Surrey on April 23, 2015, with our first major goal Plymouth for the ferry ride across the English Channel to Roscoff in Brittany in France.
But after a first day that could only be described as a cyclist’s nightmare, Plymouth – let alone a new world e-bike long distance record – seemed a long, long, long way away. For a more details about our horror first day on the road go to: e-bike cycle tourists day 1 blog.
Fortunately we survived day one and the thundering traffic on Highway A339 and as it transpired it was the worst day we have had to endure so far.
It may have been a horror introduction to our journey that had Rachel questioning the wisdom of her decision to come along at all, but at least it put all of the other relatively minor mishaps that were still to happen along the way into context.
And that is basically that everything will work out in the end if you adopt a positive attitude.
Anyhow, with our day one goal of Newbury on the Kennet and Avon Canal achieved, it was all plain sailing (or should that be e-biking) as we headed to Bristol and then onto Plymouth via the beautiful Devon region. This blog provides details of our first two weeks on the road.
After surviving the ferry trip across the English Channel from Plymouth to Roscoff read this blog, the next stage of our journey took us through Brittany along the Canal de Nantes a Brest to Nantes in the Loire Valley read the relevant blog.
The Loire Valley is a Special Place to Tour
The Loire, for anyone who has not been lucky enough to visit, is a truly special place. Over the years I have traveled extensively in Europe, the UK, Asia, South America and Australia, but am yet to find anywhere else that has the appeal of the Loire – so much so, that I have now cycle toured there four times over the past 10 years.
With no time restrictions on our e-bike journey on this occasion, the plan was to savour everything the Loire had to offer read this blog – and that is exactly what we did.
Basically it was ‘a see as many beautiful villages and historic castles as possible’ tour as we meandered along the banks of the Loire River and later the Saone River along EuroVelo 6 across France to Strasbourg. Here is another blog to read.
With the kilometres starting to mount as we e-biked to Strasbourg on the France/Germany border, we reached a decision that altered our planned route somewhat.
While the initial plan was to continue cycling on EuroVelo 6 along the Danube River as far as Vienna, we soon came to the realisation that we did not have sufficient time available to be able to cycle across Austria to Vienna and return through Germany, Belgium, parts of France and Holland within the 90 days’ time limit our visa imposed.
As such the decision was made to leave the relative comfort of EuroVelo 6 to cycle the 300kms or so around Lake Constance – that borders Switzerland, Germany and Austria – before cycling the long way to Belgium and Holland via the Rhine and Moselle Rivers.
And what a great decision it was.
The Moselle River Valley isAmazing
Lake Constance was a revelation and the Moselle River? It was one of our favourite regions of the trip so far. Read this blog.
From the Moselle it was back to the Rhine River for the ride north from Germany through Belgium and then into Holland where we spent four enjoyable weeks – and survived what was said to be the worst summer storm in living history. Read this blog.
With our 90 day Schengen visa in Europe expired and with 7045 kms on the odometer, we set sail from Europe from the Hook of Holland bound for Harwich in England for the next stage of our amazing e-bike adventure.
The journey up the east coast of the UK to Scotland was a revelation, with fantastic scenery, good weather and the many, many new friends made along the way the highlights. The downside – why does there always have to be a downside? – was the atrocious signage along the UK’s national cycle route 1. Read this blog.
Getting hopelessly lost time and time again aside, the coastal scenery along the east coast of the UK is amazing, especially when you are blessed with fine weather as we were.
With the kilometres continuing to mount the next stage of our journey through Scotland – the home of my dear departed grandfather – was one that was eagerly anticipated.
And the land of bagpipes, tartan and the thistle certainly didn’t disappoint – surely Scotland is the only country in the world that has a weed as its national flower!
That said it is a beautiful country that didn’t disappoint. Read this blog. It is also worth noting that we must be the only cycle tourists in history who have toured in Scotland for any length of time who did not see a drop of rain – how good was that!
After enjoying everything Scottish for a couple of weeks and with summer in the UK coming to a close – and with Wales and Ireland still to discover before returning to Europe – we dug deep and put in a big effort to cycle as fast as possible through Cumbria to Liverpool and on Holyhead in Wales for the ferry ride to Dublin in Ireland.
And we are so glad we did, because we had an amazing five weeks in Ireland, where we must report we only had one wet day – another all-time record for cycle tourists in Ireland.
What we discovered is that the Irish are not only the friendliest people we have met anywhere in our travels throughout the world, but the scenery – especially along the Wild Atlantic Way on the west coast – is second-to-none. Read this blog.
Five weeks, many new friends and lots of hill climbing on our Haibike xDuro Trekking e-bikes later, we once again set sail across the Irish Sea for the journey from Rosslare to Fishguard in Wales for the dash back to London for a well-earned two weeks of R&R.
With nearly 12,000 kilometres of cycling on the clock after setting out from London in April we were both looking forward to the next leg of our journey – three months in Portugal and another three months in Cyprus. Read this blog and this blog.
A New World E-Bike Record Set in Portugal
Anyway, the rest is now history. We finally broke the previous world e-bike record in Portugal in late January and are now in Cyprus with 20,622kms on the odometer.
From Cyprus it is back to London on April 30 for five weeks before travelling to Portugal to collect our Haibikes – where they have been in storage while we have been in Cyprus – before e-biking across Spain, France, Germany and Austria to Hungary.
We then plan to attend Eurobike at Friedrichshafen in Germany before returning to Australia where we will continue cycling through until April 2017.
After that? Well, that is still a secret! You will have to stay tuned to find out the answer to that one.