There are very few things as exciting as seeing an entire continent on two wheels. But while pulling off a bicycle trip across Europe sounds like the adventure of a lifetime, it’s also a challenging feat that takes a lot of planning.
First and foremost, while Europe is the second smallest continent, it still covers an area of more than 10 million square kilometers. That’s a lot of pedaling.
Secondly, due to its versatile topography, the European continent can pose a serious challenge for those unprepared for some hardcore mountain biking.
Thirdly, it’s essential to understand that some parts of Europe are better suited (and safer) for seeing from a bike than others.
Fortunately, however, good preparation can prevent most problems and ensure that you have a great time. So, if you’re ready to start planning your bicycle trip across Europe, these are the main things you should keep in mind.
Choose the Right Time to Tour
Being located in the Northern hemisphere, Europe isn’t exactly suitable for cycling all year long – despite what those living in Scandinavian countries might have you think. So, the most important thing you have to do before you set off on your trip is to plan your adventure for the right time.
Ideally, you will choose the warmer and dryer months to see Europe from your bicycle, which ranges from April until October. If you’re planning on visiting the South of Europe, you will get good weather even in winter.
Pick the Best Route for Your Physical Condition
The great thing about touring Europe on a bike is that you don’t have to be in the best physical condition of your life to make it work.
Yes, being in great shape will help you cover distances between 50km and 100km per day. But, if you’re not in it for the workout and would just like to enjoy some laid-back cycling, you can still see a lot without pushing yourself too hard.
To ensure you have a good time, you will have to pick a route based on your physical endurance. If you’re not exactly in the best shape, perhaps it’s best to stay clear of hilly terrain.
Don’t worry; this still leaves you with plenty of destinations, including the beautiful Danube coast, most of Belgium, the southwest of France, Denmark, the Istrian coast, and the Black Forest in Germany.
Prepare Your Equipment
One of the key aspects of making it across Europe on a bicycle is having the right equipment.
Yes, many people will tell you that it doesn’t matter what type of bike, shoes, or bags you have. But after just a couple of hours of riding, you’ll quickly realize that weight, performance, and safety play a huge role in making your cycling adventure enjoyable.
Before you set off, make sure that you have the right touring bike, a wardrobe of high-performance cycling clothing, a great helmet, and a pair of cycling shoes. These should be stiff enough to make the most of your pedaling stroke and comfortable enough to wear for days on end.
It’s also important to keep safety in mind, so get a GPS device and a spare set of lights. It’s also not a bad idea to have your smartphone on you so that you can call for help if necessary or book a last-minute hostel if you feel like you’re too tired to carry on riding.
Don’t forget that cycling for 6+ hours per day burns a lot of calories. So, figure out what snacks will work for you best, and don’t forget to hydrate throughout the day.
Don’t Feel Like You Have to Do It All at Once
A bicycle trip across Europe is likely to take all summer – around 100 days at least. But even if you don’t have all that time (or you’re just not prepared to spend three months pedaling), you can still see a lot from your bike.
The key lies in approaching your bike tour across Europe with a healthy attitude.
The most important thing will be not to expect too much from yourself. Make sure that you set realistic goals and that you give yourself plenty of opportunities to rest. Sure, it sounds entirely doable to cover 60+ km per day. But after 10 days of doing so, you’re bound to get tired.
To avoid injury and mental exhaustion, make sure that you pace yourself and take a rest day every few days.
Moreover, if you feel like some of the terrain ahead is too challenging, don’t feel pressured to push through. One of the great things about Europe is that everything is connected. This means that you can take a train from one region to the next and save your energy for drinking in the destinations that are the most appealing to you.
Start Planning Your Bicycle Trip Across Europe
If you’re thinking about a bicycle trip across Europe in 2022, now is the best moment to start planning.
In addition to gathering as much info about other cyclists’ experiences, make sure that you start your preparations on time. This means gathering equipment, mapping out your route, and most importantly, starting your physical training. If you feel like taking on a whole continent on your own is a step too much, don’t worry. There are plenty of shorter group cycling tours you can join.
But, if you’re ready for an adventure of a lifetime, know that touring Europe on a bicycle is one of the best ones out there. Just make sure that whatever you’ve planned suits your expectations and commitment level – even if it means taking things a bit slower.
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