Two of the easiest countries for cycle touring would have to be Malaysia and Thailand. The people are incredibly friendly, the terrain along the coastlines is mostly flat with excellent roads, and the variety food options make it easy to take a break from cycling – especially when meals occupy a large portion of your thoughts. Accommodation is very affordable, making these two countries some of the cheapest to cycle through.
We were on our last section of Malaysia, incorporating two of Malaysia’s most well-known islands: Penang and LangKawi, as well as looking forward to a week-long Christmas break.
As we are spending a year bike touring, we will have flown with our bikes as baggage six times, which means we would have set them up and broken them down twelve times as follows:
“This Spanish city holds the second highest Michelin stars per capita in the world with fifteen stars awarded across eight restaurants for their exceptional and outstanding cuisine,” Cleave paraphrased as we researched which direction we should next cycle to. My ears immediately pricked up. Say what now? How soon can we get there?
It’s amazing when travelling without plans, how your luck can turn in an instant. Sometimes it’s an unbelievable cup runneth over with golden moments and lucky breaks. Other times… well. This was definitely a cup not even remotely runneth over moment. We started in the lap of luxury and ended 12 hours later squatting in a car park. Yup. But let’s start this from the beginning…
Six months on the road! Six months of travelling on two bikes, eleven countries (thirteen but we’re not counting our two hours in Bosnia or Vatican City), over 5,000 kilometers and 417 hours, 48 minutes and 47 seconds, give or take, with our butts in the saddle. For two people who didn’t ride bikes, who didn’t even own bikes, we are absolutely loving this way of travelling.
Cycling the west coast of France is a Beginner Bike Tourer’s dream. Information is plentiful on how to complete this journey though I’m sure I can whittle it down for you into five easy steps.
The prestigious university town of Cambridge oozes in solomn and historic academic achievement yet it’s River Cam, that runs through the heart of Cambridge and along the backs of the colleges, juxtoposes this with crowded punts, cheerful yells, clumsy feet and sunny hilarity. We spent two nights here, and loved every minute of it.
Without even looking for them we would regularly come upon cycling route signs while bike touring in England. From converted rail tracks, to quiet back roads to river paths we would favour these routes instead road cycling and competing with trucks and buses. The UK’s National Cycle Network stretches over 14,000 miles across the length and breath of the UK and is based on the theory that if a cycle route is well-built, it becomes well used. We can definitely vouch that most of the tracks we came across were spectacular!
After eight nights of continuous travelling, camping and Warmshowers, mostly in the rain, we were only one day’s ride from a long break with friends in Aughton. We set off in good weather taking some detours to sightsee. The sky looks deceiving sunny in this picture. It was sunny for about half an hour with rain settling in for the rest of the day and continuing for the next week.
Our EasyJet from Rome flew in at 1am to Luton Airport, and despite the early hour we were psyched to begin our next leg on the trip, our loop around England. We had organised a Warmshowers stay with Sam and Anna, but we weren’t meeting up with them until 10am. This gave us a good amount of time to build the bikes, grab breakfast and check out the centre of Luton before arriving at their place.
For our last day together in Rome our good friends John and Jess had organised one last jaunt which involved my absolute favourite subject in any country: Food. A walking food tour of Roman specialities to be exact.
Our last days in Dubrovnik were slow and lazy, making the most of the beach weather. We would usually start the day with tea which always came with honey and lemon instead of milk.
Cycling in Croatia is hugging the white line with no shoulder, sweat dripping down your nose, climbing hills and getting cramps in your fingers from grabbing the breaks. It also has an incredible landscape, rocky and mountainous, with tiny bays, fishing villages, and gorgeous beaches one after the other filled with restaurants serving freshly grilled seafood.
At 5.30am in the morning Cleave shook me awake begrudgingly and with much complaining. After seeing three cruise ships docked in the harbour oozing out thousands of people onto the dock and being smushed by the crowds in Old Town we put on an alarm hoping to beat the masses. Of course now that it was the crack of dawn it was hard to remember the enthusiasm we originally had. At 6am we stood bleary-eyed at Pile Gate, the main entrance to the old city. Usually packed by ice-cream fuelled crowds by day it was eerily devoid of any signs of life.