Why Biking Europe Is The Way To Go This Summer

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The poets tell us it’s about the journey, not the destination. The poetry unit in school wasn’t my specialty, but I’d have to agree with them. For those that feel the need to suck the marrow out of a journey, travel by means of bike has to be the way to go.

Cycle touring really forces you to slow down and savor your locale in a way that you wouldn’t by any other means — auto (better concentrate on driving), rail (too fast), and cruise (watch out for the midnight buffet). Besides hitchhiking, bike travel forces you into the local culture, creating a more authentic cultural experience. That’s not even touching on the environmental and health benefits it provides.

After reading BootsnAll’s article on two-wheeled tourism through Europe, it has absolutely convinced me to pack up the Trek and head across the pond. The Eurovelo long distance cycling routes across the continent, abundance of guest houses and hostels, short distances between towns resulting in easy logistics, and so many cultures in proximity of each other make this part of the world a perfect storm for a bike trip through the countryside.

The article’s journey started with a rain-soaked slog through England, but were rewarded the “cycling fairytale” that is the Netherlands (picture cycleways better than highways, flat as a chessboard, and wind always at your back). Other highlights included the surprisingly well signed, organized, and maintained German radwegs (cycle paths), the Rhine River Valley by bike or river boat, and the biker friendliness of Paris, Vienna, and Berlin.

Just steer clear of Prague (cobbled streets) and Venice (bikes not allowed), drink as much wine and eat as much crusty bread as you can, and maybe catch a weather forecast before heading to England.

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