A Path Forward – Touring Options for Every Rider
The 439th issue of Adventure Cycling’s Bike Bits (a free twice-monthly email newsletter) fires up the adventure spirit with a quote from Thorton Wilder:
“The test of an adventure is that when you’re in the middle of it, you say to yourself, ‘Oh, now I’ve got myself into an awful mess; I wish I were sitting quietly at home.’ And the sign that something’s wrong with you is when you sit quietly at home wishing you were out having lots of adventure.”
Think of lung-busting climbs in a cold, hard rain. The desperation of a lonely road, lost, bone-dry water bottles, and no relief in sight. Roads that started as asphalt, then gravel, and finally mud. Long sleepless nights shivering in a tent. Yeah, I’ve had a few rides like that and Wilder’s words rang true.
A blow-by-blow account of a brutal ride does make a great story. But what if you’d rather read about it, but not experience it? You want a challenging and exciting ride that pragmatically avoids the threat of death, or purposely planned deprivation. A trip focused on scenery, rather than survival.
Fortunately, there are plenty of excellent bicycle touring options out there that are both adventurous and fun.
Across the big pond, the EuroVelo routes supply well-posted options to explore some of the best cycling countries in the world. These multi-national routes stitch together regional bicycle paths to create such diverse rides as Norway to Italy. Some of the routes are more developed than others; EuroVelo 15, the Rhine Cycle route stretches from The Netherlands to Switzerland and is probably the best-signed path. Not to say you can’t get lost – I did so several times. Although the Rhine River should make an easy enough landmark to follow.