“Journey to Learn” – Biking Tales From A Younger Lady’s Bike Tour in Europe

by touring-bicycle

Earlier this 12 months, Bicycle Touring Professional awarded its annual scholarship (a monetary enhance for younger folks heading out on their first bicycle tour), to 24 12 months outdated Polish-Canadian bike owner Kasia Szewczyk. Kasia’s plan is to cycle throughout Europe, from Barcelona, Spain to Istanbul in Turkey, combining her first ever bike tour with a fundraising undertaking – that of elevating $10,000 CAD for Canadian charity “World Literacy Canada”.

Click on right here to learn the e book Kasia wrote about her “Journey to Learn” bicycle tour throughout Europe.

Now, after finishing the trip, Kasia shares her tales and experiences with BTP, in a 3-part sequence of articles centered round biking, fund elevating and life classes gained on the highway.

Biking Tales from Europe

Fast Details

What & When : biking from Could fifteenth – July twentieth (67 days in whole); whole mileage : 4,295 km (2,669 mi)

The place : Spain, France, Italy, Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria and Turkey; utilizing road-maps and selecting secondary roads + the occasional bike path

Why : private problem + for charity (World Literacy Canada)

How : totally self-sustained touring; touring with all mandatory gear to eat, sleep, navigate and journey independently

Who : Kasia (solo tour)

Kasia : “I used to be a devoted commuter bike owner and in love with biking, however previous to the “Journey to Learn” I had by no means traversed so many kilometers in a single go nor cycled for thus lengthy a time. It will not be simple – I must continuously adapt to new international locations, languages, cultures and currencies. All of the whereas I’d be studying from my errors, perfecting my artwork of bicycle journey, and dealing intensely on the fund elevating a part of the undertaking. I had carried out a whole lot of analysis, ready myself, my gear and my life accordingly and, most significantly, I used to be conscious that I couldn’t know all of it beforehand – I would wish a whole lot of assist, luck and improvisation to get me, and the Journey to Learn to Istanbul!

The Bodily Problem

The primary few weeks of journey had been bodily very powerful. The construct as much as Could fifteenth was so intense and busy that on my very first day leaving Barcelona I used to be already drained. Extra sleep deprivation ensued, and on the second day I had a nervous breakdown. On the sidewalk of a residential neighborhood close to Girona (Spain) I crumpled down in tears and exhaustion. Variety strangers took me in to their residence, confirmed me to the visitor bed room, and I lastly obtained an excellent evening’s sleep.

The subsequent few days had been full of extra close to disasters and minor miracles. I met up with a buddy in Portbou, the final Spanish city proper close to the French border. It was a grueling day of using, initially very up and down alongside the Spanish coast to Portbou after which, becoming a member of Philippe en route, we cycled the a number of hours of continuous uphill as we crossed the Pyrenees mountains into France. Exhaustion had resurfaced, so we had been compelled to take a bus, a 20km trip to get to Philippe’s place, in a small city close to Perpignan. There, a fast bathe and an sadly mandatory dose of anti-inflammatory tablets; my each muscle damage and I used to be on the edge of fever. I couldn’t permit myself to get sick solely 4 days into the journey!

In the course of the subsequent a number of weeks my physique slowly obtained used to steady bodily exertion. As I continued alongside the coast of France, I encountered some nasty climate – rain, chilly and, worst of all, very sturdy winds. Just a few stops had been made to purchase water-proof shoe covers and a windbreaker jacket. I saved having to take busy roads which became exhausting struggles to maintain myself and the bike upright because the onslaught of wind created harmful air pockets between the site visitors, and particularly the bigger vehicles, and myself.

With time, the muscle ache decreased with stretching, fluids and higher high quality sleep. It was shortly changed; nevertheless, with knee ache. This I efficiently combated with much more stretching, tensor bandages and quite a few purposes of the cooling Tiger Balm ointment. Some extra anti-inflammatories and I used to be nearly feeling nicely once more, if not for the lion-like cough I had developed on the third day of the journey, which might persist for the next 3 weeks. I felt OK in any other case, so I simply saved coughing and biking, paying even nearer consideration to getting high quality meals and relaxation on the highway. About 3-4 weeks into the journey, the cough disappeared and I used to be feeling higher than I had ever felt earlier than, and succesful (if not in a position on account of administrative work associated to the fundraiser) of biking from daybreak to nightfall.

The Psychological Problem

Vacationers expertise psychological fatigue when the steadiness between recognized and unknown elements shifts considerably in favor of the unknown. There may be a lot to know in a brand new place: a number of phrases within the native language, the place and what time you will get meals, discover lodging and a viable Web connection… simply to call a number of. I deliberate my journey in such a means that I’d transfer from the extra acquainted to the much less acquainted, from international locations which I do know nicely and might talk within the native language (Spain, France and Italy) progressively growing the extent of unfamiliarity as I cycled into beforehand uncharted lands (Serbia, Bulgaria and Turkey). It was an immensely gratifying and eye-opening expertise, however nerve-racking because of the quick tempo of the trip. As a result of the Journey to Learn was a fundraiser I didn’t need my supporters to suppose that their donation {dollars} had been sustaining a lazy-Sunday-cycle-through-the-park tour. There was no stopping to go to galleries and sip lattés within the shade… no, not this time. I used to be there to cycle, and to cycle arduous.

Biking solo was at occasions immensely rewarding and meditative, and at occasions fairly lonely. I met up with a number of associates on the journey, however in my case I used to be alone for 9 out of 10 weeks of the journey.  A number of affirmations obtained me all the best way to Istanbul, together with “Kasia, if you are able to do this, you are able to do something!” and the outdated stand-by “all the pieces is momentary“. I skilled moments of immense elation and happiness and hit some deep lows as nicely. I made certain to succeed in out to household and associates if the going obtained very powerful; it’s superb what a fast Skype name or electronic mail may do to present me new power. A number of encounters on the highway and Heat Showers hosts that I stayed with provided lifted my spirits too.

Unusually sufficient, the second half of the journey was essentially the most difficult mentally whereas being the least grueling bodily. It appeared that simply once I had gotten the dangle of motorcycle touring, and at last felt nice, is precisely when the frustration and annoyance on the little issues would get the higher of me. On the one hand all the pieces was a grand journey – I used to be a nomad, and my residence was the world. I drew consideration to myself and impressed many individuals… as soon as they accepted {that a} younger girl touring alone on a bicycle is, actually, potential. But then again, I bear in mind petty emotions of annoyance with the every day seek for campsites, lack of showering and constantly cooking my very own plain meals, over and over. The fixed ahead movement exhilarated and depressed me; I not often had the chance to go to a spot, I simply flew by it and navigated to the following city. I’d take a fast break and eat alone. To an excellent extent the fund elevating work and chronicling my adventures noticed me by, as I attempted valiantly to maintain my journey weblog present so that every one these just about following the journey may expertise it with me. New experiences, corresponding to filming the official Journey to Learn video whereas in Hungary and showing as a visitor on a Bulgarian radio present, additionally saved me excited and optimistic.

The Route

To navigate, I used regional highway maps, shopping for them for the 5-6 Euros they go for after crossing the border into any new nation. The scales would fluctuate, however I discovered that anyplace from a 1cm:8km scale and extra detailed served me nicely. A fast look and I knew precisely the place I wouldn’t cycle (thick, straight yellow or pink traces denoting the Autobahn, i.e. the freeways), as a substitute peering on the thinner, zigzag traces that undergo the little cities, the quiet and scenic secondary roads which are a touring cyclists dream come true.

For essentially the most half, I prevented the large cities, since they take a very long time to cycle in to and out of. With the exceptions of Montpellier (France), Ljubljana (Slovenia), Sofia (Bulgaria) and my last vacation spot, Istanbul (Turkey), I flew by many tiny cities, in addition to discovering a number of fascinating mid-sized cities corresponding to Pacienza, Verona and Padova (Italy), Szeged (Hungary) and Vršac (Serbia).

Of motorcycle paths there’s not a lot to narrate. I’d catch snippets of them right here and there, some 20-odd kilometers alongside the coast of the Mediterranean in Italy, and a day spent using the EuroVelo no. 6 path alongside the Danube river in Serbia. It was a pleasant respite from automotive site visitors, however for the reason that normal route I had chosen didn’t lend itself to present bike paths (or maybe I didn’t know discover them), I caught to the secondary roads. Usually these had been well-paved, with few vehicles and the occasional forest which helped to deal with the extreme summer time warmth. The hypnotizing view, and odor, of sunflower fields in Hungary and the frequent horse-drawn buggies in Bulgaria provided glimmers of native tradition not possible to totally admire from the freeway, or from the automotive in any respect, for that matter.

The Journey to Learn weblog : www.ridetoread.wordpress.com Fb : Journey to Learn



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