We sat at the top of an ancient temple in Bagan, Myanmar watching the sunset as we chatted away with an elderly couple from Canada. The idea of bicycle touring had long lingered in our minds and they were the tipping point that convinced us we needed to try it.
Their recommendation, start in Europe.
Just 5-months ago we had this conversation and today we are in the rolling hills of Yorkshire, England on a tandem bicycle. We started the bicycle journey in a small village outside Paris and have made our way through western France and central England.
We were feeling nervous at the start of the trip considering we've never done anything like this before and everything we needed to survive was on our bicycle. The experience however has been outstanding and motivating.
We ate at every French bakery we passed (literally), drank our favorite wine in the evening, hid in a barn to let heavy rains pass, met fellow cyclists, tried provoking cows, enjoyed picturesque villages that have perfectly painted shutters and flower baskets, explored the infamous Mount Saint Michel at sunrise, past countless canals from the industrial revolution, and even received spiritual crystals from an Englishman named Buddha Dave.
The experience gave us more than just beautiful scenery, it made us realize that this was an activity that we will do for the rest of our lives. We now look at the Euro Velo trail map, a huge network of established bicycle trails throughout Europe, and realize this is just the beginning.
Of course there have been challenges along the way, which is to be expected. All day rains, getting lost, physical exhaustion, not knowing where you will sleep each night, and legs feeling like lead each morning are just a few we are trying to overcome.
One of the biggest challenges we faced planning this trip was how to pack. We have one bicycle with two seats, four panniers, and a small handlebar bag. Fitting all our gear into this fairly small space is no easy task. Previously, our two mummy sleeping bags took up an entire pannier. Thanks to Enlightened Equipment for designing such incredible, lightweight, and packable quilts we are now able to pack two quilts that take up less than one-third of a pannier! We can now pack lighter and stay warmer.
Having the right gear makes trips like this possible. We can be self-sufficient and comfortable along the entire journey. And after a long day’s ride it feels wonderful to snuggle up inside our EE Convert quilts where we both sleep like a sack of bricks.
Until next time, keep exploring and have fun!
Michael & Katy