Sunday, January 27, 2013


More than three months have passed since we rode the last few kilometres into Quebec City, officially ending our five-month bike trip. Surprisingly, readjusting to our regular lives has been easier than we’d pictured. We returned home to a familiar country, apartment, jobs and our group of friends. Within a week of being back, we were already essentially back into the swing of things. It feels great to be mentally active (at work) and to be part of a society again.

Looking back at our trip fills us with great memories, and we occasionally wonder out loud where we'd be if we'd just kept biking.

What we miss most is being outside most of the time, the sense of adventure of always being somewhere new and the continual curiosity of what tomorrow will bring. Like ‘regular’ life, bike touring also has a semblance of a daily routine, but with the absolute freedom of being able to turn it on its head everyday. You choose when you want to get up, when and where you stop to admire the landscapes around you and how fast you feel like biking or whether you want to bike that day at all. Without a set plan, spontaneity is a way of life.

Life on the bike is the epitome of simplicity. Despite carrying a seemingly endless list of things, what you’re carrying is essentially all you use on the road. What you wear, how you cook and what you use, is limited to what you’re carrying and what you can acquire along the way.

Although we’ve enjoyed other ways of travelling and backpacking, we found that bike touring allowed us to experience more of where we were. You end up in places that you would never see otherwise. Places where few other tourists go, allowing for unique experiences with the local culture and people. Being on a bike also makes you more approachable to locals, leading to incredible exchanges and a deeper feeling of the place.

There are definitely frustrating moments when it’s late and you haven’t been able to find food or a place to sleep. But those moments are overshadowed by the elation felt by whizzing past gorgeous landscapes, reaching the top of a mountain pass or engaging in meaningful exchanges with people along the way. It’s those moments of elation, moments of freedom and the anticipation of tomorrow that still make us long for road.

For anyone inspired to consider a bike trip of their own, we've created a second blog with more details about our exact route, equipment list and favourite campsites. It's part a larger community of blogs that can really inspire you or help with recommendations from other bike tourists. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Bike Trip Videos

It's now been three weeks since we rolled into Quebec City, finishing our five-month trip on the road. Since then, we've been visiting with our families in Hamilton.

We've put together two videos that showcase life on the road (in under 10 minutes). The first video gives you the "bike's eye view" of the whole 7500 km, from our handle-bar-mounted camera.

And the second one is montage of our trip photos.


Saturday, October 06, 2012

Is Canada the perfect country?

We may seem a little biased on this subject, but we feel it's only fair to give a shout-out to our favourite parts of cycling in Canada.

Collecting sap for maple syrup at a sugar shack near Quebec City
The bike paths.
We were pleasantly surprised by the amazing infrastructure for cyclists, mostly in Quebec, which is home to a "Route Verte" network of bike lanes and paths. There were often rest areas along the way, which provided picnic tables for lunch as well as a convenient place to camp.

This 200km "linear park" is a well-maintained bike path north of Montréal
The food.
Restaurants were once again beyond our budget, but the grocery stores overflow with possibilities. Fresh fruit and veg was abundant at roadside stalls and farmers market (it's also conveniently harvest time for tasty peaches, apples, corn, berries, etc). And pretty much everywhere we could pick up the necessary ingredients for whatever meal we could imagine.
Fruit stall at Atwater Market in Montréal
Maybe a bit obvious, but we biked through some amazing wilderness. We purposely chose a very indirect route from Ottawa to Quebec City, preferring to cycle through less-populated areas. We got to see lots of forests in their beautiful fall colours. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) we didn't see any bears. But we saw plenty of migrating birds, deer and assorted small mammals.

In Mont-Orford National Park

Sunday, September 30, 2012


For the past few weeks we've been following well-marked bike routes, often on separate paved paths. The terrain has been mostly flat, following rivers and canals. We've watched freighters and cruise ships slowly sail past us on the wide river. Every town has a dominating Catholic church and a cafe serving local beer. The weather has been a bit wetter and chillier than we'd like, but overall pretty pleasant for cycling.

Holland? Québec?
Bike lane in Köln? Or in Montréal?

Eurovelo 6? Route Verte 2?
This description of our time in Quebec could just as easily have been of our first month riding through Germany. The 'Route Verte' system of bike routes is impressive and as easy to follow as any we found in Europe. Cycling along the St-Laurence river into Quebec City seems a very fitting end to our bike adventure.

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Day on the Road: Camping

For the past five months, we have spent almost every day outdoors, and most nights too. Wherever we set up out tent, it feels like home.

Often, there have been so many campsites that we don't have to plan much in advance. In the early afternoon, we just check the map or GPS and pick a suitable distance.
Penned in between RVs
Many of these sites are little more than RV parking lots, so we would sometimes go out of our way if we knew that a particular campground would be of the small, family-run variety. These sites are more fun as we usually hang out with the owners and other campers.
Great little family-run campsite in Montenegro
If the only options are 9000-site bohemoths with no character, or if there's no other option at all, or if we just feel like it, we also "wild" camp. This means finding a spot for our tent, anywhere that's not officially a campsite.
Our first wild camp, along the Danube
In a vineyard overlooking the Adriatic Sea
We've slept in fields and orchards, on beaches and riversides, beside rest areas and monasteries, and recently at campsites that are already closed for the winter.

In an olive grove / Behind a fish-processing plant
On the beach of a Greek island
Typically, we keep an eye out for small paths that leave the road, so that we're hidden from view, but sometimes we've also asked for permission first. After some initial worries that someone will find us and make us move on, we've found that wild camping is actually more pleasant than most paid campsites. We have the views and experience all to ourselves.
Wild camping beside a small village, with other cyclists
Wild camping spots in Canada even have toilets and picnic tables (at a rest area)
With less than a week to go before we reach our final destination of Quebec City, there are only a few nights of camping left and we'll soon be packing away our little home for the year.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Fall is here...

After a seemingly endless summer of blue skies and hot days, autumn is finally upon us. The leaves are turning many shades of yellow, orange and red. Flocks of birds fly south overhead. And the lakes and villages are calm as most tourists and cottagers have returned home.

Of course there are the less-romantic elements of fall too... We have biked through cold rain, found some campsites are closed for the season and woken up to frost on the tent.

But, all in all, we're looking forward to cycling through beautiful crimson forests for the next few weeks.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A new side of Ontario

We have spent much of the past three weeks seeing friends and family around Ontario. While we have been visiting familiar towns and cities, it has been surprisingly different to travel between them by bicycle.

For four years, we studied in Kingston and our frequent travels to/from Toronto were usually a three-hour slog along the 401 expressway. This time, by bicycle, the trip took us three days, but our route took us through some beautiful landscapes. Prince Edward County (south of Belleville) is especially nice, and perfect for cycling - flat with strong tailwinds.

Similarly, we discovered some great Rail Trails (former train routes, now converted into gravel bike paths) from Kingston to Ottawa.

We are now going to head further off the beaten track, taking a very circuitous route from Ottawa to Montreal.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Great expectations...

Part of a cross-continental bike trip is crossing into new regions and countries. Each new country can mean a new language, currency and customs. In addition, a new country comes with a set of expectations, both from our own impressions, but also from what we read and from what neighbouring countries and the locals have to say. In many cases our preconceived expectations about a country overprepared us and we often found that traffic, road conditions, people etc. were nowhere near what we thought they would be.

Entering Slovenia...

Germany had quaint little villages, a world away from continous industrial areas that we had expected there to be. Albania had way better roads and better drivers than we'd read about. And Turkey was nowhere near as expensive as we were warned it would be. 

Entering Turkey...

Even now that we're cycling in Canada, we've had some of our preconceptions dispelled... We were expecting busy roads with fast drivers and we didn't think that we'd interact with as many people as in southeast Europe. Happily both of these fears were dispelled on our first day of cycling. In the first five kilometres, we were invited by a passing driver to stop for a drink and we were later invited to camp on the lawn of some local cyclists that we met at a roadside vegetable stand. And sticking to small country roads, we've had a pretty calm ride!

Stopping for beers after only 5km on the road...