Happy new year everybody! Like most this Christmas break I ate too much, enjoyed many good times with friends and family and went for the odd cold bike ride here and there. The Christmas weather was a big factor to-not-get-out on the bike very much, with the wind and wet as a big put off! So my mind turned to planning a tour for the coming year. I love cycle touring, it is without a doubt the best way to see a country. As cheesy as it sounds you can really connect with a place better, seeing everything that the country has to offer, by passing through the small towns, eating and buying stuff from real people in small village shops and restaurants. This is the best way to get a grip on other countries culture and lifestyles.
Over the past couple years I have been fortunate to go on some amazing tours, the biggest was riding to Barcelona in 2010, an amazing 1000 mile ride through some of the most beautiful parts of France and over some historic climbs in the Pyrenees. It was pretty spectacular and was the first serious tour I have been on and since then I have been hooked. I have been on small tours around France and Spain since but nothing as big or as long as Barcelona.
Last summer I was in Karlsruhe, Germany for a polo tournament and was introduced to Recep Yesil a German part time polo player and developer for Specialized bikes. He had ridden to Karlsruhe overnight from his home town 150 miles away, an interesting journey to make I thought. I found out later he was in training for a transcontinental race from London to Istanbul, a route I had heard is amazing and a couple of friends have ridden over the years. The Transcontinental race is something of legend now, its been running for years and sees some of the most hardcore riders meet in London and race across Europe to Istanbul, the quickest complete the race in less than 8 days, but for the average (superhuman) rider it normally takes around 12-13 days.
This year Specialized and the Awol team (the Awol is Specialized new all rounder touring/expedition bike) have produced a inspiring video of there journey across Europe competing in the Transcontinental, the two riders
completed the ride in just over two weeks. With as many ups and downs as the mountains they had to climb, the ride looked to be one of the hardest and most testing things to put your body through! From constant climbs and epic flat-lands it looked like an amazing ride. To see what they got up to and get a glimpse of there amazing journey check out the documentary series on ertzuifilm Vimeo. An amazing documentary series that is truly inspiring. London to Istanbul is one of those rides I have always been tempted by and this documentary makes it even more so. 2000 miles of beautiful country side and some of the most epic mountain climbs really is tempting now more than ever and something to get the imagination going on these cold wet winter months.
Start planning your summer tour now, go Awol!