I prefer slow, immersive travel experiences. In the Summer of 2015 I went on my first trip to Europe, and tried out solo cycle touring. It was amazing and I found it very well suited for my tastes. Since then I have been on more cycling adventures in other countries and within India too. Writing details about these trips is time consuming and it typically happens only after the trip is over. Sometimes I get caught up with other stuff then it doesn’t happen at all. So, I have created this post to quickly jot down notes. As and when I write detailed blog posts I will link back here, so this becomes one big repository of my cycling experiences.
Also added articles on cycling gear, other logistical stuff and interviews with cyclists, they have been listed right at the end. All trips are solo unless otherwise stated.
You can navigate using this link list or just keep scrolling. 🙂
- Berlin to Copenhagen
- Vias Verde Subbetica, Andalucia, Spain
- European Cities
- Around Melbourne
- Cycling Gear, Route & Other Tips
- Cyclist Interviews
Cycing In Europe
Berlin to Copenhagen
550 km in 17 days
My first cycle touring adventure. Berlin was a really good city to start off from, would recommend it to everyone! A few blogs have been written, and a lot more to write, but no idea when. 🙂
Via Verde De La Subbetica
This is a 65 km track from Puente Genil to Luque in Andalucia, Spain. An unused railway line has been revamped into a hiking and cycling track. I cycled from Puente Genil to Zuheros (5 kms before Luque) in 2 days. So about 60 kms cycling.
There are additional cycling & hiking tracks that join with this Subbetica route – via verde Guadajoz – Subbetica from Luque to Baena and via verde de la Aceita (the Olive way), from Luque to Jaen.
Berlin, Germany: Amazing city as a base to start even your first cycle touring trip. Easy to find good quality & reasonably priced gear. Probably one of the cheapest rates in all of western Europe. Store staff is generally very experienced and helpful in cycle touring. Fairly good infrastructure. Dedicated bike paths are common. Trains & most busses are bike friendly.
Lisbon, Portugal: I checked out the cycling trail from Lisbon city to Caiscais. It’s a 30 km trail one-way and I cycled 7 km of it from the start. I have also walked a few kilometres much further ahead near Estoril on this trail. It is very nice and scenic route. For a large section there is an unbroken, dedicated cycle path on the beach promenade, but it has many detours / places where you cycle with locals on a very tiny footpath (when the beach is just a sand stretch without a promenade). I felt wanting for an unbroken long stretch closer to Lisbon. But great views, ruins to explore and restaurants all along it – would make for an enjoyable slow ride. This route is part of Euro velo route 1.
Cordoba, Spain: It enjoys UNESCO world heritage site status for its old town that has a lot of heritage structures from the times of the Roman empire, Arab domination of Europe and the later Christian resurgence. Since the streets are narrow, cars don’t frequent here and so cycling is manageable when there isn’t too much of crowd. But the city that you find outside of this old town is very cycle-friendly with a lot of marked cycle paths on the footpaths.
Cycling In Taiwan:
Formosa900: All around Taiwan
670 km around Taiwan
How does cycling all around a country sound? With Taiwan being a small island this is quite doable. Formosa900 is one such event where participants cycle 900 km in 10 days to cycle around the entire island coast line. I was invited by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau to participate in this event in November 2016. Along with an eclectic team from countries across the world, I cycled in this event. It was a memorable experience. And it gave a good boost to my cycling skills. I couldn’t do all 900 km via bike, but I learnt a lot about physical endurance events, cycling longer distances and also about the people I was with.
50 km around Taipei
Train to Keelung, ride to Ruifang where I was staying with an AirBnb host. And then my first mountain ride from Ruifang to Jiaofen via a verrrrrry steep route. And back. Would have liked to cycle more but had some health issues.
Taipei: 130 km (Mostly by the river bike paths)
200 km dedicated bike path by the river on both sides. Most bridges and flyovers are cycle friendly. A lot of staircases have ramp for cyclists. Public transport not yet cycle friendly – they are working on it. Inter-city trains across Taiwan are cycle friendly. Unusual traffic situation due to high number of motorized two-wheeler riders.
Read the detailed Guide on Cycling in Taiwan
Cycling in India:
Chennai – Mahabalipuram – Kanchipuram: 80km cycling + 35km in taxi
Kanchipuram – Cheyyar – Chetpet – Tiruvannamalai: 110km cycling + 25km in rickshaw
Of course, long distance cycle touring in India is a mad experience. It is just a crazy ride where you face all kinds of extremes – ridiculous lack of infrastructure to amazingly easy ways to get things done. For eg: In Mahabalipuram I asked one guy to sit with my bike and watch it while I went and visited the Shore temple. I had my luggage on the bike, so I couldn’t just lock it in the stand and leave. I paid him 50 INR when I returned. So because of this warmth, there is a real charm to cycle touring in India. For women, of course, it gets really tough because of the safety issues, so I would recommend it only to the mad, awesome ones. But if you are a guy – you must definitely do this! It is awesome.
It wasn’t a Himalayan ‘cycling’ trip but I did take my cycle along for a month working in the Himalayas. I went on 4 solo rides totalling to about 50 kms. Two of them were fairly steep, about 1000 ft in 7 km which is how a ‘mountain’ is defined by some standards. So basically my mountain rides 3 and 4 were here in the Himalayas. (Yay!)
It was really beautiful especially because I rode some very offbeat tracks. So with negligible traffic, cycling in the Himalayas was awesome! Would love to cycle more.
Shoghi to Mahaveer Hanuman temple : 15km
Jibhi to Bahu : 15 km
Jibhi to Shringa Rishi Chahini temple : 12 km
… and some other short rides around Jibhi
Chennai: 110 km
Typical Indian unruly road traffic situation but commonly the traffic signal is obeyed. Cycle usage by public is higher than seen in other Indian cities. No infrastructure. Pot holed roads.
Typical Indian unruly road traffic situation but I think a little better than Chennai. Traffic signal is usually obeyed and pedestrian signals are coming up in certain areas. Pot holed roads. No infrastructure. But local trains can be used to transport cycles during non-peak hours.
Typical Indian unruly road traffic situation and traffic signals are not generally obeyed. Pedestrian signals might be unknown in many areas. Look around and keep going, don’t hit anyone as a traffic rule. Many motorized two wheelers, cycles, cycle carts. Has some dedicated bike lanes which are in good condition and very usable. However due to metro construction they will possibly be defunct for few years. Pot holed roads.
Jagannath Puri: Surprisingly I saw cycles on rent here. The old, completely rusted steel cycles commonly used by the poorer people of India. But I was too tempted and so rented a rusted ladies bike for something like 35 INR / day. I don’t remember the exact amount. Fun time cycling. Apart from all the typical Indian problems of pot holes, unruly traffic and no traffic signal, here you also need to watch out for animals and dung bombs on the road. 😀
Kanchipuram: This was probably the worst town I have ridden a cycle. It is a fairly small town but so many vehicles and noise! Apart from all typical Indian city problems for cyclists, people may also laugh at you for wearing a helmet. No one, not even motor bikers wear helmets here.
Cycling In Australia:
300 km in a month and half
Great flora, fauna and wildlife. Unseasonal weather – cold, wind, wet. Lots of friends. Hilly and flat routes both possible around Melbourne 🙂
Melbourne: Quite a huge, sprawling city. Many hilly sections to the delight of cycling pros. Certain areas of the city have dedicated bike paths. Public transport : trains are cycle friendly but not the busses. Hopefully in next couple of years it improves into a truly cycle friendly city. Usually, the route signs tend to be confusing. Moderately difficult to find anyone who can give you cycle touring advise. There is a warm showers community you could tap into. Responsive MET department for weather updates.
Cycle Touring: Gear, Selecting the Route and Other Know How
Buying gear in a new city to start your trip? Here are tips specifically for Berlin, but can be replicated for any other city you visit.
The Right Bike
You could fly your cycle from home to the touring destination. Here is an article relevant more for Indians.
Or You could buy or rent a cycle in the area you are cycling
I want to do more of these, but for now:
That’s all for now. If you want to read about something specific do let me know.
Thanks for reading 🙂