In the Summer of 2006, my travel partner Daniel and I spent 40 days cycling through Ireland and France. Neither of us had any significant experience traveling by bike and we undertook this journey on used mountain bikes we bought in Ireland (not nescesarily recommended but doable!). Anytime “real” cyclists would see us and our bikes they would exclaim, “you can’t tour on those!”. But, that is exactly what we did and without too much fanfare made it with only minor hiccups. We did experienced crazy weather, broken-down bikes, and terrifying roads, but we also experienced beautiful scenery, the kindness of strangers and life in the countryside of Europe in places where many travelers never go. In total we traversed 1000 miles down and across the the west and south coast of Ireland, through NW France and finally through the French Alps.
We traveled slowly favoring seeing an area over gaining ground and had little agenda or plan as we went. The experience of self propelled travel was incredibly rewarding and I would recommend it to most anyone.
Some of the trips highlights were: The WHOLE West Coast of Ireland, seeing standing stones in NW France, watching the World Cup during mid-afternoon breaks at local pubs, ending up on the Tour de France route in the Alps, amazing food, “luxury” campgrounds (with pools, kitchens and bars) and seeing things just slow enough to enjoy them but just fast enough to stay interested.
At the end of our tour we were forced to sell our bikes in a hour window of time in Lyon when we discovered we would not be permitted to take them on the train to Germany. Letting go of that bike was one of the hardest things I have ever done, although I’m sure my tears were as much about the end of the journey as they were about saying goodbye to my trusty steed.
All of the following photos are scanned from film prints and the quality is pretty poor, but they still tell a story of an incredible journey that I will never forget. Hope you enjoy!
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