The Road Less Taken: Documenting Bike-packing Across Europe

When I first moved to London cycling was purely a means to get from A to B.

I had a rusty old thing named Jackie (all good bikes should be named) which just about changed gears and had belonged to my mum when I was a young child. Fast forward a year and you’ll find me using that same rusty bike to cycle from London to Brighton, and all along the coast of Dorset. Even then, a keen yet sub-amateur cyclist, I did not expect that in a years’ time I would be cycling 2,500km through Europe, passing through nine countries over a period of two and a half months.

I will not deny it but for the most part, this article is an excuse to show off my “gap yar” style photos, complete with some mild cultural appropriation of Albanian folk traditions. But alongside this primary function, I’d like to share some top tips for those considering embarching upon a cycling trip themlselves; especially if you’re someone, who like me, doesn’t list fitness, endurance, or bike handling among your main attributes!

  1. Don’t Think About the Elevation, Think About the Photo Opportunities

There are many types of bike riders, but generally cyclists can be divided into two groups: those who love cycling up hills and those that hate them. I am the latter. The first few days of the tour included cycling over the Alps, and wow it was tough. The one amazing thing was as soon as we reached the top the climbing seemed worth it. Cliché? Cringe-worthy? Maybe, but there is something exciting about being up in the clouds, and also the fact that from that point on all other hills were a breeze.

  1. Golden Hour is Just Golden

We started our tour in mid May so as the weeks went on our rides kept getting hotter and hotter. As a survival mechanism, but also an excuse to lounge on beaches all day long, we took to cycling really early in the morning and later on in the evening. This meant cycling through golden hour. I think these photos speak for themselves.

  1. It’s Not World Renowned, But it Should Be

Probably my most favourite part of it all was discovering the unknown beauties of all places. I didn’t research all too much before the trip, other than a few key cities I wanted to visit, so when we consulted the map in the morning, it made it even more exciting to find local hidden gems such as natural springs, waterfalls, and hidden beaches.

  1. If You Are Tired Just Stop and Admire the View

Not feeling the ride? Does your whole body ache? The best remedy is to simply stop and admire your view.

  1. You Do Not Need Pro Photography Equipment!

As we were on a tight 10kg baggage allowance there wasn’t much space for anything other than our camping equipment, a days supply of food, and a toothbrush. In other words, taking my hefty Canon 60D was not really a viable option – although I did try to pack it in many, many creative ways. For the whole trip I relied on my trusty iphone 5S and I personally think the results are rather damn good.

  1. Take Lots of Pictures of Your Furry Friends Along the Way

Your friends and family will be constantly demanding photos. We found that the ones that went down best contained cute fuzzy animals. And on that note I leave you with a few of my favourites:

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