Name: Ben Cannell
Year of birth: 1989
Bike: 2017 Kona Sutra Ltd
Riding period: 12th April to 5th June 2023
Most favourite part:
It was a real privilege to ride the whole route Andy curated and experience the dramatic change in landscapes, food and climate, but unchanging humanity throughout western Europe.
I rode the route south to north since I started in early spring and it seemed like the prevailing winds might push me up the continent. I still managed a Swedish snow day on the 1st of June though :).
I’d love to re-ride the Spanish section again with a little (lot!) more language proficiency and a group of friends to really enjoy all the amazing small villages and towns the route regularly goes through. The riding in the southern section is, in my opinion, THE BEST of the route. Really engaging, so many dirt roads and massively varying terrain. Sometimes it felt like riding through Tolkien’s Shire and other times I was on the moon.
The Jura and Les Vosges also felt very special to ride through, being the first extensive forest when travelling south to north: beautiful dirt roads, full of life!
I appreciated the different experience of having Sean join me for the long straight dirt roads and never ending forests and lakes of the northern section. Repeating stories to each other and drinking few and far between strong beers was a great antidote to the lack of corners 🙂
Massive thanks to Guimon bike shop in Igualada for creating me a new wheel out of spare parts with great determination! And Ballern Cycleworks in Hamburg for being a hero and re-brazing my cracked rear rack lugs!
Also, social media was so good for keeping in touch with some of the few other people riding solo on the trail. Hopefully actually ride with some of you in the future Guillaume, Anna, Anders, Kai etc xxx
The trail always provides…you might just have to be willing to cycle further than intended!
Self-supported riding doesn’t have to mean you’re alone.
Never ignore a fellow cycle tourer, you might be the only person they see all day.
Breaking your bike, in Spain, on a Saturday afternoon, before a public holiday, really brings the best out of a zip tie.