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Bike Touring on NorthCape4000 Routes

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Uta Schulz

Cycle touring on a cycle race route? That doesn't sound very relaxed. But don't let the competitive character fool you! NorthCape4000 participants have to cycle from south to north through Europe, carry all they need without support and finnish within 22 days. That's an average of 180 km per day. Chances are that cycling those routes with luggage on your touring bike at your own pace will make them suitable for cycling holidays. Here you will find everything about NorthCape4000 routes, maps and GPX files for your tour planning.

In the interactive map you will find all the routes (in red) and similar Eurovelo routes (in blue). In the side panel you can show and hide the routes.

Ultra-distance bike race from south to north across Europe

The NorthCape4000 owes its name to the 4000 km that separate Lake Garda from the North Cape, sometimes 4,500 km depending on the route. The race takes place once a year in summer since 2017 . The route varies from year to year. Excellent! Because this way you discover new possibilities to cross Europe by bike in a north-south direction every year.

Cyclist on the road to the North Cape

The ultracycle race abbreviates to NC4k. It's unsupported, so it's a real adventure. The participants have to get their food themselves and take everything they need with them. Support vehicles, film crews, photographers and support stations are not permitted. Even with breakdowns there is no help. Do-it-yourself repairs are the order of the day. Only who takes part in the race is allowed to help.

Participants must ride through the checkpoints and arrive within 22 days. In 2022 these checkpoints were Rovereto, Munich, Berlin, Stockholm and Rovaniemi. And of course the North Cape. First out of 320 cyclists at the North Cape in 2022 was Daniel Gottschalk (DE), first woman was Katharina Pier (DE). Here is the list of finishers 2022 on Facebook.

What I find particularly interesting about the 2022 route is that it passes very close to Potsdam near Berlin, my hometown. On our tour from Cape to Cape in 2023 we want to drop by there to visit the family. The NorthCape4000 route 2022 can therefore be useful as an alternative to EuroVelo 7,, the Sun Route, which runs directly through Potsdam.

NorthCape4000 2021 - Eastern Route 4450 km

Having 4,450 km NorthCape4000 2021 is longer than the 2022 route. It follows an interesting course through Eastern Europe. From Lake Garda the route first heads east to Lake Balaton in Hungary, across the Carpathians in Slovakia, to Krakow in Poland, Riga in Latvia and via Rovaniemi in Finland to the North Cape.

NorthCape4000-2021-route

EuroVelo 11, the Eastern Europe route, runs in roughly the same area, but only in Finland do the two routes coincide for a short stretch.

In 2021, 111 of the 192 who started made it through the finish line. One of the finishers is Sara Hallbauer. You can read Sara's entertaining review of NorthCape4000 2021 here. It also shows that difficult traffic situations on the route cannot always be avoided.

NorthCape4000 2019 - Western route 4550 km

In contrast to 2021, the route of the 3rd NorthCape4000 Edition 2019 runs through western Europe and even makes a detour to Lofoten! This sums up to 4550 km, not exactly the shortest way from Italy to the North Cape. Hence the nickname "The Magnificent".

NorthCape4000-2019-route

This route combines parts of EuroVelo 3, the Pilgrims' Route, with a short stretch of EuroVelo 1, the Atlantic Coast Cycle Route. The European Divide Trail, a gravel route through Europe, also runs in parts in the same area. However, the routes don't fully coincide, so you can still discover something new on the NorthCape4000 route from 2019.

Of 141 participants, only 65 reached the North Cape within 22 days. The starting point was Turin. From there, the route heads straight into the Alps to Aoste and across the pass Col du Grand St. Bernard, 34 km and 1886 meters of altitude. On average, that's a 5.5% incline. Then downhill to Lake Geneva. The route continues to Strasbourg, Bastogne, Oslo, Sweden and via the Lofoten to the North Cape. Sophie Gateau shares her experiences here. Fortunately, as touring cyclists, we can take our time!

Download the routes and compare them. On the website NorthCape4000-2019 you find the videos for each day to get a good idea of what the respective area is like.

NorthCape4000 2018 Dolomites Route 3450 km

The 2018 NorthCape4000 route differs from the 2021 route only in the part from Italy to Poland. Instead of going to Lake Balaton, it takes you along the Via Claudia Augusta through the beautiful Dolomites over the Resia Pass to Austria - the easiest Alpine crossing for touring cyclists. In Imst, the route turns east towards Prague. In our article on cycle routes in the Dolomites you'll find more information about crossing this area for cycle touring. A nice variant of the race!

NorthCape4000 route 2018

The routes converge east of Warsaw and are identical until the North Cape. With one exception: In 2018, the race did not go directly through Riga. Prague, Warsaw, Tallinn and Rovaniemi were the gates in this 3450km ultracycle race.

When NorthCape4000 was launched in 2017, the bike race started in Florence. The route was not yet fix for all participants. At that time it went via Innsbruck to Nuremberg, Stockholm and again Rovaniemi to the North Cape. However, we could not find a track of the tour.

With a touring bike and luggage on NorthCape4000 routes?

Are those ultracycle bikepacking race routes an option for cycle touring? Our verdict: Definitely! The routes of the past races give us ideas and offer alternatives to EuroVelo routes. We don't even have to pay entry fees 😉.

You have the choice between a more demanding or an easier crossing of the Alps, or head to lake Balaton instead of the Alps and then to the Carpathian Mountains. Three of the routes pass through Finland and are therefore shorter and not as tough as 2019's route through Sweden and Norway.

The NorthCape4000 routes avoid major roads wherever possible and even large cities are only on the map as checkpoints. You get several asphalt routes, tested by more than 100 cyclists, very suitable for a bike touring vacation.

4000 km / 22 days = 181 km per day. Well, bicycle tourers with luggage might not be able to do that. But 44 days of 90 km each are conceivable. From south to north, this route is basically snow-free from May to September and suitable for cycling holidays.


You see, even racetracks can become long-distance cycle routes for touring bikes with luggage through Europe. Try them....

Get on your bike, share the most beautiful, the safest, the shortest, the longest or the most practical bike routes with others. Talk about cycle touring. Give away a bike or a bike day! Just don't give up until everyone's riding bikes. Because cycling makes you happy.

The maps in this article were created with MapHub using the National Geographic, Esri, DeLorme, HERE, UNEP-WCMC, USGS, NASA, ESA, METI, NRCAN, GEBCO, NOAA, iPC map.


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