Life by bicycle

FAQ

Is cycling a good way to travel?

Yes. Here are the advantages:

  • You don’t have to carry your backpack on your back like you do on other trips.
  • You save the expense of gasoline and spare your nerves from car traffic.
  • You can physically and mentally relax better on a bike than in a car.
  • The pace of travel is perfect: You get to see a lot of the landscape, you can meet people on the way and still get where you’re going. And if you get lost, correcting the route is quicker than on foot.

How far can you travel by bicycle per day?

We travel some 50 km if we are in the mountains or off-road. On blacktop we make about 100 km, depending on the amount of luggage and wind.

What was the physical experience on a long-distance bicycle trip?

We set off without training, so the first few days were accompanied by sore muscles 🙂 However, we are used to cycling and are pretty fit, so we weren't completely drained.  The movement has done us good. Deep sand paths with steep inclines were exhausting.  If you have to push your bike uphill, it sometimes makes sense to carry the luggage up the hill without the bike, or to carry the luggage on your back so that the bike doesn't sink so deep.  Sunscreen and hats protected us from the sun. When it was hot, we just took a longer lunch break.  After all, we were on vacation!

Does a bicycle vacation together makes you happier?

Yes. Depending on the route, we can ride side by side at a comfortable cruising speed and chat, sing or just enjoy the ride. Getting space from each other once in a while is not a problem either. We get to know people together and we experience enriching experiences together - even the less pleasant ones.  We constantly discuss the route and then constantly change our minds.  We motivate, help and inspire each other. In everyday life at home, with the steady stream of everyday problems, the relationship can get stressed and suffer before you know it. On a cycling holiday, on the other hand, everyday life takes a back seat, and the happy moments are in the limelight.

How long did you plan for this trip from Moscow to the North Cape?

We had the idea 6 months before the trip and then it took us a month to agree on the direction and the starting point.  About 5 months before we booked flights.  We could only apply for the visa for Russia a month in advance.

How much did the bicycle tour of 60 days cost?

3500 euros in total for two.  We had to buy a bike beforehand (used) = 450 euros.  Flights to Moscow = 360 euros, flights home from the North Cape = 500 euros, 160 euros to buy equipment, including sleeping bags, 2 extra packing bags, hats, stove, gas.  We spent about 300 euros in restaurants and about 600 euros for accommodation.  So there is a possibility to spend less. 🙂 Then about 1000 euros for the supermarket and other things.  That was in 2018.

Is bicycle touring for everybody?

Yes. The good thing about traveling by bike is that it can be customized. Not particularly fit? Just ride shorter stages. No idea about technology? Choose a route near civilization.  Your knees don't want to work so hard? Just ride in a flat area or get an e-bike.  Allergic to rain? Pick a dry season. Don’t have much money? With a tent and stove, you can get really far even on a micro-budget.

What about saddle pain?

You absolutely have to prevent this! With two well-fitting cycling pants and the right saddle you shouldn't have any problems. You should definitely test your saddle beforehand. The smaller the seating area, the less it can chafe. But the seat angle also plays a role. If you get sore spots, find the cause and correct it immediately. Because once you get sore, the fun is over for a long time.

Do I have to know anything about bike repairs if I go on a bike tour?

A bit. You should be able to carry out simple repairs: patching tubes, readjusting the brakes and adjusting the gears are the most important. You need an air pump, repair kit and (depending on the bike) the right keys.

Where can I find the best routes?

Open Street Map is free, works offline and has a bike map mode.  There are many other apps, free and paid, that you can use to plan your route. Make sure you can download the maps to use them without internet. https://en.eurovelo.com/.

How do I charge my cell phone?

There are various options. A cheap solution is a lightweight, collapsible solar panel. We have had good experiences with this. Charging using a dynamo hub is another possibility.

Do I need an expensive bike for such a trip?

No. For long tours with luggage, you need a robust bike above all. Our conventional touring bikes have never let us down. We were able to buy them used for cheap. But mountain bikes with the right equipment are also possible.

Which of the countries you crossed is best for bikepacking?

Every country has advantages and disadvantages: Russia scores with endless expanses and great freedom (once you are in and away from the border).  In addition, people are curious and open.  Scandinavia is by no means overcrowded either and has excellent roads. But there, you are rarely approached by locals.

Did you train before the cycling trip?

It’s best to do so.  If you go all out unprepared, you'll quickly get a swollen knee. Of course we cycle regularly anyway, but before the trip we did several uphill rides with luggage so that we wouldn’t be overwhelmed on the first few days of vacation.

What about the language barrier on a trip through Europe with all its languages?

Even people with the same mother tongue regularly succumb to misunderstandings and communication difficulties.  It takes more than just the same language to understand each other.  Just try to communicate.  Find the most important words in the dictionary: #1 Thank you;  #2 Water.

Where can I buy the book 'From Moscow to the North Cape'?

The e-book (and soon the hardcover) is available at Amazon.com. You can order the paperback at BOD.de. The book has 168 pages and contains 37 color photos.

What is the differences between the book editions?

In German is 'From Moscow to the North Cape by bicycle' available as an e-book (€7.99), paperback with normal color printing (€12.99), and as a hardcover with photo printing (€21.99). The English version is available as an e-book (€7.99) and as paperback in normal color (€12.99). The hardcover will also be available soon on amazon.com.