See the world by bike!
We have all heard of "glamping" by now but in case you haven't, it means experiencing nature in a more luxurious and sophisticated way. But can this apply to cycling? Well if you like hotels, great coffee and of course riding a bike, then yes it can!
Does "glam-cycling" exist? Well, with a gravel bike, creativity and light clothing, this summer's best tour could be just around the corner!
We had a chat with Alfons and Cristina who told us all about bike touring, sleeping under the stars and once in a while, staying in some luxury hotels.
Tell us a little about who you are and how your passion for cycling
began. And where are you located?
The first memories I have of my childhood are riding on a small tricycle. When I was five years old my grandfather gave me my first bicycle and since then I have not stopped riding all kinds of bikes... road, mountain, gravel, fixie... It is my main passion and in fact I can not imagine my vacation without it. I have traveled several times some sections of the "Camino de Santiago" with saddlebags (French, Portuguese, Ebro, Catalan, Aragonese...), as well as many countries such as France, Switzerland, Iceland, Slovenia, etc, where it is easy to find a place to sleep and eat, but I have also traveled deserts and glaciers by myself, sleeping on incredible places under millions of stars, where for days I did not see anyone. It is a huge spiritual exercise, I highly recommend it.
Like Alfons, my childhood memories are always with a bicycle. I had them of all kinds and colors, some bought and most inherited... hahaha! I think that having an older brother and all my neighbors being boys helped with the fact that when I was six or seven years old I started out on trails bikes, and that I loved climbing big rocks and jumping with it. Later on, the bike became my conveyance as I live in a coastal town where journeys are relatively short. My other passion is photography and traveling, so everything ended up coming together so naturally. Croatia, Slovenia, Morocco... And so came the gravel bike and the freedom of bikepacking traveling.
We met by chance three years ago on top of a mountain as we also practice other sports such as trekking. We exchanged a look, smiles, conversation and we went down the mountain together, we went to eat and while we ate we were already making plans to travel together around the world in a sustainable way, and what better than the bike for it.
As for where we live, we are from the sea and the mountains. We move between the Costa Brava and the interior of Barcelona, very close to the Pyrenees.
Bicycle touring, what is that? We see you well on Instagram and we love your enthusiasm!
Bike touring is a discipline that combines physical activity and tourism, it consists of traveling slowly and calmly with your bicycle and some saddlebags and visiting the places you find on your way. It can be the Vasa museum in Stockholm or the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia. This is done for pleasure and not for competition, and believe us, it is super addictive!
There are many ways to travel. Weekends, months or whole years! The most famous bike tourist is the German Heinz Stücke, he was pedaling for 52 years around the world and traveled 650,000 kilometers. Can you believe it? It is absolutely wonderful!
We have adapted another way of traveling by bicycle, “bikepacking.” This modality was born in the United States, in randonneur races such as the Trans Am Bike Race and trying to cover the maximum distance in the shortest possible time, so the saddlebags became much lighter where minimalism and low weight is the most important. It is much more stable, light and aerodynamic to travel like this, although you can only carry the essentials.
We try to convey that happiness when we travel on our social networks and share the places we visit. We also explain everything on our website.
Covid has challenged many of us in the way we find inspiration. We cross our fingers that this spring will have fewer restrictions. And if we can travel again, where should we go? And if we can't travel, what do you advise us to do to find inspiration in our own city?
Fortunately, it seems that little by little we are going to recover normality, even if it is not the same as we knew it. The pandemic has perhaps made us more aware of the "urgency" of living the moment in the same way, which has highlighted the speed that surrounds us all.
We are faithful followers of the "Slow Life" movement and the restrictions of the last two years have allowed us to discover places very close to home that we had never visited by bike and admire them, learn about their history and find beauty and give value to what we do daily. In recent times we have toured the province of Girona in bikepacking style and from different points.
On our website you can find the routes of the Vía Verde de Girona that runs from the Pyrenees to the Mediterranean Sea. 135 kilometers that can be done in a day or two spending the night in the beautiful city of Girona. One of the capitals
of the cycling world and a very bike-friendly city.
We also did the Pirinexus, a classic, and the Girona Bikepacking Tour that led us, together with the previous one, to rediscover our surroundings a few kilometers from home and observe them with the eyes of a tourist. Perhaps that is what we would advise. Look at everything around you with the eyes of a tourist and you will understand why everyone wants to go to your house.
On how to dress well. What 5 tips should a cyclist should keep in mind if (s)he is going on a longer gravel adventure?
We always wear two culottes and three maillots on long routes, they have to be comfortable and light. And also cool when we stop for a coffee!
Another essential piece is a windbreaker or a vest, depending on the time of year, since the first hours of the day are cold. Rain gear, both pants and jacket, should never be forgotten since an unforeseen change in the weather can ruin a trip. In addition, if there is also a drop in temperature or strong wind, rain gear can make you warm.
Also on long trips, we take two pairs of gloves, some thicker and others thinner since the temperature varies throughout the day.
And last but not least, some good sunglasses. When you are going to ride for many hours, both the sun and the wind or light rain can be very annoying and it is important to protect your eyes.
What cycling adventure are you most excited about for 2022?
We are very excited and eager for this 2022. We are carrying out a bikepacking project that consists of traveling the best greenways in Spain. These roads are old abandoned railway tracks that now the administrations and governments are recovering, they are also converting the abandoned train stations into hotels or hostels for cyclists. We want to give visibility to this project so many other people could visit it, taking advantage of the good weather we have here. Imagine, hundreds of kilometers without seeing a single car! Heaven on earth!
Although we believe that right now the adventure that makes us most excited is to go by train to Lausanne (Switzerland) and return home alongside the Rhona River and cross all France, a total of about 950 kilometers, although we also want to visit the Alpe Adria Radweg cycle path. We have not decided yet!
Whatever we do, the important thing is that we can travel, and that this nightmare of the pandemic finally ends as soon as possible.
(When this interview was done the conflict in Ukraine had not happen).
Kind regards from,
Alfons & Cristina