Bicycle touring is always an adventure with surprises unusual experiences and surprises along the journey.
A group of us were bicycle touring in Tuscany a few years ago and faced an unusual experience. We needed to cycle from Castellina in Chianti to Greve, a distance of about 20 miles. We were booked for a one week stay in an apartment at a boutique winery, however the only road was blocked by the police for a major event.
Turns out the major event was the Miglia 1000, an annual race featuring antique cars from Rome to Milan and thousands of people were lining up to see this section of the race. A surprise, when we arrived at the police barriers we were waved through and were the only traffic on the extremely hilly road. The cars would race by in groups of about 20 cars and then it would be quiet for about 10 to 15 minutes before the next group came.
During this gap the large crowds had nothing to do so they begin to cheer and encourage my cycling colleagues and myself. Although hilly we all attacked the hills with more energy, despite the loaded touring bikes.
In another unusual experience six of us were bicycle touring along the Romantic Road Bike Route in Germany and stopped for lunch in a tiny park in a small town. A woman in an apartment adjoining the park saw us and came out with freshly baked apple strudel and bottled water. Although she did not speak a word of English we thanked her for the unexpected treat.
On another trip we cycled into a small town on July 1st and came to a barrier which the local police waved us through. We soon found our group of about 15 cyclists part of a Canada Day parade down the main street of this town with hundreds of people cheering us on. The police had assumed we were part of the parade but we had no idea this even was happening. Best part was all the food that was available so we had a great lunch (and longer stop) along the shores of Georgian Bay than originally planned.
Actually running into local festivals happens a lot from wine and beer festivals, harvest festivals and all sorts of events. Now when I am planning a bicycle tour I always check for these in advance and try to include them in the itinerary.
As with any cycling journey you want comfortable bike clothing, so click on the link to check it out.
Always check out special events
When planning on bicycle touring always check with the tourist office of your destination to see if any special events are planned during your visit. Include events such as the Montreal Jazz Festival, Munich Oktoberfest, a wine festival or local fair to add additional fun to your bicycle touring experiences.
Then there are the unplanned events. While bicycle touring along the Bodensee to Konigssee Bike Route in Germany one September we could hear music in the distance. Unexpectedly our bike route took us to a small town with a beer festival in full swing, so of course we stopped. You can see the picture above. On other tours we have also come across colorful beer and wine festivals which all add to the experience as it is just not about the cycling.
When you come across a local festival, parade or event revise your itinerary, be flexible and include the activity, it may be one of the highlights of your bicycle touring which you will talk about for years.
Many cycling groups stop at bakeries, ice cream shops, pubs (an English specialty) as well. These are not special events but more theme events but do add to the overall bicycle touring experience.
Several years ago our group of 18 cyclists arrived at a small town where we has planned a lunch stop. Instead we found barriers across the road as there was a small parade just starting. But the local organizers just waved our group through and we ended up joining the end of the parade to the cheers of the many spectators.
On another occasion something similar happened when police in Tuscany waved us through the barriers on the only road to our reserved accommodation on a working winery. To our surprise the annual vintage car race was the reason for the closure and hundreds of people cheered us during gaps in the line of cars, very memorable.
And when riding do not forget to wear the proper cycling clothing for a more enjoyable experience.
Special events usually offer free entertainment, great local food and the chance to easily meet people. Isn’t that why you are bicycle touring!
While bicycle touring I find that new and surprising adventures seen to pop up every day which makes the journey so enjoyable. Some of these events even turn out to be quite unusual experiences.