Announcing New Travel Project: Gibraltar – North Cape

In my opinion, the destination or just seeing some sights is not what makes traveling so interesting. It really is all about the experience(s) that you gain on the road. In the end, it will be those experiences that make up your memories.

The journey, not the arrival, matters.

– T.S. Eliot

That’s what traveling is by definition, after all.

As convenient as planes may be, I’m still not a fan. I totally agree that it’s easy to hop on a plane and fly off to some place if you don’t have a lot of time. I do that too, but it’s not my preferred way of traveling at all. Flying is like time traveling. You get into a machine and a couple of hours later you arrive in a strange place and in a different time zone. Hence, culture shocks and jet lags.

Those two things never happen when you travel at your own pace. That is why I love ‘slow travel’ so much.

And traveling slowly is exactly what I want to do next year in spring: I’m going to cycle from Gibraltar, Europe’s southernmost point, to the North Cape, Europe’s northernmost point.

The entire journey is going to be overland and will take about three months, as you can see in this image.

Three months on a bicycle: Gibraltar - North Cape

I want to start cycling on April 1. Therefore, I will leave home in Belgium sometime during the last week of March, traveling to Gibraltar by train (Interrail). From there on I will try to use only my bike for transportation and travel as cheaply as I can, sleeping in a tent or hostels and cooking my own food whenever possible.
However, as Belgium conveniently lies in the middle of my way north, I will take advantage of this by having my bike checked up, eat some proper food and get a good night’s sleep.

The way from the Rock to the Cape that I want to take is roughly 7,500km. I want to average at least 100km per day, which will make it a 75 day (or two and a half month) long bicycle ride. My aim is to be back home before summer starts on June 21.

I don’t want to rush anything though, I’m not trying to set a record here. So if I happen to like a place, I will definitely stay there a little longer. And there’s no way I’m not going to spend some time exploring great cities like Barcelona, Milan, Copenhagen and Stockholm, just to name a few.

I’m fully aware of the fact that it won’t be a ride in the park. At all. But that’s probably the main reason I want to do it… I like a challenge once in a while!

The road runs through fifteen countries and I honestly think it’s the most beautiful cycling route in the world. It will take me through all kinds of stunning landscapes: the British Rock of Gibraltar; the Spanish Sierra Nevada and Costa del Sol; the Pyrénées; the Côte d’Azur in France; the Swiss Alps; the Belgian Ardennes; the Dutch lowlands; the North Sea coast in Germany and Denmark; the vast Swedish and Finnish forests and the Norwegian fjords.

We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have, if only we seek them with our eyes open.

– Jawaharial Nehru

Besides riding my bike to and back from school in high school and college, and when I go out, I don’t have any biking experience whatsoever. I’m in need of some serious training, to say the least.

It’s November 1 today, exactly five months before I plan to actually start my ride. So I thought it would be a good motivational something to start training tonight.

I will definitely tell you how that went.

UPDATE: New cycling route.

16 thoughts on “Announcing New Travel Project: Gibraltar – North Cape

  • Wow, it sounds like quite a challenge. For me it would be a combination of trying to travel light and having everything I need.

    I wish you the best of luck. I hope the roads and weather are kind.

    • Thanks a lot! It will a big challenge indeed. I’m both scared and excited about it, but it’s exactly what I need and want to do right now.

      Traveling as light as possible is going to be the only way to do it. And the only things you really need are food, water and shelter, aren’t they? 🙂

  • No way Reus dit is zo awesome!! Ik wist dat het op uwe lijst stond maar het is geweldig da ge het effectief gaat doen in het voorjaar. Super! Al is Couchsurfing geprobeerd? Volgens mij leuk te combineren met u fietstrip! ZALIG!

    • Haha, ik weet het. Ik kijk er echt geweldig hard naar uit, ook al zal het bij momenten zeker zwaar zijn. Couchsurfing is ook zeker een optie, ja. Merci voor de tip eh, ‘k had er zelf eerlijk gezegd nog niet aan gedacht!

  • Tiny Girl with Big Bag

    November 2, 2012 at 21:17 Reply

    Wow! This is brave! And I agree with what you said about time travel 🙂 Good luck with the trip and I am sure that it’s gonna be a great experience.

  • That sounds like an awesome adventure… One of those experiences you’ll be able to share over and over again afterwards! Good luck with the planning and look forward to seeing the pics! Ps- how are you going to carry everything? Will it all fit in a backpack?

    • Hi Diana!

      Thank you. I’m already having so much fun and I’m only planning and doing some basic training for now. It just is really exciting to think about.

      To carry everything I have front and rear racks on my bike. Carrying everything in a backpack while biking is impossible :-). Bike racks are a great solution!

  • Hi Bram,

    I am planning to do the same thing early next year! I’ll be flying to Gibraltar and taking roughly the reverse route that you will be using for your car until I get to Belgium and the same route from there to the North Cape. Although I now live in Wales, I was born in Leuven and have cousins near Nivelles, who I will visit on the way. I am currently building a bike out of spare parts. Although I do a lot of mountain walking, I haven’t ridden a bike in years! I intend to leave in late February to get to the North Cape, hopefully in early May.

    Veel geluk!! Tot ziens Jim

    • Thanks for commenting Jim.

      I studied in Leuven for a year! The Stella Artois brewery is there, so it’s pretty much the mother of all student cities ;-).

      I’ve got some hiking experience as well, but my biking skills probably are way below average. I’m training a lot right now though, so that should be alright! Hopefully…
      Looks like we’re going to miss eachother by a month. We should keep in touch, so you can give me tips!

      Good luck with building your own bike (that’s impressive)!

      • Yes, of course, we should keep in touch. Have you had any luck getting good maps?
        I would like to use the Eurovelo routes as much as I can but am having problems sourcing maps – have any thoughts? Your English is brilliant. I can still manage well in French, but sadly my Flemish is very rusty. I went to school in Oostende until I was 10 years old but then my family moved back to England and all that was a very long time ago.

        • No, I’m actually having a bit of trouble finding proper maps as well. The Eurovelo routes look great but it is hard to find their maps indeed. I think I’m just going to buy maps in every specific country and rely on those. I’ve also considered using a GPS, but I definitely prefer old school maps.

          Thanks for the compliment on my English! Traveling across Australia for nine months and having an American girlfriend definitely help 🙂

  • have a safe and sound trip! for sure, you will gather a lot of unforgettable experiences during these trips…good luck!
    i wish i can go biking that far but i can’t…so what i did was simply booked a cruise trip in scandinavia..

    let me know if you happen to pass-by near regensburg, germany..i can offer you a cup of coffee!

    • Hey Ruby,

      I think Regensburg would be quite a long detour, haha. But you never know! Thanks for the offer though.

      And yeah, a cruise in Norway sounds totally amazing. I’m not actually biking along the fjords, so taking a cruise back home is my first option :-).

  • Wow,

    I’ve just bookmarked your blog, living in england i’ve always toyed with the idea of lands end to john o groats (the two extremes of the uk). But somewhere felt that it’s a well trodden/cycled path.

    Riding from Gibraltar to Sweden sound like the ultimate european ride, i’m goingto follow your progress and hopefully it will inspire me to follow in your tire marks.

    Go safely

    Duncan

    • Thanks for following Duncan! Land’s End to John O’Groats is a well trodden path indeed. But for a reason, it’s a great ride and it’s on my list as well. I’m skipping Britain this time, but I might go there for a little cycle adventure in the future! 🙂

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