A close friend of mine left Australia some years ago to do something that to me was unheard of and totally awesome. He was going to explore Europe on a bicycle and sleep in a tent. I thought it was an insanely adventurous idea. Three years later and countless stories from a surprising number of other bicycle tourists, and I’ve had a little internal voice persisting at me to do the same. Biking tour, here we go.
Sure, I haven’t had much experience with camping, and until last week, I’d never put up a tent entirely on my own. I also haven’t ever cycled exceptionally long distances. But I have cycled a lot around Sydney and I know that when I’m on a bicycle, I feel entirely, dizzyingly, free. I have wings. Often when I’m riding somewhere really fast I’ll be smiling so much I actually just start laughing for the pure joy of it. I’ve even been known to let out a few loud ‘wooohoooooo’s, throwing a fist in the air when coasting down mountains. Even when I get caught in the rain and drenched, when my toes are white numb and my fingers won’t release the handlebars, I love it. So long as I’m moving fast on two wheels I’m happy.
I figure those scary nights camping alone in the wild in countries that I don’t know will just be another exhilarating “holy $%*#… how on earth will I ever survive this” experience that leaves me a more confident and happier person. That little voice of mine hasn’t let me into irreparable damage yet, so I’m going to trust it. And fear aside, as Nike dictates, sometimes you’ve got to “just do it”!
So here’s the deal. I’m in Podgorica, Montenegro, hanging out with the great folk at MeanderBug.com while I prepare for the big adventure. Podgorica doesn’t fit it’s unflattering reputation. I’ve found plenty to see and do in the city. I’ve also found everything I need for my epic biking tour, all for well under 500 euros.
(Note: I’m not planning to do any cooking and I am not a bicycle fanatic so those factors helped keep the cost down.)
Bike Touring Gear
This is my list of equipment for biking tour budget, along with the approximate price of each item (in euros).
Local Bike Shop
143 – Polar Trinity mountain bike (Serbian made, seems to work fine to me, don’t know much about it)
105 – front LED light, back safety light, back rack, upgraded saddle, bell, bottle holder, seat bag, gloves, helmet, pump, repair patches, tyre lever, spare inner tubes
Fishing Gear Store
28 – tent
Local Sporting Store
(In Montenegro, Sports Vision is a gold mine.)
41 – North Face sleeping bag (at that price, I had to get it! I’ll treasure it forever)
Local Hardware Store
2.30 – torch
4.10 – pocket knife (swiss army knives were in the 20-30 euro range, I just looked around the knife section and found a much cheaper knife with all the same attachments – win!)
5 – bicycle lock
1.90 – 4 x occy straps (aka bungee cords)
3.30 – duct tape (yellow!)
1 – firestarters
2 – spare batteries
Local Plastic Shop
(In Montenegro, they have separate stores for all things plastic. Sneaky.)
0.80 – soap box, for when I have something to say to the world
Water bottles, wet wipes, garbage bags
Sleeping/yoga mat – to pick up from InterSport on the way out of the city.
Approximate total cost = 370 euros, or AUD 570. It’s not bad considering how cheap the rest of this bicycle adventure is going to be – camping or couchsurfing, and eating simple food.
Bike Touring Route
My approximate route will take me first through the cultural hub Centinje, where I’ll explore and camp nearby. Then heading northwest down a mountain road with spectacular scenery towards Risan, where I have a contact ready to take me in and show me around. After a day or so there, I’ll jump on the Euro Velo #8 towards Croatia along the coast. I expect to take at least a month, if not more. Perhaps I’ll love it so much I’ll just continue cycling all summer!
So, wish me luck and stay tuned for the first “Epic Biking Tour” update!