We intend to cross Europe from North to South by bicycle, i.e.
from the North Cape to Gibraltar in 6 months, from June to November
2001. We will explore 10 countries in the course of these 8,000
km - countries which are very close to us geographically and yet
very diverse in terms of cultural, human and natural environment.
We also wish to support two great charity actions: Free wheel showing
solidarity, in Belgium, and Aprobenir, in Nicaragua.
We will live by bike for 6 months, like European nomads, along
pleasant cycling itineraries, avoiding large and busy roads as much
as possible. We want to take this opportunity to promote cycling
as an ideal means of active holidays in Europe. Cycling is:
- healthy: there is no need to be very fit at the pace at which
we will be
riding our bikes and what counts more is being in good physical
- economic: basic equipment is less costly than for other types
(at least for shorter periods than our 6 months...); furthermore,
- ecological: silent, non polluting, at gentle speeds, cycling
- human: cycling also allows much warmer and more direct contacts
people you meet along the road.
We are a young married couple (October 14th, 2000!), strongly
motivated by this project which is full of potential enrichment:
as well as the sport, the contacts, nature, the Internet site, it
is above all a very promising project for both of us, for the team
we are building together. Besides that, it also presents an opportunity
for us to take a constructive 6 months' sabbatical after quite a
few years of work.
30 years old, has been working in the preservation and restoration
of paintings for seven years. She works freelance in her own workshop,
where she brings new youth to paintings on canvas and wood, dating
from the 15th to the 20th century. Relying on the loyalty of her
customers, both private and professional, she will start work up
again in December 2001. Gaëtane is an enthusiastic young woman,
and is charming and dynamic. She is fond of sports and regularly
plays tennis, enjoys swimming, skiing and... riding a bike, of course.
35 years old, has been working for 10 years in a company which is
one of the main producers, distributors and traders of ethanol.
After being head of the logistics department, he is now Financial
Director and believes that this 6 months' sabbatical will be a definite
plus in terms of career orientation. Benoit is an enthusiastic organiser,
a keen traveller, and a passionate and experienced birdwatcher too.
He likes jogging, swimming, mountaineering and... cycling of course.
His bicycle has already carried him all around Europe (Ireland,
Scotland, Wales, The Netherlands, Castilla in Spain...).
In November 1999, we cycled around Andalucia for
one week, through the hills and the vales. We have fantastic memories
of this time, and we are eager to repeat the experience, (25 times
longer), even though you can never recreate it completely. We cycle
regularly with a group of friends for a day or a week-end at a time.
We have named our small group "Bicycle Race", in memory
of the famous song by Queen, rather than in reference to any type
of race. On a daily basis also, we do our shopping by bike in the
neighbourhood, we go to the movies in downtown Brussels by bike,
Passing mainly along the West coast of Europe, we will often cycle
through coastal and moor landscapes which offer excellent opportunities
for nature observation. During the first month of our journey, we
will live 24 hours a day with the sun, or at least in daylight.
Midnight sun is supposed to be an unforgettable experience. Birdwatching
observations may be particularly interesting, since we will be in
the Far North during the breeding period of some birds like waders
(small water birds like stints, sandpipers, and others), who will
later follow us in their migration trip, to spend fall and winter
in Belgium or further South. Another great moment will be watching
the cranes arriving from migration in Extremadura (Spain).
For optimum flexibility, we will carry tent and sleeping bags.
They will be particularly useful in the Far North, where towns or
villages offering accommodation can be at great distances from each
other. From time to time, we will also sleep in youth hostels, guests
houses and B&Bs, if possible during the week-end.
We would also be extremely grateful to anyone (not only friends
and relatives...) who would welcome us for one night along our route,
or close by. It will be a real joy for us to meet as many people
as possible during those 6 months, and we are counting very much
on the hospitality offered to non-motorised travellers.
We wish to encourage other young European people to try the same
experience in the coming years. We will test the formula in 2001,
then why not send a different couple of cyclists out along the small
roads of Europe for 6 months every year, along different routes
or through different countries, with the same aims of exploration,
making contact with people and promoting the bicycle as a means
of transport. We would have to set out the aims of these yearly
expeditions precisely, provide adequate support to the participants,
and yet allow them significant autonomy. Of course, this will require
close partnership with a large or influential organisation, and
a European network of support.