Go West – East Europeans on cycle tours around Europe
Cyclists in East Europe start to get the taste of long tours in Europe. The quite few going for a ride to the other extremity of the continent are fast becoming local heroes in their community. So is the case with Sebastian, Laurenţiu and Andrei, three young men from Romania that set up a blog to document their long journey from France to the Black Sea.
Sebastian, Laurenţiu and Andrei started their cycle tour all the way from Arcachon in France to Vama Veche in Romania more than two weeks ago. They were inspired for their effort by the EuroVelo routes, but they wanted something more adventurous and decided not to stubbornly follow the EuroVelo 6 and take some steep challenges in the mountains as well. Just before getting on their bikes, we caught the two of them for a short interview about their preparations, dreams and fears as well as their travel website PutinPlecati.ro (translated ‘Gone for a bit’).
How did you decided for the route? Where did you get inspired from?
Laurenţiu: The idea for the route came after studying the EuroVelo website. We spend a lot of hours on the platform. I was simply fascinated. The idea of such a journey caught me immediately. The most interesting seemed to go from the Atlantic to the Black Sea because it is a route that includes Romania as well and ends nicely at home.
Before EuroVelo there was another source of inspiration: the BBC documentary “The man who cycled the world” which tells the story of the British adventurer Mark Beaumont doing the world tour on a bicycle.
But we also wanted to include in the equation the Alps and at that moment the initial EuroVelo route suffered constant adjustments.
Sebastian: The last version of the route goes in the first stage in France from West to East. From Arcachon we pass by Toulouse to Montpelier and Marseille. We will leave the coast afterwards and hit the Alps which we want to cross over by the Col de la Bonette. We will continue to Italy, with Torino, Milano, Verona and the coast again. The third stage will be on the coast as well, from Venice to Trieste, rounding the Croatian peninsula, and getting to Zagreb, Belgrade and then Romania. The final stage crosses Romania through the mountains down to the Black Sea.
How did you prepare physically for this challenge?
Laurenţiu: We did it systematically. We went to the National Institute for Sports Medicine where we did complete tests: blood analysis, psychology, test effort on a stationary bicycle. We knew afterwards what we have to improve each of us. We started then the training for two months (March and April), 3-4 times a week at the gym, on stationary bikes. When the summer came, we went for two and three day rides of 100-150 km each. The physical training was accompanied by careful alimentation and a vitamin and hepatoprotective cure to help the liver function better during the effort.
How do you expect this journey to change you?
Laurenţiu: I don’t want to expect anything. I am sure at the same time that some things will change. If we succeed in this journey I think we will become richer, smarter and stronger. I think you become aware of other limits, higher than those you knew you had and new horizons are opening as well. Not only in cycling, but more generally, in everything you do afterwards. The confidence such a ride gives you is a very strong psychological resort.
Sebastian: I have no doubt I will be the same afterwards. Only more determined to start planning the next journey. But I would love to have a surprise.
Why did you decide to document this journey with a blog?
Laurenţiu: Because we have sponsors that we have to make visible. Because it has the chance to become an exemplary project for how to plan such a trip. And it will inspire then the others who want to do something similar, with or without a bicycle. Last but not least because we have friends and families who want to know where I am, I have a small child who I hope to have access when he grows up not only to my stories, but to something written down as well.
Sebastian: It was very important the need to create a valve connected to an artificial memory, one that cannot alter the souvenirs. I need to realize that I can direct all the stress, all the abandonment and all the negative energy to the legs and the pedals. That I can direct all the emotions, joys, retrievals and accomplishments related to this project to a folder.
This article was originally written for Eurovelo.com.