350 mile bikepacking to Spain

A biking packing trip through Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Andorra and Spain with daily stages averaging 14-15 km. Magnus Lagher lives as he teaches. If you want to try your own bike packing, the Kajsa Warg-inspired council will use what you already have.  

You were on a long trip in Europe this summer. Can you tell us about your route?

For several years I have had the idea of getting back on a little longer trip. The family has long traveled to Torrevieja on the Spanish sun coast. During the late winter, the decision was made that this year it should happen. As you know, in recent years I have made countless shorter trips, year round. My idea was to translate those experiences into a larger context and see if it was possible, with fairly minimal packaging, to take me through Europe. 

Magnus Lagher in Andorra

I started by looking at the route early this spring and used Google Maps and an app called Naviki. The Naviki app allows me to choose slightly different route options such as; shortest, leisure and tourist cycling and more. Based on that, I then checked the route on Google Maps 'street view' mode to avoid the most unpleasant surprises. I was quite clear that there would be changes along the way, but I wanted a "base" to start from. I also laid the route outside most of the big cities when it was rural and nature I wanted to experience.

But this is how it became: Norrköping-Jönköping-Varberg. Ferry to Grenå in Denmark. Aarhus-Kolding-Flensburg (Germany) -About Elbe on the northern outskirts of Glückstadt-Bremen-Rheine-Venlo (Netherlands) -Maaseik (Belgium) -Huy. There I got the council to cycle along RAVeL, which is a bicycle road network in Belgium, to Dinant in France, along the river Le Meuse. Those days offered absolutely beautiful cycling that fits everyone, almost car-free and because you ride mainly on the river, very nice profile. Then through Masíf central to Toulouse-over the Pyrenees to Andorra and into Spain. Teruel-Valencia Torrevieja. The original 320 miles grew and landed at 350 miles. I did this in 26 days, including 2 "rest days". It averages 14-15 miles a day. I spent two nights at bed'n'breakfast. 2 nights at hosts i Warmshowers which is a network of long distance cyclists and two nights with friends. Otherwise, I slept in a tent, "wild-camped" along the route.

When you are cycling as a "cycling tourist", do you see any differences to cycling in Sweden? 

It's hard not to compare. Sure we have come a long way in Sweden, but overall it is the opinion that it is so much better signposted for the bicycle tourist, especially in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and France. In many places, but not all, the tolerance towards cyclists from other road users is also much greater.

You're a bit of a bikepacking icon. What is so nice about this way of cycling? 

Now you are kind. Don't know if I can call myself that, but if I can inspire someone to dare to try, I'm happy. The absolute greatest advantage, I mean, is the speed. Understand me right! Enough slow enough to really experience the surroundings, the views, the scents. But at the same time fast enough to get some way.

bikepacking

Suppose you have never tested bikepacking before, but want to test at a "reasonable" level. How would you plan a tour?  

I believe in making the entrance as small as possible. You do not need a lot of expensive special equipment, bags or bicycles. If you want to try, use your regular bike. Choose a destination or area you are familiar with that is not too far away. Maybe there is a windbreaker nearby. Although I like that sometimes actually Cook outdoors it goes great with a sandwich package or if you wish to freeze dried. Do you miss sleeping bags and sleeping mats? Maybe someone in your area can lend? Surely there is also someone who wants to join you?

If you want to know more about biking in general and my Spain trip in particular, have a look velonavia.se. Or come on Swedish Bicycle Fair in March where I will be there.

Daniel Bergstrand
daniel@swedenbybike.com
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