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Did It! 2.400km by bicycle 🚲

Updated: Nov 10, 2023

Hey people,

I did it! Cycled 2.200km from Germany to and around Ireland. In the following read about the journey, challenges I faced and why cycling combined with traveling is a cool travel style.

Left to Right: Start Day: As I left my home, cycling on the Baera peninsula, sunny day on the Loophead, only two days left to reach my final destination: Killarney.


Overview


From 3.100 km in total - I cycled 2.400 km with my old KTM bicycle. ( from the 90s which I bought for 150 EUR on eBay a few years ago :-D )

I took twice a ferry from France to Belgium & Wales to Ireland.


During those almost 50 days I only used four times trains to skip routes/parts or heavy rainy days. 65 % of the time I slept in my tent, the rest at friend's homes, hostels, hotels, or with local people from the Warmshower community.



Trail magic


"Miriam it's awesome what you are doing with this old bicycle. It will be a victory arriving in Ireland!" Tim from Belgium says.
"Did you train? Do you usually cycle a lot? How do you manage being alone?" He asks.
"No actually, I'm not trained like you. I normally just cycle 10/20 min. a Day" I'm laughing "Actually I love being on my own, I don't have to be afraid. There are always people I want to talk to. Being on my own enables me to be more aware of everything around me and I'm getting in touch with locals - like now talking to you. That's what motivates me! I don't know who I meet next" I respond.
"This is incredible, thanks for sharing your story! Im excited for you! I hope you manage to arrive to Ireland!"

Tim was one of the first people I met, on my cycle. He was on his way to work, and as usual, he cycles three times a week to work ( 40k one way). He is a teacher. He started talking to me. We talked and cycled for an hour along the Albertkanal in Belgium. His words were often during this trip in my head.



In Wales, I cried, because I was so happy and proud of myself, about what I achieved. It's an incredible feeling, if you set yourself a big goal, and you achieve it. It made me stronger, and more capable and showed me that it is worth going the extra mile for your dreams.



The route


Keen which places I passed? Look up the whole route with all the spots here.

Route: Heilbach, Eifel Germany - End: Kilarney, Ireland


I started on the 3rd of July in Heilbach, Eifel my parent's home, and ended on the 18th of August in Killarney Ireland.


In total, I've been 47 days on the road - which means I cycled 50k on average per Day. Some days I didn't cycle to rest my legs. Depending on the elevation, my physical capability the weather, and a lot of other things to consider I cycled between 50- 95km per day.

I crossed the borders of Belgium, the Netherlands, France, England, Wales and Ireland.


The Trip:


First Part: Cycling in Belgium/the Netherlands & France:


Each day, I tackled challenges. In this first part I cycled on the Eifel- Ardennen Radweg, Vennbahn, Flandern route & E4 which were mostly flat and not demanding. Often I didn't use my navigation, as cycle paths were amazingly signed.

The toughest challenge of the first 6-9 days was the physical challenge. Cycling every day for 50k + was exhausting. My body felt weak, so I woke up early ( sometimes 5 AM:-D) to have plenty of time and to spend time in the places I passed. I loved each km. I crossed three borders in six days, that alone felt amazing.

In Antwerp and Gent, I stayed at the home of friends from Lise. Lise is a friend I met in Morocco. She wasn't in Antwerp at that time, but she mobilized all her friends, to give me the real Belgium experience.

After four days of cycling, I took a rest day in Antwerp/Gent. Listening to my body was the right decision. The body needed time to adjust.



Second Part: Cycling in England

In England, I felt already much stronger and fitter. But there were new challenges. I wasn't able to cycle at the same speed. Pathways were often unpaved, beautiful, and hilly but also more challenging.


Therefore cycling felt more adventurous and I used my navigation quite a lot. I cycled on the National Cycle Route 2, South Downs Path, E1.


As I didn't have friends in England I used the Warmshowers community to stay at local homes and to lower my expenses. Which I didn't regret! I had amazing hosts: Nick in Folkestone, Melanie in Brighton, and Gemma in East Grimstead.


Once I ended up in Buriton. (BURRITO :-D as I call it) a small, small village somewhere in the middle of the South Downs Path in Hampshire. I met amazing people in a Pub. Andrea and Paul spontaneously invited me to their home "We are happy to host the adventurer for a Day":-D.

That day I was exhausted, and urgently needed a place to do my laundry - meeting them felt like having some trail angels. We sat together in the pub and exchanged adventure stories. Andrea cycled the South Downs Path with friends before. Laughing about opening and closing those bridleway gates (1 Mio. times a day:-D). It was just great, to laugh with them about all the pain. But no pain no gain :-D that's part of the fun.

Some side challenges in England :-D mechanical ups and downs ( probably more downs than ups). I had three flat tires in three days in Avebury, Bath & Bristol and got a new chain in Brighton. As a girl who only had one flat tire in my whole life, I wasn't good at repair. But now I'm better, but still - England is not the Sahara. People and solutions were always there and I had the feeling, that getting help - is sometimes also okay.



My toughest cycle was on the South Downs Path in East Sussex/West Sussex, England. I cycled in stormy weather. Combined with those British bridleways with many hills in between. I found myself in this national park for three days. I was pushing my bike more than cycling. On the first day, I was almost, turning backward to Brighton to book accommodation: I called a friend and decided to go further and cut the day short. I was so proud that I didn't quit and my body was much stronger afterwards. "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger"





Third Part: Cycling in Wales

Probably the shortest chapter, but it is an own one. Cycling on the Welsh coastline was fun. Mostly :-D.

The morning I cycled over the Severn Bridge, I left England and cycled into Wales. That day I woke up at 5 AM in Bristol. Motivated to cycle into Wales - a new country.

This motivation, flew away - realizing that leaving Bristol meant cycling uphill quite a lot:-D. Afterward, I had a flat tire at 8 AM followed by a path that was under construction. But somehow In the evening I solved all the issues and had a shower and nice pasta with Adam my Warmshowers host in Cardiff. Chatting with Adam about cycle touring and having some laughs - was the best way to end this day.


The Day after, I met Heidi and her mother: you can see them in the gallery. I was in the city center of Cardiff. It was a rainy day, but I still wanted to stroll a bit around Cardiff before heading to Swansea. They were walking on the street as I asked them for a coffe place recommendation. Happily they had a really good recommendation and funnily they were about to go there. In the Coffee place they invited me to sit with them, which followed was a nice conversation. Heidi as the name suggests has german roots. It was such a nice, unplanned & interesting conversation.


In Wales, I followed the E1 route. Cycling on the coast of the Pembroke National Park was beautiful. Many small towns and beach breaks followed by nice cycle paths. Before leaving by ferry to Ireland, I got emotional. I cycled all that way, it wasn't longer the feeling hopefully I would make it to Ireland. Now I knew "Tomorrow I will be in Ireland!" That felt crazy.


Fourth Part: Cycling Ireland

Somehow the most interesting cycle part. But the best thing should come at the end, isn't it? :-D

Already in England, everyone told me "You will love Ireland!" so my excitement to arrive in Ireland was quite high.


In England I was afraid, I would be too exhausted in Ireland that I wouldn't like to cycle anymore. But happily, It wasn't like that.

My ferry to Ireland was already booked at the beginning of the trip, as I wanted to meet up with Colm, whom I met in El Salvador in March. He took some days off and cycled with me for 10 days from Waterford to Kerry.

It was cool, having this plan, gave me some pressure to make it in time to Ireland. It was positive pressure. :-D


In Ireland, I mostly cycled on the E1 the Atlantic Coast Route. Ireland felt rougher, remote, and wild. Pathways were well paved, but often cyclists needed to share the path with cars. That was sometimes a bit tricky.

July was a pretty wet month, but the scenery was stunning. I didn't wear my rainproof trousers before, but in Ireland, I wear them quite a lot. Cycling in "light" rain, was a challenge I faced in Ireland. Happily, now I don't have a problem with it anymore. Rain doesn't kill you. In summer time it's still warm and if you are a bit flexible with drying things - there are always solutions for those situations.


In Ireland, accommodation prices are quite high - that's why I used Park4Night to find some wild camping spots in places where I couldn't find campsites or hostels to stay.


Video Impressions of Ireland:

My overnight spot in County Galway


Irish Pub Night in Westport, County Mayo


Beautiful coastline and sunny weather on the Loophead, County Claire


On the way to Alchill Island, on the Greenway in County Mayo

Not Irish dancing, but some dancing in Ballybunion, County Claire :-D


Fundraising project


With this challenge I support CA Cares in collecting donations to give children in San Jose Calderas a perspective with better education. If you want to donate: https://gofund.me/a27998c1 (With my past travel presentations I already donated 250EUR, Farah the owner - I know from my travels trough Guatemala )


About the Fundraising Project:

Farah, owner of CA Travels explains our fundraising cooperation. More Infos here


Fitness


One of the coolest side affects of this travel is that I feel fitter than ever at the moment. One year ago I was diagnosed with a cruciate ligament torn. My doctor recommended not to do hiking/ running sport. Backpacking the world was also not the recommendation. But I still did it and listened to my body. I didn't do all hikes in Guatemala as my knee did not felt capable.


As the doc told me cycle/swim sport would be good I just thought its a pro for this whole trip.

Cycle sport could also help strengthen the muscles again. Now after this cycle, I definitely can say, my muscles became stronger (only downside: my trousers don't fit any more as my body shape changed due to those 2.000k :D ) and I don't have any difficulties with my knee. So this has been probably the best therapy. As my bicycle is currently still in a shed in Ireland ( Yeah another story to tell :D) I went running 8-10km - without any pain!! This is a huge achievement for me!


Final thoughts: Was all this effort worth it?


I can answer this with a big "YES". Enlarging the comfort zone is sometimes hard, but worth it. All those people, situations and memories made - gave me joy, and new perspectives.

Traveling by bicycle is an adventure, environmentally friendly, and inexpensive (I spent 2.000 EUR in total, I spent a lot for food/drinks/ cakes :D per Day a tour operator who offers the same thing costs 10.000 EUR maybe bit more comfortable hotels). It's the perfect combination of exercise, seeing new places, and dealing with the unexpected.

There are still so many routes, worth cycling, I'm sure :) this won't be my last route cycled.


Inspired? Get in touch!

I hope this text, my experiences and stories are inspiring for you. Good people will find good people. Just take a first step and let good things come to you. Don't be afraid about the unknown. That's where the beauty lies.


This story is not about having the newest bicycle or cycling faster towards your goal than others. It's about the small situations, people who help you pushing the bicycle uphill against the storm.

Want to know more? Need help or interested in a live event? Reach out - I'm happy to share my experience.


What comes next?

I will work from November - April in Nauders, Austria in a Hotel as a Supervisor.

I don't have a Plan yet for next year April onwards but doing another cycle trip would be an option. :-)



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