Bike to the blocks is a year long solo cycle journey around the European continent to discover its cities and countrysides.

About twenty major towns will be connected, strictly human powered (well, if everything goes as planned, of course). The journey will be documented through videos, photos and posts on social media and on the blog. I’ll spend a few days in each town to discover its evolution, history and everyday life : I do not aim to know everything about every town; that requires spending months if not years in each of them. This journey will provide me a glimpse of their uniqueness, aquired by visitng suburbs as well as city centers, public and private architecture, houses and museums.

 

Why cycling to cities when you can spend your time breathing fresh air in the mountains ?

Cities are known to have a great population density. In cities, people’s lives are separated by 15 cm thick walls, there are buildings from 3 to 30 storeys high, histories spreading over centuries, ravages, epidemics, reconstructions. Cities symbolize liberty, alienation, violence, solidarity.
There are no such places as cities, where money, politics, ideas, goods, people circulate all the time. They are so complicated that it’s almost impossible to understand how they work.
But this density is also at the source of many initiatives, personal or collective projects, attempts to make cities better, whether it goes through planting vegetables, squatting empty buildings to  provide shelter for those who need it, getting around by bike, planting flowers on one’s balcony, feeding the local cats; small and big actions who aim to make city life a bit more pleasing.
I find cities intersting, and they quesion me a lot : why do people live in such narrow places ? Why are they acclaimed or disparaged ? How do they change ? I don’t think that I will find answers to all my questions by cycling a whole year around cities but still, it will give me several answer leads.

A year on a bike : won’t your bottom/back/legs hurt ?

Cycling is a great environment-firendly, silent and handy way to move. It allows one to travel at a slow pace while still covering reasonable distances, carring around everything one needs to sleep, eat, wear in remote areas. In addition to that, being on a bike means having a direct contact with the elements, people, landscape.
Cycling aroung Europe alone is a challenging but exciting project. There will be hard times, loneliness, very steep mountains to climb, muddy tracks and hot roads to cycle on. There will be situations where it’ll be hard squaring up to everything. In those moments, I’ll just push harder on the pedals because there’s no such thing as the feeling you get when you’ve managed to make it.

So, cities and cycling. How will you square both ?

I could have spent a year discovering european cities by train, bus or plane. But cycling there takes the journey to another scale : I won’t just be shunted off to the town centre, I will enter the town and be ablo to experience the changes between the countryside and the city, the suburbs and the town centre, the streets and the flat. That’s what I want to do, and that’s what I find interesting : discovering Europe from my bike.

How’s the project getting on ? Where can it be followed ? When is the start planned ?

I’ve been thinking about this journey and trying to improve it since november 2017 : I don’t want it to become a whole year of leisure holidays. The months previous the start will be dedicated to the preparation, both of the equipment and the route. Each town I’m aiming to discover will be previously documented and prepared.
You can follow me on  Instagram and on Facebook where I’ll write about the preparation and the journey.
I will start cycling early Spetember. I’ll start from Nantes (France) and cycle south to spend the winter pedaling from Spain to Turkey.

If you have any questions, if you live one of the towns I’m planning to visit (or if you think I shoud really visit another town I haven’t thought of), feel free to leave a comment or send me a message through the contact form !

All the best,

Gaëlle

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