Blog

Hannibal Expedition History Blog

For those of you interested in the classical history behind the Hannibal Expedition please read on….for those of you who are here only for the cycling I suggest choosing another blog post!

In 218 BC Hannibal started his march with one hundred thousand soldiers and nearly forty elephants. As 10 cyclists we have just left Barcelona.  Our aim is to follow Hannibal’s path along the coast of Spain, through France, over the Alps, down to Rome.

In the Second Punic War against Rome, after Carthage’s defeat in the First, Hannibal’s aim was to teach the Romans a lesson and restore Carthage’s pride and power.  After showing his intentions and taking Saguntum an ally of Rome in a bloody 9 month siege, Rome sent ambassadors to Carthage who dramatically demanded Hannibal be delivered as a war criminal. The Roman diplomat clutched a fold in his toga and said: ‘Here we bring you war and peace. Take whichever you please!’ (Livy 21. 18). The Carthaginians opted for war, kicking off what Livy describes as “the most memorable war in history” (Livy 21. 1). The fall of Saguntum is considered the catalyst for the Second Punic War.

The pyrenees looking down into France

Of course the background to the Second Punic War is more complicated and includes Rome’s harsh treatment of Carthage after winning the First. The terms of the peace treaty took Sicily from Carthage, effectively ending its eastern Mediterranean dominance. And what really angered Hannibal’s father, Hamilcar, and also Hannibal, would have been Rome’s arrogant seizure of Sardinia on top of that, which was outside the terms of the treaty, but Carthage was then too weak to do anything about it.

We are now in Avignon, 8 days into our expedition and have just crossed Hannibal’s first major natural obsticle – the Rhone river.  Where exactly he crossed isn’t known, but Polybius says it was four days march north of the mouth of the river. This is difficult to judge due to changes in the coastline over 2000 years, but it was most likely somewhere north of Arles. Some scholars even put it further north than Avignon.

What we do know with more certainty is that his crossing was opposed by the Volcae – an aggressive local Gallic tribe. Hannibal’s strategy was to send his nephew Hanno with a detachment of troops north. He was to cross the river upstream and surprise the Volcae.

Hannibal bought up all the local boats, canoes and anything that would get his huge army and baggage train across the fast flowing river. The Rhone is no longer a wild river – the only peril today seems to be massive transport barges which speed downstream. In Hannibal’s time it would have been a dangerous obstacle and he seemed to be very diligent in his preparations.

Once Hanno had sent a smoke signal to notify his uncle he was in position, Hannibal embarked with his main force. When he landed on the opposite bank Hanno sprung his ambush. The Volcae’s raucous howling turned to panic as they were caught in a classic pincer movement. Luckily we didn’t face the Volcae as we landed on the opposite bank of the Rhone – in fact our route in the busy city of Avignon was very smooth and suprisingly traffic free.

Once Hannibal had set up his beachhead on the east bank of the Rhone he began the extensive operation of getting the rest of his troops across the river. Smaller boats crossed in the lee of larger vessels so they didn’t bear the full brunt of the current. The cavalry swam with their rides but the elephants needed more persuasion.

Polybius says that Hannibal built rafts, covered them with soil and urged a female elephant onto these floating islands and the rest of the herd followed. However, once the rafts were detached from the bank, the elephants panicked and were forced to make their own way across to the other side – Polybius believes the elephants walked across the bottom of the river using their trunks as snorkels!

Livy, our other main ancient source, writes that the elephants swam from the beginning following the lead male, who was driven to a rage by his driver. This brave man then jumped into the river himself, with the elephant herd following the lead male who, in turn, was intent on catching the driver – who would have swum desperately fast to the other side!

Once Hannibal’s army was across the Rhone he sent three hundred of his crack Numidian cavalry to reconoiture the surrounding areas. The Roman Consul Cornelius Scipio, who had just landed in Massilia (modern Marseille) did the same and sent some of his scouts north. Scipio was at the mouth of the Rhone and on his way to Spain to intercept Hannibal. It was a surprise to both cavalry forces when they met in a fierce but brief engagement. This was the first clash between Rome and Carthage in the second Punic War and the Romans had the better of the skirmish, losing less troops and forcing the Numidians to flee back to camp.

Once Hannibal learned of the proximity of the Roman army he had a decision to make: stay and fight or speed on to Italy. With so much to gain from making war in Italy, he chose the latter and headed north away from Scipio and towards the Alps. Scipio, realising his intention but unable to cut him off, headed back to Italy to prepare for war on Roman soil.

Hannibal and his army were closing in on their goal but had their greatest obstacle to come: the Alps. This was an enormous challenge for an army, let alone for cyclists like us !

Unfortunately there aren’t many Hannibal related photos to take in this section but we are not going to ride past any historical site without a visit!

The castle at Peyrepertuse – part Roman, part Cathar, part Aragonese and Part French!

Carcassonne – One of the best castles you will find anywhere in Europe.

Olargues – a beautiful quite french town – the bridge in the foreground (12th C ) was known as the place to go in medieval times if you wanted to make a dea with the Devil!

 

 


Josh Robinson Guest Perspective of Ride and Seek

A guests perspective….

Stage 1, Day 5:

What a journey it’s been so far. Some of us only have a few days to go. Some are going all the way to Rome in Hannibal’s footsteps. All of us are loving every minute, every hill, every vista, every descent, every espresso stop and certainly every carb-packed dinner.

We’re all here because we want more than a bike ride – we want an adventure. We want to push things a bit. We enjoy not knowing what’s round the next corner. We like dropping ourselves into a new scene and seeing what happens. Fortune favours the brave.

The cycling, through some of the most beautiful landscape many of us have seen, is what gets us up in the morning. But it’s the people that get us through each day.  Whether its the perfectly-timed snack stops with Sam and Dylan or the words of encouragement, friendly rivalry and good dose of humour from our fellow riders. It’s the people that keep the legs pumping and the wheels turning.  Up until a few days ago we were strangers. Now, thanks to a great journey, we’ve become friends.

With Ride & Seek you don’t just discover new places. And the learning doesn’t stop with Hannibal and his elephant-powered crusade. You find out something new about yourself and about other people too.

Not bad for a bike ride.


The Long Way Down – Riding to Canberra

With the Hannibal tour fast approaching I felt that I needed to get a couple of good long rides in as final preparation. It was with this idea in mind that I proposed to my regular riding partner, Al, that we cycle from Sydney to Canberra.

I already had tickets for the Australian Open squash champs and so it seemed like a logical idea at the time. Plan was to give ourselves 2 days to get there and arrive in time for me to catch the semi finals on the Saturday. The fact that getting there involved 2 century rides (in miles) and we are in the middle of winter was somehow overlooked or at least underplayed.

All started well as Al and I met at Central station at 5.45am to catch a train out to Sutherland in order to avoid the Sydney traffic. We were on the bikes by 6.30am and the ride began in style as we rode through the Royal National Park.

Al riding with the peloton outside the Bundanoon cafe and a brief visit to the Nan Tien temple just south of Woolongong

For the first part of the day I lost all feelings in my fingers – notwithstanding I’d spend a fortune on warm weather gear in the lead up to the ride – but fortunately the weather improved. Indeed, such was the improvement we actually got a bit of a tan on the first day.

The biggest challenge on the first day was undoubtedly Macquarie Pass which was a 750m ascent on a series of switchbacks. When Al stood on the pedals and shot off at the start I thought I was in for a lonely ride but he soon came back to my steady pace and we climbed together. On this day I think I found it a little easier than Al and not even the copious amounts of Gu gel helped him. Never has the pie shop at the top of the climb met such a ravenous man as Al was when we arrived!

The other tough element of the climb was that the weather changed with some bitingly cold rain coming down and the wind picked up. At this point the legs were getting a bit weary but our B & B beckoned and we had a couple of big steaks that evening to prepare for the next day.

Al refueling at the Robertson pie shop and the awesome views across Morton National Park.

Unfortunately though nothing could fully prepare us for the next day as we woke up to a 50km southerly wind – basically a head wind all the way to Canberra. Things weren’t helped either by the fact that 30km’s in my knees started to hurt too and hence whilst I’d towed Al up the Pass he had to return the favour on day 2.

We tried to stay on our original route but our GPS’s started having a couple of issues and we were both going a bit stir crazy with the wind so after 90km we decided to ride the highway to Canberra. At this point the pleasure had gone and it had become grind but with no transport links to speak of, riding was the only option. After a 7am start we finally got to Canberra for nightfall!

The stunning Fitzroy Falls and the reason for the ride in the first place – The Australian Open- which Ramy Ashour won on the Sunday.

Clearly I missed the semi finals of the squash by a good 4 hours but it was still great to arrive. We ended up doing 370km in total and boy did our legs know about it. That evening we went out with some friends for feed and the communal order only really worked for 2 people – us!- and a couple of well earned ales.

I’m delighted to have got the riding under my belt and it really reinforced the importance of getting some solid riding in before the start of a tour. Hopefully those knee pains were just a way of my body adjusting and won’t pop up again somewhere in the Alps.


2013 Ride and Seek Tours

Ride and Seek 2013 Tours

Following the successful conclusion of Hannibal 2012 we’re delighted to have received plenty of interest for our tours in 2013. Presently we have a number of custom tours in the pipeline but in terms of open dates for our other tours the dates below are what we have in mind. Please get in contact if you have any questions

2013 dates

May 26th- June 1st Provence Classic

June 1st -8th Umbria Villa Based

June 8th -15th Umbria Villa Based

June 16th – 24th Tuscany Classic

June 16th -24th Hannibal Stage 2: Avignon to Gavi

Sept 4th -11th Piedmont Classic 

Sept 4th – 11th Tuscany Classic 

Sept 7th – Oct 2nd Hannibal Epic: Barcelona to Rome

Sept 7th to 15th Hannibal Stage 1: Barcelona to Avignon

Sept 15th – 23rd Hannibal Stage 2: Avignon to Gavi

Sept 16th -24th  Velosophy custom Hannibal Stage 2: Avignon to Gavi

Sept 23rd -Oct 2 Hannibal Stage 3: Gavi to Rome

Oct 5th -12th Umbria Villa Based

Oct 5th – 13th Umbria Classic

Custom Tours

Please note that all of our tours can also be run as ‘custom’ tours. If you are able to guarantee a minimum number of participants on a tour you can have both the benefit of participating in an ‘exclusive’ tour as well as choosing the dates you’d like to travel – subject to availability. The minimum number varies from tour to tour but is as low as 8 participants on a couple of the tours. This is the perfect solution for group travel where you can choose to add or take away elements of the tour to make it just how you’d like it. So if you’ve got a family getaway to plan, a special occasion to celebrate or just a group of mates looking for a place to ride please get in touch.

Which is the tour for me?

Our ‘Espresso’ grading system is designed to give you a guide to what tour is best suited to your riding ability. Click here for details of what how our grading system works. For a detailed assessment of how each tour is assessed though you need to go to the specific tour page.

Centre based and Villa based tours? In essence both of these tour concepts provide scope to explore a region in depth without having to change accommodation every other day. Both are designed to create more of a ‘holiday’ experience by providing a base which you can settle in to and with cycling to suit all levels. I’ve tried to provide a clearer outline below –

Umbria Villa Based

Just as the name suggests this tour is based out of a villa in the Umbrian countryside. Umbria is the perfect destination for this kind of tour as the sights are so ‘compact’ which provides scope for varied rides from the villa every day.  Each day we are able to offer both a regular and a long ride to cater for all levels of abilities. With the exception of one meal in a nearby town all meals are catered in the villa by our excellent local cooks. This tour is perfect for a custom group tour or for couples with different cycling aspirations. The photos below show our 5 bedroom villa near Todi. We also have some larger villa options to suit bigger groups.

 

Click here for an overview of the region of Umbria

Provence Centre Based 

Conceptually this tour is similar to the Umbria one in so far as we have reduced the number of hotel changes. In this case though you stay in hotels and rather than just the one base we have chosen two. The advantage of this is you get chance to explore more of the region and we are able to be more flexible in terms of how many guests we can accommodate. In terms of meals we eat in a variety of different restaurants during the week and just as with the Umbria tour the riding is geared to suit all levels. If you want to stay by the pool you can, just as if you want you climb Mont Ventoux, that too can be accommodated. Below is a photo of our hotel in St Remy de Provence as well as an painting from one of the towns most famous residents.

Click here for an overview of the region of Provence

For more details on these or any of our tours please sign up for our newsletter and ‘like’ our Facebook page –  http://www.facebook.com/RideandSeek


The Languedoc over Provence

Hannibal’s progress through the Languedoc is based to a large extent on conjecture as there are few physical remnants relating to his passing. Even Sam, the Hannibalic expert, was somewhat vague when we were discussing our route through the south west of France and as a result we felt we had a far broader scope on our chosen route.

When Sam and his brothers passed through the Languedoc for their Hannibal documentary they chose to stay closer to the coast. From a historical perspective this would have made sense as the hinterland would have been easier to traverse than the topographically more challenging inland areas. In modern day France though the coastline is anything but easy to traverse by bike as it is densely populated and super concentrated with transport infrastructure.

 

 

 

 

 

With my bike guide hat on I pointed this out to Sam and suggested that we should look for a route that got us away from the traffic; my only reference being Steve Razzetti’s book Great Cycling Journeys which documents a route in the Haute Languedoc (high Languedoc) that had caught my attention. My actual experience of riding in the Languedoc though was fairly limited as I had only ventured as far as Uzes prior to researching the Hannibal tour. Once we had decided to try and find a new route though, and Sam was able to reconcile this with the historical integrity of the tour, we discovered that the region truly was one of the great cycling areas of France.

A land of startling contrasts the Languedoc proved to be a veritable treasure trove. From its flat coastal plain which is the largest wine producing area of France, the region stretches inland to the Black Mountains (Montagne Noire), and to the west until it meets the Pyrénées. In the east, the spectacular country of canyons and cliffs stretches onto the lonely plateau of the Cevennes, and from there to the River Rhône. The Mediterranean washes miles of white sandy beaches from the Rhone delta to the Spanish frontier. Between these borders sit the rugged hinterlands of the Corbières and Minervois.

It was also in the early middle ages the historic home to the Cathars, a religious sect who rejected the pomp of the Catholic church, and who were persecuted to extinction as a result. The Cathars left a legacy of fortresses in the Pyrénéen foothills and the Montagne Noire that today are some of the most romantic ruins in Europe! On stage 1 we visit a couple of the more renowned examples of these fortresses and indeed our hotel on Day 4 sits just below the stunning Cathar castle of Peyrepertuse.

INSERT PICTURES

I was also delighted to discover that not only was the region feted for its burgeoning wine scene, with an increasing focus on quality over quantity, but its cuisine was something to behold too. With a strong Spanish influence the region is known for a lighter style of eating (less creamy rich sauces) than in the north of France. Languedoc cuisine relies heavily on local produce: olive oil, tomato sauces, herbs from the wild garrigue landscapes of the region such as thyme, rosemary and sorrel. Locals take eating seriously with meals often taking hours and including several courses. My kind of place.

Whilst I was delighted about these gastronomic highlights, I think Sam was more taken with the Roman heritage of the region with the Pont du Gard, Maison Carrée, and Via Domitia all to be found in the region. Whilst the Via Domitia that linked Hispania (Spain) to Italy sits to the south of our chosen route we do get the chance to visit the extraordinary Pont du Gard. The Maison Carrée is found in Nimes and whilst not on the designated route Sam would be delighted to escort anyone there who might wish to see it. I will happily hold court in the restaurant whilst they do that.

In the end the route we chose was found with a great deal of trial and error as generally tends to be the case when scouting bike routes. What amazed us more than anything was the sense of having the place to ourselves. The region is apparently heaving through August when the French take their holidays but outside of then it really does feel undiscovered. And as is the case with a lot of areas in France the roads themselves were in great condition hence the holy trinity of great roads, little traffic and great food. Sam might substitute ‘great food’ for Roman heritage but he’s like that!

 

 

 

 

 

The route itself takes us through Cathar country on our way to the enchanting city of Carcassonne which is very deserving of its UNESCO  World Heritage status. From there we head up in to the rugged hills of the Parc Naturel du Haut Languedoc – the high Languedoc. Once again we find ourselves on awesome cycling roads which are inexplicably free of tourists. The last part of the day takes us on the impressive Voie Verte which is a converted railway track that takes us to our picturesque destination in Olargues – voted one of France’s most beautiful villages and site of the historic Devils Bridge.

We then leave Herault and enter into Languedoc’s most eastern department-Gard. We pass by the incredible Clamouse cave on the way and take in the Gorges de’Herault and the majestic Pic Loup cliffs. Our destination is the quaint town of Sommieres which has a rich Roman history and an impressive medieval centre. From there we head towards Avignon and on crossing the Rhone we finally leave the Languedoc and enter into the more revered tourist region of Provence.

Having travelled extensively in Provence though I have to say that on balance I think I prefer the Languedoc. Given that Provence is one of my favourite areas in Europe I can’t think of much more of a ringing endorsement of this charming area that plays host to us for a large part of stage 1.

 


Dylan’s interview with CycleEXIF

Firstly thanks to CycleExif for this content….

If you’ve ever entertained a dream of riding a grand European tour of your own, through famous wine regions and sampling the local delicacies, or perhaps following in the footsteps of historic legends like Hannibal or Napoleon, Ride & Seek Bike Tours can turn that dream into a reality.

Last year, three Australian brothers, Danny, Sam and Ben Wood, retraced the steps of the Roman conqueror, Hannibal, from Barcelona to Rome. The journey was filmed and edited into a BBC Four documentary. Sam Wood, alongside tour director Dylan Reynolds, has since established Ride & Seek to offer the experience to cycle tourists. And if you’re not interested in ancient history (or partaking in the local specialties), they also offer classical tours through France and Italy’s most scenic gastronomically enticing regions. I caught up with Dylan, a tour designer, scout and leader with 12 years experience, to find out a little more about Ride & Seek the journey that brought him to this point:

Dylan, you must be clocking up some touring miles by now, and have rode through some interesting and beautiful territory. Can you tell us what your favorite route is, and why? There’s a tough question to start. You’re right, I’ve certainly had the privilege of riding through some pretty awesome landscapes over the years. I guess in terms of favourites I’d have to lean towards some of the touring I’ve done in my own time. By design the commercial bike tours I’ve led always take you through the best parts of the region they visit but as a guide you know what to expect. The routes that stick in the memory are those that come as a bit of a surprise. I cycled down the west coast of the US a few years ago and riding through the giant redwood forests was pretty mind blowing. In Europe the ride up to Volterra in Tuscany at sunset takes some beating, especially the first time I did it with a couple of mates when we were cruising around the region with no idea as to where we’d end up.

After 12 years of leading bike tours, you must be getting close to achieving your ideal setup. Can you give us a quick rundown of your equipment list for an extended tour? I guess in terms of set up the art to leading a successful bike tour is covering all potential eventualities, of which there are many. The obvious in this regard are mechanical and health issues that will sometimes arise. Logistically on a tour the accommodation and meals are booked in advance so that element is covered and doubled checked on the pre tours before the tour proper starts. That said probably the most important tool a bike guide has is his/her mobile phone as it is important to phone ahead of time to make sure everything is in place. Another key element is the van that accompanies every tour and acts as the luggage carrier, sag wagon and snack storage. We work as a 2 guide team with the guides alternating driving the van and riding the bike. Obviously most guides prefer the latter but there is definitely a skill in offering decent van support to the touring group. The van also carries the spare bikes, a variety of bike spares, picnic gear for the days that we put on lunch during the day, everyone’s day packs and whatever else besides.

What do you love most about bicycle touring? Cliched as it sounds I can’t think of a better way to travel and explore an area. As much as I enjoy hiking you can only cover a relatively small area. ‘Going for a drive’ has never really rocked my boat as I use a car as a means of getting from A to B and that’s it. On a bike you get the chance to really connect with the area you’re travelling through taking in the sights, sounds and smells as you go along as well as meeting the locals along the way. The biggest plus in my book though is that you build up a great appetite riding a bike and since food and wine are two of my favourite things the fact that they both seem to taste better after you’ve been on a bike all day is a big bonus.

Ride and Seek is your new venture, offering bicycle tours through some of Europe’s most beautiful regions. Can you give us a little background to the business? Who are your partners, and what was the events that lead to the founding of the company? Sure. The idea of Ride and Seek was a culmination of a whole lot of thinking and planning on the part of both by myself and Sam, my partner, on the venture. We both had been making plans independently though and it was only when we got chatting at a wedding last year that our plans converged. I was already in the process of putting together some tours with guiding buddies based in Europe and Sam was keen to set something up on the back of the success he’d had with the BBC documentary ‘On Hannibal’s Trail’. When we got chatting it seemed a natural step to start collaborating together and bring together our respective expertise and ideas. Both of us are mad keen on cycling so that was a given, but I was able to bring my guiding experience to the table and Sam who is an archaeologist by trade conceptualized the Expedition tour idea that we are both really excited about. Excuse the pun but the rest is history

Ride and Seek offers Classic Tours whose itineraries read like a foodie’s pilgrimage. Personally, what’s your favorite stop on these tours? I think I’d probably have to go for the town of Alba in Piedmont, Italy. The smell of Nutella that permeates the air as you cycle in – it’s the home of the Ferrero chocolate business – gets the taste buds going and the choice on offer in the town doesn’t disappoint. Just down the road in Bra is where the Slow Food movement began and it is an ethos that the town seems to live by. Alba is also the gateway to the Langhe region where some of Italy’s finest wines are produced – Barolo and Barbaresco to name a couple. The town also hosts the world’s most prestigious truffle fair each year which is a site to behold. White and black truffles are found in the surrounding hills and a highlight of our Piedmont tour is that we take guests out with a truffle hunter and his dog. He is happy to share the secrets of his trade as well as sharing any truffles he might find.

The Historical Tours, retracing the steps of Hannibal and Napoleon, would even sound enthralling to cyclists who might never have considered such a journey. Have you any more Historical Tours planned for the future? Sure. Both Sam and I are really into the Expedition element of the tour and incorporating the historical element into the tour format. Sam has a list as long as his arm of historical figures he thinks we could create a tour around – a good few of whom I’ve never heard of! I know that a tour following in the footsteps of Alexander the Great is one idea that really excites him but since that would involve a tour over 32,000km long it might be on the drawing board for a while. Spartacus and Hercules are two other tours that he has in mind that would be easier to put together. Personally I’d love to do a tour that follows in the footsteps of the Incas in South America or Marco Polo on the Silk Road.

How easy is it for a cyclist from another country (for example, Australia or the US), to bring their own bike on a tour? It’s a strange one this in that when I first started guiding I’d say the majority of the riders on tours brought their own bikes and I can’t remember there being too many issues. In recent years though with bike tour companies providing decent bikes people seem to be happy to leave their bikes at home. For example we have sourced the Trek Madone 5.2 and Specialized Roubaix for people coming on our tours as well as a decent spec flat bar hybrid, so guests can avoid the hassle of bringing their own bike knowing that they’ll have a decent bike for the tour. That said I appreciate that a lot of riders simply like to have their owns bikes as that is what they are used too and I wouldn’t discourage them. From experience I’d say by all means bring your own bike but account for the possibility that it might get delayed in transit. If you were booked to arrive from Australia or the US the day before the tour started you would be cutting it a bit fine but if you were arriving in Europe a few days before then at least you have a buffer. In conclusion bring your own bike but make sure you pack it properly or get someone to do it for you, and chat with the tour operator regarding what can be done with the bike box whilst you’re on tour.

Have you any tips for novice cyclists considering one of your tours? What about tips for more experienced bike tourists? The great thing about going on a guided bike tour is that the guides hopefully take the logistical element out of the equation and allow the traveller to just concentrate on the fun bits of riding their bike, taking in the scenery and sampling the gastronomy of the region. In terms of tips for the novices i guess the best piece of advice I can offer is to read the grading spiel for each tour carefully and don’t overestimate your abilities. Whilst the van is always available as a back up and can come in very useful at the bottom of any steeper hills I think that people will generally have a better time if they manage their expectations beforehand. In this sense it is always a good idea to get some bike time in before you come on tour irregardless of the difficulty rating we have given the tour. If nothing else it means that you’re backside will already be prepared for spending multiple days on a bike seat. Our espresso grading system is designed to give potential guests an idea of what sort of rider each tour is aimed at and whilst slightly subjective provides a decent guide. For the experienced bike tourist all I’d say is come along for the ride and enjoy being pampered for once!

Who are your modern day heroes, cycling or otherwise? As a kid I was a huge Pedro Delgado fan and whenever we went off on family bike trips I would pretend to be him on the customary sprint to every village sign we came across. The subsequent doping allegations apart he is still pretty high on my list. The Italian cyclist Girardengo is a hero from the past but I guess the De Gregori song about ‘Il bandito e il campione’ played a part in that. Among today’s riders I have to say I was chuffed that Cadel finally got a tour win under his belt and I’m always happy to see Cav on the podium. Special mention should also go to a guy called Alastair Humphreys who rode around the world a few years back and whose take on life through his blog I find pretty inspirational.

Are you optimistic about the future of cycling, and in particular, cycle touring? Definitely. There seems to be a real buzz around cycling at the moment at all levels from commuting up to the professional ranks. I’ve lost count of the number of blogs I’ve followed of people cycling around the world and I love the fact that chatting about the Tour or the Giro seems to become almost commonplace at work. On the bike tour front I think the fact that tourist numbers on the bike tours I lead have continued to increase over the last few years – even through the GFC – suggests that the appeal of bike touring is continuing to grow. Having set up a new bike tour venture we certainly hope that is the case anyway!

If you’ve ever had an inclination to tour by bicycle through Spain, France or Italy (or all three), make sure you bookmark Ride & Seek. There’s plenty of inspiration there. Thanks to Dylan and Sam for the words and photography