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The Cycle Touring Drug and the Good, Bad and Ugly of Life on the Road

The Cycle Touring Drug and the Good, Bad and Ugly of Life on the Road
Given that it has been five years since I completed my last long distance fully self-contained cycle tour, I had almost forgotten just how addictive the cycle touring drug can be.

As anyone who has spent any length of time cycle touring will very quickly tell you, the hardest part of completing a long distance tour on a bicycle is coming down from the high you have been on for so long after it is all over.

In fact for some people returning to a ‘normal’ day to day existence after spending weeks, months and, in some cases, years of cycling through some of the most beautiful and exotic locations in the world can be a difficult and confronting exercise.

After all what other long term leisure pursuit can serve up an adventure of some kind, whether it be good, bad, amazing, funny, frustrating, inspirational, exhilarating or just plain old mundane on a daily basis – while being able to explore the world at the same time.

With the e-Bike Cycle Tourists now five days into their attempt to set a new long distance e-bike record after setting out from Surrey in the UK on a picture perfect spring day, the memories of experiencing all of the above emotions and more on a daily basis have come flooding back.

After just 374.9 kilometres – to be precise - we have already experienced many highs, had a few lows, enjoyed a few laughs at our own expense, experienced the frustration of constantly getting lost, seen amazing sights, met many people, enjoyed amazing weather, been caught in rain storms, endured a below freezing night, marvelled at the beauty of the English countryside, cursed impatient English motorists and generally had a great time. Does it get any better than that?
Throw in the fact that we are cycle touring on two of the latest model German made Haibike Trekking xDuro e-bikes and the above mentioned highs have been all the more intense.

Hills that normally provide a torturous challenge on a regular touring bike have been ironed out and headwinds that would normally result in a torturously slow pace have meant that we have been able to maintain a steady 15 to 20kph speed.

How good is it, I will say that again, how good is it on an e-bike to be able to move from cycling in eco mode to tour, sport or even turbo when confronted with a particularly difficult hill climb or situation – particularly when you are towing 30-plus kilograms on a cycle trailer, as we are.

Over the past two days we have been following the extremely picturesque Kennet and Avon Canal from Newbury to Bath where we are currently camped for a couple of days.

Cycling into Bath along the Two Tunnels Greenway – a former rail line that has been converted into a dedicated cycle path – we decided to crank things up and put the bikes into turbo mode up the 1.5km incline.

What a sight we must have been as we powered uphill towing our Tout Terrain trailers at 25-plus kph – an unthinkable feat on a regular bicycle.

But best of all it was the huge smiles we had on our faces when we pulled to a stop. Smiles, I must say, that were soon wiped away when the first caravan park in Bath we pulled into turned us away because “we only take campervans” and the second, much to our horror, had recently closed.

“What to do,” we lamented. But just as quickly our saviour appeared out of a local Bath supermarket. The keen cycle tourist asked us where we were headed, with our reply “we have no idea, we are unable to camp at either of the camp grounds in Bath.”

Without a hint of hesitation Talitha invited us to her nearby flat so we could access her wifi to find another park out of town.

A phone call to the camp ground to make a booking, a cup of tea and detailed directions from our young saviour and we were on our way to camp site number three where we are now happily ensconced.

It is experiences like this that are so memorable when you are cycle touring … clearly the cycle touring drugs are working their magic.

Gary Corbett is an award-winning Australian journalist who has written for a wide range of newspapers, periodicals and travel magazines for the past 30-plus years.

After years of writing about other people’s travel adventures, in the mid-2000s he  booked a personal holiday with a difference – a one week guided cycling tour in the Loire Valley in France – and was instantly hooked on those “how good is this” moments that only cycle touring can provide.

In ensuing years he has gone on to cycle well in excess of 30,000 kilometres completing guided, self-guided, bike and barge and solo long distance tours in Europe, Australia, Asia and South America.

Gary now writes exclusively about cycle touring and travelling in general and as such the attempt to set a new electric bike world long distance record along with his wife, Rachel, is his latest “fact finding” cycling adventure – however this time it will be on an e-bike.

His future goal is to see more of the world from the seat of his trusty Trek 520 touring bicycle, and now that he has discovered the world of e-biking, his new Haibike xDuro Trekking RX e-bike. There is, after all, always another country to be explored, new cultures to be experienced and more cycle tours to be completed.

Before this epic journey Gary (a.k.a. The Cycle Tourist) contributed many excellent cycle touring articles to the Cycle Tours Global blog - you can read them at

To find out even more about the expedition please visit

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By: Gary Corbett
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