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The Highs and Lows of Cycle Touring

The Highs and Lows of Cycle Touring

Long distance cycle touring, as the e-Bike Cycle Tourists have discovered time and time again over the past six weeks, is a constant roller coaster with adrenaline pumping highs interspersed with frustrating lows.

We have now lost count of the number of times that we have marvelled at yet another beautiful landscape or have been in total awe of a particular situation only to be abruptly brought back to reality after taking a wrong turn in the road that resulted in us getting hopelessly lost, being soaked by a sudden rainstorm or, as happened on one occasion, being turned away from a campground because we were sleeping in a tent, not a motor home or a caravan.

It is, we have reasoned, why we love cycle touring so much – you really never know what is around the corner or what is going to happen next.

Such was the case a couple of days ago during the 96km journey from Palinges to Chalon sur Saone in the beautiful Burgundy region of France.

After waking to a crystal clear day we set off with the wind at our back and big smiles on our faces until, that is, we took a wrong turn on the approach to Chagny that saw us wrongly cycle up a steep incline before realising our mistake.

“No worries just go back to where we went wrong and find the right track,” we chorused.

But that is when things really went wrong.

As I changed gears to go back down the hill to retrace our steps, a terrible metallic/grinding noise came from somewhere deep inside my Haibike e-bike.

Immediately I knew it was not a good sign and on reaching the bottom of the hill my worst fears were confirmed – I had no drive in the middle and low gears in the internal rear wheel hub.

Fortunately I could still pedal in the top gear, so with the ‘sport’ and ‘turbo’ power assist modes on my Haibike e-bike engaged to help with the hills, the decision was made to continue cycling to our planned destination for the night where, hopefully, there would be an experienced bike mechanic able to diagnose and repair the problem.

Good plan, you would have thought. But after finally reaching Chalon sur Saone – and getting hopelessly lost on the outskirts of the town – it suddenly dawned on us that is was Sunday and that nothing, absolutely nothing, is open on a Sunday so we would have to wait for Monday to get the bike looked at.

Not so. By all accounts in the bicycle industry in rural France Monday is another Sunday and you guessed it, the three bike shops in town were all closed until Tuesday.

Finally after a frustrating two day wait, we arrived at our chosen bike repair shop at 8.30am on Tuesday to have our worst fears confirmed.

To have the Sram hub repaired would take two to three weeks or it would take 48 hours to send a new one from Germany. Clearly we went for the new hub option, with the earliest we will now be back on the road on Friday.

So there you have it, we have been camped at Chalon sur Saone for five days waiting for the bike to be repaired and ready to continue across France and into Switzerland and Germany and beyond.

Given that the e- bike that broke down is the ‘official’ world e-bike long distance record bike, we switched the identical wheel from Rachel’s bike onto mine so I could continue to clock up the kilometres while we waited.

The result? A magical day cycling 128kms through southern Burgundy.

It just goes to show that you never know what is going to happen next when you are cycle touring. From the low of a prolonged wait for bike repairs to one of the best day’s cycling yet.

How good is that!


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 find out even more about the expedition please visit
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By: Gary Corbett
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