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Some Places to Ride your Bike

MadRim recently published an article in MAKE Magazin, our first appearance in German in print! Click here to purchase the magazine; the volume featuring our article is 1/2016. They published three lists, written by Miriam and photographed by Madison: Zehn kreative Fab Labs in Europa (10 Fab Labs You Must Visit if You’re in Europe); Acht coole Projekte (The 8 Coolest Projects We Saw While Biking Across Europe); and Sechs Labs für dein (inneres) Kind (Six Labs for your [inner] Child). Since we wrote a couple more lists that never made it into print in German or online in English, we’ve decided to include them here. Read on to learn about Some Places to Ride Your Bike in Europe.

Tour de Fab was a wild experience, a summer season of enlightenment, accented by several nights of illegally camping in parking lots. Can you believe that we didn’t even have one flat tire?

The very first day of bike tour, April 20, 2015, dawned perfect–crisp clear spring sky, warm sun, cool breeze. We left København in the company of a friend made through the Couchsurfing network. He brought us to his parents’ inn and home in the rural Danish village of Tystrup, 85km away. This area of Denmark features steep, short hills, winding country lanes, and wide views of Tystrup Lake. Through Denmark we followed much of the Marguerite Route, commonly known as the Daisy Trail, an excellently maintained, well-marked cycling road and a great way to spend the first sore week in the saddle.

Cycling into northern Holland was a vivid experience. Perhaps it’s the pancake topography, but everyone and their baby cycles in the Netherlands. We almost caused a rush hour pile up at an intersection our first day in Groningen. From Groningen we struck west into Friesland on well-marked, safe bike paths. An avid cyclist himself, Jeroen de Boer of Frysklab in Leeuwarden accompanied us as far as the Afsluitdijk, a 32km long dam keeping northern Holland afloat. Though the day was overcast and drizzle-spattered, we sped across the dijk with the wind at our backs. It’s fairly severe in terms of the view, but if you’re into long, fast stretches, zip over to Friesland. If you’re lucky, Jeroen might even give you a few more tips.

We spent a lot of time near water–seas, rivers, and canals. The route across the Belgian border from the Dutch province of Zeeland to Brugge is an idyllic, beachside cruise. Bike trails angle through the dunes, passing lighthouses and rocky outcroppings studded with seabirds. Beware the wind off the North Sea!

We followed the Damme canal across the border into Belgium.

We followed the Damme canal across the border into Belgium.

It’s no coincidence that most of our favorite days of bike tour were when we had a friend along for the ride. Another contact through Couchsurfing accompanied us from Reims to Château-Thierry, through the gleaming Champagne province. Summer really greened up the continent, and champagne grapes hung lushly over rolling hills in every direction. Farmers plant rosebushes at the front of each row, and monitor the color of the petals to determine the health of the soil and grapes. En route to Château-Thierry, we stopped at a local Sunday faire to split a bottle of bubbly, which may have influenced our decision an hour later to go skinny-dipping in the Marne.

Lunching on La Marne: the sun-drenched glories of the Champagne province.

Lunching on La Marne: the sun-drenched glories of the Champagne province.

Further into France, we stumbled upon St. Restitute, a tiny Medieval village that is indubitably inhabited by charming elves. St. Restitute lies somewhere east of the Rhône up some steep hills between Valence and Avignon. It’s dripping with tangible history and offers some great vantages of surrounding lavender fields. Seriously ancient cobblestone roads will excite your inner mountain biker.

The most visually stunning day of bike tour came right at the end when we crossed the border from France to Spain along the Mediterranean coast. Sheer cliffs pitch into the glassy Sea, shimmering in the summer sun. We’d debated long and hard about whether to take the inland route, but we made the right choice to snake along the coast. Though the hills are brutal, especially when laden down with gear, the views from each mini mountain–and the thrill of rushing down them–make it more than worth the effort.

Mir and Mad bike across the fifth and final border of Tour de Fab.

Mir and Mad bike across the fifth and final border of Tour de Fab.

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