When @eva__exploring got in touch with us to tell us her plans, we were so excited for her. As a novice cyclist, she recently found cycling and, with her wealth of backpacking, wild camping and travel experience, she has set herself up with a whole new adventure - riding from Santander to Lisbon! We caught up with her to find out more:
When did you first get into cycling?
I first got into cycling out of necessity if I'm honest! I've spent the last two years working at a busy hospital in the centre of Leeds and with a lack of direct public transport and no parking permits cycling was the only option. I can't lie, I hated it at first but the turning point was definitely trying a proper road bike! Using a bike that was fit for purpose suddenly made my commute enjoyable and I found myself going for evening rides up to the local nature reserve and back. From there my love of cycling has grown and grown and now I cycle almost every day.
What was it that made you want to give cycling a go?
One of the main draws of cycling for me is the absolute freedom it gives me. Being out in the open, moving at speed and powered by nothing but your own legs is incredibly liberating and I've found bike rides a real escape during the lockdowns of the last year and a half. I also love the social aspect to riding a bike and love the community aspect and commaradary between total strangers who's only connection is being out on a bike.
What was the inspiration for your cycling adventure?
The inspiration for our trip came partly from my new found love of being on a bike, but also from Al Humphrey who is a fellow Yorkshireman and bike packing adventurer. Seeing the adventures Al has gone on through bike packing planted the seed that we could do something amazing by bike too.
Where are you planning to go for your adventure?
So, I will be travelling with my good friend Laura. We have a ferry booked for the 7th September which goes from Portsmouth to Santander in Spain. The plan is to join the Camino del Norte route in Spain from Santander and follow the cycle paths and roads along the top of Spain and then join the Camino de Portugues route which hugs the coast of Portugal down past Porto, finishing in Lisbon! The bones of the plan are set in place but what we get up to along the way will be planned as and when we come to it. By having all of our camping gear on our bikes we will have the freedom to stop and camp as and when we want, giving us the ultimate freedom we're craving!
What have you done to get yourself ready for the trip?
To get ready for the trip we first had to acquire suitable bikes - we had been hoping that our lightweight road bikes would do the job but after some research we quickly realised we would need something sturdier. With limited budgets we went for second hand bikes and I found the perfect Raleigh touring bike on facebook marketplace! We are both pretty seasoned wild campers so already had the majority of the camping kit we needed, the main thing is making sure we cut down on weight as much as possible.
What are you most looking forward to?
I cannot WAIT to roll off the ferry in Spain and get those first few miles on the road in the sunshine! As an avid adventurer the last couple of years have been really hard with not being able to plan any trips and so it will feel incredibly special to finally be back out adventuring and exploring a new place and culture.
What are your biggest worries about the trip?
As someone who is still fairly new to the world of cycling and bike packing it is easy to feel the wrath of imposter syndrome - I frequently have moments where I think can I actually do this? But I've been challenged before and believe every great adventure has hurdles to overcome along the way. I know that by setting a steady pace and not being too hard on myself when things get tough I'll be absolutely fine; and the Spanish weather and wine won't go amiss after the big hills I'm sure.
We will be following Eva as she goes, and will post updates on her blog. Give her a follow in Instagram @eva__exploring to keep up with her adventure. We can't wait to see how her expedition unfolds.