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Practicing our preaching – Royce’s ride to Istanbul

Words by Tony

on 13/07/2016 13:50:27



We take our riding seriously at Stows, as Royce has recently shown by cycling from Bristol to Istanbul – 2,500 miles across Europe.  Here is his story in brief, and you can get all the details from his blog.

“I rode across the USA a few years ago, so riding across Europe was my next goal. Given the UK was considering leaving the EU, this seemed like the right time to go.  Along with two friends, I set out in mid-May from Portishead, west of Bristol, with the goal of reaching Istanbul on the edge of eastern Europe six weeks later on the day before Britain’s historic vote.  Along the way we travelled through Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria & Turkey.”

If you have any multi-day rides planned, or you’re just thinking about it, pop into the shop for a chat with Royce.  He’s very happy to share useful tips and advice on anything ranging from what tools to take, route planning, essential clothing and much more to make your ride more successful and fun.

The 5 Best Parts of Cycle Touring

IMG_20011. Hearing, smelling and feeling the world.  Cycle touring goes at just the right pace. Unlike walking, you can cross a continent in a few weeks. Unlike a car, you use all your senses, and you go slowly enough to soak in what you’re experiencing.  It’s never a problem to stop if you want a photo, and you don’t have to find a parking place to pop into a shop.  My favourite day of riding came in rural Bulgaria, where we saw the world at the pace in which it was lived. Farmers working by hand in the fields, shepherds guiding a herd of sheep through a small town, a young family in a horse drawn cart, the smell of a field of herbs, field workers enjoying a picnic lunch with their families sitting in the shade of trees – all of these would pass in an instant in a car, but they can be treasured on a bike.


IMG_20892. The unexpected.  You pick a route from A to B each day, but you don’t know what you might encounter along the way. It could be a local offering you some “moonshine” when you stop for food at a corner shop (I wasn’t brave enough to try it), a stunning view (ruined castles over the Danube), wildlife (it’s good luck to have a stork living in your town apparently), historical sights (Skull Tower in Nis, Serbia was quite a surprise, and much, much more. In fact, there were so many stories than I didn’t have enough time to document them all in my blog.


IMG_20743. Help and advice from strangers.  We got great tips on places to eat, where to find shops we needed, and, when we needed an emergency bike repair, a cyclist led us to the nearest bike shop, which was miles away. When we got there, the shop had closed for the day, but the mechanic was rung on his mobile, and he came back to the shop to repair the bike, and we made our destination that evening.



IMG_21134. Laughter.  Even in broken English or using a common second language, you can share a joke or make fun of England’s inept football team.  Football is a common language, and you can usually provoke a funny reaction by mentioning a local football club. The person you’re speaking with is either a fan, in which case they’ll love the fact you know their team.  Or, they support a rival team, and they’ll tell you how their rival club is supported by a bunch of “gypsies”, “fools” or “idiots”.

The bike on the left was ridden by the chap offering us moonshine. He got up and and rode away with the scythe over his shoulder and pitch fork strapped to the back of his bike.  It looked like DEATH on a bike (if you’re a Terry Pratchet fan.) 


IMG_20025. You can eat & drink as much as you want.  Given you’re riding for at least 6 hours per day, you’re burning plenty of calories, so ice cream, pastries and beer can be on your daily menu. Given my sweet tooth, this was really good.  Food never tastes as good as when you’re hungry, and beer, well, let’s just say I never had a bad beer at the end of a day of cycling!