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Our 33 Greatest Cycle Rides PDF Printable Version E-mail



Barry and Margaret Williamson
February 2016


Many thanks to our old and dear friend, Jeff Mason of Sheffield, for this view of ourselves as cyclists. You can see Jeff's own website at: Jeff's Wheelchair Walks.

This is a summary of our thirty-three greatest cycle rides together, over many years. Click on the link to access the full and often illustrated article on this website.

Total Cycling Distance recorded here is 36,730 miles or 58,770 km.

630 miles (1000 km): Tour along the Rhine and the Moselle
On our first long ride together, the North Sea ferry from Hull to Rotterdam enabled us to follow the Rhine inland as far as Koblenz. Here, we turned south-west along the steep valley of the Moselle, through Luxembourg and Trier into northern France and so into Belgium for a return ferry to Hull from Zeebrugge. 

650 miles (1040 km): Tour of Portugal
A clockwise circular tour at Easter, flying in and out of Faro on the Algarve coast, redolent with orange blossom. Highlights were the atmospheric school of Prince Henry the Navigator, where Magellan and Vasco da Gama studied, at the SW corner on Cape St Vincent, and the inland Marble Towns.
Link: http://www.magbaztravels.com/content/view/276/80/

1,200 miles (1920 km): France Coast to Coast
Starting with a train to Plymouth for a ferry to Roscoff on the Channel coast of Brittany, we cycled south-east across France, initially along the Loire, to Perpignan and the Mediterranean coast. Returning, we crossed the Pyrenees to Barcelona for a flight back to the UK.
Link: http://www.magbaztravels.com/content/view/276/80/

2,200 miles (3520 km): UK to the Slovakian-Ukrainian border, Budapest and Vienna
We took a ferry from Hull to the Hook of Holland for a ride through Holland and Germany to Nuremburg, then over the frontier to Prague and the 600-mile length of the former Czechoslovakia to the Ukrainian border. Turning back, we rode via Budapest to Vienna for a flight back to the UK.
Link: http://www.magbaztravels.com/content/view/276/80/

320 miles (512 km): From Naples to Palermo (Sicily)
Courtesy of 'Pilgrim Tours', we flew in and out of Naples one Easter. Our bicycles took us down the Italian coast to its Toe at Reggio di Calabria, then on a short ferry crossing to Sicily, returning by overnight ferry from Palermo to Naples and a flight back to the UK.
Link: http://www.magbaztravels.com/content/view/275/80/

360 miles (576 km): Tour of the Hebrides
Leaving the car in Oban and using many ferries, we cycled through the windswept unsheltered islands of Barra, South Uist, Benbecula, North Uist, Berneray, South Harris, Lewis, Skye, Mull and back to Oban.
Link: http://www.magbaztravels.com/content/view/275/80/

2,500 miles (4000 km): UK to Istanbul
One summer, we took a ferry from Harwich to Hamburg and initially rode north from Germany into Denmark and Sweden was this really the way to Istanbul? A Polish ferry then took us across the Baltic Sea into northern Poland, from where we rode south and east across Poland (visiting Auschwitz and Krakow), Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria (crossing the Balkan Mountains on the 4,200 ft Shipka Pass), Greece and into Turkey. In Turkey, we had time to visit Gallipoli, Ancient Troy and Mount Olympus near Bursa, before taking a ferry from Bandirma across the Sea of Marmara into Istanbul for a 4-hour flight back to the UK.
Link: http://www.magbaztravels.com/content/view/275/80/

350 miles (560 km): Tour of Brittany
Sailing from Plymouth into the port of Roscoff, returning out of the port of Caen, we took a wide sweep through the hills and valleys of Brittany and the D-Day beaches of Normandy.

2,000 miles (3200 km): UK to Tromso, above the Arctic Circle in northern Norway
Again taking the overnight ferry from Harwich to Hamburg, we followed the Elbe almost to Berlin. Here we rode from West to East through the historic Brandenburg Gate, continuing across the Oder into Poland. At Gdansk we took a slow ferry to Helsinki, from where a short voyage to Russia allowed a brief visit to cycle in St Petersburg. We continued north through Finland, Sweden and Norway to Narvik and Tromso, high above the Arctic Circle. We returned on the Hurtigruten coastal ferry to Bergen, then a larger ferry across the North Sea to North Shields at the mouth of the Tyne.
Link: http://www.magbaztravels.com/content/view/271/80/

560 miles (896 km): Southern Spain and Morocco
Flying in and out of Malaga, the tour included Granada, Ronda, the White Towns, Algeciras and a ferry to Morocco our first taste of North Africa. After cycling from Tangier to the Spanish enclave of Ceuta for a return ferry, we rode to Gibraltar, along the coast to Marbella and Torremolinos and so back to Malaga for a flight to Manchester.
Link: http://www.magbaztravels.com/content/view/272/80/

676 miles (1080 km): Italy, Sardinia and Corsica
This tour of two islands involved a hard mountainous ride. Starting and ending at Leonardo da Vinci Airport near Rome, we used ferries from Civitavecchia on the Italian mainland to Olbia in Sardinia; from Santa Teresa Gallura in Sardinia to Bonifacio in Corsica; and finally from Bastia in Corsica to Livorno on the north-west coast of Italy, cycling back to Rome along the Via Aurelia. On the road back to the airport, we had time to visit the 1943 Anzio Beachhead and the unforgettable Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery overlooking the town and the beach.
Link: http://www.magbaztravels.com/content/view/272/80/

180 miles (290 km): Spring Bank Weekend in Northumberland and the Scottish Borders
Leaving the car in Bellingham, close to Hadrian's Wall, we rode a loop through the Kielder Forest, the Cheviots, Kelso, Kirk Yetholm (the end of the Pennine Way), the Flodden Field battlesite, Seahouses, Dunstanburgh Castle and back to Bellingham via Alnwick.  
Link: http://www.magbaztravels.com/content/view/272/80/

470 miles (752 km): Across the Republic of Ireland
Leaving the car at Holyhead on the Welsh Isle of Anglesey, we sailed across to the port of Dun Laoghaire near Dublin for a train to Mallow. We then cycled through the high mountain range of Macgillycuddy's Reeks (3,414 ft) via the Gap of Dunloe, around the ring of Kerry and out to the end of the Dingle Peninsula (the westernmost point of the EU). Return was over the Connor Pass and through Tipperary, Cashel and Kilkenny to Dublin for a ferry back to Holyhead.

500 miles (800 km): A Ride to the Loire
Leaving the car in Portsmouth, a ferry to St Malo and a return ferry from Caen enabled a cycle tour of the Cherbourg Peninsula and south to Ancenis and Angers on the Loire. On the return, we followed the American, British and Canadian D-Day beaches of Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword, backed by their rows of orderly white gravestones.

715 miles (1144 km): Tour of Southern Spain
Flying in and out of Alicante one Christmas, this mountainous circuit started through La Mancha, Don Quixote country, and  included the Puerto de la Ragua (the Pass of the Ragged Cyclists?) at 6,500 ft (2000 m) in the Sierra Nevada on a freezing Boxing Day, with a chilly return through Granada, visiting the magnificent Alhambra Palace.
Link: http://www.magbaztravels.com/content/view/273/80/

700 miles (1120 km): Circuit of Tunisia
Flying into Monastir one Easter, the cycle tour included Sfax, El Jem, the Kerkennah Islands, Gabes, a troglodyte hotel in Matmata, Tamezret, Kebili, Douz, the crossing of the Chott el Jerid, Tozeur, Metlaoui and a ride through a railway tunnel to the Seldja Gorge, Gafsa and Kairouan (the oldest mosque in North Africa and the fourth holiest site in Islam), before a return to Monastir and the UK.
Link: http://www.magbaztravels.com/content/view/273/80/

265 miles (425 km): Tour of the Scottish Highlands
Leaving the car in Inverness, we made a clockwise ride, including the north-west coast, Cape Wrath, Dounreay, John O'Groats and finishing with the Bealach Na Ba, the 2,000-ft (600 m) 'Pass of the Cattle' near Applecross.
Link: http://www.magbaztravels.com/content/view/273/80/

3,160 miles (5056 km): Across North America
Flying into Vancouver and out of Toronto, we cycled due east, mainly along US Highway 2. This ride can be summarised as a thousand miles of mountains (the Cascades and Rockies), a thousand miles of High Plains and Prairies (Montana and North Dakota) and a thousand miles of forests and lakes (Minnesota, the source of the Mississippi, and the Great Lakes). We had time to visit Niagara Falls before flying back to the UK from Toronto.
Link: http://www.magbaztravels.com/content/view/273/80/

385 Miles (615 km): Tour of Holland
Taking the ferry from Hull to the Hook of Holland, we rode in the rain via Amsterdam to a crossing of the Afsluitdijk (the 20 mile long dam which turned the Zuider Zee into the freshwater Lake Ijsselmeer), returning via Leeuwarden, Groningen, Gouda and Dordrecht.

70 European Mountain Passes in the period 1995 to 2002
Total height climbed 261,184 ft (79,146 m), an average of 3,731 ft (1,131 m) per climb in the French, Italian, Swiss and Austrian Alps; in the Pyrenees; and in the Peloponnesian mountains of the Greek mainland. The total height of all the cols was 466,100 ft (141,242 m) or 16 times the height of Mount Everest above sea level!
http://www.magbaztravels.com/content/view/111/29/  and http://www.magbaztravels.com/content/view/329/29/

833 miles (1330 km): From Austria to Romania and return
This journey started in Austria, near Graz, and took us across southern Hungary along the Croat/Serbian border to Arad in Romania, returning to Austria across Hungary's Lake Balaton.

450 miles (720 km): Tour of the Greek Peloponnese
An anti-clockwise tour from Ionion Beach Camping, down the west coast to Methoni, the circuit of the challenging Mani Peninsula, Gythion, Sparta and a return through Megalopoli.

350 miles (560 km): Tour of the Northern Greek Peloponnese
This ride took us east across the mountainous Peloponnese from Ionion Beach to Tripoli, with a return via Corinth, the coast of the Gulf of Corinth and Patras.
Link: http://www.magbaztravels.com/content/view/326/29/

244 miles (390 km): Tour of Finland
A 4-day autumn ride through the pine forest, starting and ending high above the Arctic Circle at Harriniva Camping/Husky-dog Farm near Muonio on the River Muonionjoki, which forms the border with Sweden. The nights were cold!

1,338 miles (2140 km): Cyprus, Israel, the Palestinian Territories and 4 Greek Islands
Starting with a flight from Athens to Cyprus, we cycled a circuit of Greek Cyprus, then took a ferry to/from Haifa to ride through Israel and Palestine. We circled the Sea of Galilee before riding down the Jordan to the Dead Sea and up to Jerusalem and Bethlehem. We returned to Cyprus and by inter-island ferries to Piraeus, the port of Athens. On the way we cycled round four of the Greek Dodecanese Islands, namely Rhodes, Kos, Samos and mountainous Hios.
Link: http://www.magbaztravels.com/content/view/328/29/

3,064 miles (4900 km): Across Australia
From Perth on the Indian Ocean to Brisbane on the Pacific, via Broken Hill and Toowoomba, including a 2-week crossing of the Nullarbor Plain. This was the first part of a round-the-world cycling year. With time in hand for our onward flight from Brisbane to Auckland, we also rode up the Pacific coast to the rum and sugar town of Bundaberg.
Link: http://www.magbaztravels.com/content/view/566/29/  

4,641 miles (7425 km): Tour of New Zealand 
A 'figure-of-eight' tour, flying in and out of Auckland and riding to Cape Reinga at the top of North Island, then to Stewart Island at the bottom of South Island, and return to Auckland. Our first visit to what must be our favourite country.
Links: http://www.magbaztravels.com/content/view/831/29/, http://www.magbaztravels.com/content/view/832/29/ and http://www.magbaztravels.com/content/view/840/29/

300 miles (480 km): Circuit of Fiji
Flying in and out of Nadi (on our way from Auckland to Los Angeles), we rode clockwise round the edge of the largest Fijian island.
Link: http://www.magbaztravels.com/content/view/849/29/

3,618 miles (5790 km): Across America Coast to Coast
From Los Angeles on the Pacific Ocean to Key West on the Atlantic, following the Mexican border and the Gulf of Mexico, via San Diego, El Paso, Phoenix, New Orleans, Pensacola, Miami and the Florida Keys. Finally, we returned to Miami for a flight to the UK the end of a year's round the world journey.
Link: http://www.magbaztravels.com/content/view/577/29/

1,500 miles (2400 km): Tour of New Zealand, North Island
From Auckland, we made a clockwise tour around the North Island, including the remote East Cape and revisiting the village of Ohura.
Link: http://www.magbaztravels.com/content/view/119/30/

357 miles (570 km): A Tour of the Central Greek Peloponnese
Starting from Finikounda in the south of the Messinian Peninsula, we climbed over 20,000 ft (6,060 m) in total, riding from west coast to east coast and back and including a circuit of the Mani Peninsula, the high moorland crossing from Monemvassia to Leonidas, and the pass from Sparta to Kalamata.
Link: http://www.magbaztravels.com/content/view/327/29/

200 miles (320 km): Cycling the Mountains of Messinia in the Greek Peloponnese
This strenuous ride from Finikounda through the mountains, past the Temple at Vassae to Andritsena, returning along the west coast via Kyparissia, included climbing 16,300 ft (5,000 m) in 5 days.
Link: http://www.magbaztravels.com/content/view/673/29/

2,000 miles (3200 km): Cycling the Rivers of Germany
Between 2012 and 2014, we enjoyed 55 rides on the excellent cycle paths along the German rivers Danube, Elbe, Fulda, Lahn, Mosel, Neckar, Rhine, Saale, Spree, Werra and Weser.
Links: Autumn 2012,  Summer 2013,  Autumn 2014.

Other Links to Cycling Articles

There are other cycling articles on our website, including the following:

Cycling in Europe:  
This section includes a full description of our Paul Hewitt touring bicycles, rides in Bulgaria, North Wales, Scotland and the highest Alpine cols around Barcelonnette in Haute Provence, as well as articles from the cycling press and Andrew Hague's account of his Brompton folding bicycles.
Link: http://www.magbaztravels.com/content/category/7/24/29/

Cycling in the Rest of the World:  
This section includes the late Ian Hibell's only writing available on the internet: the diary he kept while riding from Bangkok to Vladivostok, through South-east Asia and China into Russia. There is also his own account of riding from Rotterdam to Vladivostok, and many tributes from friends and admirers following his tragic death in Athens in August 2008.
Link: http://www.magbaztravels.com/content/category/7/23/29/

New Zealander John Rhodes writes of five of his rides in India, Pakistan, Nepal and South America, some of them with his wife Ann on their tandem.
Link: http://www.magbaztravels.com/content/category/7/23/29/  

There is an excerpt from John and Sally Watson's 2006 cycle ride from the UK to Delhi, via Iran, Baluchistan and Pakistan.
Link: http://www.magbaztravels.com/content/view/529/29/