To Find Europe’s Best Bike Routes, a Cycling Writer Asked the Crowd

1 week ago 44

Q. and A.

The longtime sports writer Claude Droussent discusses his caller guidebook to cycling successful Europe, which uses information from the fittingness app Strava, and the increasing relation bicycles play successful worldwide travel.

A antheral   wearing biking cogwheel  and a helmet rides a motorcycle  on  a way  nether  trees, which supply  dappled sunlight.
Claude Droussent riding his motorcycle successful the Alpilles mountains, betwixt Avignon and Marseille successful France.Credit...Magali Paulin

May 22, 2023, 5:00 a.m. ET

When it came clip to enactment unneurotic “Cycling Atlas Europe,” a caller guidebook detailing 350 single-day rides crossed the continent, the sportswriter andcycling adept Claude Droussent, 65, knew wherever to turn: Strava, a fittingness app that lets cyclists (and runners and hikers) grounds their routes with GPS and past stock them with each other, and that calls itself “the largest sports assemblage successful the world.”

Having Strava users validate the routes and vouch for their information and entreaty was cardinal to the book, whose subtitle is “The 350 Most Beautiful Cycling Trips successful Europe,” Mr. Droussent said: “The Strava assemblage was important due to the fact that I didn’t cognize each 350 routes by myself.”

The ambitious purpose of the “Atlas,” published by Rizzoli this spring: to sate some superior cyclists searching for epic conquests and the multitudes looking for saddle-top journeys of find successful this soaring escapade question segment.

According to a European Parliament study, 2.3 cardinal rhythm tourism trips are taken successful Europe each year. A communal taxable among the typically affluent travelers looking to cycle: the request for resources and information.

Mr. Droussent’s ain cycling travel began successful the 1960s, erstwhile arsenic a kid increasing up northbound of Paris, helium watched successful awe arsenic the titans of the time — riders similar Belgium’s five-time Tour de France champion Eddy Merckx — competed successful the famously cobblestone-riddled Paris-Roubaix contention that passed his home. During his journalism vocation helium covered much than 30 Tours de France. In 1981, Mr. Droussent, past a cub newsman for Le Parisien, was the archetypal writer to interrogation an American named Greg LeMond aft his archetypal nonrecreational triumph successful Europe (Mr. LeMond went connected to triumph the Tour de France 3 times).

In 2022, the 2 men co-wrote the usher “Cycling Atlas North America,” which besides utilizes Strava routes.

Mr. Droussent said the thought for the European “Atlas” came to him 4 years ago. “For years I’ve met radical who privation to rhythm — immoderate accelerated and immoderate dilatory — and person the way connected their GPS, but they besides privation to observe something, a landscape, a castle, a wine,” helium said. “They privation to discover.”

I reached Mr. Droussent by telephone successful Montpelier, France, where, alternatively than slowing down, helium precocious started a caller occupation arsenic a rhythm circuit usher with Discover France.

This speech has been edited for magnitude and clarity.

Cycling involvement was archetypal and tourism second. So sports, OK, but erstwhile you person an unthinkable scenery oregon constituent of view, you halt there. When you are riding with friends, aft 3 hours you tin halt for a brew oregon an crystal pick oregon adjacent sensation a solid of vino if you are successful vineyards. So it’s my mode to cycle.

The publisher, Rizzoli, asked maine to bash the publication “Cycling Atlas North America.” I said I cognize immoderate places but I request to person an American expert. Greg was enthusiastic. So, erstwhile I called backmost the publisher, I said, “I recovered idiosyncratic who knows North America. Maybe you don’t cognize him, but helium was a cyclist a agelong clip ago.” When I said it was Greg LeMond, they conscionable said “Wow.” So, Greg and I wrote the “Atlas North America” unneurotic 40 years aft our archetypal meeting.

Everything changed successful cycling — successful the mode radical look astatine bikes, look astatine cyclists, and we are conscionable astatine the opening of a caller epoch of travel, of bikepacking. It’s precise caller successful France. We saw it conscionable a small spot earlier Covid. But with Covid, and after, determination are a batch of radical who privation to walk immoderate days connected abrogation connected their motorcycle alone, with friends, with kids, for sport, and for tourism — on the Loire à Vélo, for example, to spot the castles and to sensation the champion vino connected the road. There are truthful galore antithetic kinds of rides. But close now, it’s cycling time.

E-bikes are a fantastic development. I’m a large protagonist of e-bikes due to the fact that I spot them bringing radical to thrust who ne'er cycled. I deliberation it helps radical who are not successful bully wellness oregon excessively aged to cycle. It’s a large improvement present successful France.

In the archetypal years of Strava, it was considered a mode to comparison yourself with others. But radical person discovered that you tin find the champion way with Strava tools. It’s unthinkable due to the fact that Strava is simply a technology, but it’s besides a societal media now. And, erstwhile you inquire a question of 3 antithetic radical connected Strava, 2 of them volition reply — you are definite of that — and often each three.

You conscionable person to crook the pages of the book. I effort to premix mountains with coasts, plains and a batch of debased mountains. I was precise amazed astir each the upland ranges I did not cognize of earlier successful Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Portugal, Slovenia — determination are galore landscapes to situation yourself if you want.

Both. But you know, it’s a occupation for publishers and radical successful the bookshops. A batch of bookshop owners archer maine they don’t cognize wherever to enactment my publication — successful sports oregon travel.

I deliberation determination is simply a narration with Covid. There are radical who discovered they tin person vacations 2 hours from their location alternatively than flying for six hours. There is besides a transportation with nature. Maybe it’s a caller mode of beingness successful the 2020s.

One of the smallest countries successful Europe, Montenegro, has a way that climbs supra Kotor with, I think, 35 switchbacks. It’s an unthinkable spot and an unthinkable presumption erstwhile you are astatine the top. A person of excavation told maine astir it 10 years ago. “Oh, you told maine astir L’Alpe d’Huez,” my person said, “but if you privation to spot switchbacks, you person to spell to Kotor.” So, I privation to spell there.

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