Tuscany

After surgery Peter has been walking, hiking and cycling more and more. We decided to try a tour fully loaded in September. That’s what we did:

800 km, 11000 altimeters

Sillian (AUT) to Bologna (I): Train (1 day)
Bologna to Orbetello: Bike, fully loaded, always wild camping (6 days)
Orbetello: Enjoying the beach and resting (6 days)
Orbetello to Bologna: Bike, fully loaded, always wild camping (6 days)
Bologna (I) to Sillian (AUT): Train (1 day)

Most of the time Peter travelled light, with four panniers and the tent on top of the back panniers.

Petra had four panniers as well, the Weehoo with Ben in it and a little chair in the front with Esmé. Peter calculated, that Petra was pulling 95 kg with this set up (bike, kids, trailer, luggage). Tuscany is extremely hilly and we did a lot of altimeters. Petra managed to cycle 16 % uphill…

… but sometimes she ran out of energy. Luckily Ben and Esmé liked to help pushing the bike.

We visited very beautiful cities (Bologna, Florence, Siena) and saw a lot of nice little villages. Culture in Tuscany is very impressive and extremely rich.

Ben and Esmé enjoyed cycling a lot. Looking around, singing songs and watching the world passing by are their favourite activities. When taking a break or wild camping they liked to play with stones, sticks and plants. Ben loved every aspect of being on tour. Esmé was a little bit grumpy in the morning. She was probably very hungry and it took too long to get breakfast ready. Furthermore she didn’t eat the Italian white, hard bread with no salt in it. She found it more difficult to play in nature.

One of the things why we enjoy touring so much are beautiful wild camping spots.

One day we had some rain late in the afternoon and we asked at a small farm if we were allowed to wait under a little roof until the rain passes. The old farmer and his wife were extremely friendly. We were allowed to camp in their garden, they provided us with fuel for our stove, gave us food and helped us repairing a broken tent pole. Furthermore they had a lot of toys from their grandchildren which Ben and Esmé were allowed to use. Perfect!

Esmé is still sleeping in the afternoon and we were searching for a solution to make her sleep as comfortable as possible in the chair. The Bobike chair we use has a little cushion on which her head can rest, but it is too small and her head keeps rolling off the cushion continuously. The first days she slept only about half an hour due to this problem. Finally Petra made the cushion a little bit bigger by using her fleece vest which was much more comfortable for Esmé. With this system Esmé slept about an hour every day which was enough.

From Sillian to Bologna and from Bologna back to Sillian we used the train. This caused some pressure, because we had booked our tickets already before we left home. We had to cycle with a schedule which we never like to do. Google maps calculated that from Bologna to Orbetello it was 280 km but it took us 420 km (!!!) to get there and we had 6 days. We had to cycle a lot, with a lot of altimeters. On our way back we cycled 350 km and still a lot up and down. We were very tired and had not so much time to, for example, play with the kids.

Going with bikes and kids and trailers and bags in the train is always a moment of stress. The kids get bored at a certain point and we always have to plan the trip with enough time to change train. On our way back we had a very aggressive and unpleasant experience with the conductor. We made a reservation only for two bikes but according to him we should have made a reservation for the trailer too. We regularly use the train with the bikes in Austria and Italy and never payed for the trailer before. The conductor took our bikes, put them into the train and left the trailer outside. He wanted to close the door and let the train leave but Peter put his foot in between and went out of the train again. We discussed for some minutes but the guy was not thinking of a solution at all. At a certain point Petra went to the second conductor and explained the problem: We have to take the Weehoo with us. In the meanwhile Peter was still with the angry conductor, put all our bags in the train and the trailer. Ben was hysterically running through the train: “The conductor doesn’t want to take my trailer!” The two conductors and Peter discussed a little bit more. After Peters words “You only tell us the rules but don’t think of a solution.” and 10 Euro we were allowed to stay in the train. (In the next few hours there were more cyclists taking this train and the conductor kept being difficult about their bikes.)

Conclusion: Nice weather, beautiful cities and villages, nice camping spots, a lot of kilometers and altimeters and some problems with taking a train … Peters back seems to be strong enough to tour again but we still have to be very careful.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Recovery

Ben loves to take pictures and some of them are really great therefore from now on we will also use his pictures on our website. 

After surgery Peter stayed in bed for another six to eight weeks. He had no pain anymore but the doctors told him that the wounds on the inside and outside can heal best if he lies down. All that time he wasn’t even allowed to do physiotherapy. After this long period of doing nothing (ten to twelve weeks) Peter slowly started to train his muscles again. As you probably can imagine he was completely out of shape. Now, four months after surgery, he is doing very long hikes and short cycling trips (without luggage) in the mountains again. He is still cautious with carrying heavy things though.

Peter found himself a nice little job for the summer: He is marking and repairing hiking trails in the mountains for the Alpenverein Sillian.

In the meanwhile Petra and the kids are touring and hiking too. Petra knows, that she has to carry most weight when Peter is ready to tour again and she tries to get in shape. They do some day-trips every week.

They also did a four-day-trip in the Dolomites (Italy). (Außervillgraten – Cortina d’Ampezzo – Passo Falzarego – Passo Valparola – Bruneck – Außervillgraten)

We also started going out in nature as a family again. We stayed at the Sillianer Hütte (Austria) for two nights and did some short hikes together.

In summer we always have a lot of guests (e.g. from warmshowers.org) which we enjoy a lot.

DSCN1118

A couple of days ago Peter went for a short ride with the Weehoo again for the first time.

IMG_0002

In September we will take a train to Bologna (Italy) and cycle tour to Albinia (Italy) where Petra’s parents rent a little house. After a week on the beach we will cycle back to Bologna and take a train home again. This will be a test ride with luggage for Peter and the first time touring with the four of us this year.

We will keep you updated.

Enjoy the summer!

DSCN1011

Summer memories

As you can see, we did update our website a little bit. Not only the design is new but we now also own the domain thecyclingfamily.com.
Furthermore the (Austrian) media seemed to be very interested in our lifestyle. We did give a talk with the title “Cycle touring – A nomadic lifestyle” several times. You can find the result of this attention under publicity.

But now we want to show you some memories of our summer adventures. As written in an earlier post we did two trips in spring. In summer we did five more trips in Austria, Italy and Slovenia. Each of those seven trips has been between three days and three weeks long. We only went on a trip when the weather forecast was good. We didn’t want to make it ourselves too difficult. We are very happy to be able to tell you that touring with the children worked! Very often we felt happy …

… on the road and during wild camping in our tent.

It has been hot ….

And sometimes a little bit chilly …

Petra went for a one week trip alone with Esmé. She cycled together with our friends Yvo, Annieka and their son Jidde for four days. We think, that it is a very good solution to cycle with several families, the children can play together and the adults share the daily tasks like cooking, setting up the tent et cetera. For sure the ideas about cycle touring of the various families have to be similar. We love to cycle, climb passes, wild camp and we never spend a lot of money, for example, by going out for dinner. Fortunately Yvo and Annieka share most of our ideas. Petra and Esmé had a great time with them. And Petra learned something new: When you step on a wasp it helps to suck the poison out of the sting.

IMGP0067

Thanks Yvo for sucking on Petras dirty foot. 🙂

In general we stayed in the mountains during all our trips and we did a lot of passes …

The children enjoyed playing with natural materials …

… but making campfires is the biggest present we can give to Ben. He simply loves it.

IMG_0084

One of the disadvantages of wild camping is that we have limited possibilities to wash ourselves. No problem for Peter tough, he seems to enjoy taking a bath in ice cold mountain water.

IMG_0062 2

We have collected some of our most beautiful pictures of this summer for those who love the mountains:

And we are very proud to show you this video:

Everything is changing. In a couple of years we will not have to pull any trailers anymore. But for now we have to and we do it with pleasure. It seems as if Esmé got used to our nomadic life on the bike. That’s why we decided to start our next big adventure in spring 2016. We booked a flight from Amsterdam to Vancouver on 3rd of May. We keep you updated.

For now we wish you all a lot of love and happiness.