PLAN ➙ Tuscany Trail, Italy May 2023

I’ve been researching the best bike rides worldwide. This one appeals most.

The Tuscany Trail.  And I’m registered for 2023.  Cost €97.

World’s largest bikepacking event. 

Cycling 470 km independently … but alongside as many as 3000 others.

It’s not a race.  Some finish in 2 days.  Some wander off and never finish.  😀

It starts 1st JUNE 2023.

I actually cycled here on a rental bike in 2010.  Loved it.

From there I’d most like to head back up to the Dolomites.  On to Switzerland.  And north to Arctic Norway to start the LONG ride I had planned for last summer.  CANCELLED when SAS Airlines failed to deliver my bike.

Here’s my PLAN for 2023.

Click PLAY or watch 2021 on YouTube.

Planning to cycle part of the Continental Divide

I was inspired by Lael Wilcox to pencil in a date on my personal calendar:

Friday, June 10th, 2022 at 8AM – Banff, Alberta 

That’s the start of the 2022 Tour Divide Mountain Bike Race.

UPDATE.  I had to cancel this adventure for 2022.  Hopefully I can reschedule it for 2023.

It’s free. No registration. No commitment in advance. I could show up … or not.

I’d dreamed of lining up with Lael and watching her for about 45 seconds as she pedalled out of sight.  😀  Sadly Lael is not racing 2022.  She’s in Europe this summer, instead. 

The Tour Divide roughly follows the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR) is the most recognized and important off-pavement cycling route in the United States, if not the world.

The route crisscrosses the Continental Divide from north to south starting in Banff, Alberta, Canada and finishing at the US/Mexico border in Antelope Wells, New Mexico.

I don’t have time, bike or talent to do the whole thing. But I’m hoping to ride the start down into Montana. Then divert over to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho where I broke down on my 2019 Great American Rail-Trail  bikepacking adventure.  Dave Adlard had to rescue me.  😀

MIGHT do some hiking in Montana. Then head for the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes.

UPDATE:  In 2019 an alternative further west was announced:

Western Wildlands Route (formerly Wild West)

This adventure is the flagship achievement of Bikepacking Roots, a not-for-profit advocacy group founded by Kurt Refsnider and Kaitlyn Boyle in 2017. 

It’s less technical and easier for touring bikes than the Divide — so I may divert on to the Western Wildlands starting at Eureka, Montana.  I’ll see how I’m feeling at the time. 😀 

Blue line to the west is the Western Wildlands Route

Likely I’ll end up making a loop of the two routes, returning to Calgary via Eureka.

For navigation I’ll likely be using the paid FarOut app (formerly Guthook) as it’s the most popular for both Divide and Wild West.  But I hope to have backup maps, as well.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Here’s the Lael Wilcox documentary that got me started planning this trip.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

related – Lael Wilcox Is the Best. Why Does Anyone Else Bother?

(via Adventure Blog)

Blood Road – a cycling documentary

Rebecca Rusch and Huyen Nguyen were first to pedal the entire length of the 1,800 km (1,200 mi) Ho Chi Minh Trail through VietnamLaos and Cambodia.

Blood Road, according to director Nicholas Schrunk, “set out to document an epic cycling expedition as well as Rebecca’s personal journey to visit the crash site [of her father], but we ended up uncovering something much deeper.

It’s a story about the scars, both physical and emotional, that war leaves on families, countries, and cultures, and how they still exist today.

Rebecca Rusch and Huyen Nguyen

Click PLAY or watch a trailer on YouTube.

Superb cinematography. Incredible drone footage.

I was reminded just how stupid and futile was the Vietnam War and all wars. What a waste.

Watch it FREE on Red Bull. (90min)

I learned of Rebecca Rusch from an excellent and inspiring interview on the Adventure Podcast.

What a badass. Mountain Bike Hall Of Fame. Mountain Biker of the Year, Endurance LIVE Awards. Adventure Sport Magazine “Queen of Pain” (2004)

Rebecca says she was never much of cyclist. Climbing was her thing. But she won a lot of races due to grit, determination and pain tolerance.

Says her toughest adventure was her first Iditarod Trail endurance bike race in winter.

cycling Europe on the EuroVello 6

I’ve added this to my bucket list.

EuroVelo 6 (EV6), named the “Rivers Route”, is a long-distance cycling route that runs along 3,653 km (2,270 mi) some of Europe’s major rivers, including much of the Loire, some of the Saône, a short section of the upper Rhine and almost the entire length of Europe’s second longest river, the Danube — from the Atlantic coast of France to the city of Constanța on the Black Sea.

The EV6 traverses ten countries …

Lauren Pears went for a 3 month solo bike ride across Europe last summer – from London to Istanbul – whereby she used the EuroVelo 6 – Atlantic-Black Sea for most of the way.  …

Riding solo on EuroVelo 6 with Lauren Pears

Read Lauren’s Guide To Cycling EuroVelo 6

SUMMING UP – my Pacific NW cycling tour

My major project of summer 2019, I finished a month long trip on August 3rd.

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One excellent adventure.

The Pacific Northwest  is gorgeous. I had fantastic weather. Very few biting insects.

The theme was rails to trails. I tried to ride as many railway lines converted to non-motorized transport as I could.

Kinsol Trestle, Vancouver Island

  • at least 2700 km (1675 miles)
  • BC, Washington State, north Idaho, back to BC
  • 24 days on the bike
  • 2 days off in Port Townsend hosted by the Tumbl Trak crew
  • 8 days off in Coeur d’Alene hosted by the Adlards
  • one night motel


Dave and Jeni

  • 5 bears
  • Cowichan Valley Trail on Vancouver Island
  • Iron Horse rail trail in Washington State
  • Kettle Valley rail trail in central B.C.
  • the Relive app for mapping my rides on Google Earth
  • after many repairs en route, my Ghost hybrid bike is running better than new
  • trestles, tunnels, bridges, fantastic wilderness

old Kettle River rail bridge

Othello Tunnels, Hope BC

Myra Canyon Trestles near Kelowna

Click PLAY or watch a 6 minute highlights video on YouTube.


  • non-motorized rail trails make for excellent cycling
  • some surfaces are MUCH better than others

Issaquah-Preston trail, Seattle

  • highways are dangerous
  • The Great American Rail-Trail is more of a concept than a thing. There is no signage at all, for example. Current maps on the TrailLink appsuck.
  • Canada’s Great Trail app is better, but still sucks
  • I love the free app … but it’s lacking in North America as not many people use it here. It steered me wrong a number of times.
  • Google maps offline is not much help as it only shows automobile routes.
  • a British cyclist recommended the free ridewithgps app. I’ll try it next.
  • Canada’s Great Trail (formerly called the Trans Canada Trail) was better than I expected. B.C. includes many of the best sections.
  • I hiked less than anticipated

Sweet Creek Falls, Idaho

  • I had too much weight on the back. Next time I’ll use saddlebags mounted in front and (possibly) mid-frame
  • bikes need a lot of maintenance. And I’m the worst at bicycle maintenance. En route I fixed one flat. Had 4 broken spokes. Visited 4 bike shops. Had both tires upgraded.
  • Dave had his guys replace the chain and some other hardware. That helped immensely.

I started in Nanaimo wanting to get to Lake Cowichan as quickly as possible.

Lake Cowichan is the western terminus of the Great Trail.

  1. Lake Cowichan to Victoria on the Cowichan Valley Trail

2. Islands to Port Townsend WA

After visiting friends in Victoria, I took the most direct route to visit friends in Port Townsend via the American San Juan Islands.

3. Port Townsend WA to Rattlesnake Lake WA

To avoid some highway miles, Doug & Diana delivered me to the Bainbridge ferry. I cycled the Burke-Gilman rail to trail and others connected to get to the fantastic Iron Horse Trail out of Rattlesnake Lake.

4. Rattlesnake Lake WA to Tekoa WA on the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail

5. Eastern Washington

Just past Ellensburg I was forced off the semi-official GART on to secondary highways and alternative trails that took me through Spokane.

I found this section of GART to be too soft and sandy for my tires. Also it was too disconnected.

I finally stopped at Plummer, Idaho. Dave Adlard picked me up. We dropped the bike at a shop for repair as I’d broken 3 spokes the previous evening. And then took an indulgent 8 days off in Couer d’Alene.

6. North to Castlegar

Dave and Jeni rode with me away from the Adlard log cabin in Athol. We headed towards Sandpoint on back roads and I later rejoined the route shown in the map below. Dave had suggested I cross the border close to pretty Metaline Falls.

6. Castlegar to Hope 

For decades I’d wanted to ride the Kettle Valley Rail (KVR) Trail and the Columbia & Western Rail Trail. It’s totally wonderful. And obviously one of the great cycling routes of the world.

Hope to Vancouver and on to Parksville on the Island was problematic. There is no excellent route yet available. Cyclists I met took a number of different roads.

Psychologically finished at Hope, I managed a series of rides, buses, trains and ferries to cover the 240km in about 36 hours without sleeping.

related – compare my 23 days bikepacking Patagonia, Chile earlier this year

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Hope to Parksville B.C.

Aug 2, 2019 – day 24

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In the middle of the night — HOPE B.C. — I was awoken by rain.

Jumped out of the tent to put the fly which I’ve rarely used over the past month. The weather has been terrific.

It rained hard. The first hard rain of the month.

I packed up quickly in the morning when it let up briefly. But was soaked by the time I got to Tim Hortons and, later, McDonalds.

By about 9:30am the skies looked threatening … but I set out anyway with the vague dream of reaching Vancouver Island same day.

It looked unlikely as — shockingly — all these left coast Vancouver suburb cities have yet to organize a connected non-motorized trail through the big sleazy.

Least bad option was starting west on Laugheed Highway 7.

This was a big letdown after the Kettle Valley rail trail. 😕

Some of the bridges are quite dangerous for cyclists, as well.

Happily, the Golden Ears bridge (opened 2009) is a dream. It has bike-pedestrian protected lanes on each side.

On arrival in Langley I asked a bus driver the best public transit with bike to downtown Vancouver. That led to an intercity bus with bike rack. Cycling 6.5 km. The Sky Train. Ferry to Londsdale Quay. And two more local buses to Horseshoe Bay.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

And I made it to Horseshoe Bay in time for the 10:40pm last ferry. The last of the day.

Should I cross. Or wildcamp on the mainland?

I decided to take the ferry. It was 12:20am on arrival in Nanaimo.

Deciding not to wild camp, I decided to stay up all night in Tim Hortons and ride the final 30km or so at dawn.

Click PLAY or watch my 240km travel day on YouTube.

I went straight to bed on arrival at my parent’s place around 7am.

Great trip. But I’m very, very tired.

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cycling Thalia to Hope B.C.

Aug 1, 2019 – day 23

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Toughest day of the trip.

I was up before dawn anticipating a long day ahead. Then managed to get lost. Twice!

It cost me perhaps 3 hours.

Click PLAY or watch me getting lost on YouTube.

Oops. Seems I ALSO accidentally turned off the Relive app after only 65km. The day was actually at least twice as long.

My navigation skills are poor. But in this case the confusion was mostly due to missing roads on the app.

There was nobody to ask.

Also, there are very few road direction signs in this remote area.


Another problem. One of my saddle bags broke. Luckily I’m a mechanical genius and quickly hacked a fix.

On the bright side I did see a LOT of wildlife this day. Fox. Coyote. Skunk. Marmot. My 5th bear.

Fewer cyclists cover this section. Some trail is in rough shape. Some rockslides never cleared.

The Great Trail gets complicated when it reaches the Coquihala highway.

All the cyclists I spoke with took the highway when they couldn’t find the trail. As I did.

The Coquihala wasn’t as bad as I feared. And as I was cycling downhill, my average speed was probably 30km / hour.

Happily, whomever added these white painted arrows did a good job. These pointed the best route.

One excellent section of the Great Trail required sliding the bike under these barriers.

There was some superb scenery on the way to Hope.

A British cyclist reminded me how lucky we were to have the chance to cycle in paradise.

Wondering about the time all day, I was happy to reach the Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park before it closed at dark. Fantastic. And I’d never been before.

In the Coquihalla Gorge – the river cut a 300 foot deep channel of solid granite. A straight line of tunnels were built through it which are known now as the Othello Tunnels. …

This park highlights the Kettle Valley Railway grade that passes through the canyon and 5 tunnels which were built in 1914.

I wild camped close the very end of the 450 km Kettle Valley rail trail on the outskirts of Hope.

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