Biking the Euros – The Ride

Two thousand kilometers. Ten major German cities. Thirty-five days. Thirty thousand feet of total elevation gain. From Flensburg in the north, along Germany’s Danish border to picturesque Mittenwald at the Austrian border in the south. Past the Baltic Sea, along the Elbe River, through Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, among the medieval Rhine Valley’s rolling vineyards, and to Bavaria’s lush, green-covered Alps.

This summer I’m riding my bike solo across Germany – to raise money for those battling depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide, to share my story of hope through mental health struggles, and to connect with you and others who follow me on this journey. While I ride, the eyes of the European football world will be trained on Germany, as 24 countries compete for the once-every-four-years Euro 2024 football championship. I’ll be riding through each of the 10 Euro 2024 host cities while powerhouses England, Italy, France, Spain and others compete for the cup and while superstars like Kylian Mbappé, Harry Kane and Cristiano Ronaldo vie for the coveted Golden Boot. 

The ride will average roughly 70 kilometers per day, with 28 days of cycling and at least nine days of rest built in, making this far more marathon than sprint. I’ll be in the saddle of a German-made Cube Nature trekking bike, built for touring, with a front suspension and tires wide enough to handle the occasional gravel trails I’ll encounter. I’ll have two pannier bags on a rear rack and a handlebar bag up front. My computer, a compact pump, a couple spare tubes, and a few other essentials will accompany the bare minimum of clothing I plan to bring – as light as I can possibly be for the climbs I’ll regularly face. I’ll be using the Komoot app, its paid version with downloadable maps, to plan my ride and to keep me on route along the way.

I’ve never done a ride even remotely as long as this, so it’s with a bit of trepidation and doubt that I begin this one. When I was living in Bavaria four years ago, I did a lot of cycling. And I embarked on a few 2-day and 3-day tours. But 35 days and 2,000 kilometers is a completely different beast, which is why I’m limiting my daily kilometers and building in a lot of off-days. My Cube bike, the bike a friend of mine dubbed “Black Betty,” will also be put to the test. I bought it second hand in Munich, and I fully realize it’s not a top-of-the-line bike. I’ve contemplated buying something new, something lighter, something better. But Black Betty and I have been through a lot together, and I want to give her the chance to take me on this ride. My maintenance skills, my knack for changing a tube or adjusting gears, are pretty weak, so I’ll do some repair practice before the ride and I’ll lean into the kindness of other riders or bike shop owners to assist me when needed. This will be a learning experience. A chance for growth. I’m ready to embrace it! 

Because this ride is all about connection, because I’m hoping to meet a ton of people along the way, and because I’m needing to cut costs wherever I can, I’ll be relying on the generosity and hospitality of hosts for most of my nightly stays. If you live in Deutschland, this could include you! I’ll be using an online subscription service called Warm Showers to find some of my hosts. Their focus is helping bike tourers connect with other Warm Showers community members for free places to stay along a ride, and their tagline is, “Ride. Host and connect.” Perfect. I’m also hoping to find hosts by leaning into connections I’ve made during my time working for two German international schools and by being a member of several online teacher groups. The Komoot community will aid me in fine-tuning my route and possibly providing some night-time accommodations as well, and I’ll use Couchsurfing when necessary. And, I do plan to book a pension or hotel stay from time to time in order to give this sometimes introverted personality the decompression time it’s going to need.

My Biking the Euros ride is all about growth, discovery and connection. For me, and hopefully, in some small way, for you. It’s my sincere wish that you and I connect along the way, virtually or perhaps even physically. Register for the free version of Komoot to monitor my progress, read my blog and subscribe to my weekly newsletter, follow me on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, send me well-wishes along the way, help me find host stays, donate to my To Write Love on Her Arms campaign, and if you’re willing, contribute the biggest gift of all by sharing your own story of finding beauty through courage, hope or connection. I need you. And it’s my belief we all need each other. Thanks for reading, and thanks for considering how to use your beauty and your talents to connect with this adventure. Thanks! Now let’s ride!

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