High tech route planning on-the-fly for cycle touring

In addition to our travelogue, I’m going to start making some posts describing our particular style of cycle touring, in case others may be interested in the more technical details of our trip. One of the things I love about cycle touring is that there are as many ways to have fun touring as there are tourists, and I think we are no exception. I hope our experience is useful to some of you. For the first article, I’m going to write about how we have planned our routes and the other options we considered.

Introduction and Goals

For a short tour, it’s possible to completely plan your route, your stops, etc. beforehand. For longer tours, it’s important to have the ability to be flexible and plan specific routes as you go. With modern smartphones and GPS units, it’s become easier to do this without bringing a laptop or lots of maps. I wanted to find a solution where I could plan very good routes both ahead of time and on-the-fly using just my smartphone and a GPS unit. The GPS unit needed to have the ability to follow a route and show turn-by-turn directions.

Cycle computer

Although I really liked the Garmin 1000, with its color touchscreen, it has a really clunky interface, and there’s no way way to send a route from your smartphone to the Garmin. Garmin has the bike GPS market almost locked up, but after some research, I found a good alternative! The Wahoo ELEMNT is a $350USD bike GPS with almost all the features of the Garmin 1000, plus it has a kick ass smartphone app that supports, among other power features, the ability to sync routes with several websites and also to send GPX and TCX routes directly from your smartphone!

I made the plunge and bought one, and I love it. The black and white screen is not as nice as the Garmin’s color touchscreen, but the route syncing and smartphone app more than make up for it. It also has better battery life in my experience, which is important since we are living on solar power for much of our tour.


The smartphone choice was more about worldwide internet coverage than route planning capabilities. I decided on Google Project Fi service in order to get coverage in 135 countries for roughly the same reasonable price. Cell phone coverage is important for the ability to plan routes even when WiFi is not available. This service only works with a select few Android phones, and I settled on the Nexus 5x for its lower cost and decent specs.

Websites for route planning

Now, the only thing left is to actually plan the routes to send to the GPS. There are several services I have been using to do this.

Strava – although the web site is not optimized for mobile, it does work okay to plan routes by going to www.strava.com/athletes/routes which you have to open in Chrome or Safari. Unfortunately there is no mobile app. It has been my favorite option because:

  • It syncs directly with the Wahoo ELEMNT (when on WiFi) and also with the smartphone app, so you can sync over cellular, and then later send to the ELEMNT even with no internet connection.
  • By default, it follows roads that Strava has found to be popular with cyclists. This means that you usually end up cycling on roads where actual cyclists go. This can be good and bad, so you have to pay some attention. In areas where mountain biking is popular, it will tend to pick off-road routes vs. paved routes, which has put us in some difficulty on our light touring bikes at times. In areas where racing groups are popular, it may pick really difficult climbs because that’s where the racers like to train. In commuting areas, it will often pick busy main streets rather than quiet more comfortable roads for touring. All that said, it will almost always pick a really decent route just by selecting a start and end point, and it’s relatively easy to add multiple routing points to go elsewhere. The heatmap overlay is very helpful to visually see where the popular routes are. Once you save the route, just sync the ELEMNT over WiFi (using your phone’s hotspot feature works), or sync the Wahoo app and then send the route over Bluetooth.

There are some down sides with Strava however. It is very fiddly to use on the phone, requiring good eyesight and very precise finger movement. It’s also somewhat buggy, sometimes locking up and requiring you to start over again. And it’s not possible on mobile to insert new way points into the route, making it tricky to adjust the route that is automatically calculated. It also requires you to use the frustrating “Manual Mode” sometimes for roads that it doesn’t know exists or roads that obviously connect together, but that it doesn’t realize do.

    Google maps – Google maps is an obvious choice for finding cycling directions. When you are online, it has an option to suggest cycling routes instead of driving. The routes are generally good, but they very strongly favor dedicated bike paths, including unpaved ones, so it can sometimes give directions not suitable for light touring bikes but good for mountain bikes. When you get the directions, you can either follow them on your phone, or you can send them to the ELEMNT using the following procedure:

    1. Select the option in Google Maps to share the route and select Copy to Clipboard.
    2. Paste the directions into a text editor, like Google Keep.
    3. Look for the link at the end of the directions posted that looks like https://goo.gl/maps/ABCDEFG. Copy this link.
    4. Visit https://mapstogpx.com and paste in the link into the field and tap the button to download the GPX file.
    5. Most of the time you can simply open the GPX file using the ELEMNT app, and it will import it immediately.
    6. Sometimes the ELEMNT app gives an error about an invalid GPX file. This can sometimes be solved by simplifying the GPX file by visiting http://m.gpsies.com and turning on the highest level of Route Simplication under Options. This will give a much smaller GPX file, which usually works better and with no noticeable loss of information.

    One unfortunate problem with this: Google maps often gives several route options, and you can select which one you want by tapping on it. However, mapstogpx.com will always only pick the first route option that Google gives, so it can be frustrating to get the route you want. One workaround is to add a secondary waypoint to force the first route suggestion to be the one you want.

      Find GPX courses online – many websites have GPX routes for download for great touring routes that you can find by Googling particular areas. For example, Italy has GPX files available for its EuroVelo routes at http://italy-cycling-guide.info/ . Once you’ve downloaded them, it’s easy to import into the ELEMNT app, though some GPX files may need to be simplified (see instructions above).

      Use the Wahoo app – The ELEMNT app has an option to search for a destination either by tapping it or searching for a name. This is very convenient, but in my experience, it does not give good directions. It tends to pick the absolute shortest path, ignoring cycling routes, road surface, etc. Hopefully they will improve this in future updates, as this is definitely the easiest option.

      Other options

      I considered many other options that may work for others, so here I will list them and explain why I decided not to use this option.

      Garmin cycle computers – I could not find any way to plan a route on the smartphone and send it to the Garmin without having a laptop. I tried everything I could think of, including importing GPX files to Garmin Connect website and then syncing over Bluetooth using the Connect app (very difficult and ridiculously buggy from a smartphone), using a USB OTG connector on my phone to connect the Garmin device via USB (couldn’t mount the file system in order to copy GPX routes), and lots of others, all ending in failure. If you are bringing a laptop with you, though, this might be a very good solution for you, as it’s relatively easy to copy a GPX file to the Garmin using a USB cable.

      Maps.me – This is definitely a great app to have with you on a cycling tour, especially because it has offline bicycle routing. However, as of this writing, you cannot export its directions to GPX files, so it’s impossible to get the directions on your GPS device. This means that you must mount your smartphone on your bike and follow the directions on the screen. This may work for some people who expect to have power every night to charge their phone, but since we are using solar many days, I found that Maps.me uses an extremely high amount of battery to do the routing and provide directions, so it would not work for us.

      Google maps – another must have app, of course, and it is possible to download offline map areas. However, when offline, you can only get driving directions, not cycling. Also, you would have to mount the smartphone on your bike, and while Google Maps uses significantly less power than Maps.me, it is still too much to keep charged by solar power every day.

      Paper maps – I know many tourists swear by paper maps, which require no batteries, are often available with water resistant coatings, and keep you free of technological distractions. There is definitely something to be said for this approach, but it was difficult for me to find good paper maps for the whole around-the-world trip that we have planned. It would have involved lots of research and stops at tourist offices, etc to collect all the maps we need, and they take up space and weight.

      Other apps I recommend for touring

      OsmAnd – a good, if not a little clunky, front end to the amazing and free OpenStreetMap maps. It includes cycling modes, routing, downloading offline areas, following GPX tracks, and tons more.

      Rome2Rio – great option for finding ferries, flights, public transportation, and other routes for those segments where you cannot or choose not to ride.

      DotTrax – developed by a friend of mine in San Diego, this Android app is a great replacement for a cycling computer with lots of options including combining multi-day tracks, and real-time wind direction reports so you know when you’ve got a headwind or tailwind. It also connects with wireless HRMs. If you will be using your phone as your GPS unit, I highly recommend this app for tracking your ride.

      Test Ride #1

      Tomorrow Steve and I will go on our first fully-loaded test run with our bikes all geared out as if we were on our ride around the world. We’re only going 30 miles to a campground nearby, but we’ll treat our ride as if we were 10,000 miles from home. The goal is to test out our new gear and see how it performs.

      Before our last tour, we did 4 test runs, and each one was invaluable to figuring out what works and what doesn’t. We made tweaks after each ride that we were very thankful for when we were actually on tour.

      The picture above is an approximation of what my bike will look like fully packed. I’m still in the process of actually packing all the bags, and I’ve ordered one more frame bag that won’t get here until after Christmas.

      I’m curious to learn:

      • How does the bike handle fully loaded? It’s more weight than we had on our summer tour (more tools and warmer clothes mostly), but still a pretty lightweight setup.
      • How will we like our new 2-person tent? I think it’ll be a huge improvement vs. having two separate tents because we can share on the weight and setup time. It also has freestanding poles so can be put up even when there isn’t stakeable ground.
      • How will the new underseat bag work out? It’s a much more legitimate system compared to my improvised set of Velcro straps on the last tour, and it holds a lot more and is waterproof so I think I’ll love it.
      • Similarly, how well does the handlebar stabilizer work? It’s also much more robust than my series of straps and bags from this summer, so it should save us lots of time, even if it’s a bit heavier.
      • I got a larger frame bag, and I’m hoping I can still get the water bottles out easily.
      • How difficult will it be to make coffee in the morning with our ultralight stove?

      We’ll post afterwards (maybe during) to let you know how it went!

      Downsizing and Preparation

      Although we’ve been enjoying our time off since leaving our jobs in preparation for this trip, we’ve also been getting a lot done. With having to downsize from two households worth of stuff to what we can fit on a bicycle, there’s quite a lot we have to work on. Here’s what we’ve accomplished so far. There’s still a lot to do, but we feel like we are on top of it now.


      • Flew out and visited both of our families
      • Met up with a bunch of friends and planned some time to meet up with as many as possible
      • Planned a going away party in February


      • Donated a ton of clothes, kitchen items, etc. to local charities and friends
      • Donated all of our Christmas decorations to friends and family
      • Sold/donated all of our books to a local used bookstore
      • Sold a whole bunch of stuff on eBay that we won’t be taking (my saxophone, iPad, etc.)
      • Sold some of our furniture that we don’t use often using OfferUp
      • Found friends who will adopt my kitties, booked a flight to fly them to Dallas


      • Planned our route in detail with turn-by-turn GPS routes and notes about where to stop and what to see as well as expected temperatures and lodging options (camping, hostels, WarmShowers, CouchSurfing, hotels, etc.)
      • Met up with friends and family who have traveled (or lived) in the countries we are visiting to get tips for what to see what where to ride
      • Researched visa requirements for all countries we will be visiting (the only one we need to apply for ahead of time is India, and the EU’s Schengen visa is the most restrictive due to the size of the EU)
      • Researched health insurance options and decided that BlueShield’s emergency international coverage should be sufficient, switched Steve to this
      • Booked our flight to Lisbon, Portugal, and booked our first few nights at a hostel
      • Scanned all physical documents and stored them in the cloud so I can access them from my phone if needed
      • Switched to a good travel credit card with no foreign transaction fees and good travel benefits (Chase Sapphire)


      • Continuing to cycle to maintain our fitness (though we haven’t been very good at this)
      • Booked a wilderness first aid class (from REI) so we can both be prepared in case we have an accident in the boonies
      • Planned a fully-loaded test run next week to a local campground to test out our new gear
      • Met with our doctors and got a checkup, necessary vaccinations, emergency antibiotics, and two years of refills authorized for medication we take regularly
      • Wrote a short description of who we are and what we’re doing and translated it into dozens of languages for the countries we are planning to travel to (using Google Translate as well as friends who speak those languages)


      • Finalized and purchased a list of equipment and clothing that we’ll bring. Most we already had, but we picked up:
        • Warmer lightweight clothes
        • New bike shoes that look like regular tennis shoes
        • Water filter system and purification tablets
        • International power/USB adapter
        • Waterproof passport holder
      • Bought new bikes that are more suitable for touring, sold Steve’s previous bike
      • Switched to LG Nexus 5x phones with Google Project Fi international phone service
      • Switched from Garmin to Wahoo ELEMNT bike computer, which allows better on-the-go route planning

      Our (Rough) Itinerary

      I will try to keep this updated as we go, but please contact us to get the most accurate dates.

      Many of our friends have asked us for our itinerary so they can meet us abroad. We think it would be absolutely fantastic to meet as many of our friends as possible during our bike travels! What better way to keep in touch with you all.

      Keep in mind, however, that our tour is quite open-ended. Days may get rained out, we may need to have unexpected repairs, perhaps we’ll find new routes to take and things to see, or maybe even hop on a train to skip some areas. So, if you’d like to try to meet up with us, it’s best if your plans are somewhat flexible, and even better if you have some kind of transportation option to meet us where ever we may be (hopefully not too far off the itinerary!).

      So here it goes:

      Europe 2017

      • March 6-10: Lisbon, Portugal
      • March 18-20: Seville, Spain
      • March 28: Granada, Spain
      • April 2-3: Valencia, Spain (possibly ferry to Ibiza)
      • April 6-10: Barcelona, Spain
      • April 16-18: Marseilles, France (possibly take train to Paris)
      • April 23: Cinque Terre, Italy
      • April 25: Pisa, Italy
      • April 26-27: Florence, Italy
      • April 29-May 1: Venice, Italy
      • May 8: Zagreb, Croatia (this is a maybe)
      • May 11-13: Split, Croatia
      • May 14-16: Dubrovnik, Croatia
      • May 16-21: Budva, Montenegro
      • May 23-24: Tirana, Albania
      • May 27: Corfu Island, Greece
      • May 31-June 2: Patras, Greece
      • June 8-June 16: Athens, Greece (plus island hopping likely to Mykanos, Santorini, and Rhodes)
      • June 17-22: Fethiye, Turkey (and surrounding coastline)
      • July 1-3: Izmir, Turkey
      • July 12-16: Istanbul, Turkey
      • July 21: Varna, Bulgaria
      • July 24-?? Bucharest, Romania (we may stop here a while to wait for our EU/Schengen visa to reset, or we may alter our route through Ukraine, Serbia, or elsewhere)
      • August 22-24: Budapest, Hungary (Schengen visa should have reset around now)
      • August 25-27: Bratislava, Slovakia
      • August 28-29: Vienna, Austria
      • September 2-3: Prague, Czech Republic
      • September 6-25: Berlin, Germany (this is the stopping point for our European portion)

      Asia 2017-2018

      • September 25-October 1: New Delhi, India
      • October 2-4: Agra, India (Taj Mahal)
      • October 21-24: Mumbai / Bombay, India
      • October 30: Goa, India
      • November 1-9: Kerala, India
      • November 19-22: Chennai, India
      • December 11-15: Kolkata, India
      • December 22: Sylhet, Bangladesh
      • January 3-10, 2018: Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma)
      • January 18-20: Yangon, Myanmar
      • January 30-February 1: Chiang Mai, Thailand
      • February 3: Chiang Rai, Thailand
      • February 9-10: Luang Prabang, Laos
      • February 15-20: Vientiane, Laos
      • more to come…

      Planning: Barcelona, Spain to Marmaris, Turkey

      I’ve completed the route planning for the next section of our trip from Barcelona, Spain to Marmaris, Turkey! I’ve spent days poring over maps, tourist guides, cycling blogs, Strava heatmaps, and recommendations from friends.

      Some people don’t like to plan their cycle tour in a lot of detail, preferring to wing it as they go. For me, the planning is a huge amount of fun, and it allows us to learn about the cultures and history of the areas we will be riding through. More practically, because we have Visa deadlines to contend with (including EU’s complicated Schengen visa with its rolling 90-day time limit), we have to have some structure. And of course, we are still allowing plenty of time for unplanned deviations and excursions.


      After leaving Barcelona around early April 2017, we quickly enter into southern France and ride through the Provence region, passing through Avignon, where we’ll see the Pont du Gard Roman Aqueduct and the “Triumphal Arch” of Orange, amongst many other things. I rode through Provence in 2003, and I remember the food being divine, and the people welcoming.

      If we have time, we’ll take the TGV (high speed train) from Marseilles to Paris and experience Paris en printemps. We then head east through beautiful Mediterranean coastal towns including Cannes, Antibes, Nice, and the small country of Monaco, before entering Italy.


      So much to see in Italy! We will ride along the rugged coast through Cinque Terre towards Pisa, then divert inland, passing through San Giamignano and Siena, before taking some rest days in Florence. We then ride over the Tuscan hills towards Venice, where you’ll undoubtedly see some gondola selfies posted. East of Italy, we pass through Slovenia for a hot second, before entering Croatia.


      Finally outside of the Schengen visa zone, we can relax a bit and go at a more leisurely pace. It should be near May now, and we’ll have until September until our Schengen visa renews and we start getting more time in Europe. Luckily, Croatia, Montenegro, and Albania have a lot to experience, and it looks like we’ll be here in shoulder season before the hordes of tourists arrive in July.

      Our first village of Grožnjan is a hilltop artist colony. This area of Croatia on the Istrian peninsula is famous for its olive oil, truffles, and is a foodie utopia. We’ll post lots of Bike Stomach photos.

      We then continue around the peninsula, exploring caves, and visiting quiet coastal villages, before taking a ferry to the island of Cres, one of the many islands in the Croatian archipelago. After a night of camping on the island, we ferry to Krk, and ride inland to see the waterfall lakes in Plitvice Lakes national park. We may also take a few days to continue on inland towards Zagreb, the capital city.

      Further south, we stop in Zadar to listen to the Sea Organ, an organ played by the ocean waves! In Split, we will island hop to see ancient towns and beautiful beaches, ending with Korčula with its walled city. We ride the length of Korčula and then ferry back to the mainland on the Pelješac peninsula. Taking a quick detour, we pass into Bosnia for a few kilometers. We end our Croatian tour in Dubrovnik.


      Not known as a cycling destination, the country nevertheless looks beautiful. From Budva, we will climb to the top of Lovcen National Park, where you can see 80% of the country on a clear day and explore the historic mausoleum. We will also visit the Monastery Ostrog, built right into the side of a cliff, and pass through the capital of Podgorica before heading south along the coast to Albania.


      Albania is an up-and-coming cyclist destination with several adventure tour companies starting up tours in the country, as well as a push from the Albanian tourism board to promote outdoor activities. There are even a few cycling-friendly hostels.

      We plan to explore Tirana, visit the Berat fortress, spend some time in Sarande, and check out the Roman city of Butrint before crossing the border into Greece.


      It should be around June now, and our first stop in Greece will be to visit the Greek island of Corfu, where we hope to camp for a night before continuing on towards Patras. Along the way, we’ll stop to wade through springs, see waterfalls, and ferry to the Ionian island of Cephalonia to visit the Fanari lighthouse. We then ferry to Patras.

      From Patras, we stop at a few ancient Roman sites including Olympia, Temple of Apollo Epicurius, Mycenae, Tiryns, and Epidaurus. Finally, we arrive in Athens.

      Once in Athens, we will explore the Roman architecture and historical sites, and then begin island hopping. Depending on ferry schedules, we hope to visit Mykonos, Paros, Santorini, and Rhodes.

      Rhodes is just off the coast of Turkey, so once we get our Turkish visa, we’ll hop on a ferry to Marmaris. I’ll start working on planning this part next, but our rough plan is to hang out in Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, and maybe Ukraine until our Schengen visa renews, at which point, we head back west into Europe towards Berlin. More to come!

      World wide Internet

      My initial thought about getting online during our trip was to get prepaid SIM cards in each country where we plan to spend enough time to make it worthwhile.

      This would work fine, but it means we’ll have some offline time, either when we first enter a new country, or when we go through countries for just a few days when it’s not worth it to get a SIM card.

      I just learned about Google Project Fi, a worldwide cell service that works in 130+ countries and costs just $10/GB for data coverage, worldwide!

      The catch is that you have to have one of 3 Google phones. Being an iPhone user, this is kind of a bummer because we’ll have to carry an extra device, but it does have some benefits:

      • The plan supports tethering, so with just one phone, we can get online abroad with up to 10 devices.
      • There is no bandwidth limiting so we can get up to 4G speeds in any country.
      • The iPhone should be able to support iCloud backup because it will appear as a WiFi hotspot vs a data connection.
      • My bike computer will only sync routes over WiFi, so having a hotspot is better than having multiple SIM cards for each phone (that may not support tethering).
      • We will have an extra phone with us in case one of ours has a problem.
      • I’ll maintain a single phone number anywhere in the world, which is important for 2 factor authentication, not to mention making it easier for friends and family to reach us.

      There may still be times where it makes sense to get local SIM cards, but it’s hard to beat $10/GB and the convenience this will offer us.

      Going digital…

      We all have that box or filing cabinet filled with paperwork. If you’re like me, you dread going anywhere near it. Every time you open the box or drawer, you shove in papers into a space they shouldn’t fit and sit on the lid to close it, hoping that nothing breaks. Tax returns, bank statements, you name it… They are bursting at the seams…

      When you expect to give up your apartment, though, this box finally becomes a chore that you have to address. It’s too heavy and bulky to store or move, so the best bet is to scan it all and shred the papers so you can finally leave it behind. Digital storage is almost free, but taking the time to scan all this shit is a huge undertaking.

      For the last few weeks, I’ve been filling my spare time with digitizing and sorting all of this junk. After struggling with my horribly slow and buggy scanner, I finally broke down and bought a dedicated document scanner. It’s about 10x faster, and I’m hoping I can sell it easily when I’m done with it, but at least it’s cutting down on the time to put all this stuff in the cloud. It feels like such a waste of time, but we’re all legally obligated to keep our important documents accessible, so it has to be done.
      Just one box of files to go. Wish me luck!

      Bypassing Iran…

      It’s an unfortunate fact in this world that something as basic as your place of birth can limit your options in travel (and indeed in life). For Americans, this fact almost always works in our favor, and many Americans take this privilege quite for granted. Most of the world is open to us to freely travel, even if few take advantage of this unique ability.

      I am admittedly naive in this regard, though I’m understanding it more and more as I travel. When I was in Thailand last year, I was struck by the stark difference in a US citizen visiting Thailand vs. a Thai citizen visiting the US. A US citizen merely flashes his passport and has a simple 30 second conversation and is granted a 30-day visa that can be extended fairly easily to up to 6 months.

      A Thai citizen on the other hand, in order to simply visit the US, needs to prepare and present complicated paperwork complete with references, bank statements, etc. that can take months to prepare.

      Americans do have some restrictions, though, due in part to our government’s activity overseas. In particular, the countries of Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, are likely unsafe for a bicycle trip.

      Now some may claim that our state department’s advisories for these countries border on overly cautious, or that there are indeed safe parts of the country to visit, and I’m sure that is somewhat true; I believe people everywhere are fundamentally good and welcoming, and probably we would be fine. But there are bad actors out there, and there are incidents targetting US citizens, so I feel that it would be foolish to flaunt our freedom in the face of these warnings simply to accomplish an arbitrary goal of our holiday cycling tour. I have read stories of other cyclists from western countries who have put security in those countries in danger so that they could cycle their chosen routes, and I simply don’t think that’s a good decision.

      So instead, I’m trying to find an acceptable route from Istanbul, Turkey to New Delhi, India. A simple option would be to hop on a plane, and there are many flights available. But we’d skip a huge portion of Asia by doing so, and we’d also arrive in India during the monsoon season; waiting another few months would be much better. One other option I’m looking into is cycling north through Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Russia, and some of the -stans to end up in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. This, apparently, is a popular place for backpackers to hang out while they work on getting their east Asia visas sorted out, and there are quick and cheap direct flights to New Delhi.

      I’m warming up to this option, and I’d love to hear your feedback!

      Planning: Iberian Peninsula

      I’ve planned the first month or so of our around-the-world ride. This route is based on what I’ve learned through many Google searches and a few discussions with friends. If you have some tips, please leave a comment or message me @tnorman on Twitter!


      We start in Lisbon, Portugal, where we will spend a few days in a hostel or WarmShowers while we get our bikes assembled and acclimate to the time and culture changes.

      Screen Shot 2016-09-25 at 6.59.24 PM.pngWe then bike inland towards Evora, checking out Recinto Megalítico dos Almendres, the Portuguese Stonehenge, and the adorable town of Evora, riding through rural agricultural areas. We want to get away from the coast for a bit to experience some of the more local Portuguese culture. Along the way, we will camp or stay in hostels or simple hotels.

      We then head back south through Beja and then back towards the western coast of Portugal before tuScreen Shot 2016-09-25 at 7.01.30 PM.pngrning south. Next, we’ll ride out to the most southwest corner of Portugal, to see Cap Saint-Vincent, Cabo de São Vicente, and
      then ride east through the Algarve region. We will keep away from the over-developed coast in lieu of experiencing the more local, less heavily-trafficked roads.

      Once in Spain, we bee-line to Seville, the capital of southern Spain’s Andalusia, which is famous for flamenco dancing!

      After a day or two in Seville (maybe we will learn to dance flamenco!), we detour south to Tarifa, where we will hop on a ferry to Tangier, Morocco for the day. Although it’s a bit touristy, we thought it would be a shame to skip putting our feet on the African continent for our first time, and we hope to try some amazing tagines.

      Screen Shot 2016-09-25 at 7.03.31 PM.pngBack in Spain, we ride north to Ronda, a mountaintop city that’s set dramatically above a
      deep gorge. From there, we head north to Puente Genil, where the Via Verde de la Subbética (“greenway”, or dedicated bike path) takes us east for dozens of kilometers before veering south towards Granada. In Granada, we will visit the famous Alhambra, a palace/fortress complex originally constructed in 889 AD!

      After Granada, we ride inland (avoiding the over-developed Mediterranean coast with vacation rentals and all-inclusive resorts) through Murcia, before getting back on the coast just before Valencia.

      From Valencia, we will practice our “sibilant s” and take the coastal route to Barcelona, where friends tell me we may want to spend more than just a few days. It will perhaps be April when we get here, so depending on weather forecasts, we will either keep riding towards France/Italy, or spend some time waiting for warmer riding days.