To Find Europe’s Best Bike Routes, a Cycling Writer Asked the Crowd
You covered Greg LeMond when he was a cyclist, but you also wrote your previous book, “Cycling Atlas North America,” with him. How did that happen?
The publisher, Rizzoli, asked me to do the book “Cycling Atlas North America.” I said I know some places but I need to have an American expert. Greg was enthusiastic. So, when I called back the publisher, I said, “I found someone who knows North America. Maybe you don’t know him, but he was a cyclist a long time ago.” When I said it was Greg LeMond, they just said “Wow.” So, Greg and I wrote the “Atlas North America” together 40 years after our first meeting.
How has cycling changed, especially with travel, during your four decades covering the sport?
Everything changed in cycling — in the way people look at bikes, look at cyclists, and we are just at the beginning of a new era of travel, of bikepacking. It’s very new in France. We saw it just a little bit before Covid. But with Covid, and after, there are a lot of people who want to spend some days on vacation on their bike alone, with friends, with kids, for sport, and for tourism — along the Loire à Vélo, for example, to see the castles and to taste the best wine on the road. There are so many different kinds of rides. But right now, it’s cycling time.
How do you feel about e-bikes?
E-bikes are a fantastic development. I’m a great supporter of e-bikes because I see them bringing people to ride who never cycled. I think it helps people who are not in good health or too old to cycle. It’s a great development here in France.
How have communities and technologies like Strava changed the way people explore the world on a bicycle?
In the first years of Strava, it was considered a way to compare yourself with others. But people have discovered that you can find the best route with Strava tools. It’s incredible because Strava is a technology, but it’s also a social media now. And, when you ask a question of three different people on Strava, two of them will answer — you are sure of that — and often all three.
How will this book help cyclists find their next epic rides?
You just have to turn the pages of the book. I try to mix mountains with coasts, plains and a lot of low mountains. I was very surprised about all the mountain ranges I did not know of before in Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Portugal, Slovenia — there are many landscapes to challenge yourself if you want.
So, is this book about cycling or travel?
Both. But you know, it’s a problem for publishers and people in the bookshops. A lot of bookshop owners tell me they don’t know where to put my book — in sports or travel.
Why does cycling resonate so much with today’s travelers?
I think there is a relationship with Covid. There are people who discovered they can have vacations two hours from their home rather than flying for six hours. There is also a connection with nature. Maybe it’s a new way of life in the 2020s.
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