A cycling and rock climbing trip together. Both at the same time? Does this work? At a local crag it is usually easy to take the bicycle. This helps to warm up, is environmentally friendly and avoids any parking problems. But what about a long term cycling trip through Europe while rock climbing at the same time? This is exactly what we did! On this page we will give you lots of information how we combined both and how it worked out.
By fair means – carry all your gear:
We decided to follow the slogan ‘by fair means’ and took our climbing gear on the back of our bikes with us. This meant we had a 80m rope with us, two harnesses, climbing shoes, 17 quick draws, beaners and some more. A detailed list of all the gear can be found here. All together this made about 13kg extra weight on our bikes, which is quite a lot. This also slowed us down while cycling. At the beginning we even had trad gear with us. However, we sent this home after two months, as it was not really needed. As helmets we used our ‘normal’ biking helmets, which are not specifically designed or certified for climbing, but we thought it is better than nothing.
Over the year, Simon needed new climbing shoes. This was no problem as larger climbing crags usually have a small climbing shop somewhere close by. Especially on Kalymnos you can buy all imaginable climbing gear in several shops. We also bought the climbing guide books on the way as we did not wanted to carry all of them with us. Whenever we left a climbing area we sent the books home or gave them away to save weight on the bikes.
Besides all the climbing gear we also had all our camping gear with us, which made it easy to sleep and cook everywhere. We even had a solar panel with us. This was not absolutely necessary, but helpful in very remote areas, such as Pyli in Greece.
Location, location, location – where to go climbing:
Doing cycling and rock climbing trip at the same time means you have to chose your climbing spots wisely. You need certain facilities closely around you. That means some form of accommodation or camping spot, access to food and water and preferably a short access to the actual climbing spot. If you have to cycle uphill for an hour to reach the crag, then this might be a bit too much of a warm up. You might be already too tired to give your best climbing preformance. The second important ingredient is the season and exposure of the wall. For example a south facing wall in summer might be impossible to climb due to the heat.
Climb more, cycle less:
We spent in total about 12 weeks climbing during our Europe cycling and rock climbing trip. Our approximate route was along the Adriatic coast down to Greece and then to Turkey via Kalymnos. In between we had long stretches where we could not climb at all, for example in Albania. Cycling alone is not the best training for climbing, and especially our finger skin was usually very weak after a few weeks on the bikes. But luckily it built up quickly each time and we could climb more than enough.
Our cycling and rock climbing trip:
The approximate route for our trip was the Adriatic coast along Croatia down to Greece, where we took a boat to Kalymnos and further to Turkey. On the following pages, you can find a short description of all the climbing areas and crags we visited by bicycle, and we also rate them according to their cycling friendliness, meaning how easy is the access to the crag, accommodation food and water. You can also find climbing related blog entries here.