What would you do if you had a few months off work?
For us this questions was quite easy to answer: "cycle all across Europe and have ice cream in a different city every day"!
We are Jenni from Finland and Chiara from Germany, two women in their early thirties who love to ride bikes (and eat ice cream).
We found each other, as well as our passion for cycling, while working for a sportswear company in the south of Germany. When we both individually started planning to take a sabbatical we quickly realised that our ideas of what we would like to do with our time off were quite aligned.
Therefore we decided to spend three months together cycling from Italy to the alleged northernmost point of mainland Europe: North Cape!
Heading north and wanting to share the freedom of riding bikes with other women we decided to collect donations for #BIKEYGEES e.V.* during our travels. Lead by this purpose and supported by friends, family and the cycling community we came up with a name for our project: NORTH STAR - Collective Pedaling.
After a few months of planning we started our adventure on May 1st 2021 from Naples (IT) and finished at North Cape (NO) on the 30th July. In total we rode for 70 days and took one rest day each week. Wanting to see as much as possible of Europe while also being in the middle of a pandemic, we had to rearrange our route a few times on the go. Our path lead us through 11 countries and across the Baltic Sea, covering 6,600 kilometres on our bikes while being accompanied by friends for some sections along the way.
This is a story about cycling, friendship, community and the urge to encourage many more women to share in our passion.
*if you want to know more about #BIKEYGEES e.V. or support them go to betterplace.org/de/projects/52453-bikeygees-e-v-frauen-radfahrtraining or find them on Instagram and bikeygees.org/en .
Our first ride was off to a rainy and rocky (cobblestone) start. We included this route from Naples Airport to Pompeii in our collection as we initially planned to do a southbound loop for the start of our trip, exploring the Amalfi Coast.
As we had to quarantine for five days after entering Italy we…
Official first ride of our tour towards North Cape!
The starting leg of this route is the same as from Naples Airport to Pompeii but reversed. A lot of cobble stones and traffic.
After 25 kilometers of riding we reached the city center of Naples. Cycling there is definitely not for anyone with weak nerves…
Get recommendations on the best single tracks, peaks, & plenty of other exciting outdoor places.
Day two of our tour offered plenty of kilometers along coastal roads and stunning views. Make sure to have your lights charged and ready as there were quite a few tunnels along the way, some of them without any lighting.
For our daily dose of ice cream we decided to halt in a little village called Sperlonga…
The morning of day three started with a 30 kilometres stretch of Latina coastline.
Instead of only staying on the promenade we kept switching back and forth between coast road and a gravel path running parallel on the other side of the lakes. Good weather and little traffic made this a super fun segment…
Day four was an adventure!
Lot’s of traffic, big roads and confusing street alignments made leaving Rome quite a mission. But once we were out of the city we could relax and enjoy the lush green landscape.
After accomplishing a few very tough climbs (partially „hiking“ our 23kg heavy bikes up) the surface…
After our gravel adventures of the previous day, we adjusted our route for day five and mainly stayed on the road.
This worked very well until kilometer 40 when Chiara got hit by a little Piaggio three wheeler vehicle. Is there a more Italian way to crash?!
Luckily bike and rider were both unharmed so…
After the rain comes sun! Day six started with a beautiful sunrise and a quick morning dip in the lake before we dried and packed all of our stuff to headed towards Florence.
Our highlights of the day were the infamous Tuscan landscapes and a great descent at kilometer 59. But be warned, as on most Italian…
Instead of having a rest day in Florence we decided to take advantage of the good weather and continued cycling to Pisa on day seven.
While enjoying the beautiful Tuscan rolling hills we were fighting a very strong headwind.
Happy to have a break, we stopped in Empoli where we had snacks and our daily…
On riding day number eight we adjusted our route to lead through the stunning Parco Regionale Migliarino right outside the city of Pisa.
Not only did we enjoy the lush forest, winding gravel paths and view on the Apuan Alps but also finally a well deserved tailwind!
After leaving the park we were back…
Probably one of the most rainy and scary days of our whole trip. Leaving La Spezia in the morning and starting our first climb, the steaming roads, misty air and lush green of the trees could have easily been mistaken for a more tropical surrounding.
When we approached our second climb, Passo del Bracco…
Short and sweet! On day ten we had a late start as there was only 45 kilometers to Genoa ahead of us.
The rocky coastline and turquoise sea of the Italian Riviera unfolded right in front of us.
The weather was on our side this time, so we stopped for sandwiches and coffee in the sun at Recco Beach.
On day eleven we faced the typical trouble of getting out of a big city. There was lots of traffic and we found our heart rates were up to the max until we finally found our way out of the city center!
We were happy there was a long stretch of coastal cycle path that day, although at one point we had…
This route leads you through three countries, across two borders and what felt like one hundred tunnels. The good news is that at least one of these tunnels, just outside San Remo, is purely for cyclists!
After 70km of coastal roads and bike path and tunnels we left Italy and entered the second country…
After a nice day at the beach our riding day number 13 started with 40km along the coast. We were riding on newly built cycling paths some of the way, and the rest on the road.
Just after passing Cannes we turned right into a the beautiful Parc naturel régional des Préalpes d'Azur. On our descent after…
In the morning of day 14 we woke up to an amazing foggy mountain view and great breakfast provided by our hosts.
Even though this day was a short one with 59 kilometres and 850 metres total climbing, it was an extraordinary one. The majority of the route leads along military ground so make sure to stay…
Day 15 was not only one of the most scenic days but also one with the most challenging gravel riding.
Cycling along the Lac de Sainte-Croix we enjoyed the views on the perfectly turquoise water and beautiful mountain formations one more time before approaching a very nice gravel road.
Soon the road got…
We woke up the morning to slight rain that luckily faded during the first 30 kilometres of our route, so when we got to the town of Serres to have a coffee we were welcomed by bright sunshine.
The majority of the day we rode on busy roads along green fields and hills. Our highlight was having lunch by…
Talking to the camping ground owner, we decided to try and avoid the big road in the morning and went to climb the Col de La Croix-Haute instead.
The advice paid off and we enjoyed quiet country roads, green mountain views and some snowy peaks in the distance.
Our second climb of the day was the Col du…
Day 18 was special: for the first time we had a friend joining us on our big adventure which was a really nice addition! Together with Luise we left her brother’s house in the morning.
In theory this wouldn’t have been a very hard day if it wasn’t for all the misfortunes that were awaiting us.
After a rest day at the lake we were all excited to continue our journey. On this day we entered the beautiful Jura National Park and crested the Col de la Croix de la Serra, a long climb over approximately 15km.
There was hardly any traffic but plenty of cows, so we started a little game called 'cow…
Bike Touring Collection by Schwäbische Alb
Bike Touring Collection by Osnabrücker Land
Hiking Collection by Bremen Tourismus
Road Cycling Collection by TOUR Magazin