Most Countries Visited by Bicycle in 7 Days

A Guinness World Record attempt in October 2017 attempting to cycle 13 countries in a week.  

The route

How I planned my route and how you can plan yours - Over 1000 miles in Europe through The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary and Slovakia.  

The Kit

A full list of all the kit I took, and all the kit I took but could have left behind!

The Cause

Exploring and pushing the freedoms that we all take for granted on daily basis, raising money for children with life-limiting illnesses who do not necessarily have those same freedoms. 


 
Map.jpg

Contrasting other previous bike tours I had completed, this route was not designed to take in the most astounding vistas, or the most historical sites – it was simply to cross as many borders as possible in as minimal miles as possible. 

Europe was the obvious choice for such a route, and initially Eastern Europe seemed the ideal location.

Tip 1) People will have done similar things to you in the past. Don’t waste your time trying to reinvent the wheel when you can use and improve on the routes other people have done.

The record for most countries in a week by bike stood at 11, with the record holder cycling from Poland down through the Balkan Peninsula. Initially, I looked a doing a similar route but there was some debate with Guinness World Records about whether they would accept Kosovo as a country.

Initial route GWR.jpg

The originally planned route, left, took in 13 countries: Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Albania, FYR Macedonia, Greece.

To avoid any confusion, and lot less knowledge of the road conditions and culture in Eastern Europe, I decided to find a route that utilised the excellent biking conditions in Belgium, France, Germany and Switzerland.  These were countries I had previous cycled in, and knew of the ease of availability of food, the road quality and a little more of the language spoken.

Tip 2) Limit the number of unknown variables – if your goal is speed, and not learning about new places, then limiting the number of limiting the number of unknown variables, and potential problems that you may encounter – philosophy of Occam’s razor.

 
 

Fortunately, when considering the record attempt, I discovered another cyclist who was attempting the record, and was claiming he cycled through 12 countries. After a little research, I found his route and began tweaking it.

Tip 3) Don’t assume that others have thought of everything – see how you can improve on the work they have already done – e.g. reducing mileage, reducing elevation.

Map.jpg

Following the basic blueprint of other’s rides, here is how I created my route:

1.       With a rough idea of how far I thought I could cycle each day, I drew points on the map of borders close to one another.

2.       Using Google Maps (walking/biking/car-avoiding-highways mode) I connected these points on the map.

3.       I then transferred this to Strava so I could analyse the route elevation and make adjustments where needed.

a.       I tried to stick to decent sized roads so I would not winding about on smaller country roads – speed and ease of navigation was key

Tip 4) I worked out elevation(ft) per mile (total elevation/number of miles), and compared it to previous rides I’d done to estimate how much hills would slow me down, and whether the route needed adjusting to reduce elevation. However, the Strava route planner almost always  gives an overestimate of the total elevation.

4.       Using Google Street view, I had a look at some of the major roads I would be following, to see if they were too busy, or were too rural (little access to food, slower roads), making adjustments accordingly.

5.       I found accommodation for where I’d hoped to end up each night along the route, committing to making it to each destination, and not spending time looking up best/worst case scenarios.

Tip 5) Draw your routes to the exact address of your accommodation. I’ve lost time on previous trips hunting for my accommodation when I’ve just dropped the map way-point in the town I hope to stay in, arriving to find little GPS signal or no internet.

6.       Look up cycling routes in Europe, and see if there are nearby bike routes near your journey.

a.       Eurovelo (right) are a great source of routes, saving me lots of elevation when following canal paths through the Vosges mountains in France, rather than cycling over the them.

7.       Break down the route into daily segments so it is easier to follow and load up on your navigation devices.

8.       I transferred the route to my GPS bike computer (Garmin Edge Touring Plus) and to the Strava app on my phone to use on the ride.

9.       Start cycling!


 
Day7Bratislava(afterfinish).JPG

Below is a full kit list of everything I took for my week-long adventure, and the bike that helped me complete the job:

The Bike:

  • Deda Profile design J-bend tri bars

  • ProLite Bracciano A42 wheels

  • Schwalbe Pro One 28mm clincher tyres

  • 2 x water bottles

  • Trek 2.0 Domane 2014

  • Chainrings: 52/39/30

  • Cassette: 30-11

  • Lifelife bottle cages

Bags & Mounts

  • Handlebar iPhone Mount
  • Top tube bag
  • Handlebar bag
  • Ortlieb 22L dry bag
  • Bungee Cords
  • Garmin mount

Tools & Spares:

  • Spare inner tubes x 5 (excessive)
  • Hand pump
  • Plastic tyre levers
  • Multi-tool 
  • Gear cable
  • Quick-links

Accessories:

  • Bike lights
  • Headtorch
  • Passport
  • European Health Insurance Card
  • Bluetooth headphones
  • Regular iPhone headphones
  • Pocket Notepad
  • Pen
  • Battery packs
  • Wires for charging electrical items
  • Euro plug adapter
  • Small towel
  • Small cable lock
  • Toothbrush & paste
  • Chamois cream
  • Imodium tablets
  • Ibuprofen tablets
  • Alcohol hand gel 

Cycle Wear

  • Waterproof jacke

  • Bike jersey

  •  Bib shorts

  • 1 x cycling socks

  • Triathlon bike shoes

  • Overshoes

  •  Bike leggings

  • Helmet

  • Sunglasses

  • Thin running gloves

  • Gore bike wear cycling gloves

Evening / non-cycle wear

  • T-shirt
  • Jeans
  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • Vest
  • Trainers

Recording/GPS Equipment

  • iPhone SE
  • Nikon Coolpix
  • GoPro Hero3+
  • Spot Gen3 GPS Tracker
  • GoPro head-mount
  • Spare batteries
  • Garmin Edge Touring Plus Bike Computer
  • Garmin Vivoactive 
  • Cateye Velo Wireless + speedometer