Why You Should Ride Your Bike in Europe

Peter Abraham
4 min readAug 31, 2022
On one of the immaculate Czech bike paths south of Prague

This summer our family went to Prague to visit our daughter Sadie, who’s graduated from college and moved to Europe to work as an English teacher. I decided to bring my bike, since I was tacking on a bike business-related work trip to London afterwards.

I’d ridden bikes once before in Europe, 10 years ago, on a trip to Italy. And I visited a bike race (Paris-Bourges) in France in 2004. But this was the first time I’d fully embraced the experience, with my own bike, creating routes on Strava and even riding in a gravel event.

I’m here to tell you that if you love bikes, riding in Europe needs to be on your bucket list. Here’s why:

  1. Bikes are welcome, mostly. Due to the European continent’s ongoing role as the global headquarters of bike racing, there’s an acceptance and understanding of bicycles on the road that does not exist in the US. England was an exception, and some of the roads there were narrow with no bike lanes. But on the continent it feels generally safe to be on your bike. If you’re in a place like Amsterdam, which is now built around bikes, then you’ll feel truly in charge of the road.
  2. Riding bikes is a tremendous way to make new friends. Since other cyclists probably share some of the same personality traits — a love of endorphins, adrenaline and gear — you are highly likely to connect with other folks you meet on the road. I believe the bike is the single best cultural bridge ever created.
  3. Traveling with your bike might sound intimidating, but it really is not difficult. On the recommendation of my friend Tim Johnson, I purchased a Pika Packworks travel case, which worked really well. I was even able to fit a second set of wheels (for gravel) into the bag. Most airlines charge a $75 fee for your bike, but you can search fees by airline here. Or use BikeFlights and just ship the bike ahead of time.
  4. Riding a bike is the best way to see a new landscape. Traveling in the open air at 15–20 mph is immersive, vivid and educational. You head out for a few hours in the countryside, or the city, and you see so much. There’s no glass in between you and what you’re looking at. You feel the wind, the sun and maybe the rain. You smell the butcher shop you just rode by, and the sunflowers in the field. I was full of joy during every ride. It’s a magnificent experience.
  5. It’s a great way to try local food. One thing I’ve learned is that a post-ride coffee and a snack is a universal ritual practiced by cyclists in every country. Why not use your bike to explore new restaurants and cuisine in whatever country you’re in?
  6. It does not have to be expensive. While traveling, you can stay in a hotel, rent an Airbnb, crash in a hostel or even camp. Now that gas prices are on the way down, airline tickets to Europe are more-or-less affordable.
Riding along the cobbles next to the Vltava River in Prague, with the castle on the skyline
My beautiful loop in the Czech Republic on Strava. The Strava route builder is amazing.
Dreamy and perfect cycling in Prague
Yahor Ivashka holding a beautiful Festka frame during the factory tour he gave me in Prague
I met Jan Bouda on the bike path near Prague. He was riding 40-miles to his job in sales at Office Depot
Our two college graduates Gavin and Sadie during a day trip to Bratislava, Slovakia
With my Pika Packworks bike travel case upon arrival at Vaclev Havel Airport in Prague
With my friend Henry Furniss at the top of the famous Box Hill climb in Surrey, just outside of London
My friend Mark Shepard drove down from Birmingham to ride the North Downs gravel event with me
Some of the beautiful open gravel near Shere, UK
Henry took me on an incredible 50-mile bike tour of London. I’ll never forget it. There are some surprisingly great places to ride, like Richmond Park, in the city.
Lunch at cycling culture hub Look Mum No Hands in London
This photo I took in Nottingham illustrates how perilous the roads can be in the United Kingdom. Where is the bike meant to go?
I stayed at the brand new Queen Stage, a fantastic bike-themed inn and restaurant in Effingham
Supporting Henry at his Cat 2/3 road race in Cutmill put on by the Surrey Cycle Racing League