“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all”. This is completely true for someone who is travelling across the globe and happens to be an ardent cyclist! Ruben Arribas has just finished a bicycle trip, 9500 km, from Spain to Norway (North Cape) and back to Finland. Ruben Arribas is also famous, as he travelled across Europe for 5 months with only 400 euros. Depending on how far he would travel on a daily basis, he trained himself in advance to prepare for the trip. The trip took 5 months and he rode 9,500 kilometres. He says that cycling lets him experience travel in a new way!
Team Livingit contacted Ruben Arribas and yes! it was fun connecting with someone who knows what he is doing and is passionate about it. Ruben Arribas also happens to write about his experiences during his trip and loves reading about travel, history, and biographies.
LivingIt: Tell us something about yourself?
Ruben: I’m a Spanish traveller who has backpacked, hitchhiked and biked (cycled), and has travelled to more than 70+ countries around the world. I am always hungry for deeper life experience and I get that only through my travelling, especially cycling. My main influence when I was child were the maps, like literally. Apart from maps, my family has always been traveling around my own country or overseas.
LivingIt: How come cycling as a passion?
Ruben: Since the time I was a child, I loved cycling. My first bike was when I was 4 years old and it was BH with support wheels for learning how to ride. I loved sports, being fit and cycling gives me a rush that I don’t get anywhere. If I’m not traveling, I usually prefer going for cycling at least 5-6 times in a week.
LivingIt: Tell us something about your favourite bikes?
Ruben: I generally use a road bicycle and a mountain bike. I prefer road bicycle and the brand that I´m using is Giant. But somehow, it’s not about the brands, I just love cycling. For my mountain bike, I had a simple BH (Spanish brand). I did a bicycle trip from Madrid to North Cape in Norway and Lapland, almost 10,000 kilometres and I gave away my bike at the end of the trip to my host in Helsinki.
LivingIt: Your 5 month Europe trip sounds fascinating. Which route did you take?
Ruben: We started from Madrid to Santiago Compostela (Santiago’s Way); our route crossing North Spain. Next, we went to Southwest France, and from there we headed to Luxembourg. We biked through Belgium and the Netherlands. We crossed North Germany then went to Denmark. Next was Sweden and after that we went straight to Norway, biking until North Cape. From there, we cycled to Helsinki, passing through Lapland.
LivingIt: How did you train your body for such a long trip?
Ruben: It’s essential that your body and health is in good shape. I was running every other day for at least an hour for 2 months. I was cycling every week, 3-4 hours weekly for 2 months. Winter isn’t so cold in Madrid, so I can cycle every day. I just have to make sure, I put proper clothes on, good for the cold days. The main problem is the rain, and it´s not very rainy in Madrid, so this hasn’t been much a challenge for me. I try to eat healthy when I´m training and rest properly around 7-8 hours. I usually stretch my muscles once per day and nothing much extra. I maintained a proper diet, as I don’t train in the gym. A good diet is essential along with cycling.
LivingIt: What did you carry along with us for the trip, considering it was a long bicycle trip?
Ruben: Well, I carried the basic essentials. I carried a small camping gas and a small pot for frying food and reheating. My cycling clothes, an extra pair of shoes, bicycle and winter gloves, a small scarf (it can get windy, depending on the place), pairs of cycling socks, a windbreaker and a raincoat. I carried a tent, sleeping bag and a mat; and big plastic bags to cover the bag, the tent, and my backpack during the rainy season. The essential toiletries, a Swiss-Knife which is a saviour (from slicing the bread, to applying the spread; to being a full helper when camping in the wild); and a flashlight (well, it wasn’t essential for my trip as it was summer in the Northern part of Europe, and it never goes dark). I also carried a small bag for my cell phone, wallet, passport, money and credit cards. I recommend protecting these valuables with small plastic bags just in case it’s raining.
LivingIt: Any incident that you would like to share from your Europe cycling trip?
Ruben: It was one of the craziest things that happened during my cycling trip around Europe. I spent 5 days cycling in Lapland (Finland) and it was raining, windy and the weather was really cold. When I was stopped for lunch in the middle of the forest, I couldn´t find any place to sit down and mosquitoes were biting me while eating. It was hard to rest because of the rain and it was very humid in my tent. Those were one of the days that were like really difficult and hard but like they say, “what doesn´t kill you, makes you stronger.”
LivingIt: That must have been really tuff. Any best moment?
Ruben: My best moments during the trip cycling in Norway, was in the middle of great landscapes and nature. If I need to choose one best moment, it would be camping next to the river. It was such a surreal moment when a reindeer suddenly came and started drinking water, next to us. It was so amazing, enjoying the view from the tent. Norway is perfect for traveling by bicycle. There are good areas for resting, clean and accessible toilets, and places to pitch your tent. The best news? Everything was for free.
LivingIt: Did the ride get exhausting at any point? What does your inner voice tell you as the ride gets tough?
Ruben: Since I love competition, my inner voice is telling me to chase the one in front of me and beat them or try to be much faster than those ones cycling behind me. However, after finishing the trip, I realized that cycling for 100 – 120 kilometres a day can be exhausting. There were times that we had to ride our bikes for 100-120 kilometres for straight 12 days. We ended up really exhausted, muscles aching and knees weak. I can recommend 70 kilometres per day as a good distance when cycling. This will help you not bike for too many hours in a day.
LivingIt: How important was this cycling trip to you?
Ruben: Without any doubt, this cycling trip was my favourite trip ever. I love sports, especially cycling. The possibility of combining cycling and travelling made me happy every day. I would like to repeat the experience of traveling by bicycle in Europe. I enjoyed a few cities but the best part was enjoying the countryside. People were really nice with me, supportive all the time during the trip. I made hundreds of new friends during that trip.
LivingIt: Was cycling easy in all the countries?
Ruben: I was always cycling on the correct side of the road, and if it’s possible on the bicycle lanes. I prefer to wear illuminated clothes to make sure people can see you faster. This also helps in avoiding any kind of traffic accident. I loved cycling in the Netherlands and Denmark – one can find a bicycle lane everywhere. Spain was actually the worst, with only a few bicycle lanes.
LivingIt: Any advice for the ones who want to begin cycling?
Ruben: My main advice to anyone who loves cycling is to follow your heart, your dream. Start simple and be consistent; it will definitely be worth it.
LivingIt: If you had to pick the best hill climb across the globe for cyclists, which one do you think wins first place and why?
Ruben: I would like to climb the Tourmalet. I’m planning to visit Pyrenees and Alps with my bicycle and a few friends to spend a couple of weeks there.
LivingIt: If you could cycle any route in the world tomorrow, where would you go?
Ruben: I would like to cycle around the Alps in Switzerland. ( In summer of course haha!!)
We’ve got a whole bunch of impressive cyclists taking their set of tyres across borders!