Cycling, said Canmore’s Katrina Rosen, immerses the rider right into the land.
“One feels every dip and roll of the earth beneath the tires,” she said. “You become affected by sun, wind and rain. Locals, who you'd never see by car, suddenly stop you for a conversation, or invite you in.
"I love strolling through small villages, ones I wouldn't have noticed in a vehicle. But mostly, I love what is in between those small villages.”
In fact, Rosen loves all these aspects of cycling so much that three generations of her family embarked on a cycle tour of Europe over the summer. Beginning in Amsterdam in early April – to enjoy the legendary Dutch tulip season – with her parents, Tony and Donna Teunis, her husband, Mike and their six-year-old son, Zion, she spent the next 80 days cycling 3,900 kilometres through 10 countries across Europe to Budapest, Hungary, finishing with a tour of Ireland.
Their adventure included 60 nights sleeping in tents, five flat tires, four broken spokes, two broken rims, one broken bottom bracket, 22 swimming pools, 30 parks, 140 baguettes and 66 ice creams – for Zion, of course.
No stranger to long-distance cycling – Rosen’s newly released book, With You by Bike, published by Rocky Mountain Books, details hers and Mike’s year-long cycle trip through the US, New Zealand and Asia – she admitted cycling for three months with three generations of her family presented some new challenges.
They chose Europe knowing they could follow river paths which would also be relatively flat.
“The rest of my family were on regular bikes and most of the time, I totally forgot that my bike was a bit special,” she said. “I only had to remember to find electricity.”
In addition to interacting with the locals and being a healthier – for rider and environment – means of travel, Rosen pointed out that overall cycle touring is economical too.
“It's just way cheaper," she said. "But even if I had a limitless budget, I would still choose to travel by bike.
“Being a tourist while cycling, one might make it to fewer destinations, but what they see along the way will be a much richer experience.”
With that, cycling through Europe reminded her of the riches of her own home.
“Cycling in Europe made me realize – again – how lucky we are to live in the Canadian Rockies,” she said.
“This is my dream home and I think this is one of the most beautiful places in the world. I know we have a lot of challenges with over-tourism and we will continue to struggle to find the balance between wild land and parking lots, but in comparison, we are so fortunate. I hope we will continue to fight for what we have here, but also remember how lucky we are. In 10 countries and nearly 4,000 kilometres, we only saw a few deer, two foxes and three rabbits. I see more wild animals on my way to work in Canmore and Banff.”