Alin Bonta, a cycling enthusiast, thought of cycling from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic Ocean in 11 days.
Today we’ll meet Alin Bonta, a cycling enthusiast, who came up with the idea of cycling from the shores of the Mediterranean to the Atlantic Ocean coast in 11 days. He cycled the distance together with his daughter and a group of friends, covering a little over 1,000 kilometers in just 11 days, doing it all on two wheels. He even wrote a book about his adventure, entitled “Biking through the Pyrenees – Route des Cols de Pyrenees”. The 350-page book also includes a collection of photos documenting the trip, as well as videos of his ride through the mountain chain, currently serving as a natural barrier between the Iberian Peninsula and the rest of Europe.
Alin Bonta was happy to share with us bits and pieces from his experience, one he chose to put into writing.
Alin Bonta: “This book was originally a diary, because in the last 5-6 years, I’ve been taking down notes of my trips, those that are more interesting and beautiful. It was a closed-loop diary I shared with my friends on e-mail. For me it was an opportunity to keep them updated on my whereabouts and send them photos. Last autumn’s trip through the Pyrenees Mountains was as complex as it was interesting, since my friends convinced me to put it all in writing. I like to think of it as a travel book – it’s quite dense and easy to read. It has many pictures. It’s not just a book on cycling or sports – it’s a book about travelling, photography, about nature, with civic education bits here and there. The moment you travel to foreign countries and get to meet all sorts of people, you go back home with a lot to draw on”.
Alin Bonta says biking through the mountains is a wonderful way to make your journey, because neither the car, nor a motorcycle gives you the same opportunity to enjoy the scenery.
Alin Bonta: “My friends and I take a biking trip on a yearly basis. We sort of got used to spending our holidays biking. We went to the big cycling competitions –Tour de France and Giro d’Italia, as riding spectators, as we like to call ourselves. We used to go for a full week, go for a quick tour of the area in the morning, and then wait for the group of riders to pass by. We’ve been to Italy on trips like this three times, to France once or to Innsbruck in Austria. In Romania, apart from the better-known mountain routes such as the Transfagarasan, Transalpina or Trans-Rarau, there is also a newly-set up route in Moldova, in Bukovina – a truly spectacular area, truly beautiful. The Semenic Mountains in Banat are very beautiful. The Western Carpathian Mountains also have a few biking routes, which are unfortunately not very practicable. We like to bike through the mountains, because road traffic is light, thus making it easier to bike”.
On this expedition, Alin Bonta and his friends enjoyed the support of other people, as their luggage and bikes were carried by car to the starting point in Barcelona, as they chose to take a plane. As to the mountain route proper, Alin Bonta told us:
Alin Bonta: "The biking tour of the Pyrenees took 11 days. We started the tour from a place near Barcelona, right on the Mediterranean Coast and we reached the shore of the Atlantic 11 days later. The tour of the Pyrenees took place, for the most part, on the French side of the mountains, for two reasons: there are more asphalted roads there than on the Spanish side and those roads take you to many well-known peaks which are included in many cycling tours such as Spain’s “La Vuelta” or Tour de France”. We, as cycling fans, wanted so much to reach those peaks. We took the ‘Route de Coles des Pyrenees’, which is a well-known route. We didn’t follow it strictly, as it is 500-600 km long. We abandoned the route to see all the places worth visiting in the area. We saw spectacular national parks, such as ‘Site de Gavarnie’, ‘La Port de Boucharo’, some well-known peaks like ‘Col de Tourmalet’, ‘Dobis’ and many other places which will undoubtedly sound familiar to cycling lovers. Actually, these are a sort of pilgrimage places for cycling lovers”.
There were also difficult moments during the expedition, as Alin Bonta told us. For instance his bicycle chain broke in the mountains, but some Spanish bikers helped him repair it, as a sign of bikers’ solidarity.
Alin Bonta: “I took this trip for the first time with my daughter, who joined our group and who started biking two years ago. I had long wanted to cycle together. I remember the only rain shower we caught in 11 days. It was actually raining cats and dogs, but it was an unexpectedly pleasant surprise, except for the fact that we were wet to the skin. Those are once in a lifetime experiences that enrich you, apart from the beauty of the places you visit and of the expedition proper”.
As to future plans, Alin Bonta told us:
Alin Bonta: “I intend to take another trip, which will possibly be followed by a book, ‘Biking through the Carpathians’, because there are many beautiful roads in the Carpathians. Such a book would undoubtedly be appreciated by Romanian bikers and it might achieve publicity for foreign bikers. During our expedition through the Pyrenees we met bikers who told us they would come to eastern Europe if they had an idea of the places they would visit, what routes they could take and other details which are useful to bikers.”
We also extend you the invitation to join Alin Bonta and his friends, if not on the road, at least by leafing through their book.