Cycling through the Tasmanian countryside near St Helens | Andrew Bain
Interview: Acclaimed Author Andrew Bain Talks Ultimate Cycling Trips in Australia & the World
In this interview, we talk to travel writer and author, Andrew Bain, about his newest book, Ultimate Cycling Trips – World
. We ask him why cycling is his favourite way to travel and for his advice about what he’s learned along the way.
About the Author
Andrew isn’t your average cyclist. For starters, he started his bike touring with a 20,000km cycle around Australia. Since then, he’s spent more than three years in the saddle, cycling through deserts, over mountain ranges and across notoriously tedious - as well as magnificently beautiful - stretches of road.
When he is not cycling, Andrew is an award-winning travel writer, specialising in outdoor adventure. His previous books include Headwinds
, the story of his 20,000-kilometre bike ride around Australia, Where to Ride: Tasmania
and Lonely Planet's Cycling Australia guidebook.
About the Book
Andrew would have to be one of the best-qualified people on the planet to author the Ultimate Cycling Trips – World
, which was published by Hardie Grant in 2021. Drawing on his more than 20 years of cycle touring adventures all around the world – and his professional travel writing skills – the book provides detailed descriptions of some 35 of his favourite rides. If that’s not enough to whet your appetite, there’s also a wealth of information about choosing the right bike, carrying gear, packing, training and travel tips.
Interview with Andrew Bain
How did your passion for cycling ignite?
A chance encounter with some cycle tourists I met in Norway in the mid-’90s opened my eyes to the idea, but it wasn’t until I actually tried it that I became passionate about it. There’s so much I love about it - the self-sufficiency it allows, the immersion into a destination, the independence, the flexibility and the list goes on….and on.
You travel a LOT and cycling is your preferred form of travel. Why?
On a bike, I can stop whenever and wherever I want. On a recent cycle along Victoria’s Great Ocean Road, for example, I was able to pull over literally anywhere I wanted and take in the views. If I felt the urge, I could lock up the bike and go explore.
In contrast, there were very few places for cars to pull over. Similarly, if there’s an attraction 10km off the trail, it’s a big deal when I’m hiking but I wouldn’t hesitate on the bike. Being on the bike lets me see more.
Whether it’s a gentle rail trail trundle with kids, a journey along the so-called most beautiful road in the world in Canada or a challenging crossing of the world’s highest mountain range, you feel a sense of exhilaration that no other kind of travel delivers. Can you expand on that?
For me, travel is about being immersed in a destination and I find that cycling allows for a deeper immersion in two main ways. Firstly, cycling happens at the ideal pace to fully experience the surrounds. Compared with hiking 20 km a day or driving 350 or 400 km, cycling between 70 and 100 km a day is far enough to get guaranteed variety and short enough to notice everything along the way.
The second reason is that it encourages interaction with locals. You’re easily identifiable as a traveller and people want to know your story.
The “best cycle routes” sections in the book - for mountain scenery, for gourmands, for traffic-free cycling, for your soul, for beautiful towns and for crossing an entire country (to name just some) give an insight into the enormous variety of cycle experiences on offer. Do you have a favourite?
I’m inspired by landscapes, but I also love urban cycling. The cultural immersion that cycle touring allows – because of the interaction with the environment and the locals – makes every route a stand-out. For me, I’d have to say that the sense of achievement I get from cycling a challenging or remote route would be right up there.
The “Another turn of the pedals” section in the book has a number of cycle trips on your wishlist. Can you share what’s at the top?
That’s a tough question. I’d have to say the Carretara Austral road in Chile and the Cabot Trail around Cape Breton in Canada are top of my wish list but, hopefully, I’ll be cycling for enough years to experience a lot more yet.
Speaking of cycling for a long time, what are your thoughts on e-bikes?
If they keep me cycling, I’m all for them. Once I hit 70, grinding big gears will be harder and I can easily see myself moving onto an e-bike. I’ve met so many people in their 70’s who are happily e-cycling and they inspire me. Bring it on I say!
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