A Cyclist’s Odyssey: From Montpellier to Amsterdam Through the Bonds of Cycling Hospitality

Blue ribbon with wording: Story Winner, Cycling Together Warmshowers & EuroVeloContributor: Clement Thomas

For some time now, encouraged by my readings, a cycling journey tempted me. So, in September 2022, I decided to take the plunge, embarking with my cousin. It was an initiatory voyage, spanning from the landscapes of Petite Camargue in Southern France, where I grew up, to the canals and narrow gabled houses of Amsterdam, a city I had long dreamt of visiting. This journey came at the perfect time, coinciding with the completion of my Master’s degree, during which I had the opportunity to conduct research on “the effects of soft mobility on the productivity of employees in French companies,” fueling my passion for cycling and exploring the benefits of sustainable mobility.

Man on a bicycle on a street corner pointing upwards towards street directional signs.A source of absolute freedom, the very essence of bikepacking, wild camping has always fascinated me, albeit with a hint of apprehension. Initially, we equipped ourselves for wild camping, enticed by the freedom and adventure it promised. However, from the very first evening, we realized that wild camping, while thrilling, didn’t always facilitate the human connections we sought. It could be stressful and legally challenging, depending on the countries traversed. This experience quickly led us to reconsider our approach.

Thus, after a night under the stars, we chose to prioritize conviviality and hospitality by opting for Warmshowers. This platform proved to be our invaluable ally, allowing us to meet generous and warm-hearted hosts throughout our journey to Amsterdam. This transition to homestay accommodation not only enriched our experience but also reinforced our belief that human encounters lie at the heart of every journey.

During our trip, we alternated between different EuroVelo routes, notably EuroVelo 17 from Montpellier to Lyon, then EuroVelo 15 through Alsace and Germany. These routes added an extra dimension to our journey, enabling us to discover stunning landscapes and live unique experiences along Europe’s cycling paths.

The Warmshowers experience was profound for us, allowing us to see the world and its people in a different light. We were welcomed by our hosts as if we were part of their family. Often arriving late in the day, immersed in the daily lives of people, the excitement of our cycling adventures, we always encountered interested and interesting individuals with whom we engaged deeply, despite having been strangers mere hours earlier.

The Soare family impressed us with their generosity; everything was done to make us feel at home, with hearts open wide, alternating between hosting platforms with a single motto: mutual aid. We delved into people’s lives and discovered their passions. Duarte in Luxembourg was a cycling enthusiast; he gave us a wonderful mechanical lesson before presenting his entire setup for brewing a truly excellent coffee. The next morning, we even had the chance to pedal alongside him.

This cycling odyssey was much more than a simple journey. It was a human adventure, a series of moments shared with strangers who became friends. Thanks to Warmshowers and EuroVelo, we cycled through the magnificent landscapes of Europe while weaving bonds that transcended borders.

Catch up with Clement on Instagram at @clementhomas_ and at @_lepopee_