Brent Irvine - Member Profile - CycleBlaze

Member Profile

Brent Irvine


Title Ratings
To Backyardistan and Back (Tour 20) - 2020 🇨🇦 2
Praha to Wien Greenway Tour (Tour 19) - 2019 🇨🇿 🇦🇹 83
Some More Portugal: Not Just Kicking the Tires (Tour 18) - 2019 🇵🇹 161
A Dabble of the Douro then Leaning to Lisbon (Tour 17) - 2017 🇵🇹 10
Hvala: It's Been Thirty Sweet Years (Tour 16) - 2016 🇭🇷 🇸🇮 🇮🇹 3
Dobrý den: A Bohemian Foray (Tour 15) - 2015 🇨🇿 1
Velocipoenology: Sampling Iberian Grape 'Juice' with Two Wheels (Tour 14) - 2015 🇪🇸 🇵🇹 27
Achtung Baby: Bavaria with a GPS & Some Great Canadian Gear (Tour 13) - 2014 🇩🇪 🇦🇹 🇨🇭 2
Meandering the Donau/Duna (Tour 12) - 2011 🇭🇺 🇸🇰 🇦🇹 4
Cuba off of the Map (Tours 10 & 11) - 2010 & 2011 🇨🇺 4
Searching for Fidel (Tour 9) - 2009 🇨🇺 18
Istanbul to Lisbon: From Sultanahmet to Sumol (and a sidetrip to Morocco) (Tour 7) - 2003 1
UK: Learning to Tour (Tour 1) - 1986 🇬🇧 37


I work to travel; when I travel I take my bike; when I take my bike I use it to travel! I suppose that part of this comes from the long winter we have where I live in northern Ontario, Canada. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my country and where I live, but I have seen snow fall in each month of the year, so it is nice to get away for a "real" holiday at times.

I can remember enjoying riding tricycles when I was a wee boy. This continued as I went to my first "two-wheeler" when I was 7 to my first coaster bike with 27" wheels when I was 12, and did my first long-distance ride (a mere 30 km). Things only got better.

ALL through secondary school I rode my bike everywhere and did not even get my driver's licence until I "had" to when I was 18.

IN my first years of university in London, Ontario, at the University of Western Ontario, I got this zany idea that I'd like to combine this joy of riding with my goal of traveling to the UK. In April/May 1986 this materialized. My sport touring Raleigh (which I have re-built and still use regularly) was my trusty steed, and for six pleasure-filled weeks, I cycled though England, Scotland and Wales. Of course, all of this was new to me, yet despite pushing too hard uphill and injuring my Achilles tendon, insufficient low gearing and a bargain rack for my panniers which needed continual tightening so it would not fall off, I WAS BITTEN BY THE BUG! Now I find that every trip I make without a bike, I am yearning to hop on two wheels and go.

SINCE that fateful first trip, I have since cycled around Ireland, through France, around Maui and Oahu, and through the Canadian Rockies, not to mention many parts of my home province of Ontario, Canada, and in 2003, a trip from the eastern edge of Europe to its furthest westernmost point of continental Europe. In 2009 I compromised with my newly-cycling wife to stay at a resort in Cuba but to bring our bikes to travel the area around the resort. It was great but the trip just fueled my desire to do a 'real' tour in western Cuba. At least a part of this was realized in April 2010 when we cycled from Playa Jibacoa westward as far as Soroa before my clumsy pool-side incident ended the cycling for the trip. All year long my failure to complete the trip drove me crazy until we finally returned to do the rest of the ride from Soroa to Vinales in April 2011. Yes, it would be nice to cycle elsewhere in Cuba as well, but I think there are other countries in the world to be discovered.

TO top off the 2011 cycling, a friend invited me to join him along with another friend in riding along the Danube from Vienna to Budapest. The scene was set! So the question was... which bike to bring? The airline wanted to charge hundreds of dollars to carry my bike so I rented a bike out of Vienna. It was so discouraging to be without my own bike that when I got home I bought a folding Dahon Speed TR for my next trip, wherever it may be.

BEING lucky enough to be able to follow my dreams, I have accelerated my touring these recent years. A reuniting of sorts in 2014 with the guys from three years ago - this time from Zurich eastward through Bavaria and ending in Mozart's city. The following year, 2015, was a big one for me, so not only did I do a solo tour from Madrid to Lisboa (re-visiting some of the final 2003 sites) then with MA, a circular route from Prague, Czechia, through Bohemia. In 2016, I was back to 'only one' tour, late in the year through Istria, visiting parts of Italy, Slovenija and Croatia for a pleasant sampling of seafood and wine. In 2017, there was a return to Portugal though on some new roads - the spectacular Douro River valley. This might be the most beautiful route to date.

THEN 2018 happened. I was cross training all winter on the cross country ski trails and all was going well. One day heading to the municipal offices I slipped on ice, pulled my calf muscle and had to cancel my booked tour from Faro to Lisbon, Portugal. By July I thought I was healed, booked Prague to Vienna, but re-injured the calf. So, I cancelled that tour, too. In fact I did not tour until 2019 when I was finally fully recovered. I picked up from where I left off, cycling Faro to Lisbon along Eurovelo 1. While still rolling I decided this would not be enough. Tour 19 was formulated and became the Prague to Vienna Greenway Tour. It feels great to be back!

I am very lucky that my life allows me to fulfill this dream of cycling. Be it on my shorter local jaunts, or my future tours wherever I happen to choose, I can't get enough, so I guess I'll just have to keep on going.

SO, which tours are on 'The List' now? For a while now, Bilbao to Barcelona, Spain, has been beckoning. A return to UK also pops up - either Land's End to London, or Aberdeenshire, Scotland, from whence came the Irvines in the 1700s on their departure to Canada. Portugal also beckons once again, and I almost completed the arrangements to go, but the coronavirus derailed that idea. There is so much out there to discover on two wheels - and the more I do, the more I want to do. I really don't know where the next trip will take me, but I can't wait to find out.

OF course, the BIG trip approaches as my wee lad, now 14 years old, becomes increasingly comfortable on longer rides. On the day he first came home from the hospital after he was born, I photographed him with a Lonely Planet guide book and told him, "When you get bigger, we're going biking in Morocco." I have repeated this to him almost every night at bedtime when I tuck him in. Thus, a new phase in cycling is fast approaching! Will this be Tour #20? 

It looks like Tour 20 will, indeed, include Alex. We are planning to tour the Loire Valley in France from Blois to Langeais on our folding bikes. This will also allow us to possibly ride the TGV, have a few days in Paris in addition to eight days of cycling. A long time coming, the plans are for April 2020 with direct Toronto-Paris flights. We are both excited! It almost happened in April 2020 but the coronavirus scare had me postpone our first trip for the time being. 

Alex on the night he came home a few days after he was born. I thought I had photographed him with LP Morocco; obviously not. So I guess after Morocco we cycle Iran! OK - I'm up for that.