Brent Irvine - Member Profile - CycleBlaze

Member Profile

Brent Irvine


Title Ratings
A Hop, Skip and a Jump (Tour 25) - 2024 🇭🇷 357
Portus Cale's Atlantic Coast (Tour 24) - 2023 🇵🇹 469
Spring Flavours of Spain & Portugal (Tour 23) - 2023  🇪🇸 🇵🇹 563
Return to Cycle-OPOLIS (Tour 22) - 2022 🇵🇹 232
Simcoe County Loop Trail (Tour 21) - 2021 🇨🇦 22
Cannon Ball 300 on a Cannondale (Tour 20) - 2021 🇨🇦 21
Praha to Wien Greenway Tour (Tour 19) - 2019 🇨🇿 🇦🇹 84
Some More Portugal: Not Just Kicking the Tires (Tour 18) - 2019 🇵🇹 161
A Dabble of the Douro then Leaning to Lisbon (Tour 17) - 2017 🇵🇹 12
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 🇪🇸 🇵🇹 32
Achtung Baby: Bavaria with a GPS & Some Great Canadian Gear (Tour 13) - 2014 🇩🇪 🇦🇹 🇨🇭 6
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 29
UK: Learning to Tour (Tour 1) - 1986 🇬🇧 48


WHEN I travel I take my bike as often as I can. I suppose that part of this comes from the long winters we have in northern Ontario, Canada. I have seen snow fall in each month of the year so it is nice to get away 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 seven to my first coaster bike with 27" wheels when I was twelve, and did my first long-distance ride which was a mere 30 km. Things only got better. All through high school I rode my bike everywhere.

IN my early years of university I got this zany idea that I'd like to combine this joy of riding with my dream of travelling to the UK. In spring 1986 it actually happened. My Raleigh Olympian 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 injuring my Achilles tendon, having insufficient low gearing and a bargain rack for my panniers, I WAS BITTEN BY THE BUG! Ever since that first tour I find that any trip I make without a bike, I am wishing I had my bike.

SINCE that fateful first trip, I have now cycled-toured 25 times. Mainly Europe but also in the Caribbean and Canada, and in 2003, a trip from the eastern edge of Europe to the westernmost point of continental Europe. In 2009 I stayed at a resort in Cuba but brought a bike 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. A return to Cuba in 2010 and 2011 included a real tour from Playa Jibacoa westward to Viñales.

TO top off 2011 cycling, two friends invited me to join them 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 one in Vienna. It was so discouraging to be without my own bike that when I got home I bought a folding Dahon bike for the next trip when a full sized bike can't be taken.

BEING lucky enough to be able to follow my dreams, I accelerated my touring over the next few 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 Lisbon, then 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 injured my calf and had to cancel my tours from Faro to Lisbon and from Prague to Vienna. I did not tour again until 2019 when I was fully recovered. I picked up from where I left off, cycling Faro to Lisbon along EV 1, then the Prague-Vienna Greenway Tour.

OF course, the BIG trip approaches as my wee lad, now 17 years old, is becoming increasingly comfortable on longer rides. On the daay he 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 tucked him in and continue this mantra with him almost an adult. Thus, a new phase in cycling is fast approaching!

FOR a while it looked like a tour would take place in the Spring of 2020, and would, indeed, include Alex. We were planning to tour the Loire Valley in France on our folding bikes. This would also have allowed 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 were for April 2020 with direct Toronto-Paris flights. We were excited! Then the pandemic happened and we know how that went. Not until the vaccine was rolled out would I chance a tour.

IN THE summer of 2021 I made two post-vaxx tours in my home province - and realized we have great cycling opportunities here, too! With 2022 arriving, Euro tours were possible again. To minimize border crossings and airport time I toured EV1 from Porto to Lisboa, then in 2023 a variant of Madrid to Lisboa via the Douro River Valley.

FINALLY... the tour with my lad in late summer 2023 where we explored Portugal's Atlantic coast together. This tour was better than I ever could have imagined. A dream that came true. Then in what I might end up calling the dark months, we were able to shed some light into these times and meander some Croatian islands in 2024- something I've wanted to do since 2003 when another cyclist suggested I go. 

Other tours 'on deck' and ready to go:

* Salzburg, A, to Grado, IT to Ljubljana, SLO along the Alpe Adria route (2025?)

* Faro to Lisbon inland via the Portugal/Spain border

* Faro to Lisbon going totally coastal EV1

* Chaves to Faro, PT, along N2 highway 

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.