Brent Irvine - Member Profile - CycleBlaze

Member Profile

Brent Irvine

Journals

Title Ratings
La baguette est dans ma soupe (Tour 24) - 2023 🇫🇷 17
Betwixt Two Iberian Capitals (Tour 23) - 2023  🇪🇸 🇵🇹 12
Return to Cycle-OPOLIS (Tour 22) - 2022 🇵🇹 231
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 🇨🇿 🇦🇹 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 🇪🇸 🇵🇹 31
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 29
UK: Learning to Tour (Tour 1) - 1986 🇬🇧 48

About

WHEN I travel I take my bike if I can; when I take my bike I use it to travel. I suppose that part of this comes from the long winters we have here 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 and did not even get my driver's licence until I "had" to when I was 18.

IN my early years at the University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, I got this zany idea that I'd like to combine this joy of riding with my dream of traveling to the UK. In April/May/June 1986 it actually happened. My sport touring Raleigh Olympian (which I maintained and upgraded until I sold it in 2018) 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, having 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! Ever since that first tour I find that any trip I make without a bike, I am wishing I had a bike with me to explore on two wheels.

SINCE that fateful first trip, I have now cycled-toured 22 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 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 Viñales in April 2011.

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 the next trip where 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 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 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. 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 in Spetember 2019. It feels great to be back!

OF course, the BIG trip was approaching as my wee lad, now 16 years old, is becoming 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!

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. Since Air Canada flies right into and out of Lisbon I was able to minimize border crossings and airport time, so toured EV1 from Porto to Lisboa... via Sintra which is one of my favourite Portuguese cities.

Other tours 'on deck' and ready to go:

* Loire Valley, France with Alex

* Faro to Lisbon inland via the Portugal/Spain border

* Chaves to Faro, PT, along N2 highway

* Salzburg, A, to Grado, IT to Ljubljana, SLO along the Alpe Adria route

* Vila Nova da Foz Coa to Porto to Lisboa, PT (a repeat)

* Madrid to Lisboa (a repeat on a slightly different route)

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.