A Radon ZR Team 6.0 with Tubus rack and Ortlieb panier bags. I carried a light summer sleeping bag from Meru, a Thermarest mattress and a 1-person tunnel tent by Jack Wolfskin. Electronics were a Garmin eTrex Vista Hcx GPS, a Asus EEE PC, and an old Ipod Nano, plus an Olympus pocket camera, the Mju 630. A MSR Multifuel and titanium cooking gear from Snowpeak made up the kitchen, and I carried barely any spare parts or tools, since I was in Europe and the next bike shop is usually just around the corner. Now add way too much food, water and clothing, and you get about 25 kg of gear.
Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Austria, Switzerland.
After my first tour, it was clear that I wanted to travel more. Like so many other, the travel bug had bitten me, and for every place you go, you hear about three others you want to see. But how to travel cheaply, especially around Europe?
Luckily, the solution was simple and also solved another problem I had: Not enough training. I did a lot of cardio back at home, but jogging while travelling was always a bit difficult, for different reasons. So whats the result of cardio + cheap travelling? A bicycle. You can easily cover 100 km in a day and don't spend anything on fuel or car insurance. You are independent, can easily find spots to camp and stay fit while doing it.
Unfortunately I had no good bike for this, and no experience in bike tours. I asked a friend for help, who does bike races. Coming from the other end of cycling (cross country, no luggage, competitive) he promptly advised me to buy the completely wrong bike. But it didn't matter, because I had a bike. And that's enough. I put Ortlieb panier bags on it, and started rolling around Germany with my 16 kg mountain bike with suspension and 26" tires and about 25 kg of luggage.
With this I spend the entire summer and autumn biking around Europe. First Germany, from Cologne to the Kingslake, once the Rhein Cycle Way to Switzerland, then a tour with said friend to Budapest... planned was to go to China, but due to him being a racer and none of us having any clue what we are doing, we actually cancelled that tour. He went back to university and I continued smaller trips. Expensive Scandinavian, cheap north-eastern Europe, and more and more of Germany. I was extremely aware of how little I knew about my own country after my RTW trip. People asked me: How is this place, have you been to city X? and I always had to say: No, no idea.
Another tour I managed to squeeze in was to the Alps. I went climbing with an Austrian friend of mine and spend some time near Zermatt and the Dupond Spitze. A lot of hiking in the mountains and glacier. I went back to the Alps twice that year, but never got as high in altitude as on that trip.
Cycling is a great way to travel, and is to this day my preferred mode of transport. Obviously I know a lot more about it now, but even these first few tours were amazing. But the weather was slowly turning colder and colder, till I was stuck sitting at home. Cycling in summer was so comfortable, that I did not even try doing a tour in winter. That would come much, much later. But a plan hatched for a big cycle tour, something akin to my RTW-trip, just by bike. A new destination had to be found. But first: My winter break in India. (see next tour)
All I can say is that I learned a lot about biking on this trip. A real eye opener. Get your bike and get out there. Get to know your own country. Don't be afraid of bad weather. And don't be afraid of making mistakes. I made plenty, and without them, I wouldn't be who I am today.