Anton Bellroth has been cycling through Europe since 2016. He rides up to 100 kilometres a day on a bicycle without a motor. What drives the 67-year-old and what he packs for a tour, he tells in this interview.
Mr Bellroth, how did you discover your love of cycling?
Actually, it all started with hiking. In 2013, I did my first hiking tour through Southern Europe. Back then, I walked from Bingen/Rhine to the southernmost point of Europe on the Greek island of Gavdos. Shortly afterwards, I unfortunately had knee surgery and was no longer allowed to put any weight on my knee joint, so I looked for alternatives to hiking. So, out of necessity, I discovered cycling for myself, which works wonderfully.
Since 2016, you have been travelling around Europe every two years on your bike - without a motor, mind you. A lot of kilometres have been covered...
Yes, in 2016 I travelled via Sweden to the North Cape and then via Finland back to Bingen am Rhein. In 2018, I went via Denmark and the Faroe Islands to and around Iceland. With a lot of headwind, snow, rain and a little bit of sun, I was on the road for a total of three months and cycled 4,162 kilometres. By comparison, the total length of the 2019 Tour de France was 3,365.8 kilometres.
You spend the night almost every day in a tent that you transport on your bike. What else do you pack on your bike?
I don't need much. I run around in shorts almost the whole winter. For my tours I pack a change of clothes, a tent, rain gear, tools for the bike, two spare tubes, two spare coats, a spare chain. Since I ride with the help of Google Maps, I definitely need a spare mobile phone and enough battery. I also carry at least four litres of water. You don't always know when the next spring or supermarket will be.
You ride a normal bike about 100 kilometres a day for weeks on end. You have to be pretty fit for that. How do you prepare for your tours?
I do a lot of sport and often go on day trips from Bingen. They last about a hundred kilometres. In the preparation phase I take XenoVitalto get my cell metabolism going. Then I'm not so susceptible to infections. For my knee joints I take Arthro plus. During my tours gives me TurboForm support. Especially before big climbs, I take a hydration ampoule. This gives me strength and energy, without which I could not manage the climb.
Your 2020 tour unfortunately fell victim to the Corona pandemic. When will you cycle through Europe again?
At the age of 70, I'm going on my last bicycle tour. In 2024, it will start in Bingen and go via Eastern Europe to Russia, past Lake Baikal to Vladivostok. From there I will return to Moscow on the Trans-Siberian Railway. From Moscow by bike to St. Petersburg, by ferry to Finland and from there to Lübeck. Then it's back to Bingen by bike. If it's possible, I'll do a small tour of south-western Europe in 2022. I will cycle via Luxembourg, France, along the Atlantic coast, to San Sebastian, Santiago de Compostela and on to Portugal. From there to Gibraltar and via Valencia, Andorra back to Bingen am Rhein.
"TurboForm was the best companion during the difficult stages of my bike tour. I was able to cross mountains and face every glacier, snow and wind without severe fatigue."— Anton Bellroth
You don't just do your cycling tours for yourself, but also for a good cause. How did that come about?
I am often interviewed abroad by journalists who follow my tours. Meanwhile, I also have a Facebook account where I post pictures of my trips. Word got around, so some people wanted to donate something to me. Since then, I have been using my tours to collect donations for the German Bone Marrow Donor Centre (DKMS).
Mr Bellroth, thank you very much for this interview!
Cover photo: A. Bellroth