McCutchen Finds Echoes of Wisconsin Heading North in Europe
In mid-April, McCutchen arrived in Europe, flying into Madrid, Spain. Getting her bike out of Spanish customs proved a little tricky, but soon she was away on the next stage of her round the world journey. First, she took the Trans Euro Trail, a popular off-road bike route, east to Barcelona.
In Barcelona she visited the sights, including Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia Cathedral, and went horseback riding with friends.
Next, it was on to Paris for more sights and some great food. “As a pastry connoisseur, one of the absolute highlights of my time in Paris was the desserts. After gas, pastries were probably my second-biggest expense in France,” McCutchen wrote.
Riding north from Paris, she headed to Calais and caught the ferry to Dover, England. She would be returning to England later in the trip and so immediately sped over to catch another ferry to Ireland, a destination she’d long been looking forward to.
McCutchen’s family have Irish heritage and her name proved popular. “All across Central and South America, people found my name impossible to pronounce, so it was very refreshing to meet people who responded to me with ‘Now that’s a proper Irish name!’ The whole time I was in Ireland, I was lucky to feel like part of the ‘in-crowd’,” she explained.
After lots of pints and new friends in Ireland it was back to Britain, first to Scotland and then back into England where she picked up her sister from Heathrow Airport in London. They planned to ride together on the same bike to Munich, Germany.
The plan was short-lived. Another person and more luggage proved a bit too much for the bike and two flat tires later they gave up and stuck her sister, Annemarie, on a train the rest of the way.
After that trip, McCutchen headed back to the Netherlands and then into Norway. She rode the Suleskarvegen, a narrow, 26mi (42km) road that is “only open in the summer, when there are still meters-high walls of snow surrounding it.”
Norway is reminding her of home in Wisconsin: “The idyllic scenery and friendly nature of the people in Norway reminded me so much of my home, and my first day riding north, I camped by a lake that looked just like the ones I swam in growing up.”