What is the European Divide Trail and why should it be on your bucket list?

The European Divide Trail or EDT as it has come to be known is the newly launched 7,600-kilometre long-distance trail bisecting mainland Europe from the northeastern tip to the most south-westerly point.

The EDT is the brain child of Andy Cox @doubletrackfanatic, British cycling nomad and Tailfin product tester extraordinaire. Andy is no stranger to long distance riding having spent the last few years (barring lockdown) constantly travelling the lost lanes and dirt roads of Europe, building up an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of one of the most complex and interesting continents in the world. During the countless hours of riding Andy has experienced over his 65,000 kilometre and counting journey the inspiration came to create an off-road route to rival the likes of the iconic U.S. Great Divide Trail. And we think he has created something very, very special. A route that perfectly encapsulates all the landscapes and experiences that can only be found crossing this great continent.

The European Divide Trail has been devised after three years of trial and error travelling on my bike across Europe. To find the routes that fit my criteria I found myself going places other people don’t and living an existence on the edge of civilization. It’s now time to bring it all together. So from Grense Jakobselv in Norway, with its border with Russia and the Arctic Ocean, to Cabo St Vincente in Portugal on the Atlantic coast I tried to filter out some of the highlights, to make some sort of backbone to what is now The European Divide Trail.

In his own words the European Divide Trail pieces together the altogether forgotten, the tracks, trails and landscapes far from the usual tourist routes. It’s unashamedly remote in places and is most definitely aimed at the more self supported cyclist. But that’s not to say Andy has designed it as a masochists delight. It’s not about choosing the hardest route with the most climbing or one to be ridden with head down racer style (although inevitably this will happen) – this is a route intended to be savoured. The EDT isn’t one that you need weeks off the bike to recover between stages either, the intention is to get you to the end and make you want to ride it all the way back to Norway.

The route starts in Norway and ends in Portugal (map courtesy of Komoot)

European Divide Trail Vital Statistics

  • 7,601 kilometres (4,723 miles) total length
  • 86,820 metres (284,843 feet) of elevation
  • 11 countries visited

If the thought of travelling on your bike, fully loaded for thousands of kilometres seems a little daunting there is ‘good’ news about the EDT. Andy had a set of criteria that he used to make the route a little more accessible and to put it within the realms of all riders with a penchant for exploration. In his own words it had to be, “Not too hard, mostly off road and mostly on dirt roads, mostly pedalable on a loaded bike, away from the obvious and busy places, no ‘pointless’ climbing, (by that I mean if there’s a way around a hill, on dirt, that’s not much longer than going over the hill, then use the easier option), the difficulty should be in the distance rather than the technical/rough riding and finally it should use quiet lanes or traffic free options when necessary”.

Where can I get the European Divide Trail route?

European Divide Trail

With the help of Komoot Andy has curated the entire trail as a collection that anyone can access and download. Handily divided it into 37 separate Tours, each with a distinct feel, the EDT can be ridden as individual stages or linked together. The number of stages is dependent on how adventurous you want to be. Andy has accompanied the Komoot Tours with detailed descriptions of what can be expected along the route coupled with handy hints as to where to resupply, camp or particular highlights of the route not to be missed.

What would be the best bikepacking setup for the European Divide Trail?

European Divide Trail

Bike recommendations are more down to comfort and tyre size than anything specific; so most off-road capable bikes would be fine, with a minimum of 40mm wide tyres, and 50mm or larger being a safer and more comfortable option. You could ride most of it on a touring bike with panniers, but it’s best tackled on something more focused towards gravel and mountain biking with bikepacking style luggage so you can enjoy the trails more. There’s no need to carry more than 3-4 litres of water at any point, and while the longest stretch without grocery stores is 255 km (158 mi), which is in Finland, there’s also several sections in Sweden that are around 200 km (124 mi) without any services, and also some surprisingly empty areas of Spain and Portugal.

The perfect European Divide Trail setup would of course need a Tailfin system, as Andy himself uses and swears by. Andy opts for an AeroPack Alloy. This has the added advantage of carrying extra kit using the cargo cage mounts found on each side of the Alloy Arch as well as providing real-world durability. You could even add extra load carrying capabilities by adding an AP Mount to the rear of the pack too.

We are incredibly proud to be a partner and supporter of the European Divide Trail alongside the following great brands: Bombtrack Bicycle Co., Komoot, Schwalbe Tyres, Cafe du Cycliste and Outdoor Provisions.

To find out more about routes such as the European Divide Trail, keep up with Tailfin’s latest product releases plus handy features about bike packing and living with your Tailfin system why not sign up to our regular monthly newsletter?

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