The Cycling Life: Local tours the world on a bicycle

Savannah Chastain
Tom Catanese at the fish line in Lisbon Portugal after his trek across Western Europe.

Two wheels, a trail, and beautiful scenery are all it takes to motivate Tom Catanese to cycle 3,000 miles through Western Europe in merely nine weeks.

“I love traveling,” said Catanese, when asked what inspired his epic trek. “To see it on a bicycle; I can always go back to those countries or cities that I have seen first hand, but there’s just something about riding a bicycle, I think, that gives you peace in your life.”

 Catanese cycled through 12 countries this past summer, spanning from Estonia to Portugal and logged 3,125 miles to his annual biking expedition. This trip marked the third overseas biking tour for Catanese; his former trips where Greece in 2013, and China in 2012.

“I’ve gone twice with a bike tour company out of Canada called Tour d Afrique,” said Catanese. “They offer the safest route possible, and two support vans that carry our bags so the only thing we had to carry on our bikes is our fuel of water and hydrating liquids.”

Catanese explained that the tour guides provide breakfast, and then drive the route to set out the course markers for the day. The cycling group then meets up with the guides for a lunch stop mid-way, and finally arrives at a campsite or hotel for dinner.

“We cycle an average of 80 or 90 miles a day,” said Catanese. “Life on a bike; you get up in the morning and the first thing you do is fuel up. Then you have to get that thought out of your mind of, ‘here I go again.’ You have to be excited. The carrot may be the thought of, ‘When I get through with this 80 or 90 mile bike ride I get to see this amazing part of the world.”

For this year’s European expedition, Catanese said that some of his favorite sights were the small cities and numerous castles he passed by.

“Coming into these old cities, you feel like you’re in a medieval period,” he said. “I was fascinated by the ancient history and just seeing how history played out.”

Of course no outdoor exploration is complete without the great awe of nature, and Catanese said the wide-open countryside inspired him to keep going every day.

 “The scenery was just amazing,” said Catanese. “I love cycling without a doubt, and to travel and cycle together it’s amazing. The sights you see; you don’t miss anything on a bicycle, it’s breathtaking.”

Besides the sights, Catanese said the people he meets along the way are what make his treks most worth while.

“It’s amazing to meet people from all over the world and to hear their stories,” he said. “On this trip there were cyclists from 15 different countries, all coming together with the same goal; to finish.”

Coming back to Destin after his experiences, Catanese said one of his biggest passions is to inspire more locals to get into cycling.

“We have this beautiful place to cycle here on the Emerald Coast and I believe if we can get more people to ride bikes, get them out of the cars; once people ride bikes they will be a lot more courteous to people on bikes.”  

Catanese told The Log that he truly believes cycling can bring people together, and encourage a better appreciation for the environment around us.

“I started cycling seven years ago. I bought a bicycle and joined the Emerald Coast Cycling club,” he said. “They really they taught me how to cycle, they’re a bunch of great local people in this area.”

For more information about the Emerald Coast Cycling club CLICK HERE .