I’m not the type of girl who uses an eyebrow pencil. When I tumble out of bed, my hair’s more tangled than headphones before they went wireless. But I’m usually game for a scramble up a mountain or some other adventure.

Yorkshire-born teacher and globetrotter, Gabrielle Athauda, is writing her debut travel memoir Cycling to Our Wedding! It documents a bike tour across Europe in 2019 but comes after two decades of travel and adventure.

Life Before Smartphones and Tour Bikes

As a girl, Gabrielle doesn’t remember playing with dolls nor fantasising about wearing a gorgeous wedding dress. Rather, she recalls badgering her sister to set up fake travel agencies and skateboard down the steepest hills in the park with her.

Blurry memories these may be, but she found evidence of her childhood dreams to travel and have adventures whilst rummaging through her mum’s attic one day. She pulled out a dusty exercise book from a primary school box and read the thoughts of her eight-year-old self: “I want to study hard, get a good job, save my money and travel the world when I’m 28.” She had no recollection of writing it and goose pimples prickled her arms. She was 29, had graduated in German and Spanish from Edinburgh University, had worked for an international company in Austria for five and a half years, and had just returned home from a year backpacking, from Japan to Canada (the long way round), paid for by her savings.

After having quit her dual Heidi/Business Woman Life, Gabrielle trained to teach English as a foreign language in Barcelona. She has since worked in Italy, Malaysian Borneo and West Malaysia. She currently lives with her husband in southern France where, when not teaching, writing, and studying maps, she annoys her neighbours by feeding two collared doves who visit her balcony daily.

Outdoor Adventures and Cycling

Gabrielle fell in love with the outdoors whilst living in Austria where she frequently got lost up mountains and was the oldest person on the slopes learning to ski. During her travels, she’s climbed volcanoes, skydived, paraglided, hang glided, kayaked, jungle trekked, rock climbed, done canyoning and white water rafting, hurled herself from numerous zipline platforms and has scuba-dived more than you’d think for someone who fears she’s going to die at any time her mask nudges slightly.

But it wasn’t until in her late thirties that Gabrielle did her first bike tour: six days, self-guided cycling around the stunning karst peaks of Yangshuo, China. After becoming a fan of this slower way of travelling, she suggested to her fiancé they cycle from Malaysia, where they were living, to their wedding in England. At the time they didn’t have bikes, had only just learned what a pannier was, and England was 13,000km away. He thought she was crazy.

A compromise was eventually reached: they’d marry in Greece and cycle there from England. That was only 4,000km.

The Book

Cycling to Our Wedding! promises to take you on their journey. It was one packed with excitement and plenty of challenges. How would they fix anything more complex than a flat tyre? How could they finish planning a wedding when cycling every day? And would they have enough money left, after staying in lovely Airbnbs across Europe, to pay for it? Friends and family attending the ceremony were more concerned about whether a couple who’d never cycled across one country, let alone twelve, would actually make it to their own wedding. And if they did, would they still be talking to each other?