"I'm just a guy who lives to ride his bike, to camp in the forest, to see the world from a saddle"
Who is Andy? I am Andy Cox, born in 1978 in Oxford, England. I've no fixed abode, nor any real occupation. I used to work as a bike mechanic by trade, but also as a MTB guide, a bike rental shop manager,.. but beside beeing a coffee drinker and map lover I'm just a guy who lives to ride his bike, to camp in the forest, to see the world from a saddle.
I wasn't so happy in my previous life, the life I lived in a house with a job and loads of bills to pay every month, so I wanted to change it all. As I have no dependents, no children or partner, I had the freedom to change everything if I wanted, which I did. Everything except for riding my bike that is!
At Instagram you find me under my alter ego "Doubletrackfanatic" though, I guess it fits my personality quite well because I love riding dirt, gravel and forest roads, you know, the ones with the two parallel tracks and perhaps some grass-up-the-middle?!
How did you start your journey? Simply, I packed my bike and left! More complicatedly, I was going to sell my house in South Wales to find a new place to live on mainland Europe and one of my neighbors told me that a friend of theirs wanted to rent a house where I live so it worked out well.
I now live off the rent that I collect from that house, which pays for most of my day to day travel, some spare parts and replacement equipment. Finding a new place to live by bicycle seemed like the perfect solution to my needs; as I'm a cyclist then I want to live somewhere that is cycle friendly, has plenty great riding nearby and hopefully has a good cycling culture that I could join in with. Learning a new language seemed like a small price to pay for such things.
Where have you been that you liked enough to want to stay? I really like northern Catalonia, around Girona, Olot and Banyoles. It's the edge of the Pyrenees, the high plains of central Spain aren't too far away and there's plenty of great cycling around there. Mountains, coastline and foothills are all within easy reach, plus it's cheap to live and has good weather.
Central Sweden holds a special place in my heart due to the great people, outdoors lifestyle and endless forests and dirt roads. It's expensive, and also dark and cold in the winter but I could always get a fatbike and some lights.
But these things can be overcome if I found the right place to live. Most important is that the place needs to be right and then an income can be found in someway or another wherever I stay.
Where will your love of doubletracks take you next? At the moment I'm working on a journey from the far north east of Europe, Grense Jakobselv in Norway, to the furthest south west of Europe, Cape St Vincent in Portugal.
It's a pretty huge undertaking as it's going to be well over 7000 kilometres when it's finished, crossing the economic, cultural and geographical divides of this diverse continent. I'm calling it the European Divide Trail and it should be ready to ride in a beta version by next summer.
After I finish riding to Portugal in November I'll need somewhere warm to spend the winter, so I'm just doing some research into that at the moment. Morocco, Oman and southeast Asia are all possibilites.
"My favourite place and time, so far this year, has to be sunrise over Pantà de Sau, a reservoir near to Girona where I spent a night this spring. Waking up to the soft dawn light and the sound of geese calling to eachother, echoing off the steep canyon walls that surround the lake was a real highlight of my trip so far."
All photos above from Robert Krügel, Mathew Waudby, Gaëlle Bojko and Andy Cox