For Australian Cyclists travelling and touring OS
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Does anyone now of a good online beginners guide for someone wanting to plan a touring holiday (in europe)? Was hopefully looking for something that points you in the right direction for gear, route choice and planning and any other advice for a complete first timer.
Amazon have many bicycle touring books in their catalogue. Try searches for "Cycle Europe" and similar.
One of the best things about bicycle commuting is that it can mitigate the displeasure of having to go to work. - BikeSnobNYC
Cycling is sometimes like bobbing for apples in a bucket full of dicks. - SydGuy
I did a solo,self-guided 14 day tour of France this July, organised by CTC.
1300km of perfect touring, staying at hotels each night. I put on weight, despite the energy expenditure - it's all uphill in France (like 20-30km of 5% hill just to start the day right!). I can send you my route and bore you with photos if you want. The tour started and finished in Toulouse and took in hills and valleys along the Lot, the Causse region, the Espinouse mountains and bits of the Pyrenees. I'd do it again at the drop of a hat, although maybe in June - 100km of mostly uphill in 37degrees almost did me in on a couple of days.
Excellent! Eat, drink, and enjoy - that's what holidays should be about. I would love to do the same again one day.
For one to conquer oneself is the first and noblest of all victories!
Well, you asked for it.
I'll do it in instalments as it all comes flooding back.
My cycle tour of the Causse region and the Pyrenees began as an idea to ride across France from Lyon to Nantes, through the hilly bits of the Massif Central. I had intended to do a solo self-supported route, staying at campsites. I speak French adequately and visited France regularly in the past when I lived in the UK. Part of the attraction of a cycle tour would be to spend a month in France being semi-French.
The initial plan bit the dust literally when I came off on a ride last Australia Day, breaking my acromion process and a couple of ribs. My significant other vetoed the solo trip on the way to the A&E department, although I persuaded her that it would be fine if I could cycle with an organised group tour. After searching through the net I found that CTC did a self guided tour that would slip under the radar with regard to organisation and safety. We were due to spend a good deal of time in the UK in 2009 and I had plenty of windows of opportunity to travel. Ideally I would have liked to have seen a bit of the TdF but I would be happy just to be in France. The tour was scheduled for 14 days in early July and took in some hilly bits in rural regions, ticking most of my boxes. There was also the added advantage of escaping my mother-in-law for a fortnight!
Bike-wise, I ride a fairly old Cannondale (R5000Si, I think). I did not consider taking it to Europe and found a really old steel clunker on the CTC market place for $200. I spent a month or so acclimatising to the weight, buying a few bits like panniers and working up to daily 100km jaunts around the English countryside (there is some left) around Daventry, fixing bits that fell off on the way.
I thought I might be ready as I waited in the rain for the Bike Express coach ( http://www.bike-express.co.uk/ ).............
THIS book looks like it might be one to look for.
I have never cycled in France but i did cycle across Holland and then into Belgium, Luxembourg, some of southern Germany and some of Austria many years ago.
A wonderful experience, although the Austrian mountains were a bit "over the top".
Cycling down the length of the Moselle river valley was probably the highlight of that trip.
After that trip i did have thoughts of cycling in France so i have a little book called "Cycle Touring in France" published in 1989.
I can post it to you if you are interested.
Favorite bike - whatever i am riding, as long as it has indexed downtube shifters
In April, my wife and I did 1200km in Spain, largely following the pilgrim route (Camino de Santiago) from Seville to Santiago de Compostella (the route is known as the Via de la Plata, but don't get confused with the highway of the same name). Mostly minor sealed and unsealed road, some off road and a little highway where absolutely necessary. Completely self-supported, no tour business.
People walk this route, so there are accomodation opportunities about every 30km. We aimed at cycling three of the walking legs each day. With one exception, all our accomodation was hostales (small cheap hotels, like pensions). The exception was a night in an albergue (pilgrims shelter). We didn't book ahead anywhere, found accomodation as we went. Generally travelled for three or four days and then had a rest stop in a town of interest (Merida, Caceres, Salamanca, etc).
Longest day 110km. Shortest (ie hilliest) day 55km.
There are some good web sites describing the route: this is quite a good one with photos along the way.
There are other Caminos de Santiago, the most popular being the Camino Frances across northern Spain from the Pyrenees to Santiago. I chose the Via de la Plata because it was the route less travelled.
I would strongly recommend this journey.
You might also want to check out the travelling two's website. http://www.travellingtwo.com They have alot of touring information plus they also offer a free e-book titled "Bike Touring Basics" if you sign up for their newsletter.
BicycleTraveler is a free digital magazine on international bicycle touring. www.bicycletraveler.nl
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