new in cycling/touring

Discussion in 'Touring and recreational cycling' started by darkman, Aug 10, 2006.

  1. darkman

    darkman New Member

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    Hi,
    me and my cousin as planning a fairly big trip in europe and as it is the first time we go on a touring, i would greately appriciate any kind of help.

    The plan is to start fron France in Dieppe and terminate in Italy in Ancona. We have created a nice route plan and we are aiming to need around 15-17 days to reach the destination. The estimated distance is around 1700km.

    I have several questions and i would be greatful if you could provide me with any info possible.

    1) Crossing Alps. As this sill probably be the hardest part of our trip, i would like to know if anyone has passed through alps by using the road at the level of Lyon and comes out near Turin. Another path i found possible was through the tunnel but i suspect bicycles might not be allowed there.

    2) Weather. we are planning on going in mid -september. does anyone know if there is a lot of rainfall during this time?

    3) Strength/experience. We are new to touring and even worse, i havent been using a bycicle for big distances. Saying that, we are a bit fit and around 25years old. In your opinion do you believe will be possible to complete the trip? An average distance per day is calculated to be around 110km.


    thank you in advace,
    marios
     
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  2. blackbird05

    blackbird05 New Member

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    Marios, you sound just like me a year and a half ago. Don't worry, you'll manage fine.

    You took a great first step in joining these forums: people here really know what they're talking about. Your next good step would be to look through the other posts to see if some of your topics have been covered before. Many of them have.
    Now for your questions:
    1/ Strength/experience. As you haven't trained in long distances yet, you'll have to get fit on the tour. Don't sweat, it can be done without too much trouble. Do a search of the Touring and Recreational cycling forum for the word "training" and you'll find all the information you need about getting fit on tour. You'll have to start with shorter distances though, and give yourself a couple of rest days. You goal of 110 km/day seems a little high for the beginning, I would cut that down substantially for the first few days until you get into the swing of things. That way you won't find yourself frustrated and behind your planned schedule at the beginning. Remember, long rides set you up for repetitive strain injuries, especially if you ramp up your distance quickly. So Listen very carefully to your body, especially your knees. You'll probably also forget to re-hydrate often enough at the beginning; by that I mean that you'll drink when you're thirsty, and not before. Your fluid balance will directly affect how tired you feel, so drink obscene amounts of water even when you're not thirsty. Same goes for food - small frequent snacks will keep your energy level up.
    2/ Weather: Someone more experienced will have to answer this. I toured Europe from May-August. Keep in mind though that there may be very big variations in weather patterns between northern and southern Europe. If you have rain gear, bring it. If you don't get at least a good rain jacket. That way, you can still be confortable while biking in the rain. And find a way to waterproof your panniers (Expensive option: buy waterproof ones. Cheap option: line the ones you have with garbage bags).
    3/ Alps crossing. Again, my Alps crossing differed from yours so I have no specifics. However (this is only my opinion and someone will probably lynch me for this) I do want to bring one thing up: trains. I know you want to do this all under your own steam, I respect that and feel the same way. However if all else fails and you can't find a do-able route through this tunnel, you could take a train across the particular segment, just for the length of that one stop.

    Enjoy your planning process - it's almost as exciting as the trip itself!
    Let us know in a new post if you have any new questions:)
     
  3. blackbird05

    blackbird05 New Member

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    One more piece of advice: before you go, do a "shakedown ride". Basically this means that you do an overnight trip with substantial distances biking, carrying all your equipment with you. This will help remind you of things that you may have forgotten to pack, reveal things that are too heavy to bother carrying, show you what it takes to pack everything up in the morning/set up camp for the night, how the bike handles when it's loaded with weight etc. You'll also get a feel for how often you need to eat and drink to keep up your energy. It's nice to know these things ahead of time so when you start your tour in an unfamiliar place, you're at least familiar with your bike.



     
  4. darkman

    darkman New Member

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    thats a lot blackbird.

    true, planning may be as enjoying as trip itself as you keep getting excited andlooking forward it.

    thanks a lot for the info. It seems that i have underestimated the distances and the time needed to complete the trip. It seams now that for 1700km we will probably need 20 days (if we add 2-3 rest days). Does that seem more realistic?

    As for Alps i did think of the train and that is a decision we shall take when we reach lyon. Currently i want to hope that we will be able to cross Alps (it should be one of the best parts of the trip).


    thanks again for your information
     
  5. blackbird05

    blackbird05 New Member

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    20 days sounds more realistic when you're getting fit on the ride. As for the Alps, you're in good shape - sometimes the best plan is to make a decision when you get there. That's one of the things I loved most about bicycle touring: the sponteneity of decisions day-to-day.
    Good luck!

     
  6. daveornee

    daveornee New Member

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    Some Alps info here:
    http://www.trentobike.org/Countries/Europe/Tour_Reports/Tour_of_the_Alps/
    Some potentially useful "touring" information here:
    http://draco.acs.uci.edu/rbfaq/FAQ/4.6.html
    I would try to get as much riding with load experience before you go as possible. Evaluate everything you take and how it will be securely carried.
    Strong racks well secured to the bicycles and packed/secured well makes things safer all the way.
    Another set of resources that you will find useful here:
    http://sheldonbrown.com/touring/index.html
     
  7. Benoit PROT

    Benoit PROT New Member

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    Hi Darkman
    I don't know if you intend to cross Le Berry in central France which is quite flat and easy to cross.If so we can provide you with accomodation, breakfast for €20 per night/person in our house.You can visit a château in Valençay from the time of Napoléon.You can cross la Brenne with its wild life or go to St Valentin the lovers village.The first week of August, we welcome 5 persons who came by bike to visit the region with more than 10 000 other people.If you wish to see the region they crossed you can visit www.sf2006.org. We live in a nice house in Châteauroux.My husband is wonderful when he cooks local food and I guess my English is quite acceptable.
    A bientôt
    Valérie [email protected]
    By the way, the sweetest season is mid September.The climate is mild and people are at work.
     
  8. Velotour

    Velotour New Member

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    Hello:

    I crossed the Alps by bicycle by way of Germany, Austria, the Brenner Pass, and Italy. You should be all right in September. You might run into some rain, cold, and possible many slugs. It depends. It is no problem. Be sure to have a triple chainset on the front of the bike, gear down, and keep turning the crank arms. You can make it.




     
  9. blackbird05

    blackbird05 New Member

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    Ahhh yes, the slugs... *shudder* I'd forgotten about those, expecially in Austria.

     
  10. NuCommuter

    NuCommuter New Member

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    OK, despite the fact that they evoke a shudder, someone has to explain about the slugs of Austria. Inquiring minds want to know?!

    Nucommuter
     
  11. blackbird05

    blackbird05 New Member

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    Heh heh, Nucommuter, you'll have nightmares for a week!

    I ran into the slug infestations unexpectedly late one night near Attersee in Austria. I only found out the NEXT morning that
    a) Those weren't rotten crabapples that squished beneath my bare feet as I set up camp in the dark;
    b) It wasn't the springy green grass that made the ground so soft underneath my tent as I slept.

    I think they come out out of farmers fields on late summer evenings. They're fat, juicy and rather large. Their guts stain socks permanently, and they're very hard to scrape off a tent bottom. By the hundreds. With a twig.
    *shudder*
     
  12. Velotour

    Velotour New Member

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    I ran into the same thing---slugs. They were crossing the roadways by the hundreds of thousands and were all over in the woods. I had to pick them off the outside tent wall in the morning. When they come along and get to a pitched tent they just keep going up the tent. They were all over the place.

    I remember having quite a bit of heavy rain too. There is a book "Miles From Nowhere" by Barbara Savage. They went over the Alps but I do not remember the dates. You might get a good idea of what to expect from that book. I did the Alps tour in 1986, and while seasonal weather is fairly predictable and mountain elevations are fixed, my memory is not so precise after twenty years. It was too long ago.

    My most recent tour went from South Florida to Brownsville, Texas across the border from Matamoros, Mexico in November-December 2005. It was a terrible tour. There were far too many inconsiderate drivers on the road. Florida,Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana were the worst offenders, and they for some reason simply could not take the trouble to brush off their roadways and keep their emergency lanes uncluttered. I went through quite a few new tires that were gashed open long before the tread was worn out because of all the garbage lining the roadsides. I mean, I have spent years in the developing world and they seem to manage to keep their roads cleaned off, but not in the southeast USA. The only relief was getting into Texas where, for some reason, they did manage to keep their roads cleaned. The southeast showed no consideration for anything at all except motorized vehicles.

    I have read glowing touring stories on another website in which everyone was oh so wonderful along the way. They must not have gone the way I did. I have done the southern tier four times. Most of the people I met were definitely not friendly or helpful. Almost every time I asked for advice on directions or something else I got an ourtright lie or inaccurate answers. In some of the places where I had to stop for the obvious needs the air of malevolence was so thick you could cut it with a knife. I felt a compelling need to get out. In four crossings of the southern tier people invited me to stay the night only three times total. Trying to begin conversations brought sullen, short, clipped answers. Some were vulgar and definitely UNfriendly.

    I suspect the people with the glowing reports and the many trail angels helping them out are set ups. First, they announce and publish that they are on a specific mapped out bike route. People living along that mapped route know it is a bike route and they read the web site where the tour-in-progress is made public. They know the cyclists are keeping a journal on everything. When the cyclists show up they put their best foot forward just like most all people do. Second, many of the people on these publicised tours-in-progress are rather well to do. They rest in motels many or most of their nights on the road. They eat in up-scale restaurants when they can. They are a small boon to businesses along the route. Of course people will go out of their ways to make good impressions on them because because it is good business sense.

    As for myself, I free-camp the vast majority of nights. I am not a benefit to most businesses. I do often eat in restaurants and get food from stores. I often go for days without a shower or bath when touring so I get to looking kind of scraggly. All I know is this. The vastest majority of people I met along the way when touring across the USA were not friendly. They were not enemies either. They were just not friendly at all like some people describe in their tour journals, and I have told you why they have such glowing reports of society along their ways.
     
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