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Old 04-20-16, 08:30 AM   #1
beatlescrazyman
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Solo tour from Paris to Amsterdam -- any advice is appreciated

I leave in five weeks for my first long(ish) solo tour from Paris to Amsterdam. I'm giving myself two weeks including a couple nights in Paris and Amsterdam and hopefully seeing Brussels, Bruges, Antwerp Rotterdam and the Hague along the way.

I plan on camping/hoteling in large cities and have never ridden a bike in the European countryside. Google Maps has me largely taking the D1017 out of Paris, which if I'm being honest, looks pretty awful on Google street view. No shoulder and lots of trucks.

Any routing advice would be great -- towns to see, or how to find campgrounds would be great.
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Old 04-20-16, 08:36 AM   #2
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I've cycled in and out of Paris before on some pretty bad roads. There have to be some good ones, though. Alternatively, just take a train out of the city with your bike. It will save you some less than ideal riding.

I really, really like the areas north and east of Paris but it is hilly (from Alsace up through the Ardennes to Limburg). Still I find that area more scenic than the coastal areas but it's all good.

Campgrounds are easy to find; I tend to look for the more primitive ones as to avoid the large RV campsites. Also, depending on your age, hostels can be a good choice.
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Old 04-27-16, 05:32 AM   #3
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Do you have a GPS with you ?


The D1017 is, same as all other busy traffic roads. You would have to map from point to point I think... from small village to small village avoiding the busier roads.


Which roads do you prefer? Flat roads or more hilly countryside?
Via rivers/canals you can ride for long times very flat from city to city aswel. But sometimes you'll have to leave the riverside, and go uphill again.


When doing Brussels, Bruges and Antwerp, you're probably making a detour somewhere.
Have you already a more detailed planning where you're riding through?


A website like Enjoy the nicest routes | RouteYou can be very very handy.


Difficult to make decisions as there's so much to see between Paris and Amsterdam.
So you will have to skip lots of things too I'm afraid.
Depends on how mucht time you take to do everything.


There's a couple riding from Brussels to Amsterdam too (the other thread here in this forum), maybe in the same period (end may/begin june).
Maybe somewhere you guys will meet on the road ;-)
We can all go drink a beer somewhere?
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Old 04-27-16, 01:53 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by bulevardi View Post
There's a couple riding from Brussels to Amsterdam too (the other thread here in this forum), maybe in the same period (end may/begin june).
Maybe somewhere you guys will meet on the road ;-)
We can all go drink a beer somewhere?
Sadly, we'll be finishing up when he's departing Paris. If I see anything nice on the way, though, I'll let him know!

As far as routing, I found OpenStreetMap's cycle option to be far better than Google Bike.
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Old 04-27-16, 07:26 PM   #5
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Google maps will pick the most direct route that's (in theory) bikeable. But that's often a busier road, and the alternative routes are way better.

Strava Route Builder
(and see my review in this post.)
I've been trying out Strava Route Builder. It's still somewhat experimental, but it often picks a very nice route. You'll need a free strava account to use it.
You'll want to upload the route to your GPS, since it will have quite a few turns.
It doesn't always know which routes are paved and which are mountain bike trails, so check the route in detail before heading out. It does tend to head toward population centers, since those roads have a lot of riders.

It uses the Strava Heat Map data, a year of strava rider's recordings. So it will go out of the way to ride on popular roads, way better than the direct route. You can click part way through the route to go to areas you want, or drag a finished route to a different road.

On the left, click the "gear" settings button and turn on Heat Map to see the popular roads colored in. And if you select "minimum elevation" at the top, it'll really go out of the way to minimize climbing.

Here's a quick example. I randomly clicked inside Paris for the start, and in Bruges for the end, and let it calculate the whole thing. That's too far to get the "best" route, it's better to click 30 miles/ 50km at a time to go where you want.
Paris to Bruges demo route.

Last edited by rm -rf; 04-28-16 at 08:42 AM.
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Old 05-02-16, 08:25 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by beatlescrazyman View Post
I leave in five weeks for my first long(ish) solo tour from Paris to Amsterdam. I'm giving myself two weeks including a couple nights in Paris and Amsterdam and hopefully seeing Brussels, Bruges, Antwerp Rotterdam and the Hague along the way.
If you only have two weeks, you might want to save time and take trains instead.

Sadly, the Thalys high-speed train that links Paris and Amsterdam through Brussel doesn't take bikes, and AFAIK, none of the long-distance buses have bike racks in the back.

As an alternative, you could take regular trains and bunny-hop all the way to Amsterdam. The following cities are worth a stop: https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer...JO2kIdS_1xZ7E4

Here's how to get there:
  1. Train Paris-Amiens
  2. Train Amien-Lille
  3. Bike Lille-Kortrijk
  4. Train Kortrijk-Bruges
  5. Train Bruges-Antwerp
  6. Train Antwerp-Breda
  7. Train Breda-Keukenhof
  8. Train or bike Keukenhof-Amsterdam

Skip Rotterdam, there's not much to see (heavily bombed during WWII).

Get tickets through SNCF for France, SNCB for Belgium, and NL for the Netherlands, or those sites:
www.raileurope.com
http://www.seat61.com/

Last edited by Winfried; 05-02-16 at 08:30 AM.
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Old 05-02-16, 09:02 AM   #7
beatlescrazyman
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rm -rf View Post
Google maps will pick the most direct route that's (in theory) bikeable. But that's often a busier road, and the alternative routes are way better.

Strava Route Builder
(and see my review in this post.)
I've been trying out Strava Route Builder. It's still somewhat experimental, but it often picks a very nice route. You'll need a free strava account to use it.
You'll want to upload the route to your GPS, since it will have quite a few turns.
It doesn't always know which routes are paved and which are mountain bike trails, so check the route in detail before heading out. It does tend to head toward population centers, since those roads have a lot of riders.

It uses the Strava Heat Map data, a year of strava rider's recordings. So it will go out of the way to ride on popular roads, way better than the direct route. You can click part way through the route to go to areas you want, or drag a finished route to a different road.

On the left, click the "gear" settings button and turn on Heat Map to see the popular roads colored in. And if you select "minimum elevation" at the top, it'll really go out of the way to minimize climbing.

Here's a quick example. I randomly clicked inside Paris for the start, and in Bruges for the end, and let it calculate the whole thing. That's too far to get the "best" route, it's better to click 30 miles/ 50km at a time to go where you want.
Paris to Bruges demo route.

Cool! That's exactly what I'm looking for! It seems like it will be totally plausible to do 100 km a day so I think I should be able to cover lots of ground and still give myself time to explore bruges and brussels where I'd like to have at least one full day in each city (two nights).

I'm accustomed to riding the steep hills of hudson valley with my bike fully loaded so I'm not too concerned about the hills outside paris.

Thanks everyone for all the great advice!
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Old 05-03-16, 04:19 AM   #8
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Except the area isn't necessarily worth seeing, which is why I suggested saving time by taking the train when possible. I rode in some of the areas that you'd like to visit, and they were just boring (roads with heavy traffic with no separate bike tracks, non-descript suburbs, etc.)
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Old 06-14-16, 10:03 AM   #9
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so.... how was the journey so far?
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