Likes to Ride Far
Join Date: May 2007
Bikes: road, commuter/tourer, hardtail MTB, touring tandem, cargo, folder
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The closest thing I did was Basel to Hoek van Holland, which I did from south to north.
Prevailing wind direction could be important, so see this thread: Prevailing wind directions Europe
, especially the post by stokell, and the hits you get by typing "prevailing wind direction Europe" into Google. That would suggest coming from the north would be better.
If you're starting in the Spring, if you're planning to take a couple of weeks or more, then you might plan to start in the south and work your way north because the air temperature may then never be too low, whereas starting in the North you'll risk colder air in the early part of the trip. But if you're only planning to take closer to one week or are coming at a warmer part of the year then the difference will not be significant enough to include this as a factor.
You mentioned elevation considerations. Amsterdam is at 0 m elevation, Geneva is about 380m. Over this length of trip, this difference is insignificant, and shouldn't factor into your decision. The flattest part is going to be the section in Holland, so if you think you aren't in proper shape yet, then you may want to start in Holland to get your body ready for the hillier days to come.
As for route, when I did Basel to the Hoek, I hit all of the hills I could find: the Vosges mountains in northeast france (some serious and nice climbs), then the hills and valleys of northern Luxembourg (the valleys are quite deep, and it's hard work if you have to climb out of one and into another, but the climbs aren't too long), and then the Ardennes in Belgium (which I had expected to be larger, but are still big enough to make it interesting). I live in Switzerland, so I compare everything to the great Alpine passes where I normally ride. If you live in a flatter area then you'll find the hills much more challenging. Starting or finishing in Geneva means that you'll have to do at least a little bit of the ride in the Jura mountains, where there are some pretty serious climbs, but you can also plan your route to minimize these if you prefer.
Enjoy the ride!
Last edited by Chris_W; 03-19-10 at 06:23 AM.