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  1. #1
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    Which European cities meet these requirements for a road cycling vacation?

    A road cyclist friend and I are planning a one-week bike trip to Europe in May. This will be our third such trip. Rather than moving from town to town with someone transporting our luggage, we like to have a home base city surrounded by a good network of secondary roads for these trips.

    In 2009, we stayed in Avignon, France, and rode around the Côtes du Rhône region. A couple of years later, we stayed in San Gimignano, Italy, and rode around Tuscany.

    Here are our requirements:

    • High probability of sunny weather and daytime highs above 20 degrees Celcius (68 degrees Fahrenheit) in the month of May— After enduring a Canadian winter, we want sun and warmth
    • Primarily flat or rolling hills — We want to ride about 80-100 km per day, allowing us to see a lot of a region. We don’t want to spend 1.5 hours climbing one mountain.
    • We don’t want suburbs — once we leave our home base town, we want to be on quiet roads in beautiful countryside.
    • After our daily rides, we want our home base town to be a nice place to explore with good restaurant options — After all, we need to refuel for the next day’s ride.


    So, where would you recommend based on this list of requirements?

  2. #2
    Unobtanium-Based Lifeform calamarichris's Avatar
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    The weather's never 100% predictable in Northern Europe, but I'm a big fan of Maastricht & Valkenburg, in the Netherlands, just over the border from Liege. Definitely worth a look.




    Quote Originally Posted by EvilWeasel View Post
    Well, if you are gonna carry a snapped frame all the way home. It might as well be light weight carbon fiber.

  3. #3
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    This looks lovely, calamarichris. But historical weather reports suggest that it will likely be about 15 degrees C during the day. We're looking for something warmer.

  4. #4
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    Somewhere along the Loire,in Touraine or aroung Anjou. Good food and wine.

    Another might be Bourdeaux. Or Pau.

  5. #5
    Heretic Caretaker's Avatar
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    You say 'city' but don't wan't suburbs? If you base yourself in a city you're going to have to pass through some suburbs.

    My suggestion is Toulouse the Gers(Gascony) region has rolling countryside dotted with hilltop towns. The Canal du Midi is tarmac between Toulouse and Port Laurgais. Toulouse is a university town with interesting nightlife. It's sufficiently Southerly to give a good chance of 20+ in May.
    History is the future

  6. #6
    Senior Member terrapin44's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by calamarichris View Post
    The weather's never 100% predictable in Northern Europe, but I'm a big fan of Maastricht & Valkenburg, in the Netherlands, just over the border from Liege. Definitely worth a look.
    calamarichris: I'm not the op but I have an upcoming free weekend in Europe (have 2 conferences, Zurich then London, with 4 days to get to London) and I was thinking about going to the Netherlands. Maastricht & Valkenburg looks nice and I see a few places that rent bikes. Is there any particular rides out of town you like? I am more looking at 40-50k rides although a little further should be okay as well.

  7. #7
    Je pose, donc je suis.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ironwood View Post
    Somewhere along the Loire,in Touraine or aroung Anjou. Good food and wine.

    Another might be Bourdeaux. Or Pau.
    All good suggestions. Tours or Angers would be excellent home bases. As would Chinon. (Go see l'Abbaye de Fontevrau). Never been to Pau, but it's sure to be warmer and I expect easier to get in and out of than Bordeaux or Toulouse or other major cities.

    Probably can't go wrong with Liguria (I've done Laiguellia in April) or Tuscany, though you have to do some hills to get away from the crowded coast (where it's also chillier, of course).

    I wouldn't go to any Germanic-speaking country in May if you require warmth. You can get warm days, but you could have a week of piss-rain just as easily.

  8. #8
    Unobtanium-Based Lifeform calamarichris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by terrapin44 View Post
    calamarichris: I'm not the op but I have an upcoming free weekend in Europe (have 2 conferences, Zurich then London, with 4 days to get to London) and I was thinking about going to the Netherlands. Maastricht & Valkenburg looks nice and I see a few places that rent bikes. Is there any particular rides out of town you like? I am more looking at 40-50k rides although a little further should be okay as well.
    Hi Terrapin (lucky stiff.)
    Sorry, no help on the routes. Been too many years since I rode there, and I got sick on the flight over during my '08 trip when those were taken. Pretty much anything around Valkenburg is going to be lovely. Plenty of races run around that region, and everyone calls it "Little Switzerland". Plenty of pro races run around that region, and it's just over the border from Liege.
    Have a fun trip and take plenty of pictures!
    Quote Originally Posted by EvilWeasel View Post
    Well, if you are gonna carry a snapped frame all the way home. It might as well be light weight carbon fiber.

  9. #9
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    Vienna in Austria meets your specifications (including good weather and no suburbs), and then exceeds them. There are bikepaths all along the Danube River, as well as Danube Island, plus Danube canal, and then bikepaths all over the city. The area around is fantastic for daytrips with and without bike. For cycling- forest and hills to the west, rolling farmland to the north, flatter farmland the the east (including the Neusiedler Lake). Loads of people do the 300km tour along the Danube from Passau in Germany to Vienna. You can stay at guesthouses all along the way. Great regional food all over the place too...

  10. #10
    the digitalmouse digitalmouse's Avatar
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    Copenhagen, Denmark! Climate change has blessed us with warmer than usual springtimes the past two years... but also brought a bit more rain.
    current ride: 2010 Steintrike Nomad with Wildcat nose fairing https://picasaweb.google.com/jimm.pratt/NomadWildcat

    Recumbent Adventure! - recumbent cycle touring all year around!
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  11. #11
    Licensed Bike Geek Davet's Avatar
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    I'll second cycling the Danube! My wife and I have done it twice and would do it again in a heartbeat! Salzburg to Vienna is a wonderful, entertaining, fun ride. Small villages, a few big cities that are easy to get around via bicycle. It's one of the most bike-friendly places I've been. That and the great food at small gasthous and restaurants will keep you going for a long time.

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