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Old 11-02-08, 09:43 PM   #1
Miss Britta
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Eastern Europe- Estonia etc

I was wondering if someone could help with some information if you have bike toured in some Eastern European countries:
1. Any recommendations for less hilly countries/ areas
2. I am from Australia, should I find bike gear here or buy in Germany (i imagined the variety for be great in Europe and maybe cheaper for some things?)
3. I have never done anything like this before, how will I know what sort of bike to get?
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Old 11-03-08, 05:41 AM   #2
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1 - North Eastern Europe is flat. As Napoleon found you can do Paris to Moscow without going up any major hills. The best cycle touring countries however are North Western Europe, Holland, W.Germany, Belgium, Denmark and France.

2 - N.European bikes and kit comes in all qualaties including some of the best in the world. Depending on exchange rates it may also have a price to match !

3 - This one has no answer, it depends on where you are going to be based. If you were in the UK then the 'benchmark' touring bike to look at would be the Dawes Galaxy.

Have a look at the SJSC web site,they do some very nice (and expensive) touring bikes and ship world wide. but reading through their brochures will give you some ideas of what to look for.

I would suggest you do a couple of weekend trips locally using borrowed gear before you start to get an idea of what is involved otherwise you are liable to take far too much stuff.
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Old 11-03-08, 06:40 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Miss Britta View Post
I was wondering if someone could help with some information if you have bike toured in some Eastern European countries:
1. Any recommendations for less hilly countries/ areas
I rode from Amsterdam to Vladivostok in 2007, going by way of Germany, Poland, Russia (Kaliningrad), Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Russia. In 2006, I cycled from the Ukraine/Hungary border to the Volga River. See http://www.bikerussia.com for both trips.

It depends a little what you want, but you'll find flatter areas further north such as European parts of the 2007 trip. I found the Baltic States and particularly Estonia the most set up for bicycle tourists: long hours of daylight, relatively flat and marked bicycle routes. Further south through Ukraine/Russia it was more variable with some areas of poor condition roads. Poland is one country I'd like to do some more cycling through - though I also found some "yellow" roads can have poor conditions.
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Old 11-03-08, 08:28 AM   #4
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My first ever trip to Europe was a bicycle tour circling Estonia in 1999, with overnight stops in Tallinn, Koeru, Tartu, Viljandi, Parnu, Orissarre(sp?), Kaina and Haapsalu. I am so happy I chose Estonia. It was a little off the beaten track for western tourists, so it wasn't overly crowded. Yet it was everything I could hope for in a bike trip. It was flat and there was an abundance of services. (but bear in mind I stayed in hotels/pensions and did not camp.) I understand it can be a bit damp, but it never rained during my entire ten day trip. Overall, traffic was seldom an issue, though it was busy in Tallinn.

That was nearly 10 years ago. While not bad then, the situation may be even better now.

As for the bike, I toured on what was then a 12 year old sport touring bike, a sort of mid-level bike that I carried on the plane with me. I carried everything I needed in one set of medium sized rear panniers. The good people at my pension in Tallinn stored my bike box while I was touring. If you prefer to buy a bike in Europe, you should have no problem finding something suitable. I do have one caution. At the time I was in Estonia, bike shops and good bikes for sale were few and far between, but that situation may have improved since then also. However, I think you would have better purchase options in Germany, as you suggest. The last time I was in Germany, about five years ago, there was a huge sporting equipment retailer near Zoo train station in Berlin (unfortunately, can't remember the shop's name), and they had a large selection of bicycle touring bikes and gear. I don't know the exchange rate for the Australian Dollar, but the lousy value of the USD would make a bike/gear purchase in a Euro currency nation nearly cost prohibitive (at least on my salary.)

There is a bike club in Estonia dedicated to touring. They have been involved in setting up mapped bike routes around the country. These routes did not exist when I was there, so I cannot speak for them. You may find helpful information on the club's website. http://www.bicycle.ee/vantaaga/index.php?keel=eng
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Old 11-05-08, 09:16 PM   #5
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I think Ziemas lives in Latvia. Maybe try contacting him.
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