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Thread: Rough Plan

  1. #1
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    Rough Plan

    Hi, new to the site and certainly new to the idea of long distance touring.

    During a short commute to the gym on my crappy diamond back comfy city bike, I came up with a nugget of an idea.

    I currently live in Canada (Kelowna, BC) but i'm originally from Bristol, England. I have to travel back to the Uk in May 2010 to attend a wedding and I for no particular reason thought it might be nice to embark on a cycling tour across Europe straight after the wedding. I also get to show my Canadian wife a good chunk of Europe along the way.

    Now my original idea, without prior research is to cycle from Bristol all the way to Corfu in Greece, the reason for this is my family own property here and I can score a free holiday for a few weeks to celebrate the end of the trip.

    The main problem i have, is I dont know where to start planning wise, bike wise, time-scale wise.

    We are both everyday cyclists with a short commute, we are both fit and healthy, I have good knowledge of europe and the customs/languages etc

    I have plenty of time this summer to execute a plan of attack, but the whole bike selection/training/cost of the trip seems to be a minefield...

    Im looking for some advice/help/encouragement

    Am I crazy or Is this achievable with no real long distance bike experience?

    Thanks, I look forward to hearing anyones thoughts

    Tom

  2. #2
    40 yrs bike touring
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    Everyone starts in your position and a tour is simply daily commutes of any size linked together. There is no single purist version of cycle touring. People have ridden your route on every type of bicycle from single speeds to racing bikes.

    European touring offers you many alternative choices from camping only, mixing camping with hostels and B&B's and credit card touring. You also have the option of hoping a train or bus to avoid stretches of terrain you would not like to cycle. Only your budget will dictate the choice.

    If you choose to cycle the entire route completely equipped for camping only start slowly for the first week or so to allow your bodies to adjust to the added physical stress.

  3. #3
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    A journey of a 1000 miles begins with a single rotation of the pedal.

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    Oh man, exciting. I would decide on a budget, then look at your options. How much do you want to spend on a bike? How much do you think you need to eat each day? How much money to spend on the trip? That is just one way to go about it, lots of people are comfortable to throw themselves into a situation and go for it.

  5. #5
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    Im stoked, the more I think of it, the more excited I am to get going. Ive got pretty much a year to plan it though.

    Budget wise, i think we'll be happy to do the bread and cheese and power bar thing and camping would be our first option, but we will want to stay in a few hotels along the way. Got friends in a few cities along the way so its not gonna be entirely unsupported.

    The bikes are my biggest question mark, I'm thinking we'll have a budget of about a grand each for bikes and panniers and general bike stuff, we've got a ton of good quality camping gear and im happy roughing it with few clothes and home comforts...
    but, do we go for MTB's, touring bikes or road bikes...i hear pro and cons for both, but no idea where to start. Also is there any value in Women specific bikes for my wife, been looking around online and cant find too much info...

    I'll keep you posted on my progress, gonna start pouring over maps and guide books over the next few days and try and link up all the places we really want to go to.

    Thanks again

  6. #6
    imi
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    These could be a good places to get an idea of biking gear and prices:
    http://www.sjscycles.co.uk
    http://www.chainreactioncycles.com

    more information: http://www.whycycle.co.uk/bike_styles/touring_bikes/

    check out the Dawes bikes, they may be in your price range,
    http://www.dawescycles.com/c-10-touring-bikes.aspx

    The forum here is a wealth of knowledge, do a lot of searching, there are opinions about EVERYTHING!
    Don't get bogged down in the details believing you have to have top-of-the-range biking components and camping gear... I did my first tour from Sweden to Spain on a 5-speed, straight handlebar bike, barefoot with just a crash bag, no tent

    Happy planning and riding!

  7. #7
    imi
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonsey02 View Post
    Am I crazy or Is this achievable with no real long distance bike experience?
    Well yes you are crazy... but there again so are all of us here If you're fairly fit and don't mind having a sore rear-end and aching legs for a few days you can ride yourself fit. Don't be too ambitious for the first week or so, listen to your body telling you its time for rest days... eat LOTS along the way... and never give up!!!

    p.s It is possible for most people to ride up to 100 km/day on average, 80 km headwind days, 120 km tailwind days... BUT, I would advise to calculate the trip on somewhere between 50-75% of this, to give you time for rest days, sightseeing etc. being in a rush is no fun on a long haul IMO... I usually start off fairly early in the morning, put in half the days planned kliks, take a LOOOOONG siesta (in my mini-hammock ... then off in the afternoon and find somewhere to crash before sunset...
    Last edited by imi; 05-12-09 at 01:09 AM.

  8. #8
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    I would have thought touring bikes, either UK/US style drop bar or european style flat (or trekking) bar, would be a good choice.

    The UK would appear to have a LOT of touring bikes available; Orbit and Edinburgh Cyclery might be cheaper than some of the other options; Thorn has a good rep, as do Roberts and Dawes and Mercian and Bob Jackson. Canada and the US also have excellent selections which you'll find on this forum eg. Surly LHT, rocky mountain Sherpa, Trek 520, Fuji touring, Cannondale touring.

    Xilios is a forum member with experience cycling in and to Greece. He might be able to help you with route selection. I'm not sure if you'd wand to go along the Dalmatian / Adriatic / Ionian coast, or by ferry from Italy. Also, have a look on crazyguyonabike.com for anyone who's done what you are planning. I'm sure there are many who have done at least part of it.

    Is your wife also keen? If so, start doing longer day trips on the weekends, then some weekend-long tours, then one or two week-long tours, and if you both enjoy it then go for it. You need to work out your riding patterns for the day, and how to sort things out in camp. Also things like maintenance/repairs to the bikes, laundry, cooking, dealing with minor injuries and strains.

    Have you considered a tandem? I like riding a tandem with my wife, but it isn't for everyone. Give it a go locally by hiring one for a day if you're interested.

  9. #9
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    This is awesome, thanks for all the pointers....I think we'll definately look to get bikes in Canada, and travel with them to Europe. I figure we'll have to put in a good few months of training and getting used to things, so would be good to have all the niggles and potential pit-falls figured out.

    I'll look up xilios, any help would certainly be appreciated.

    Also, does anyone know of a good, bike sizing thread...

    Cheers guys

  10. #10
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    I think the simplest and best advice is to get out on a tour as soon as possible, even if it's only for a weekend. You'll learn about yourself, your equipment, hopefully talk to other tourers and learn about their experiences and their equipment.

    You might save yourself some money. If you rush out and buy something based on no experience, you might want something else after you've done some touring. I predict that after a few "mini-tours" you'll have lots of ideas about what you want to do and what you might need to purchase.

    Others with lots of experience may have lots of wonderful advice, but there are different approaches to things and what works for one person might not be right for you.

    Enjoy!

  11. #11
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    This might be useful for you: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EuroVelo A combo of EV 5 and 8 would get you all the way from London to Athens. Unfortunately, a lot of the routes are still work in progress. But it might give you some routing ideas.

  12. #12
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    Hi guys, again thanks for all the replies...

    Been punching out a rough route, i think we're gonna start in Ebsjerg (Denmark) then following the North sea Cycle route (ish) we'll take in Hamburg and northern Belgium, then Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Brussels, Luxembourg, Strasbourg, Zurich, Milan, Tuscany, Rome then Finally Brindisi where we'll get a ferry to mainland Greece and a holiday on the island of corfu. Its looking like 3000km's although its a work in progress and we're more than happy to change it up.

    I'll keep the updates coming when things are more solid. I do have a question though, is there such a thing as a women specific 'touring' bike, theres many hybrids and comfort bikes but cant find anything specifically for touring....

    Cheers

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