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  1. #1
    Bez
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    European winter - where to cycle

    Husband and I are planning to tour the UK and Europe, from April 2011 for an indefinite period. Any advice on where to be wintering in this area would be great as we are not used to the cold. We live in Queensland Australia with winter temperatures averaging 9 to 21 degrees Celsius (48 to 69 degrees Fahrenheit)so it will be a big change for us. Any suggestions, hints and tips would be most welcome. Actually any advice at all would be welcome

  2. #2
    Primate Metzinger's Avatar
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    You could do worse than the south of France:

  3. #3
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    April is spring in Europe ... start somewhere in the south and work your way north through the northern hemisphere spring and summer. You won't encounter winter conditions until about October 2011.

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    The 2nd half of May is the best time to visit Scotland - good weather but just a wee bit too early for the midges (tiny biting insects which can drive you to tears on a calm evening, if you're camping anywhere near water). If you're keen to see Scotland, I'd plan an itinerary which includes:

    - The North West Coast: There are some *amazing* landscapes and great single-lane roads
    - Torridon: spectacular mountains. If you can park the bikes/bags in the Youth Hostel for a day, I'd recommend a walk along the Liathach ridge (pronounced Lee-ya-gach).
    - The Western Isles: Skye is dramatic, the Outer Hebrides are more of a windswept wilderness, but still very beautiful. All very accessible to cyclists via ferries.
    - Braemar: A 'frumpy' wee village in the central highlands, just at the southern end of the Cairngorms. Stunning walks in any direction but north-west into the Mar Estate is best. Balmoral is only 10mins along the road, and the Queen serves good tea and scones... Great walk around Loch Muick and if you're feeling fit, you can combine it with a climb up to the summit of Lochnagar. Fantastic day out.
    - Glasgow and Edinburgh are large cities and, as much as I love them, I wouldn't recommend them as 'passing-through' stops on a cycle tour. Great if you intend to stop for a few days in city-centre hotels though!

    England is rubbish, of course. Nothing to see there. Just move along. Whatever happens, don't let anyone sucker you into touring the Lake District on a bicycle! MAN that's hard work. The Himalayas were easier.

  5. #5
    Senior Member fadi's Avatar
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    Hi
    Are you willing to pass by each and every single EU state?
    That would be real cool

    Winters are best in the south obviously, you can choose between Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, or Greece, limiting yourself to the southern part of each country
    Unless you want to try a white winter, in some gorgeous resorts in the Alpes! Switzerland is amazing and I highly suggest that for a change!
    As we think so we become...
    2010 Cannondale Tesoro Traveller Classic

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    As noted, southern Italy and France. Andalucia, Spain can be quite temperate even in December, although a tad cooler than you are looking for. Highs in the major cities around 17, with lows raging from 2 in Granada to 9 in several other major cities. Note, hoever, that some areas of the region get snow due to their elevation.

    April is actually a splendid time to ride in Andalucia. Spent seven weeks riding there, between mid-March and the end of April. Unless you really like heat, you don't want to be there in late June through August. Especially avoid Sevilla and the area around it. Average high in what some call Europe's Frying Pan is around 36. I would also avoid most parts of the coast. Lots of traffic, even in the off season.

    Michellin makes a great map of Andalucia. I will also put in a plug for the "Rough Guide" travel book series. Very comprehensive, and they don't sugar coat things. If a particular town or establishment sucks, they will say it sucks.

    Outside of the major cites and the coast, there is very little traffic. I planned my trip using the above-noted sources plus some campground information I got from the Spanish National Tourist Office. I simply figured out what I wanted to see then drew lines on the map between points using the smallest roads possible and every thing pretty much worked out fine.
    "I've wanted you to succeed, but watching you find excuse after excuse after excuse and then laugh it off as the loveable, quirky, chubby guy is getting old."--Ill.Clyde

  7. #7
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bez View Post
    Husband and I are planning to tour the UK and Europe, from April 2011 for an indefinite period. Any advice on where to be wintering in this area would be great as we are not used to the cold. We live in Queensland Australia with winter temperatures averaging 9 to 21 degrees Celsius (48 to 69 degrees Fahrenheit)so it will be a big change for us. Any suggestions, hints and tips would be most welcome. Actually any advice at all would be welcome
    Not to be pedantic, but the UK is in Europe....
    All the suggestions above are good, except that the Lake District and Yorkshire dales in England are an absolute must for cyclists. Hard work but worth it.

    Winter lasts a while, so you should think about how long you want to spend in one country. If, for example, you chose Spain and Portugal to winter in, you'd probably have to stay there the whole winter or use a train to get you back to Southern France. You wouldn't - I wouldn't, anyway - be cycling back across the Pyrenees in midwinter. You should do the Pyrenees in late spring or early autumn, though - spectacular. You might also consider further East. Greece and Turkey would make a fabulous winter tour, I think. In fact, now I've thought about it I might even do that myself one day. A cycling tour of ancient sites in Turkey, that would be something. And Turkey is generally an extremely tourist-friendly place.

    And keep asking as you make your plans. I'm sure some of us would be happy to come up with tips and suggestions.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  8. #8
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    We live in Roussillon. Where the Pyrenees and Mediterranean meet. Weather closely follows the graph posted above for Nice. Maybe slightly warmer. We think the warmest in France. We have a Winter wind called the Mistreal. We think less chilly than Provence's winds. Since their winds blow off the Alps..
    Pretty much. It's said, if you live south of the Dordogne River, You'll have year round cycling.. Except for the windy days, which can be 5-10 days a month,maybe. They can be so strong they will keep you off the bike. With Nightly lows ( at the worst of maybe 3 degree range, YOu'll need a good winter base layer and tights.
    Following the weather reports.. Going further south into Spain, I don't think makes any significant increase in winter temperature.
    There is some good cycling in Andulusia Spain or the Algarve of Portugal. But, should you Google temperature averages for those two regions, they are not significantly higher.
    Pray for the Dead and Fight like Hell for the Living






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    A good plan for long duration touring is to start in S Europe and work your way North.
    The Atlantic coast, Portugal, Spain, France, UK, Holland Germany, Denmark Sweden and Norway is a potential summer route.
    Spain has some high mountains which remain cold in Spring.
    Generally coastal, westerly regions are milder and wetter.
    In the UK, I have toured in March, April and Sept. I like Sept, its fairly dry and settled with Autumn colours just starting to turn. May and June are also good but never predictable. Last year we had a mini heatwave, this year is very cool.

  10. #10
    Staleger
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    Do you have plans to come to the Netherlands I will glad to help you out and look if I can do something for you...

  11. #11
    Cycled on all continents JohnyW's Avatar
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    Hi,

    The really bad months in Europe are Nov.-Feb.: These months should be spent in North Africa or Middle East. May be Creta or the Canary Islands. The southern part of Europe can be fine, but it can also rain a lot with low temperatures.

    Thomas
    My Travelogues: http://thomasontour.de (currently only in German)

  12. #12
    Formerly Known as Newbie Juha's Avatar
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    As mentioned already, April is not really winter anymore, not even up here in the North.

    The more North you head, the more natural light you will have. Go close or above the Arctic Circle and the sun doesn't set at all in June-July. It's an experience in itself. If you're coming this way and camping, consider a dark coloured tent, I've heard tourists complain it can be difficult to sleep due to all that light. We tend to have mosqitoes up here, but how much in any given year is anyone's guess. Again, if you're camping, any tent of reasonable quality is really easy to keep bug-free, far easier than a camp site rental cabin for example. We don't have much other wildlife to be concerned about, bears and wolves in Finland are extremely shy. Ticks are common in the Finnish archipelago area and along the coast and some percentage of them carry either borreliosis or the Lyme disease virus. You should take precautions. Ticks are also found in several Eastern EU member states.

    Recommended bike touring regions in Finland include the Aland islands and the Turku Archipelago Trail next to them. Not a lot of mileage (the Trail especially consists of small islands with interconnecting ferries) but stunning scenery combined with low colume and considerate traffic makes for enjoyable riding. Another favorite area for me in terms of scenery is the Saimaa Lake Region. Longer distances, hilly routes, small gravel roads if you're so inclined. If it's more city sights you're after, Helsinki and Porvoo regions have something to offer there, as well as Turku.

    If needed, cycling and public transportation are easily combined in Finland. Buses, ferries and trains all take bikes for a small fee. With trains and longer distance ferries advance booking is advisable. This by the way varies a lot depending on which European country you find yourself in, so it's a good idea to check in advance. For example, in our neighbouring Sweden you are requested to pack and send your bike(s) as cargo in most all trains and buses.

    --J
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  13. #13
    Bez
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    Thank you so much to everyone who has given us advise - its wonderful to get so many replies, and its given us lots of ideas to look into for the winter months. Think we will have to invest in some serious winter clothing though!!! We are happy to take advice from experienced tourers as it should help us not to make too many huge mistakes. We are hoping to combine camping, hosteling and the occasional 'warm showers' hosts. We are hosting cyclists ourselves in Australia and their stories just make us more keen to set off. Thanks again for all the help. Bez & Dave

  14. #14
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bez View Post
    Thank you so much to everyone who has given us advise - its wonderful to get so many replies, and its given us lots of ideas to look into for the winter months. Think we will have to invest in some serious winter clothing though!!! We are happy to take advice from experienced tourers as it should help us not to make too many huge mistakes. We are hoping to combine camping, hosteling and the occasional 'warm showers' hosts. We are hosting cyclists ourselves in Australia and their stories just make us more keen to set off. Thanks again for all the help. Bez & Dave
    But ... if you're going to Europe in April, you're going to Europe in spring. You'll be there in summer, not winter. How long are you planning to spend there? Are you planning to be there until October or November?

  15. #15
    Bez
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    But ... if you're going to Europe in April, you're going to Europe in spring. You'll be there in summer, not winter. How long are you planning to spend there? Are you planning to be there until October or November?
    We are hoping to be travelling for at least a year- so long as we can keep our expenses down. We have never been in Europe and want to see as much as we can.

  16. #16
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bez View Post
    We are hoping to be travelling for at least a year- so long as we can keep our expenses down. We have never been in Europe and want to see as much as we can.
    Ah, OK ... that makes more sense. My suggestion then would be to wait to buy winter gear until winter. Take a merino wool long sleeved top, a rain jacket, and leg warmers for cooler spring and summer days. Once you get there, then shop as needed.

    There's a couple great places in France where you can get clothing and lots of other cycling and camping stuff. One is called Decathlon - large selection, good prices. The other is called Go Sport - fairly large selection, slightly higher prices.

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    Bez
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Ah, OK ... that makes more sense. My suggestion then would be to wait to buy winter gear until winter. Take a merino wool long sleeved top, a rain jacket, and leg warmers for cooler spring and summer days. Once you get there, then shop as needed.

    There's a couple great places in France where you can get clothing and lots of other cycling and camping stuff. One is called Decathlon - large selection, good prices. The other is called Go Sport - fairly large selection, slightly higher prices.
    Thanks for the clues Machka - we are on the Gold Coast and if you are ever passing this way it would be great to catch up!!

  18. #18
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Ah, OK ... that makes more sense. My suggestion then would be to wait to buy winter gear until winter. Take a merino wool long sleeved top, a rain jacket, and leg warmers for cooler spring and summer days. Once you get there, then shop as needed.
    Excellent advice. Very easy to buy the suitable gear here - and likely to be a wider choice than where you are. I can't imagine there's much demand in Queensland for some of the stuff I wear while cycling in winter!
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  19. #19
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bez View Post
    Thanks for the clues Machka - we are on the Gold Coast and if you are ever passing this way it would be great to catch up!!
    I'm down in the Melbourne area.

  20. #20
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    By shopping in Europe, you can also save the tax on gear you buy here:

    http://travellingtwo.com/resources/s...e-touring-gear

    We are in The Hague and will be happy to give you a home for a few days, if you like. As for where to overwinter, I like Portugal a lot. As long as you stay away from the southern coast, it's not too touristy at all and very reasonably priced compared with the rest of Europe, plenty of wild camping potential...
    We blog about bike touring, with reviews, tips and cycle touring podcasts at Travelling Two

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bez View Post
    We are hoping to be travelling for at least a year- so long as we can keep our expenses down. We have never been in Europe and want to see as much as we can.
    I hope that you're aware of the "90 day in a 180 day period" limitation for visiting Schengen countries if you have Australian (or American or Canadian) citizenship.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schengen_area

  22. #22
    Bez
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    We haven't even looked at visa requirements for our trip as yet, but as we can both travel on British Passports - will that make our passage through Europe any easier than if we travel on Australian Passports?

  23. #23
    imi
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bez View Post
    We haven't even looked at visa requirements for our trip as yet, but as we can both travel on British Passports - will that make our passage through Europe any easier than if we travel on Australian Passports?
    Yes! much much easier... at most your british passport may be fleetingly glanced at a some border crossings... apart from that, no-one should bother how long you're there

    Stay as long as you like:

    source:http://ec.europa.eu/justice_home/fsj...ovement_en.htm

    "If a citizen wants to reside in another Member State without exercising any activity or to study, he/she can do so provided he/she can prove (and in the case of students, declare) that he/she has sufficient financial resources not to become a burden for the host Member State's social assistance system and that he/she is covered by a sickness insurance policy. He/she must also prove that he/she has sufficient financial resources and sickness insurance for each member of his/her family who is entitled to reside with him/her."
    Last edited by imi; 06-23-10 at 04:08 PM.

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