I intend to take 2-3 weeks off this year, whenever the timing for the location works best, to go ride in France for a while.
I know I may be biting off more then I can safely chew here due to a more general lack of experience touring. Regardless this is the general idea to go to france, do a more credit-card style tour going from village to village. I do not intend to camp out and I do not really plan to carry a lot with me. I am more interested in covering distance and I have the monetary savings to run this credit card style.
On that note I am still debating between two bikes in my stable. My road bike (Aerocat, carbon fiber) and a cyclocross bike which is my work/ commuting bike (Redline Conquest Pro, aluminum ). I know the smarter choice is the Cyclocross bike but part of me still has an urge to bring the Aerocat out and really cover the miles.
In general I am looking for these tips though:
1. Best time? I dont know Europe's climate well so when is the best season? Perhaps I have missed it already?
2.If I was to set-up my road bike what is the best suggestion someone has? Between panniers and other options?
How wide a tire can you fit on the Aerocat? 700x23s need fairly frequent topping up if you want to avoid pinch flats, and getting a tire up to 100-120 psi with a hand pump is a challenge. How low do the gears on the Aerocat go? Can you fit fenders? Fenders let you finish a day in the rain relatively clean, at least without the brown racing stripe up your back, and they keep the bike cleaner, too. Walking into a hotel or cafe after a long fenderless ride in the rain is a little different than coming into your own house in the same state.
Spring in France is great, but fall is pretty good, too. The Alps might be getting a little chilly, but the rest of the country should be fine. Get a copy of the Lonely Planet cycling guide to France, and figure out where you want to go. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/174...kinw_rke_rti_1
France is the best place to tour, my absolute favourite.
I think that your cyclocross bike is the better choice. Even if you don't carry a lot, you still need to carry some things. A pair of panniers will fill up quickly.
I've toured in France in September and it was wonderful, but the days are shorter and it may rain more. The good part is that the summer crowds are gone and accommodations a bit cheaper.
The CX bike with 25c tires, racks and panniers will be perfect.
If you avoid the Alps, October should be perfect.
See if your credit card issuers off euro style chip and pin cards which are much more widely accepted there. It may hard to find places that accept U.S. style mag stripe cars outside the bigger cities.
September is when the French go back to school and work so accommodation is easier to find. Conditions are generally low-mid 20s warm and settled with little rain. It may get a bit wetter and cooler, esp in the mountains.
For credit card touring in France, a Carradice saddlebag and barbag should be sufficient if you avoid bringing lots of electricals and pare you kit down to lightweight essentials. You can always buy stuff if you need it.
So here is another question I thought I might pose: What wheelset?
I usually use a set of Kysirium Equipes on my CX bike and a set of Kysirium Elites on the Road bike. My thought is to put the Elites on the CX bike and take that along. My other thought is also if I am in France Mavic dealers surely must be somewhat frequent.... So any wheelset recommendations? (I am about 150lbs, not that heavy)