I was after some advice, a group of us are going to cycle to Poland during the 2012 European football cahmapionships next year. We were going to cycle down to dublin, boat to Wales, down to bristol, London, Harwich, Netherlands, Germany(Frankfurt), Czech Rep (prague) and then up to Warsaw, Poland. We were just going to use the eurovelo for most of the trip, but I was wondering would we be able to do it on road bikes or would we need hybrids?? Has anyone got any experience of these routes? I'm particularly worried about Wales?
You're cycling all the way to Poland and you're particularly worried about Wales? LOL.
I've cycled in some but not all of these countries - never ridden further east than Germany. BUt the question of whether you can do it on road bikes won't be answered by looking at road conditions. If there are places where the eurovelo route takes you seriously off-road, there will always be a road route that takes you in the direction you want to go. Just be prepared to improvise a little from time to time.
No, the question is how much luggage will you need and how will you carry it? I'd strongly advise against carrying it on your back. On a tour of this length that would be a serious pain - literally. It's surprising what you can get in a large saddlebag, but it's more likely (virtually certain, if you intend to camp at all) that you'll need some of your bikes to be able to take a rack and panniers. Either that or a trailer, which some people like but I don't, because of the effect on how the bike handles.
Check out Crazy Guy on a Bike, look up the routes you want to do and read people's blogs for information. You should also read the sticky on beginning touring. You need to do a little more reading on the basics of touring. Many factors come into play on what you need to tour happily.
Larne Ferry to Stranraer, ride to Hull, another ferry to Denmark ride across Denmark ,and another ferry from CPH,
to the ferry port just across the German border, in Poland,[ been there but,i don't want to spell it] , and you will be there in No Time..
The route is like that for a reason, have to got people to meet and things to do along the way. There will be about 20 of us going, we will probably be cheating as we will have a support vehicle with is to carry a lot of the stuff as we want to do it under a month. Sorry for all the purest's out there. We did a similar trip a couple of years back to from Morrocco to South Africa for the World cup, took us 6 months, on hybrids. Hoping this trip will be a bit easiest. Especially, if we go with road bikes!
Also if we decided to go with panniers, which would you recommend and how much of a difference are they?? Probably huge with any type of head wind!!!
If you have a support vehicle, why would you need panniers? Just take the road bikes. I'm now even more amazed that someone who has cycled the length of Africa is worried about road conditions in Wales.
Part of our route this summer took us through The Netherlands and Germany. We were fully loaded, using touring specific bikes (LHT and a Co-Motion). We were following established routes most of the time through this area. Even though they are national routes, conditions in some sections were not always the best for "road" bikes. We rode on over 400 miles of unsurfaced roads and trails, and over 500 miles (not all in Holland and Germany) of roads and trails surfaced with cobbles and paver blocks. We have heavy duty , 36 spoke wheels and 32mm tires with a modest tread pattern which worked well in these conditions. Hopefully, you will not encounter as wet and muddy conditions as we did. This was an unusually wet summer in parts of Europe. We encountered rain 35 days out of 90! I don't know how you define road bike, but I would not take my road bike which has 23mm tires mounted on 24 spoke wheels on many of those trails-- at least not intentionally. It would be hard on the bike, and even harder on the rider's bottom.
A GPS unit with Garmin Europe Maps will help find ways around some of the bad areas. It will also help you get out of Wales, or any other large city. I wouldn't go back to Europe with out a GPS. It saved us countless hours trying to get out of the bigger cities and finding alternate routes to muddy roads.
We've used Ortlieb panniers for the last 5 years and have been really happy with them. They are REALLY waterproof. I would take a hose (if I could find one) at the end of the day and just hose the mud off the bikes and panniers. If a hose was not available, I just used our waterbottles to get a much of the crud off as I could.