Bikes, Biology, Breakfast
Want to do a short tour before moving back from Europe, but no bike. Options?
Hi Touring forums, I have come to seek your counsel.
I have been living in Istanbul for the last year and a half, but will be moving back to the states to start medical school early this summer. I will have a lot of freedom come April/May, and was really hoping to fit in a short bike trip through somewhere in Europe. I was a bike commuter for 4 years prior to moving here, and have been able to continue riding a bit here in the city, so I'm pretty comfortable on the bike (road bikes particularly, never had a MTB). My problem is that I do not have a bike to use over here. I have my commuter bike still at home in the states, but nothing here except an old raleigh city bike that would not be appropriate for touring.
What are my options as far as setting up a short "credit-card" tour in Europe? The location is actually less important to me, as my wife and I have been able to travel a ton and see most places while we lived here. Maybe the Netherlands/Germany would be nice, but I am flexible. I will be traveling either in later April or earlier May. My ideal trip duration would be somewhere between 1-2 weeks. I'm looking to go fairly light as I don't have camping equipment, booking cheap AirBnB/ hostels, etc.
Am I pretty much reduced to booking through a touring company? If so, are there any companies recommended for this? I definitely want to go solo and self-guided. Would rather figure out a way to do it independently, but not really sure what my options are as far as renting or buying and reselling bike and equipment, etc. My flight from here to continental Europe will be very cheap, so that is not as much of an issue.
Any ideas for how to make this happen? My alternative would be to just do some cycling in Turkey for a couple weeks, but I would rather see some different faces and places.
Long Distance Cyclist
First of all, we have a short tours thread which might give you some ideas of what's possible.
Secondly, credit card touring wouldn't be too difficult. Rowan and I travelled there for about 3 months in 2012, and mostly stayed in hotels.
And thirdly, I'd suggest picking a spot you'd like to go, and then doing some research on bicycle rentals.
Andalucia Spain is a fine place to tour in late April/early May. After the more rainly months and before the excessive heat hits. Michelin makes a detailed map of the region which includes the smallest roads available. The Rough Guide travel book series has a guide to Andalucia that lists places to say and eat in many, many towns. It also details the attractions and history of the various provences. It's usually not hard to find lodging within a reasonable day's ride, even in some of the more out of the way areas. I used the Rough Guide and Michelin map to map out a seven week tour there. Worked great. Personally, I did not like the coast between Almeria and just east of Malaga. To overbuilt and lots of traffic. The charm of the place lies in the smaller towns of the interior. Sevilla makes a good start/end location.
+1 with Indyfabz's recommendation. Southern Portugal is also a nice place to ride at that time of year. However, I'm not sure about bike rentals there.
Backroads Adventures might have something that may meet your needs. While not personally using their services, I have run into them on the roads and campgrounds on several tours. They provided good equipment to their clients, had good meals, and were in some pretty nice places. They also brought us pancakes and bacon one morning when we were camped next to them on a tour last summer; and let me use their workstand to adjust my daughter's bike.
I did Budapest->Bratislava->Vienna->Brno->Prague->Pilsen in April and it was great. Outside of Vienna it was on the cheap. Traffic going north that time of year was much better than south.
Great food, Fantastic Beer, and the option to move on to Germany or Netherlands easily if time permits.
1 option, pick up a 2nd hand bike .. sell it before you leave.
Bikes, Biology, Breakfast
Thanks for the great suggestions so far everyone.
I have looked into a bike rental company based out of Lisbon that will deliver and pick up bikes from any hotel, including all equipment. The company is Bikeiberia (http://www.bikeiberia.com/index.htm). I've contacted them and they quoted me a price of 200 Euro for one week of cannondale road touring bike (couldn't get specific model/year, but I know it is 105 and triple chainring), 2x rear panniers, rear rack top bag, handlebar bag, small toolkit (allen keys, levers, patch kit, spare tube), pump, bike lock, bottle cages and bottles, lights, etc. And that is 200 including delivery and pick-up anywhere in Portugal or Spain. Where it gets really interesting is the price to extend for an extra week is only 70 euro more, so 270 including all equip for 2 weeks...
Does this seem like a reasonable price to you guys? I do not have any qualms with buying and selling back equipment, I am just not sure what I can expect. Not so much worried about selling the bike back, but it seems like the equipment will add up to a hefty amount of $$ quickly and maybe be more difficult to sell back? I would love to hear from any of you who have tried the buy and sell route before...
Actually, 270 Euro seems reasonable for what you get. You are talking about a couple of thousand dollars worth of equipment that should be in good shape. Also having the option of returning the bike anywhere in Portugal or Spain is pretty convenient. The bike would probably fit you well. Trying to find a used bike and amass all the equipment would be expensive and time consuming. When you are trying to sell the equipment, you may be under time constraints that would not allow you to to sell the equipment at its full value.
My wife and I rode across Portugal as part of a 3 month tour starting in Lisbon. We really enjoyed Portugal, and thought about going back and spending more time exploring the country. A great 2 week ride could be planned with Lisbon as your starting point. Look at some of the Journals at http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/. Just search the site for "Portugal", and you will find all kinds of ideas for routes.
While The Netherlands and Northern Germany are great places to ride, you might want to check the average weather there for April. It can be pretty wet.
Last edited by Doug64; 02-22-14 at 01:49 PM.
Conquer Cancer rider
You can rent bikes at many German railway stations. They won't be the Canondale tourers though.
Also, may I out in a good word for biking in the Czech Republic. Great network of trails and quiet roads, wonderful towns and mostly pretty cheap.
The Portugal bike hire option seems cheap. In Italy for the same you can look at at least €25 per day. The weather is perfect there in spring, i remember. Maybe you could see the Giro d' Italia.
I was lucky: I borrowed a titanium bike off a man last year (mine was damaged in transit, our apartment was next door. He didn't charge anything.) and he showed me around, near Mt Grappa. It really was beautiful, with a variety of routes.My favourite was going through Prosecco vineyards in rolling hills, at the base of mountains. Anyway, he said he was going to start a bike tour company this year, using one base to keep costs down for enthusiasts who have chosen cycling as a way of life, rather than the career ladder. It could be good for you.
When he replies I'll post the address.
Have a look here...
Last edited by Monty Grappa; 03-03-14 at 12:29 PM.