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Touring Europe

Old 11-29-03, 11:31 AM
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Touring Europe

Next summer I am planning to go backpacking around europe. I have decided that cycling and camping sounds like a blast so thats what il probably do! However, I havent done this before (will be going on a small trip across Wales for a practice) and have some questions. Currently I dont even have a bike, but im thinking of buying a decent mountain bike as i would like to do some off roading at some point and as it is a fairly long trip, it must be durable. Is touring on a mountain bike a bad idea? should i j}st buy a road bake? Also, what do you guys do for security? I would like to see a few sights along the way, and my bike would probably get in the way when doing this- it could be locked up but what do i do with the panniers? Also on the point of camping- are there many campgrounds in europe? if i stealth camp where can i go get a wash if im not near a lake or river?

I no theres a load of questions here! if anyone has any advice they think i could use, it would be much apreciated (or if you could recommend websites etc.)
Thanks in advance
Matt
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Old 11-29-03, 06:44 PM
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Hi MattK, I would recommend taking a bike along on your grand tour of Europe. I will be leaving on a five month tour of Europe this February so if you need specific info PM me.

BIKE
Touring on a Mtn bike is a good idea and you should be able to buy a good quality used one for a reasonable price. I would avoid suspension, use a rear rack along with a front low rider, and use a touring or town and country type of tire. Used equipment is cheaper and has less value to a thief and if you take a spray bomb to it and make it look ugly, it probably will not be nicked. Theft is less common in Europe compared to the UK and North America and you can always leave the locked bike at a hotel, hostel, camp ground, café, etc, sometimes for free, for an indefinite amount of time.

CAMPING
Camping in Europe is easy and cheep, at least during the off-season. In France for instance, most towns will have a conveniently located municipal campground for a few Euro per night and a good place to get clean, washcloths, dump your bike for a walk around town, meet people etc. Some hostels have camping for have the rate of a bed and you get to use all of the facilities and not have to listen to someone snore. The best and free sites will most likely be stealth but less secure, illegal in some places, boring at times.

STAYING CLEAN
I could write a book on this one! Make use of public washrooms, pools, streams, campgrounds even if you are not staying there just ask! I usually tour with about one weeks worth of clothes and make a habit of stopping for a rest day to wash cloths. A trick I have used is to put a 2 litre plastic water bottle on the top of the panniers and around mid afternoon it will be nice and warm, just strip down and poor it over your head.
 
Old 11-30-03, 09:28 AM
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There are quite a few touring bikes which use MTB wheels. Thhey are not cheap, but are good. Check out Thorn at sjscycles.com.
If you do go the MTB route, get a front or pref a nonn-suspension frame, with threaded eyelets for attatching a luggage rack annd mudguards. Touring bikes have these, and are plenty strong enough for riding on trails.
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Old 11-30-03, 01:26 PM
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Originally Posted by MattK
Next summer I am planning to go backpacking around europe. I have decided that cycling and camping sounds like a blast so thats what il probably do! However, I havent done this before (will be going on a small trip across Wales for a practice) and have some questions. Currently I dont even have a bike, but im thinking of buying a decent mountain bike as i would like to do some off roading at some point and as it is a fairly long trip, it must be durable. Is touring on a mountain bike a bad idea? should i j}st buy a road bake? Also, what do you guys do for security? I would like to see a few sights along the way, and my bike would probably get in the way when doing this- it could be locked up but what do i do with the panniers? Also on the point of camping- are there many campgrounds in europe? if i stealth camp where can i go get a wash if im not near a lake or river?

I no theres a load of questions here! if anyone has any advice they think i could use, it would be much apreciated (or if you could recommend websites etc.)
Thanks in advance
Matt
Uuugh! If I were you, I'd lean towards a touring bike with mountain bike-type tires. Think of the amount of cycling you'll actually be doing. You will fatigue slower on a bike that's made for the amount of day-to-day riding you'll be doing. With a mountain bike, your hands will get tired from a lack of hand positions to choose from, and I just can't see how you'll be able to settle comfortably on your bike when you're riding those big mileage days. Dood, save yourself the agony of having the wrong type of bike for this trip.

I'm seriously considering a summer of touring in Europe, and if there's anything I learned from my last touring trip, it's that the bike is the most important feature of your trip. The wrong bike can be a real downer. :-/

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Old 11-30-03, 04:11 PM
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Thanks for that guys, its been a great help and much appreciated!

Matt
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Old 12-05-03, 02:31 AM
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You may want to consider either a touring specific bike, or a cyclocross bike. I'm planning to do a similar trip, and I bought a used cross bike for it. I'll be getting a trailer for it, probably the Burley Nomad.

I can't wait!
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Old 12-09-03, 09:41 PM
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Matt, I have the experience of touring with a mountain bike (staying on the road) down the Pacific Coast, and also in New Zeland, and also with my Trek 520, 2 long trips in Europe and a short one in Scotland. Europe is lovely, wherever you go. You can actually pick some dirt roads and need your mountain bike if it's what you chose. I would pick a mountain bike only if you are planing to do some off road biking. With my touring bike, I don't mind going the odd dirt road, and I ended up one day on a really rough logging road in the middle of nowhere in Croatia, but that's another story... I think the utilisation you will make of your bike will determine your purchase. Just make sure you are comfortable and aslo that you have logged in some kms before the trip so you are comfortable with it and your butt is used with the seat. Have fun!
P.S. My travelogue: https://alps2003.crazyguyonabike.com
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Old 12-10-03, 07:47 AM
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For what many consider the creme de la creme of 26 inch wheeled touring bikes you might want to check out this site...

Thorn Bikes
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