Suggestions for European tour?

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lonnie...@gmail.com

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Oct 27, 2006, 9:02:40 AM10/27/06
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Hello all,
My fiancé and I would like to take a bike tour (7-10 days) of
somewhere in Europe for our honeymoon (mid June, 2007). We are thinking
of France, Italy, or Scotland, but we are open to other suggestions,
too. I was thinking of joining an organized tour (cbttour.com, etc.).
My questions:
1) Are there suggestions for locations?
2) Should we hook up with a tour or just get a map and go?
3) If we go with a tour, what is a reasonable price? A quick Google
search shows some 10 day tours for about $2500. Is that about right?
4) What are good bike tour organizations?
5) Are there good books that cover these topics?
6) Anything I should know that I'm not asking?

Thanks,
Lonnie

gol...@gmail.com

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Oct 27, 2006, 2:48:19 PM10/27/06
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Lonnie, I've done 51 bike tours in much of Europe and one in Cape
Breton Island.

The answer depends on

1. How fit you are
2. How many miles you like per day.
3. How much organisation you want.

I've NEVER gone on an organised tour. We just make it up as we go
along, with a rough route in mind. In some countries you will need to
book some places at certain times.

What is the finest place?

I would say, but it's hard and the weather can be foul, the west of
Scotland, OR the Yorkshire Dales, but terrain EXTREMELY hard, or the
West of Ireland, OR Corsica .

If you want easy terrain, I was recently impressed by Denmark which has
very good bike routes on easy terrain. It's surprisingly pretty, BUT
you may have to book accommodation as it's sparse. Also, it's fairly
expensive.

France and Spain are excellent. Germany is less beautiful but has
terrific cycling facilities. The Mosel and Rhine are fine cycles etc.

Tuscany is beautiful but cycling either difficult or busy. In Greece,
the food is poor, except on islands. I hear Crete is terrific.

Sardinia is lovely but Sicily is too busy (not been there).

Ken Pisichko

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Oct 27, 2006, 9:53:13 PM10/27/06
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Since you have done so many trips I might as well ask you about costing
Europe out....

Last summer I travelled through outback Australia (Savannah Way) with
over half of the trip on dirt roads. Next summer I want to travel from
the D-Day beaches through Flanders, through Belgium and Holland and
onward to Peenemunde, Germany on the Baltic coast in about a month to 6
weeks. Any idea of what I should budget?

I camp whenever possible and seldom "eat out", eating like the locals
for lunch and making brekky and dinner whenever possible.

Ken, Canada

Dennis P. Harris

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Oct 28, 2006, 12:02:02 AM10/28/06
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On Fri, 27 Oct 2006 20:53:13 -0500 in rec.bicycles.rides, Ken
Pisichko <ke...@mts.net> wrote:

> Next summer I want to travel from
> the D-Day beaches through Flanders, through Belgium and Holland and
> onward to Peenemunde, Germany on the Baltic coast in about a month to 6
> weeks. Any idea of what I should budget?
>
> I camp whenever possible and seldom "eat out", eating like the locals
> for lunch and making brekky and dinner whenever possible.

ken, half the joy of europe is their cooking, especially in
france and italy --- which is why i've always tried to get as
much bike time in as possible when visiting either country.
otherwise i'd gain far too much weight on my visits!

you sound so much more frugal than me that i hesitate to
recommend a budget. i'll scrimp on restaurant meals for months
at home in order to have money to eat well when i travel.

in france, i normally zip into the neighborhood patisserie
(usually scoped out the night before) and grab some pastry for
breakfast and perhaps bread for lunch, and then pop into a coffee
bar or bistro to get a coffee to go (much cheaper).

i like to buy fruit in season --- late summer is a great time,
but even early summer has nice berries and early fruits. i found
some fantastic cheeses & sausages at local farmer's markets,
often on wednesdays and saturdays. produce, and dairy prices
were slightly below urban alaska prices (highest in the US), meat
prices were higher.

without doing any cooking, but eating a pastry/bread/cheese/fruit
breakfast and a sandwich, sometimes with a salad for lunch and a
restaurant dinner, i was able to stay within my 40 euro/day food
budget and eat *very* well.

i found some very reasonable restaurant dinners in small towns by
watching where the locals went --- the places that were full,
lively, and had a reasonably priced menu were usually the ones i
chose. i had a number of very nice dinners in the 15-20 euro
range, some simple meals as low as 10. a very good value
compared to comparable US places with far worse food.

and i did allow myself a few splurges, too, the biggest being a
$75 dinner in paris the night before i saw lance win his 6th
tour. worth every centime, too. apparently you'll be cycling
through normandy (great hard ciders!) and belgium (great
chocolate). if you're really interested in the d-day beaches,
you should also take advantage of the fresh seafood.

in france, the really really budget places to stay are the
robohotels known as formule1, usually priced around 27 euros. see
http://www.hotelformule1.com/formule1/index.html

Rick

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Oct 28, 2006, 11:54:22 AM10/28/06
to

lonnie...@gmail.com wrote:
> Hello all,
> My fiancé and I would like to take a bike tour (7-10 days) of
> somewhere in Europe for our honeymoon (mid June, 2007). We are thinking
> of France, Italy, or Scotland, but we are open to other suggestions,
> too. I was thinking of joining an organized tour (cbttour.com, etc.).
> My questions:
> 1) Are there suggestions for locations?

Depends on how fit you are, what type of terrain you like, etc. We
love Tuscany and Umbria (great food, great wine, great scenery) but
most of the nice, old town centers are at the top of hills, so lots of
climbing. Also in Italy, the Po river starting in Piedmont can be
nice, esp. for enophiles, with a diversion north to the Lakes
(Maggiore, Como, etc.). In France, Provence can be quite hilly. The
Bordeaux area is nice with a some small hills if you go along the
Dordogne and/or Lot rivers; south of the Lot things are a bit boring
until you get to the Pyrenees, which are nice but a whole different
ballgame. Burgundy was nice, but not enough to justify 7-10 days.

BTW, my wife and I rode from Bordeaux to Barcelona with some back and
forth in the Pyrenees for our honeymoon. We took 9 days for the trip,
then spent some time relaxing on the beaches around Barcelona :-)

> 2) Should we hook up with a tour or just get a map and go?

We have done both, both have their advantages. Tours can vary
considerably in amenities and costs. The better ones are pricey, but
they put you in nice accomodations and arrange for great food. But you
are on someone else's schedule, which may not match with a honeymoon
itinerary. The advantage of doing it yourself is freedom and
flexibility.

> 3) If we go with a tour, what is a reasonable price? A quick Google
> search shows some 10 day tours for about $2500. Is that about right?

That is probably mid-ground. There are tours that will be considerably
more, and some that are based on camping that will be less.

> 4) What are good bike tour organizations?
> 5) Are there good books that cover these topics?
> 6) Anything I should know that I'm not asking?

The first suggestion is to ask more directed questions with better
background. How fit are you? How much do you, and your fiance, ride
now? What are your interests? On the latter, if you like art, then a
tour through some of the areas with galleries might be of interest, if
you like wine then a tour through one of the wine regions, etc.

- rick


> Thanks,
> Lonnie

mark

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Oct 28, 2006, 11:57:57 AM10/28/06
to
lonnie...@gmail.com wrote:
> Hello all,
> My fiancé and I would like to take a bike tour (7-10 days) of
> somewhere in Europe for our honeymoon (mid June, 2007). We are thinking
> of France, Italy, or Scotland, but we are open to other suggestions,
> too. I was thinking of joining an organized tour (cbttour.com, etc.).
> My questions:
> 1) Are there suggestions for locations?

Scotland: the western Highlands are very pretty, I started to really
like Scotland when I got north and west of Pitlochrie. The west coast is
really nice, hopping from island to island in the Hebrides with bicycle
and ferry is a great way to travel. On the down side, the weather is
very iffy, and the midges (noseeums, sort of like Alaskan mosquitoes)
can eat you alive if you don't bring lots of repellent. The terrain is
rugged, the roads narrow and steep. In the Highlands proper traffic is
sparse and drivers are very polite; further south the roads are more
like the rest of the UK, crowded with fast moving aggressive drivers.

Italy: I spent two weeks in Tuscany last May and I'm putting away money
for a longer trip to Italy in 2008. The area just south of Florence is
very pretty, the strade bianche (very minor roads, some paved, some
really good gravel) are a great way to see the countryside, lots of
beautiful old hill towns that look a lot like they did in the middle
ages. Lots of people base themselves in one "agriturismo" (lodgings on a
working farm, anything from guest house where you eat with the farm
family to luxury self catering apartments) and take day rides. I'm told
it's possible to rent very high end (Campagnolo Chorus/Record equipped)
bicycles in Tuscany. I would expect hot weather and crowds of tourists
in June. Away from the coast, Tuscany is quite hilly, the minor roads
tend to be steep. I've heard good things about northern Tuscany and
Lucca, those places are on my list next time.

France: I spent 10 days in the Pyrenees in June 2001. Very rugged
terrain, very hot, very pretty country with lots of low priced lodging.
Lots of steep, narrow, lightly traveled roads. I cycled from Pau to
LaRuns to St. Jean Pied-a-Port, taking a few days off here and there to
go on day hikes into the hills. I don't think I heard a single word of
English the whole time. I did hear what I think was Basque being spoken
in the smaller villages, which was kind of a kick. The French Alps are
beautiful, but more touristy and more populated. It can be hard to avoid
major roads in places, and on weekends the roads can be filled with boy
racer types on high powered motorcycles, riding very aggressively and
filling entire valleys with the sound of high output engines running at
full throttle. Lots of ski resorts with bargain accommodations in the
summer, lots of hotels catering to cyclists who stay in one place and do
day rides. Burgundy and the Cote d'Or is really pretty, lots of wineries
and pretty farm country south of Dijon. I've heard really good things
about Corsica, but I've never been there. Based on what I've heard, I
intend to start my '08 Italy tour with a week in Corsica (fly to Nice,
boat to Corsica, cycle Corsica, boat to Italy).


> 2) Should we hook up with a tour or just get a map and go?

Get a map and go. I spent the summer of 2001 working for a tour company
and learned that most of the people who go on supported tours are far
from serious cyclists. They do, however, enjoy talking about their
cycling tour in Europe when they want to impress people with what
sophisticated world travelers they are. Planning a European tour is just
not that hard if you have an Internet connection, and finding your own
way is at least half the fun.


> 3) If we go with a tour, what is a reasonable price? A quick Google
> search shows some 10 day tours for about $2500. Is that about right?

A lot of organized tours charge a lot more than that, even without plane
fare.


> 4) What are good bike tour organizations?
> 5) Are there good books that cover these topics?

Lonely Planet publishes cycling guides to the UK, France, Italy, and a
few other countries. Some of the routes that they suggest are excellent,
but don't feel like you have to follow their route suggestions to the
letter. Be aware that the guides are at least a few years old, and there
are places where the roads they describe have been replaced with modern,
high speed/high traffic roads.

I found Rough Guide travel guides to be a good source of information in
Italy, although they are not cycling specific. Lots of good historical
background on various areas. They describe lodging and dining options
for a wide range of budgets (mine being at the bottom end of the scale).

Goldeneye maps are good small scale maps that show lots of small roads
in the UK.

TCI (Touring Club Italiano) maps are good small scale maps of the
various regions of Italy, they are excellent for cycle touring. Get them
from www.trektools.com.

The yellow Michelin maps of the different regions of France are good for
cycle touring, get them in any French supermarket or newsstand.

> 6) Anything I should know that I'm not asking?

Get a phrasebook and learn whatever you can of the language of the
country you're in. At a bare minimum learn to say "please", "thank you",
"hello", "goodbye" and "do you speak English, please" in the language of
the country you're in. It sounds pretty obvious, but I was appalled at
the number of American tourists in Florence who couldn't be bothered
with this simple courtesy.

mark


>
> Thanks,
> Lonnie
>

Ken Pisichko

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Oct 28, 2006, 4:58:51 PM10/28/06
to
Dennis P. Harris wrote:
> On Fri, 27 Oct 2006 20:53:13 -0500 in rec.bicycles.rides, Ken
> Pisichko <ke...@mts.net> wrote:
>
>
>> Next summer I want to travel from
>> the D-Day beaches through Flanders, through Belgium and Holland and
>> onward to Peenemunde, Germany on the Baltic coast in about a month to 6
>> weeks. Any idea of what I should budget?
>>
>> I camp whenever possible and seldom "eat out", eating like the locals
>> for lunch and making brekky and dinner whenever possible.
>>
>
> ken, half the joy of europe is their cooking, especially in
> france and italy --- which is why i've always tried to get as
> much bike time in as possible when visiting either country.
> otherwise i'd gain far too much weight on my visits!
>
> you sound so much more frugal than me that i hesitate to
> recommend a budget. i'll scrimp on restaurant meals for months
> at home in order to have money to eat well when i travel.
>
In outback Australia there is a total lack of people with shops. That
said, i had to carry dried food and got water from rivers - without
treatment/boiling. Cannot do that in Europe nor in North Ame4rica I'd
wager you...

> in france, i normally zip into the neighborhood patisserie
> (usually scoped out the night before) and grab some pastry for
> breakfast and perhaps bread for lunch, and then pop into a coffee
> bar or bistro to get a coffee to go (much cheaper).
>
>
That sounds like
what I want to do - forget the McDonald's/family restaurants whenever
possible...

> i like to buy fruit in season --- late summer is a great time,
> but even early summer has nice berries and early fruits. i found
> some fantastic cheeses & sausages at local farmer's markets,
> often on wednesdays and saturdays. produce, and dairy prices
> were slightly below urban alaska prices (highest in the US), meat
> prices were higher.
>
>
That is what I wanted to hear as confirmation of what others have told
me about Europe in the '80s and '90s...

> without doing any cooking, but eating a pastry/bread/cheese/fruit
> breakfast and a sandwich, sometimes with a salad for lunch and a
> restaurant dinner, i was able to stay within my 40 euro/day food
> budget and eat *very* well.
>
> i found some very reasonable restaurant dinners in small towns by
> watching where the locals went --- the places that were full,
> lively, and had a reasonably priced menu were usually the ones i
> chose. i had a number of very nice dinners in the 15-20 euro
> range, some simple meals as low as 10. a very good value
> compared to comparable US places with far worse food.
>
>
Every now and then it is good to have a prepared meal. When I was
travelling in outback Australia and came across a town (say like
Burketown after bicycling for 4 days west of Normanton), I would stop by
at the pub (usually the only one in these small towns) and have a
counter lunch that was huge and with lots of FRESH vegetables. A "beeah"
(or 2 or3) was always nice too. It also gave me a chance to talk with
the locals and find out more about the location than any guide book
could tell me.

> and i did allow myself a few splurges, too, the biggest being a
> $75 dinner in paris the night before i saw lance win his 6th
> tour. worth every centime, too. apparently you'll be cycling
> through normandy (great hard ciders!) and belgium (great
> chocolate). if you're really interested in the d-day beaches,
> you should also take advantage of the fresh seafood.
>
>
My big splurges in Australia were 2 sessions of music with daddy Cool
band members, AND helping 2 friends in Australia (who I had not seen for
35 years) celebrate their respective 60th birthdays on 2 successive
evenings. Paid for their meals and we celebrated long into those 2 nights..

> in france, the really really budget places to stay are the
> robohotels known as formule1, usually priced around 27 euros. see
> http://www.hotelformule1.com/formule1/index.html
I slept in a hammock while in outback Australia - beside the road. If i
found myself in a town i would stay at the trailer park (aka caravan
park) and set the hammock up between 2 trees. In the 6 weeks on the road
I never once had to sleep on the ground - even "spindly" Ironbark trees
had incredible strength and supported my 100+ kg mass with no problem. I
understand European campgrounds are not usually with trees for setting
up a hammock. Then of course there are more options - but at a cost.
Ken, Canada

Ken Roberts

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Oct 28, 2006, 10:55:11 PM10/28/06
to
We could give better answers if we knew things like:
1) What style of single-day rides on what kinds of terrain do you usually do
in your home country?
2) What style of multi-day bicycling vacations in what kinds of places have
you done in your home country?
3) What did you like or dislike about those tours and rides?
4) Have you traveled in Europe before? Have you traveled in non-English
speaking countries before?
5) Do you wish to travel with other couples (and singles) throughout the
trip? Are you accustomed to organizing your own independent non-bicycling
vacations?
6) What it is that your hoping to get out of this bicycling vacation in
Europe? Why Europe rather than some other place? Why bicycling rather than
some style or emphasis?

Sharon and I live in the northeast U.S. and when we do single-day rides at
home we usually put our bicycle on a rack on the back of our car, drive to
some pretty area with fun roads and ride there. When we take a multi-day
vacation with our bicycle, we usually drive to some place and stay in a
motel room (or our parents' house), and each day either ride from the motel
or more often put our bicycle on our car and drive to a starting point which
looks like it will have some great riding. Usually we try to figure out some
likely nice route on a map, working together with any hints we can get from
bicycling guidebooks or websites for that area. On bad-weather days, we just
leave our bicycle in the motel room and drive somewhere do some
non-bicycling activity.

Near as I can from several bicycling vacations in the France, Italy, and
other western European countries, most serious serious European riders have
the same style as we use in the U.S. -- i.e. when we're riding in France and
Italy, the majority of bicycles we see are being carried on cars. We figure
the Europeans must have a clue about the most fun style for bicycling trips
in Europe, so . . .

So on our bicycling vacations in Europe, we've always followed the popular
local style: We bring the car rack folded up in our airline luggage, pick
up a rental car at the airport when we land, put our bicycle on the car and
drive to our hotel room in some pretty region that's supposed to have fun
riding. Michelin 1:200000 maps usually have pretty roads and steep hills
marked, so we usually figure out a loop route for each day from the map,
drive our car with bike on it to some village on the loop, and start riding
from there. After 3-5 days based in one region, we usually drive to a
different region for another 3-5 days, then drive back to the airport,
return the car, fold up our rack, and fly home.

Ken


Ken Roberts

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Oct 28, 2006, 11:39:27 PM10/28/06
to
gol...@gmail.com wrote
> the west of Scotland

Yes within Scotland the place I'd go back to would be the western isles and
peninsulas around Skye + Mull. (Be ready for hills)

> France and Spain are excellent.

Both countries have some excellent riding, and both also have areas which
struck me as kinda boring for bicycling. I suggest doing a search of the
archives of this newsgroup for lots of reports on specific areas.

> Corsica

Yes the west + north coasts of the island of Corsica are one region of
France which Sharon and I hope to go back to (Be ready for hills). We
especially enjoyed single-day loops which combined riding along the sea with
riding up in the nearby mountains.

> Tuscany is beautiful but cycling either difficult or busy.

Sharon and I went to Tuscany first, but then found other prettier areas in
Italy with more fun riding. (Although riding around the west half of the
island of Elba was a fantastic daytrip -- and hilly -- but I'm not sure it's
actually in Tuscany). Our main objection to Tuscany, especially with the
Florence and the Chianti region, was the high percentage of non-cyclist
Americans and Brits -- seemed like we were hearing English spoken all the
time whenever we weren't actually riding. Our favorite bicycling region of
Italy so far is in the northeast around Veneto and Sudtirol.

For exploring France or Italy, I've found lots of good ideas from the Lonely
Planet "Cycling France " and "Cycling Italy" guidebooks.

> I've NEVER gone on an organised tour.

Neither have Sharon and I. But we've known friends who had fun times on
organized tours and were very enthusiastic about them. For the amount of
money they paid, it better have been good. We figure the amount we save by
organizing our own trip easily pays for the cost of our rental car and more.

For us one thing that's special about bicycling trips away from home is
getting confronted with unexpected problems. For us the choice about taking
an organized tour is: When a tricky problem arises, do we want the
excitement and satisfaction of working together to solve it ourselves, or do
we want whine about how the tour leader made a mistake?

Lonnie wrote
> mid June, 2007

June can be the best time for an awesome day riding over a high mountain
pass, because there's still lots of snow visible from the road (sometimes
right next to the road), so you get this dramatic contrast of the dark road,
white snow, blue sky, black cliffs, with giant views down on green valleys.
If you've got strong legs, being in the range of the northern French Alps or
northeast Italy could offer some unforgettable riding days. If you don't
have strong legs, sometimes it's possible to put you bicycles on racks on
the back of the local bus (especially in Switzerland), do some riding up
high with big views, then coast back down to the valley. (bring at least a
windbreaker jacket, and wouldn't hurt to have full gloves, other warm and
wind-protection clothing) -- could check with local tourist offices for
advice on this.

Ken


Danny

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Oct 29, 2006, 7:15:39 AM10/29/06
to

3) If we go with a tour, what is a reasonable price? A quick Google
search shows some 10 day tours for about $2500. Is that about right?


Hopefully for you is that all included. Please chech following links in
dutch language and you'll see that it can at a much lower price !!!

http://www.vostravel.be/zomer/index.htm
http://www.zuiderhuis.be/bb/

Danny
Belgium


Rick

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Oct 29, 2006, 11:22:43 AM10/29/06
to

Ken Roberts wrote:
>
> > Tuscany is beautiful but cycling either difficult or busy.
>
> Sharon and I went to Tuscany first, but then found other prettier areas in
> Italy with more fun riding. (Although riding around the west half of the
> island of Elba was a fantastic daytrip -- and hilly -- but I'm not sure it's
> actually in Tuscany). Our main objection to Tuscany, especially with the
> Florence and the Chianti region, was the high percentage of non-cyclist
> Americans and Brits -- seemed like we were hearing English spoken all the
> time whenever we weren't actually riding. Our favorite bicycling region of
> Italy so far is in the northeast around Veneto and Sudtirol.

Some friends of ours call Tuscany Tuscanyshire due to the large number
of Brits. But that is seasonal and concentrated. Easy to avoid in
large parts. And the foreign dominance is just as pronounced in Veneto
and Sudtirol, just the country of origin changes. There is a very
large number of Germans around therel; not easy to distinguish from the
locals, most of whome speak German as the preferred language, but the
dialects are different and the German tags on all the campers and
motorcycles show the origin. But the German motorcyclist love for high
passes goes further; they were even dominant last summer when we were
in the Spanish Pyrenees.

- rick

- rick

sergio

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Oct 29, 2006, 1:08:30 PM10/29/06
to

lonnie...@gmail.com wrote:
> Hello all,
> My fiancé and I would like to take a bike tour (7-10 days) of
> somewhere in Europe for our honeymoon (mid June, 2007). We are thinking
> of France, Italy, or Scotland, but we are open to other suggestions,
> too. I was thinking of joining an organized tour (cbttour.com, etc.).

For an insight on what might be involved in touring Italy by bike do
read the tour reports of Allan Nelson, a witty English sportsman and
very good friend of mine.

Since someone else has wondered about a few things, let me add.
The island of Elba is indeed part of Tuscany, within the Province of
Livorno, in fact.
I really doubt it is possible to rent excellent racing bikes in Italy,
and in Tuscany too.
The whole Chianti area is packed with foreign tourists and residents. I
would simply avoid it. Tuscany has so much to offer elsewhere that
there is no need to hit that beaten path.
Beware: one thing you cannot have in this reagion is riding on flat
terrain with little traffic.

Sergio
Pisa

Ken Roberts

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Oct 29, 2006, 4:06:43 PM10/29/06
to
Rick wrote

> the foreign dominance is just as pronounced in Veneto
> and Sudtirol, just the country of origin changes. There
> is a very large number of Germans around there

That's what I found too. But since I don't hear hardly any German around
where I live in the northeast U.S., the environment in Veneto and Sudtirol
still feels "foreign" to me, and still offers the challenge of another
language that I don't speak or understand very well.

And Tuscany doesn't have the incredible mountain riding of the Dolomites,
and I don't know where its nice flat riding is like around the river deltas
near the Adriatic Sea. And Tuscany doesn't have the magical
floating-and-walking-around city of Venice.

Ken


Chris Neary

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Oct 29, 2006, 4:40:26 PM10/29/06
to
>And Tuscany doesn't have the magical
>floating-and-walking-around city of Venice.

Don't knock Volterra if you haven't been there (it floats on the clouds
instead of the water).


Chris Neary
diabl...@tcsn.net

"Science, freedom, beauty, adventure: what more could
you ask of life? Bicycling combined all the elements I
loved" - Adapted from a quotation by Charles Lindbergh

Ron Wallenfang

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Oct 29, 2006, 7:29:35 PM10/29/06
to
I've never gone on a professionally organized tour,but if my wife were
along, I'd do so, as she wouldn't tolerate not having a sure bed available
at night. On my trips, I've never yet spent a night outside for failure to
find accommodations, but I've had three close calls that come immediately to
mind. You can of course minimize that problem by making reservations in
advance or starting to look for a place around noon.


<lonnie...@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:1161954160....@m7g2000cwm.googlegroups.com...

gol...@gmail.com

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Oct 30, 2006, 3:31:22 AM10/30/06
to

I've cycled in Germany several times, but not in Holland and Belgium. I
think all three are good for camping. Certainly the Dutch are heavily
into it.
You can get your lunch for about 12 euro or less (a good one) in
Germany. Germany is not expensive. A B&B can cost as little are 25-40
euro. I've not done Belgium yet. The reason I've stayed away from that
area of Europe is that it's among the least scenic.
I recently cycled from Berlin to Copenhagen. East Germany has good
cycling facilities and is pleasant cycling, but by no means stunning.

Ken Roberts

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Oct 30, 2006, 10:01:16 PM10/30/06
to
> Don't knock Volterra if you haven't been there
> (it floats on the clouds instead of the water).

If you mean riding to this Volterra
http://roberts-1.com/t/b02/italy/volt
then Yes it was one of the memorable rides in our first bicycling holiday in
Italy. Sharon said it was a nice town, and she especially remembers the big
steep climb it took to get us there.

But since then we've been riding and walking in other places in Italy:
http://roberts-1.com/t/b05/itn/k/d
Some photos from our walking and floating in Venice are on the "Veneto delta
plain" page linked from
http://roberts-1.com/t/b05/it/k
Venice is not a bicycling place, but it's quite a place. One nice thing
about having a rental car on a bicycling vacation is that we can have some
fun non-riding days -- or a wider range of activities after the day's riding
is over.

Ken

Chris Neary

unread,
Oct 30, 2006, 11:36:52 PM10/30/06
to
>Venice is not a bicycling place, but it's quite a place. One nice thing
>about having a rental car on a bicycling vacation is that we can have some
>fun non-riding days -- or a wider range of activities after the day's riding
>is over.

We also had a rental car during our last cycling vacation in the Veneto.

We considered making a side trip to Venice, but although the city itself
sounded well worth a visit, a number of folks we talked with remarked on the
large number of tourists we would encounter.

We opted to spend our time hiking in the Dolomites instead.

To each his own.

p.s. - Nice Twos'day (we owned one once upon a time)


Chris Neary
diabl...@tcsn.net

"Cycle tracks will abound in Utopia" - H.G. Wells

Ken Roberts

unread,
Oct 31, 2006, 12:26:16 AM10/31/06
to
Chris Neary wrote

> We considered making a side trip to Venice, but although the
> city itself sounded well worth a visit, a number of folks we
> talked with remarked on the large number of tourists we would encounter.

We certainly encountered lots of tourists. Many of them even speaking
English. (Sharon and I also qualify as English-speaking tourists). I accept
that Venice is a tourist place, so it didn't bother me. Back at our hotel
near Padova, we heard very little English.

Funny that I like Veneto + Sudtirol because the many tourists speak German
which I don't understand very well. Sharon likes Veneto + Sudtirol because
she does speak German well.

> We opted to spend our time hiking in the Dolomites instead.

Yes it's hard to argue against that.
I usually prefer to do my hiking on skis:
http://roberts-1.com/t/s06/it/ddz

Ken


sergio

unread,
Oct 31, 2006, 3:31:45 AM10/31/06
to

Ken Roberts wrote:
> I usually prefer to do my hiking on skis:
> http://roberts-1.com/t/s06/it/ddz

Ken,
unfortunately I took a look at these pictures of yours; so,
now I feel very envious.
I never got that good a skier, though I always dreamt of it.
Just magic to go up and through the Dolomiti di Sesto in full winter
attire!

Sergio
Pisa

P.s. Back on topic: which side did you find tough to climb up to
Volterra?

Rick

unread,
Oct 31, 2006, 1:49:14 PM10/31/06
to

Hi Sergio,

Four years ago my friend (now converted to wife) did two climbs to
Volterra ... on the same day. Both were challenging (more for her than
me). The first, as we rode in from the northeast, was Via Pisana.
After lunch and visiting some of the city, we left our friends who
wanted to relax and took a quick trip to the west to visit Montecatini
Val di Cecina, returning to Volterra on Via Provinciale Monte
Volteranno and SS68. Most of our group of 9 were challenged by the
climb up Via Pisana; I am a bit of a hill climber, and I sprinted
sections of that to get ahead of our group to take pictures of everyone
climbing. The second climb to Volterra of the day was a bit less
challenging for my friend than the first; I am not a good yardstick for
assessing difficult of climbs as hills are my thing. But from that
experience, I would say that a lot of folks I know would think those
two climbs are a bit of a challenge. So lets flip the question around;
what roads into Volterra would be the least challenging climbs?

- rick

Ken Roberts

unread,
Oct 31, 2006, 2:28:11 PM10/31/06
to
sergio wrote

> which side did you find tough to climb up to Volterra?

Roughly from the West, I think.

> I never got that good a skier, though I always dreamt
> of it. Just magic to go up and through the Dolomiti di
> Sesto in full winter attire!

For that you don't need skis. Lots of places like that can be reached on
snowshoes (and / or crampons). Advantage of snowshoes is that it's much
easier to carry them on your bike, along with a pair of collapsable ski
poles. In the springtime could ride your bike up to where the snow blocks
the road, then take your snowshoes and poles off the bike and use those to
climb higher.

It's interesting to think of passes in the Alps where I've been both on skis
in the winter/spring and bike in summer/fall. Col du Galibier I have photos
of both with bike and with skis. Furkapass both ways, but no photos. Lots of
mountain roads are official ski trails in the winter. Like I've both skied
and biked the lower part of the Oberalp pass road east from Andermatt. And
of course sections of the road on the north side of Col de l'Iseran.

The Sella Ronda tour is very actively promoted for (lift-served downhill)
skiers in the winter, marked with big signs on the snow. It's a great ride
in the summer, but a sunny day there in winter is beyond . . .
But you don't have to take my word for it. Don't some of those passes open
pretty early in the springtime? or some stay open all winter? Perhaps you
can ride it in pretty near full-snow glory.

Ken


sergio

unread,
Nov 1, 2006, 3:48:45 AM11/1/06
to

Ken Roberts wrote:
> sergio wrote
> > which side did you find tough to climb up to Volterra?
> Roughly from the West, I think.

Then, it is the 'classic' Saline-Volterra route. A lot of switchbacks,
but really not very steep.

> > I never got that good a skier, though I always dreamt
> > of it. Just magic to go up and through the Dolomiti di
> > Sesto in full winter attire!
> For that you don't need skis.

I have hiked up to the base of Tre Cime from Sesto and descended onto
Val Fiscalina.
Given the terrain, snow shoes are certainly at least as good as skies.

In the springtime could ride your bike up to where
the snow blocks
> the road, then take your snowshoes and poles off the bike and use those to
> climb higher.

Nice suggestion: I usually just turn around, and go back.
A question to you: do you ride also on snow covered or icey roads?

. Don't some of those passes
open
> pretty early in the springtime? or some stay open all winter? Perhaps you
> can ride it in pretty near full-snow glory.

Of those you mention I believe the only ones to stay open through the
winter is the Oberalp (perhaps so) and the Sella Ronde (positive, about
this).

No matter what, next time you happen to be within reach, please let me
know your whereabouts.

Sergio
Pisa

Ken Roberts

unread,
Nov 1, 2006, 7:22:54 PM11/1/06
to
sergio wrote

> I believe the only ones to stay open through the
> winter is the Oberalp (perhaps so)

Perhaps not. I believe I've skied down the west end of the road into
Andermatt in the winter about ten years ago. I thought it was an official
marked "green" run in the Andermatt ski station. Unless they've change
their practice.

> No matter what, next time you happen to be within reach,
> please let me know your whereabouts.

I was just on the phone with a long-time ski partner, he just got a cheap
ticket for next April, and specifically mentioned climbing most of the way
to the top of Gran Paradiso. Is it reasonable to try to hike to Rifugio
Vittorio Emanuel from where the snow covers the road up to your favorite
climb (? Col Nivolet ?)

Or if you can lend me bike, we could meet around Susa or Briancon maybe
somewhere around late March - early April. Could see how far could ride
toward the lago Cenisio, then hike the rest, or maybe up north side of
Izoard. Or to stay away closed roads, I thought the east side of Col du
Montgenevre was a fun descent. Or if you know some pleasant valley riding
around Torino . . .

> A question to you: do you ride also on snow covered or icey roads?

If you've got a bike with appropriate tires, I would try it. But really I'm
more into skiing on snowy roads.

Ken


Martin Sinclair

unread,
Nov 2, 2006, 2:48:25 PM11/2/06
to
Hi Lonnie,

seems a little expensive to me i would be thinking £1000 could be a better
price

i live in england here, and am considering cycling the Pyrenees. Always
fancied doing the Mediteranian to the Altantic.

If you are flying in via england there and 100's of really cheap flight out
of the UK to the Med.

Companies to look out for are the likes of RyanAir, EasyJet, flyBe
etc......... (you can get a flight for £50 down there)

id wing it accomodation wise, plenty of places to stay B&B wise. Check out
the Lonely Plannet "thorntree" for testomonies of such trips........

Hope this helps
_____________________________________________________

Cheers,
Always trust an owl, especially and Arrogant one
Home of the Himalayian Trip: http://www.lhasa-2-kathmandu.co.uk
Home of the Owl: http://www.arrogantowl.com
_____________________________________________________


<lonnie...@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:1161954160....@m7g2000cwm.googlegroups.com...

Rick

unread,
Nov 3, 2006, 10:26:11 AM11/3/06
to

Martin Sinclair wrote:
> Hi Lonnie,
>
> seems a little expensive to me i would be thinking £1000 could be a better
> price
>
> i live in england here, and am considering cycling the Pyrenees. Always
> fancied doing the Mediteranian to the Altantic.
>
> If you are flying in via england there and 100's of really cheap flight out
> of the UK to the Med.
>
> Companies to look out for are the likes of RyanAir, EasyJet, flyBe
> etc......... (you can get a flight for £50 down there)

But it gets to be a bit of a trap. Flights from the states land at
Heathrow, most of the cheap flights are out of Gatwick, Stansted, or
Luton. Getting to any of these from Heathrow can be a bit pricey and a
bit of a pain, moreso if one is carrying their bike with them. The bus
from Heathrow to Gatwick was something like 30 pounds each, one way, a
year and a half ago and there were strict luggage limitations such that
a boxed bike was not allowed.


- rick

mark

unread,
Nov 3, 2006, 11:33:22 AM11/3/06
to
Rick wrote:

>> If you are flying in via england there and 100's of really cheap flight out
>> of the UK to the Med.
>>
>> Companies to look out for are the likes of RyanAir, EasyJet, flyBe

>> etc......... (you can get a flight for Ł50 down there)


>
> But it gets to be a bit of a trap. Flights from the states land at
> Heathrow, most of the cheap flights are out of Gatwick, Stansted, or
> Luton. Getting to any of these from Heathrow can be a bit pricey and a
> bit of a pain, moreso if one is carrying their bike with them. The bus
> from Heathrow to Gatwick was something like 30 pounds each, one way, a
> year and a half ago and there were strict luggage limitations such that
> a boxed bike was not allowed.
>
>
> - rick

In addition, there's the risk of getting stuck in traffic between
airports, and the issue of ensuring enough time between landing in one
airport and taking off from the other airport to complete the journey
between airports. If you've booked a multi-flight journey on a single
ticket. and miss a connection because your first flight was late, you'll
still get put on a later flight at no extra cost. Miss your
RyanAir/EasyJet/etc. flight out of Stansted because your flight into
Heathrow landed late, or because the bus between airports was delayed,
and you are probably SOL.

mark

sergio

unread,
Nov 3, 2006, 11:43:16 AM11/3/06
to

Ken Roberts wrote:
> I was just on the phone ...

Hi Ken,
being candid I must tell you that my past orthopedic history
prevents me from joining you off the road on skies, snow-shoes or even
on a long hike. No limitation on cycling, though.

To be helpful on your greater plans, I can enquire about how to go up
to Rifugio Vittorio Emanuele. Ask so, and I shall return all the needed
info in due time.

Also, an acquaintence of mine has done the Tour du Mont Blanc on a Mtb,
in just two days! Could you read his report in Italain? I expect this
tour to be very tempting to you.

Here is another suggestion. Traversing from the beautiful Vallee de la
Claree, up from Nevache (Briancon), to Galibier.

As for finding a bike eady to use over here, no problem to lend you one
of mine it it would fit you. Else, keep in mind: I am friends with a
large bike store just outside Ivrea, that in fact you might even know
already. If I vouch for you, from them you could get a good bike at a
very reasonable charge

Sergio
Pisa

jobst....@stanfordalumni.org

unread,
Nov 3, 2006, 2:11:55 PM11/3/06
to
I think there is enough information here to inspire your own rides.
People have done it and reported in these pages.

http://tinyurl.com/92vpb

Jobst Brandt

mirco....@gmail.com

unread,
Nov 10, 2006, 4:01:15 AM11/10/06
to

All about Tuscany here:

http://www.intoscana.it

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