John Davies, the Audax cyclist from Willsden has emailed back with some more details of the Audax route from Calais to Brindisi. He writes:
Attached is an article from the most recent edition of Arrivée, the magazine of Audax UK. It doesn’t really give you much information about the route, but is useful background reading. Abraham completed the ride (or Brevet as we call them) at Audax pace, which is 200 kms per day. Each day he has to get his “Brevet card” stamped to prove he has completed the daily distance. Hence why is arriving and departing hotels at unconventional times. Two of my clubmates rode the C-B (in fact they rode from Brindisi to Calais) about 25 years ago, they completed the distance in a remarkable 9 days. They will have chose the shortest route possible, rather than the most interesting one.
This last point about the shortest route, not the most interesting one is at the heart of Audax cycling, or so I am increasingly thinking. While there is a joy in travelling the maximum distance in the minimum time for some, even me on occasions (hence my efforts to cut the time I commute to work every day), it’s not really what I am aiming to do. The article that John has attached to his email (and which I will try to attach to this blog once I’ve finished writing this – it will probably appear in the next post, just above) is interesting but even the guy who wrote it – Abraham Cohen – says I must say that this ride took me through some amazing scenery, beautiful architecture, lovely little roads but the pressure to complete my task stopped me from enjoying the tranquility of the places. Quite. It reminds me of the James Bond villain played by Robert Carlisle who asked “What is the point of living if you don’t feel alive?”.
I wrote down all the places that Cohen mentions in his article and plugged them into the Topocoding site I mentioned last week to see what the route is like and, as you would imagine (and can see – it’s up there on the right), it follows the Via Francigena more closely than the EuroVélo 5 route. Sigeric and his mates all those years ago had the same mindset as the Audax cyclists of today: to get to Rome (in his case) in the shortest possible time so it’s logical to follow the most direct route, albeit on the Adriatic coast of Italy rather than the coast to Rome. I’ll stick with the EuroVélo route for the time being at least which takes me through Belgium and along the Franco-German border towards Switzerland and then over the Alps. It is worth considering however if the Adriatic coast would a better route to follow. It is shorter but would mean not going to Rome. A decision for later I think.
I’ve also been contacted this week by Jean-Marie Vion from Belgium who writes:
I’m planning also to go to Italy by bike. So i would like to know where i can find the details of routes passed by Brussels in Belgium to go to Italy. My destination point is Venice.
Well, Jean-Marie, keep reading and hopefully in the near future I’ll work them out for myself. John Calver’s blog is the nearest I have come so far to detailed information about the route. I think the chances of any greater detail about the EuroVélo route 5 being made available officially in time for next summer are slim. I’ll keep watching the European Cyclists Federation website for information but I haven’t seen anything yet.
I’ll now try and work out how I can possibly attached the PDF file to the blog so others can read the article about the guy who cycled from Calais to Brindisi.