My husband and I completed the Via in mid Oct. Assembled our bikes at Gatwick then rode to Canterbury and then to Rome – it took about 6 weeks at between 40 and 70 km a day. We used Paul and Babettes Lightfoot Guides and also took a Garmin GPS, this was invaluable for a number of reasons. Some of the routes suggested by P and B are very difficult by bike and after we easily found more suitable routes for us on quiet roads in close proximity. It was very useful getting out of towns. It is hard to watch the Guide book while riding and a GPS mounted on your handlebars and programmed from the Guide is very easy to keep track of. When you get lost it certainly helps to find your way back to the route.
As far as bikes are concerned we had cheap mountain bikes (around $400 NZ dollars) – these had been recommended by Trevor atthe local bike shop -the tyres were mountain bike ones but not very nobbly, now almost smooth. – Had rear panniers on top of Kens panniers had a tent and two folding stools attached ( certainly made camping more pleasnt as we find sitting on the ground almost impossible at our age!) and on top of mine a bag with our Netbook computer ( were able to find wifi in most places including camping grounds). Also had handle bar bags where we put heavier stuff and electrical gear. The total weight we carried was about 15kg each, Kens a little more and we used and needed everything we took – have a gear list if anyone wants it. We had NO bike troubles at all and only one puncture the whole way and that was a slow leak and we got to a bike shop. Did call in at a couple of bike shops on the way to get things checked over – they always refused payment – the new angels of the world. On our return to Nz took the bikes back to the shop to be reassembled and Trevor who had sold them to us said they were in almost as good condition as when we left. It is the most fantastic trip and great fun involoved for us a fair bit of pushing our bikes up steep patches – I was rather nervous at the start as I wondered if I could do it as I am 70 and hadnt riden a bike for about 45 years until this crazy scheme entered my head and we bought bikes and I started riding to get the mail – a 5km round trip involving a steep hill but not adequate training for the Alps! but you soon get fit on the way! ken says I need a more positive attitude to hills! He is 72
Cant wait for a similar trip next year – have a few ideas but would welcome more – we have already walked the Camino from the 3 different starting places in France but now into cycling as I think it is easier on aging bodies
Note: they are 70 and “…it took six weeks at between 40 and 60km a day” between Canterbury and Rome. Am I underestimating my abilities?