Iain Harper has contacted me via the Bike Radar forum I mentioned yesterday. There is some really useful practical advice in his email and it is worth the read. As the list of “tags” at the end shows, he manages to pack in a whole host of different topics;
I’ve just had a quick look round you blog following your bike radar post.
I’m planning Rome to UK via Aosta and the round the Rhine cycle route into Germany and then crossing over to France for a week or maybe bit less. I have a mate in Rome to get started, another in Aosta (waiting for tips on crossing the Alps there), another in the Rheinfelden and then on my own until Calais. Probably camping most of the way with as minimal kit as possible (no cooking just eat out of eat cold stuff from shops). I’ve got a Vango Tempest 200 but half thinking of getting a lighter expedition tent (not sure depends how much I can get one for). I’m also looking into bikes but don’t know what to do. Need to see them in the flesh. One complication is my Specialized Hybrid Sirrus. I used it in the past for touring and the frame broke recently and I got a new frame (Expert frame with carbon stays and fork), moved running gear over got some new stuff (hand built wheels strong 36 spoke for touring, chain set, stem, bars, cassette…). So now it is like a brand new bike but not sure if I’d rather sell it and get a tourer or try it for touring with a new rack? I stuck a stem which is adjustable on it so can vary the riding position quite a bit. Just don’t know. Don’t want to get a 14Kg tourer to replace a 10kg absolutely fine bike which I can use for touring. Anyway that is my problem so I’ll follow your decision making process.
On your route I see you have a Google route. Don’t know how accurate that is but I have a couple of basic thoughts and I’ll let you see what I plan as I do it (if you want). I live in Deal so I’d recommend from Canterbury to travel straight to Dover, there is a cycle route which is hillier than the route from Canterbury via Sandwich and Deal but only small rolling hills. It goes along the side of the A2 but far enough away you don’t see or hear it. There are a few campsites but think they are all Camping Club ones (there is a cheap one at Sutton which isn’t far away from Dover or Deal and absolutely fine but you may prefer one on your route to Dover to save doubling back on yourself). Calais to Lille is about 65 miles and I’m planning to do that when better weather and longer days come and get the TGV back to Calais to get home on ferry in the one day. I’ll let you know the route if you want. One tip take loads of care cycling around the ports – these sections of roads must be the most dangerous around! No one looking where they are going other than directly to the ferry.
Anyway keep blogging as your planning and progress moves on, I’ll keep an eye out. If you want any opinions or ideas about Kent or the first part around Calais let me know.
P.S. check this website out: www.tra-velo-gue.co.uk . His Italy routes may be of interest. He was hit by a car there and told me in a e-mail the drivers in Italy are the worst he has ever come accross and you’ll see he has cycles quite a bit of it. I have his routes in a MS map format if you want them.
The interactive map on this website is immense. Great details about campsites etc.
And in planning my route I like to get a large map and break it down into days roughly by distance and expected terrain then work out sections in more detail. Helps me visualise it better and is good for a first cut and planning other possible detours.