A Route from Oxford to Milan?

It’s been a few weeks since anyone new has been in contact with me who is in some way interested in the cycling to Italy project so I am delighted to have been emailed by a guy called Neil Shirley who is planning on cycling from Oxford to Milan (if you Google the name Neil Shirley incidentally, up pops a professional cyclist from North America – I think this is a different person!). Neil (from Oxford that is) writes in blue, I respond in black;
Hi Andrew
I have recently been made redundant and have decided that I am going to take the opportunity to complete a personal challenge.  I live in Oxford and my wife is Italian from Milan, so I have decided to cycle from Oxford to Milan.  I think it is roughly around 1100 miles or so and I have 3 weeks to do it, so I am hoping I will be fine! Yes, this sounds about enough time to do Oxford to Milan; my own tentative itinerary puts me in Milan at the end of day 20 and Oxford is only half a day away from Reading.
I have been researching a route to take and I must explain that I am not a cyclist, I rode a bike as a kid and I have now decided to embark on this challenge and was looking through Google and ended at the Eurovelo 5.  It sounds great but I have been unable to find any detailed information and ended up looking at your website, which appears to have the most information on this route. What I am looking for is a detailed route and wondered if a) there was such a thing and if so where I can get it from and b) if not, some advice about how you have planned the route you are going to take in July. I must stress, I am a complete novice, so I am looking to find a route that will allow someone like me to go on and provide plenty of places along the way to stop and more importantly a route that isn’t going to take me on to an autostrada somewhere in France!  The more detail the better.  If it doesn’t exist then that’s fine, but any advice on how you planned your route would be most welcome. I’m not that far away from being a novice myself. I’m not that far away from being a novice myself although I am making good progress! It may sound immodest but this site has become a leading source of information about the route of the Eurovelo 5. However, I have yet to find a definitive route to follow and am increasingly thinking that this is no bad thing. The Eurovelo network will one day no doubt be mapped and even way-marked in all its detail. Some of the routes, for example the Eurovelo 6 which runs from the French Atlantic Coast to the Black Sea, have already had this treatment and benefit as a result with websites, detailed maps and increased numbers of cyclists as a result. The Eurovelo 5 is still in Cinderella land however. Although initially I did find this a little frustrating, I have grown to like the idea of being a small-time pioneer of the route. There is a very general description which has been written by the ECF (European Cyclists Federation) and which is reprinted on the route section of this website. You can see that for much of the route, it piggy-backs upon regional and national cycle networks so, if you are looking for anything that has been pre-routed, this will be your best avenue for research. What I will be doing is really making up my own route but visiting the towns and cities that are mentioned in the Eurovelo description. Much of this will be done in advance (you may have noticed that in my list of top ten things to do over my two-week Easter holiday , number 4 is to knuckle down and have a detailed route plan in place), but I will be leaving a certain amount of flexibility in my route that will only be decided when I hit the ground in July. I would like to know where I am going to stay each evening (and the reassurance that there is somewhere to camp each night) and have some idea of the places I will pass en route, but I am happy in my own sense of direction not to have an excessively detailed map in front of me. This will probably mean me using occasional cycle routes but more often B roads or the like. On the Via Michelin route website you will notice a button called “cycling”. I’ll be using this over the next couple of weeks quite a lot.
Any help or advice would be very much appreciated and I would like to take the opportunity to wish you all the best on your trip.  Sorry if you feel this is a little cheeky and do please feel free to ignore. Cheeky? Not at all! I don’t do ignore 🙂 Delighted to be of help. Make sure you stay in touch and keep me updated with your plans. When are you planning to cycle the route?
Hears in hope.
Kind regards
Neil Shirley

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3 replies »

  1. Andrew,

    Have chanced upon your webpages and have read your correspondence with Neil from Oxford. I was so pleased to have done so as I too am planning a (charity) cycle from Siena to Valletta in June 2011. I intend following the (west) coast of Italy down to Reggio di Calabria then ferry to Messina and hugging the coast to Syracuse before getting a ferry to Malta. I am desperately trying to get information on the best route to take from Siena to Reggio. (like Neil, I am a novice. The information on routes in Italy seems to lessen the further south you get ! I will keep in touch with your progress but would be grateful if you have any advice / information for me.

    I am doing this trip with friends to raise money for child cancer – CLIC). Training in the UK has begun already !!


  2. I, too, am a small-time pioneer of this route! And I, too, would like to know when Neil will cycle the route, as I’d be happy to put a bit more effort into publishing what I find sooner rather than later.

    I left about 9 days ago from Milano and have been GPS registering everything since then. Note that most of my helpfulness will be to those using a GPS on the way, but I suppose having a map that you can look at on Google Maps, Google Earth, or some similar program before leaving could be helpful to anyone.

    My site is here: . So far all I have posted is…
    – EV5’s route through Switzerland as a downloadable file and a google maps link (which simply follows a swiss cycle route, national #3, and is fairly well sign-posted by the Swiss, though some intersections are missing… I’ll hopefully compile a list of those at the end of April)
    – two possible routes from Southern Switzerland to Milano, neither of which is perfect, nor are they signposted whatsoever. One is more geared toward road cyclists and requires riding with cars. The other has a bit of off-roading involved (only one point where you’d have to walk a road bike, but lots where you need to be ok with a bit of mud)
    – a bunch of photos (including many of the road conditions and some of camping signs along the route! beware that some campings are only for motor homes and the like – do your homework or be comfortable camping outside of campsites 🙂 )

    What Andrew says about EV5 vs. EV6 is very true. Here in and around Basel, where the two converge for a while, there are even signs for EV6, but not EV5!

    I’m also looking for info on the route as I currently have no real idea where it goes from here, other than the list of cities mentioned in the links above. I’m committed, though, to this idea of finding it, so I have almost 3 weeks to get from basel to Calais, which leaves time for a lot of side-tracking and back-tracking to find the “real” route.

    ~George J.

What do you think?