Darren from ??? (his Facebook page only gives a few clues – Australia? Camden town? Somewhere where it has been snowing recently from his picture so anywhere in the UK?) has messaged me on said social network…
Hello Andrew, I am a complete novice cyclist and am considering attempting the Eurovelo 5 route in summer 2011 as I see from your blog you have done. Could you please help me with the type of bicycle I will need and possibly some suggestions where I can purchase one? I assume an ordinary bike wouldn’t work as I will need some way of carrying my bags, etc. Cheers Darren
Now bikes have been on my mind slightly over the course of the past couple of weeks since making the decision to (probably) cycle along the Eurovelo 8 in summer 2013. Reggie Ridgeback – my “pimped” Ridgeback Panorama that I bought to cycle along the Eurovelo 5 (“pimped” by the addition of the flat, butterfly handlebars) – will, by then, have commuted his way back and forth along the back roads from Reading to Henley for three full winters as well as the 3,200 km from Reading to Brindisi. He may be looking forward to retiring. And, let’s face it, I’d love another bike! It would be hard to resist the allure of a machine from Koga Miyata (or Koga as I think they have recently renamed themselves), the Dutch company that has supplied so many of the serious long-distance cyclists, including, of course, Mark Beaumont. The one shown here is the Koga Randonneur – what a beauty! The problem is that they are bloody expensive. But they are presumably robust and reliable. Reggie’s back wheel spokes were his Achilles heel en route to southern Italy (remember the fun I had south of the St. Gotthard Pass? See “I spoke too soon“). Another Darren, Darren Whittle actually bought himself a Koga Miyata prior to cycling along the Pennine Cycleway earlier this year. I was very jealous at the time but I seem to remember it costing him…. take a deep breath…. £2,500. Ouch! But it did come with ready-fitted butterfly bars. So perhaps I am dreaming but it will give me reason to save up.
So back to Darren’s question; what type of bicycle should he buy? Well you are correct that you would need a bike with some pannier racks (although I assume these could be fitted to an ordinary bike). I went for the Ridgeback Panorama after much thought and research; it had pre-fitted racks front and back and recieved some good write-ups in the magazines. And it’s still going strong. When everything is working (which it usually is), it cycles like a dream. Would you be able to manage with a “normal” bike? Probably. Chris Hammersley (see his own blog here) didn’t invest a fortune in his bike and he made it as far as Greece (albeit with a few train journeys). You may want to get in touch with him to find out what make and model it was.
As for where to buy one, I’m going to assume you are in the UK. I bought my Ridgeback Panorama at a local specialised bike shop – AW Cycles in Caversham, Reading (although they weren’t happy about me changing to the flat handlebars; I had to go to the chain shop Evans to get that done without a battle). Most bike shops have people who can give you better advice than me with the exception of Halfords which tends to employ wide-boys who are more interested in blinging their cars (they are the ones always parked nearest to the entrance of Halfords shops with their unemployed mates sitting on the bonnet all day) than acquiring a good knowledge of touring bikes. And then there is the Internet although I would imagine most bike shops would match an online price if you quoted it to them…
Good luck with your efforts to cycle along the Eurovelo 5. Why not start a blog?!