An email has arrived from Jack who fancies cycling around Europe… He writes in blue, I write in red. Well, I am a teacher, albeit one with a sniffly nose today. And on the day that Francois Hollande becomes the French president, it does give this post a very French look…
My name is Jack, from England.
My name is Andrew (not Richard), from England too.
I am very keen on cycling around Europe next summer, and noticed your blog online, and thought it might be a good idea to contact you about some queries I have!
Excellent. I love receiving emails from people who have visited CyclingEurope.org & I don’t hold it against them when they get my name wrong.
Firstly, I am interested in starting in Amsterdam, and doing a loop involving Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France, and some more countries too, and finishing back in Amsterdam. I am not too sure if this fits into any specific routes on Euro Velo or not, but I am keen to try it.
Sounds like a brilliant plan. I like the vague ‘…and some more countries too’ which implies your attitude towards detailed planning is similar to my own. Well, I can’t speak for the unnamed countries, but if you are heading south from Amsterdam towards Italy, it might be a good idea to consider the Rhine Cycle Route or Eurovelo 15 as it has now become. There is some information about the route on the CyclingEurope.org Eurovelo 12 page but I suggest you will find much more by searching for ‘Rhine Cycle Route’ online. It does what it says on the tin; follows the route of the Rhine as shown here. The other route you might want to consider is the Eurovelo 5 of course, the one that I followed from southern England to southern Italy although this is a bit further west – the other side of Belgium (I changed my route slightly to avoid Brussels for no other reason than I wanted to make a bit of headway in the first week or so of my trip) – and anyway, it links up with the Rhine Cycle Route / Eurovelo 15 as soon as it arrives in Strasbourg. Both routes enter Switzerland via Basel but whereas the Eurovelo 15 continues to follow the course of the Rhine taking a long loop towards the east, the Eurovelo 5 heads straight across Switzerland towards the Gotthard Pass following Swiss cycle route number 3. Once in Italy, I suppose it depends what you ‘other countries’ are.
Anyway, I was wondering if you knew if it would be realistic to stay in cheap campsites for my trip? Or even wild camping? By cheap, I mean around 10 Euros a night. I will be on a budget.
Cheap camp-sites? There are hundreds of them across Europe! Most towns in France have at the very least a ‘camping municipal’ or a site that’s owned by the local council where you will pay (usually) well under €10 for a pitch for a small tent. The Rhine Cycle Route website will give you information about the sites through which it passes and there is an excellent website for travellers on foot, bicycle & even rollerblading (!) that covers the whole of Switzerland. Take a look by following this link. Wild camping? The problem is that Europe is not that wild… Perhaps in the more remote areas in the mountains. You might be better registering with WarmShowers.org, the website for travelling cyclists where you can ask fellow travelling cyclists if you can stay in their house or pitch your tent in their garden. Of course CouchSurfing.org serves a similar audience of more general travellers.
Also, were such cheap campsites easy to come by, like within a day’s cycling? I plan to spend around 2500 Euros on the trip, feasible?
Yes, they are everywhere! €2,500 sounds like a pretty good sum to me but ultimately it depends upon how many weeks you are going to be cycling for… How long is a piece of string? A budget of €30 euros per day for everything – accommodation & food mainly I suppose – plus a contingency for any emergencies whether they be technical or because you can’t find anywhere to stay overnight except a hotel should be OK. If you have more lavish tastes, then perhaps not.
What kind of bike did you use? I am unsure which bike would be good for such a long trip. I am not keen on too many mountainous roads. The easier the better really.
My bike, the famous Reggie Ridgeback as mentioned in the title of my book Good Vibrations: Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie is, as you might guess, a Ridgeback Panorama. Apart from a few issues with spokes, it/he suited my needs perfectly. That said, I could probably have successfully completed the trip on a much cheaper bike. The road surfaces were fine, even high in the mountains. It goes back to what I said above about Europe not being much of a ‘wild’ place anymore, certainly not Western Europe.
Anyway, I appreciate any time you can spare for my questions.
It was a pleasure. Gives me something to do while I’m off work with a cold…
Richard, sorry, Andrew!