I used to regularly post extracts from emails that I received on here but recently I seem to have stopped doing so. For no particular reason. It’s a delight to be asked about the routes that I have cycled and, quite often, those that I haven’t. I try to be honest in my responses. A couple of emails arrived this week, one from the UK and another from South Africa both relating to the Eurovelo 15 route from the Netherlands to Switzerland. My responses are in bold.
Will wrote the following;
“For some years I’ve had a dream to cycle from the UK (not sure if that would be from home in Lancashire or from a UK port onwards) to Croatia. Ideally in the late summer / early autumn chasing the sun as I head south. Not sure when this will happen, but I’ve started to ponder what route I might take as a first step to understanding the timescale involved. Tell me more, please, about the Eurovelo routes – what is their basis? Is it that there are stretches of ‘away from the road’ cycle paths linking together for this, is it because these general routes work well in terms of attractiveness and ‘cyclability’ of the terrain, or is are they based on something else altogether? I’ve cycled 1-2 week tours all over Europe, but never anything longer or multi-country. For me, the Eurovelo routes could offer a useful narrowing of my options of the route I take. With so many options on a journey of this length I’m keen to narrow my options I wondered if the use of Eurovelo routes could be the way to go?”
I have to admit that both of my Eurovelo rides have followed Eurovelo routes that only really exist on paper and in the minds of the people who run the European Cyclists’ Federation in Brussels. 99.9% of the both routes is not sign-posted and it was a case of piecing together a route that followed, approximately, the direction of the Eurovelo route. When I cycled to Italy in 2010 the Eurovelo 5 did however ‘piggy back’ upon other regional or national routes for example the Rhine Cycle Route (which has now been renamed as Eurovelo 15) which was sign-posted and then across Switzerland I was following one of the Swiss national routes (number 3 I think) which again was marked. Both of these had resources online that I was able to use, especially the Swiss one (the link is here). When I got to Italy is was back to making up the route as I went along. This year when I cycled the Eurovelo 8 I rarely followed any cycle routes and just made it up as I went along. Ironically in Catalonia, Spain, there were signs for the Eurovelo 8 but I got frustrated following them so I gave up and headed off in my own direction! That said, other routes are sign-posted and there are resources available online. A good example is route 6 which follows the Loire Valley from Nantes in France before heading east towards Romania I think. So… don’t build up your hopes that you will be able to follow a marked route all the way. Sometimes you will but it’s likely to be a regional route that’s been there before the invention of the Eurovelo network.
“I am from South Africa where cycling on public roads is suicide. However, I have done a few cycling trips in Europe (Netherlands/France/Czech Republic), which I enjoyed tremendously. I am interested in cycling the Eurovelo 15, from Switzerland to Holland. Have you done it / would you recommend it? Are the cycling roads separate from the car roads, ie how safe are they and how quiet? (I do not like sharing the road with too many vehicles). Could you perhaps recommend other cycling trips? I know there are so many in Europe, but maybe some are special to you. Coming from a semi-desert area, I love green rural areas.”
I haven’t cycled the whole of Eurovelo 15 but when I cycled from the UK to southern Italy in 2010 I cycled the portion of the Eurovelo 15 from Strasbourg to Basel in Switzerland. The route is more often known as the Rhine Cycle Route and there are quite a few resources available online. There is also a book available from Cicerone that you might find useful. It was only published earlier this year so the information is very up to date. The part that I cycled was very flat and mostly off-road (on a good quality cycle track) as it followed the Rhine Canal. I would imagine that the rest of the route is very cycle-friendly as it passes through some very cycling-friendly countries; The Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland. Obviously in Switzerland the terrain will become more arduous, especially the final climb to Andermatt but the views will be worth the effort! It’s worth checking out the excellent Swiss national cycle route website for the portion of the route in Switzerland.
Public service duties over for this week.
I do not read or Speak German but found the Verlag Esterbauer Bikeline route guides to be excellent and while I could not read all of the text the symbols used were perfect. A hostel is a hostel, a train station is a….
In 2010 I did Brussels to Italy, and this year I went north from Brussels to The Netherlands. Belgium up to Amsterdam had great cycle routes!
South from Brussels was not so good until Strasbourg.
We did the route from South to North this summer. Starting in Andermatt heading north passing through six countries though Liechtenstein was a fleeting visit, ending in Rotterdam, before the ferry across to Hull. We flew to Zurich and got the train up to Andermatt, which was all very easy. We intended to follow the eurovelo 15 route with the help of the Cicerone Rhine Cycle Route guide book and the three Rhine-Radweg books unfortunately the Radwag books are only available in German, but they do have very good maps. They were the only maps we used. The two guides follow similar routes with the odd variation. In some areas we found the signs very helpful and in some we lost them altogether. It is a fairly easy route to follow. With lots of interesting sights along the way. We did pass through some very industrial areas but I suppose that comes with following a very large and busy river. I would recommend the route, which we did in two weeks, with an average of about 60 miles per day. I would recommend taking a larger scale map if you wanted to avoid the industrial areas.
Thanks for that Alan. Very useful stuff!
We did the whole route in stages. Found it great all the way. Don’t remember any signage problems. Found the path great, well-maintained and lots of interesting things to see en route. Easy to access at different places, and came back by ferry from Hook of Holland. Would unreservedly recommend! Germans all assumed we were Dutch, and Dutch assumed we were German!
Thanks. Your comments are much appreciated!