I’ve been sent a couple of cycling guides to review by Cicerone: The Rhine Cycle Route (ISBN: 978-1-85284-797-5) and The Danube Cycleway (ISBN: 978-1-85284-722-7). The Rhine guide is an updated version of the original 2013 guide, the Danube guide has just been published for the first time.
When I think of Cicerone I tend to think more of hiking guides than cycling guides but a quick glance at the list of Cicerone publications reminds me that they do have a pretty good range available for those who prefer two wheels over two legs (although you could argue very strongly that the legs are just as much a part of cycling as hiking but I digress…).
Of particular relevance for me is the portion of the Rhine Cycle Route, also now known as Eurovelo 15 of course, that I will be cycling as part of my toe to tip crossing of the continent that starts just after Easter. The relevant section – which is also part of Eurovelo 3 – starts in Bonn and finishes in Duisburg at which point I turn to head east towards Munster and eventually Hamburg etc… It’s stages 19, 20 and 21 in the guide. Each of the stages of the entire route is a very manageable 50km or thereabouts, which, bearing in mind that you are following a river for most of the time, doesn’t involve too much climbing (and if you follow the route in the direction that the guide does, much more time will be spent descending than ascending, especially in the first few stages in Switzerland). The bulk of each chapter in both books is made up of a detailed description of the route itself which doesn’t make riveting reading when you are sitting at a kitchen table in Yorkshire (as I am now) but will be very useful when you are actually cycling the route and the signs have let you down. What will be of more interest for those reading about and cycling the route at the same time (and indeed those who, like me, are not), are the extensive notes about the places that you will pass as you cycle alongside very clear route maps of each section of the route and some more detailed urban maps (where following the route may become a little more tricky). At the start of the guide there are extensive notes about each country, signage, geography etc… as well as notes on the more practical aspects of travelling to your starting point and making sure you are well fed and watered. In the appendices you will find a summary of the different stages, a list of tourist offices near to where you will pass and a list of youth hostels. It’s a shame that they haven’t included a list of campsites but I suppose that if you have trouble finding one you can always pay a visit to the tourist office mentioned. It’s worth noting that the Danube Cycleway guide follows (in the main) Eurovelo 6.
Personally, I’m not a great one for following a fixed route – those of you who have read my own books which purport to follow the Eurovelos 5 and 8 will know full well that they rarely stick to the exact path – but for those who want a little more certainly that they are doing so, these guides are fantastic and I have yet to find anything in English which does a better job.
The full list of Cicerone cycling guides can be found on their website. The Rhine Cycle Route and The Danube Cycleway guides are both written by experienced cyclist Mike Wells and are priced at £14.95. eBook versions are also available (which may be a more practical solution when you are riding the route, have a bike mount for your phone and don’t have three hands…).