Bikes, trains, trailers and panniers

Discussion in 'Touring and Adventure Cycling' started by TwoInTow, 28 Apr 2010.

  1. TwoInTow

    TwoInTow Active Member

    I got some good advice on an earlier thread - which I'm sure I'll be updating soon with more questions about kit for family touring. But now I'm trying to unravel the issues about taking a family of 4, 1 tandem, 2 bikes, a trailer and a load of panniers on trains!

    I think we will be doing trains:
    1. Home to London
    2. London to Paris
    3. Paris to Karlsruhe
    4. Karlsruhe to Donaueschingen.

    On the way back it will be:
    1. Passau to Munich
    2. Munich to Paris.
    3. Paris to London.
    4. London to Home.

    (I checked out ferries, btw, but they were more expensive than Eurostar, and it's much more difficult for us to get from home to Harwich.)

    I've checked out all the rules and I think our tandem (Hase Pino) will be treated like a normal bike if we remove the front boom, so that makes things a lot easier on the trains. BUT....

    What do you do with all the other gear? The rules for Eurostar are 2 medium-sized pieces of luggage. Even without those rules, we are likely to have a bunch of panniers (6?) and a Bob trailer. And I'm trying to figure out how my husband and I will manage just carrying around that many pieces of luggage on and off trains etc. The children are 8 and 10, so they can help get a pannier or two on or off the train but not a great deal of use.

    Does anyone have any amazing tips about how to handle this?
  2. Arch

    Arch Married to Night Train

    Salford, UK
    Yikes, that's some undertaking...

    Would it be at all possible to courier your stuff (or some of it) ahead to a hotel or anything?
  3. Jugular

    Jugular Well-Known Member

    I have heard of some people taking very large lightweight holdalls into which they repack all their stuff for these types of journey only to unpack and fold up the holdalls then fit them in the bottom of a pannier during repacking. A nice idea but with all that you have that may be difficult.

    I find Ortlieb panniers fairly easy to carry two in each hand back to back, but that is dependent on strength and how much weight you have packed into them.

    That amount of luggage sure seems alot. I'm surprised you'll need all of it.

    I must admit I don't know what the rules for carriage of bikes + luggage is like on the Eurostar though I suspect this website is useful: Travel with Bicycles. The Man in Seat Sixty-One... also has some links and advice I believe.
  4. rich p

    rich p ridiculous old lush

    Rather you than me!
    Good luck.
    A large wad of money for bribes may help!;)
  5. OP

    TwoInTow Active Member

    Hmmm... Well we just don't know yet how much luggage it will be. But for my son we might be able to put two small and light panniers on his bike. And I'll be lucky if my daughter pulls a fraction of her own weight - she is partially luggage herself, and so we lucky parents will be taking her plus both the children's kit. If we can fit it into 6 panniers, that would be great, but from what I can see most couples when cycle touring have 8 panniers, and that's for two.

    The cheap holdall thing was the best I could come up with too...
  6. andym

    andym Über Member

    I'm just about to travel on Eurostar today with a bike bag, backpack, two panniers, and a drysack. I've done it before without problems (hopefully I won't have any problems this time). I've also travelled in the past with a huge snowboard bag. Provided you can get the bags into the carriage without blocking the aisles you should be OK. They seem to be pretty reasonable.

    The tandem is potentially a bigger issue. I'm not sure what a front boom is, I assume you have some sort of front coupling, so you can get it down to normal bike length.

    The other problem, as you say, is physically getting the stuff around. Presumably you are carrying the bikes undismantled, so you can put the panniers onto the bikes and wheel them around. If the station has luggage trolleys (eg the Gare du Nord definitely has - make sure you have a one euro piece) one of you can push the trolley with the luggage while the other pushes the tandem and the kids push their own bikes. If there are no trolleys you may need to simply work in relays - moving the kids, and some of the bags a short distance up the platform (so always within sight) while you fetch the rest.

    Allow lots of time between changes. The change in the Gare du Nord should be reasonably straightforward because the platforms are fairly close and it's all on one level.
  7. OP

    TwoInTow Active Member

    Andy, that's really helpful. So Eurostar aren't that fussy about having a number of smaller bags instead of 2 larger ones? I was wondering what their attitude would be.
  8. andym

    andym Über Member

    No - if anything smaller bags are easier to deal with because they can go in the overhead shelves - the space for larger bags is more limited.

    I was about to say that the other option you could consider (if you don't need the stuff en route) is send it to your destination. Parcels2go offer very reasonable rates using Parcelforce Euro48 (a service that isn't available direct to the public). Delivery to major cities in 48 hours and smaller places in 3-4 days.
  9. ufkacbln

    ufkacbln Guest

    Check beforehand, several operators simply do not carry tandems!
  10. andym

    andym Über Member

    I was just thinking if anyone were to give you a hard time about the panniers, the two medium-sized suitcases rule presumably also applies to the kids as well: giving you eight pieces of luggage.

    I'm not sure about the Bob trailer though. Can it be dismantled so it swould fit in the standard luggage racks?
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