European Tour 2017

Discussion in 'Member's Travelogues' started by RobinS, 1 Aug 2017.

  1. RobinS

    RobinS Senior Member

    My wife Janet, and I (Robin) headed of o Europe for a cyclecamping tour this spring. I did post a few snippets as we went along, but I will try to post the whole story in this thread over next few days/weeks.

    As an intro, we are 57 and 50 years old, and only really got into long distance cycle touring last year when I was made redundant, allowing us more time. I will introduce more info about us, and our kit as we go along.

    2017 European Tour

    Thursday 27th April – Day 0

    Time for the off. Bicycles fettled, kit sorted and packed. No training done at all – we were away in the alps for the ski season, so have not been on our bikes since last October! Plan is to take camping gear, head down through France to the Med, then decide where to go from there.

    In the afternoon we loaded everything including the bikes onto our little green Fiat Qubo, picked up our daughter who was to drive the car back, and have use of it while we were away. Down to Newhaven for the 11pm ferry to Dieppe. Ferry left on time, but with just reclining seats we did not get much sleep.

    Friday 28th April – Day 1

    Dieppe to Forges les Faux

    Ferry arrived at 4am, and my first miscalculation - I had thought leave the port by 5am, and it will soon be light, however in that calculation I had forgotten about changing the clocks – on the French side it gets light an hour later!

    So, at 4.30am we disembarked into a very dark, cold, and damp Dieppe. We were to follow the “Avenue Verte” to start with, but having lost it in town we rejoined a few miles inland. As we rarely cycle a night we have only basic “be seen” lights, so we used our headtorches to see by, and were reassurred by our belisha beacon like visibility with all the reflectives on the panniers, tyres etc. We cycled the first 20km along the cycle track in the dark, and rain before stopping at Neufchatel en Bray for a cuppa (tea for Janet and coffee for me), and a croissant from a boulangerie. Leaving the town we then encountered our first mechanical problem – Janet's Hollowtech bottom bracket started coming apart! Tightening it by hand would last about 3 or 4 kilometres each time, but we didn't have the tools to fix it. Luckily we came acros a bike hire shop, who tightened it up for us for no charge.

    The weather brightens a bit, so we stopped at round about lunchtime at Camping la Miniere at Forges les Faux. A doze for a coupleof hours, then a visit to a supermarket for food and we are set for the night. 62Km fully loaded is plenty for a first day with no training.

    Saturday 29th April – Day 2

    Forges to Bresles

    After a cooked breakfast we packed away, a bit slow as we were out of practice, and were on the road at about 10am. The Avenue Verte followe hilly back lanes to Gournay en Bray, then a nice cycletrack to Beauvais, where we lost the route and ended up on a dual carriageway. After navigating by map for a while we rejoined the route and followed the Avenue Verte again to Bresles to camp at Camping La Trye at Bresles. A reasonably sunny day, but a headwind all the way. 81km today (total 143km), further then Janet would have liked, but we did an extra 7 or 8 around Beauvais, and the campsites are not closely spaced around here.


    Sunday 30th April – Day 3

    Bresles to Pierrefonds

    We started out on the Avenue Verte, but today we needed to leave it to head east (to the north of Paris). Very open an exposed cycling across huge arable fields, strong headwinds made it hard work. We had our picnic lunch sheltering by a sports field, then found our own route across the Oise valley and into the Foret Domainale de Compeigne and on through the shelter of the Forest to St Jean aux Bois, where we found a bar to stop for a very welcome beer! From there it was just a short ride to Camping Municipal de Batigny at Pierrefonds, but the killer hill was most unwelcome at the end of the day. 62Km today (total 204km).

    The hedgehog is our mascot, you'll see much more of Seabreeze, the adventuring hedgehog!

    Monday 1st May – Day 4

    Pierrefonds to Soissons

    After our usual cooked breakfast we headed off along hilly country lanes through empty countryside. It was a bank holiday, so everything was closed. After a few hard days we wanted a bit of a rest so headed to the Municipal Camping at Soissons. As it was only 40km (total 244km) we were there before the site reception opened so ventured into Soissons for some sightseeing. It was almost completely closed, and seemed a dismal sort of place, so we found the only bar open and had a couple of beers before heading back to the rather dated and cheerless campsite. Weather remaining dry, but cold and windy.

    Tuesday 2nd May – Day 5

    Soissons to Guignicourt

    Another day of making our way along country lanes through deserted countryside. This part of France seems very sparsely populated with few facilities, food shops are very few and far between, we even struggled to find boulangeries for our elevenses pastries here! At least it was sunny weather, and we reached the Camping Municipal at Guignicourt after 60km (total 303km).

    Our camping setup - new Berghaus Peak 3.3 Pro tent, Chinese ebay chairs, Nemo air mattresses, Vango Venom 200 down sleeping bags with lightweight microfiber liners, two gas stoves and full cooking stuff.

    More to follow....
  2. OP

    RobinS Senior Member

    Before the next installment, a few bits about our way of touring. We try to do moderate distances, Janet complains at more than 80km. We try to camp all the time, and mainly cook for ourselves. I carry two stoves, two saucepans and two frypans so we can cook proper meals. We try to find a supermarket in the afternoon to buy supplies for the evening meal, and a cooked breakfast, have a pastry from a bakery at elevenses, and a picnic lunch - my Ortlieb Rack Bag is long enough for a fresh baguette!

    Wednesday 3rd May – Day 6

    Guignicourt to Val de Vesle

    Heavy rain overnight, and still raining in the morning. This caused a late start, and packing away very wet gear. We followed roads, then the towpath of the Aisne to Marne canal. It is much nicer to be away from traffic when it is raining, but has the downside of missing towns and shops. Straight through Reims on the towpath, then sheltered under a bridge to wait for a supemarket to open after their long lunch break. Onwards to Camping Val de Vesle, where the rain had more or less stopped. A very wet 51km today (total 354km).

    Thursday 4th May – Day 7

    Val de Vesle to Chalon en Champagne

    It was a fine start, with flattish roads and countryside, then we joined the Marne canal to Chalons. It started to rain heavily at Chalons, so we stopped at a chip shop / cafe for lunch hoping it would stop. It didn't, and as we were already soaked we went to the supermarket for supplies, then straight to the municipal campsite for an early finish. The rain stopped, and as it became sunny we took the oportunity to get some washing done. Another very damp 43km today (total 397km).

    Friday 5th May – Day 8

    Chalons to St Marie du Lac Nuisement

    Week two started with a fine sunny day, and we followed back roads, over hills, then the Marne canal through Vitry le Francois. The canal gave easy riding onwards, but there was a complete absence of shops, even with diversions into some villages. We made our way to Camping de la Cornee du Der, by a large lake, where we ate pasta and sauce from our stocks. Fortunately there was a bar onsite so we could have a nice beer. 62Km today (total 459km)

    Saturday 6th May – Day 9

    St Marie to Froncles

    Raining again in the morning, so after packing away we followed a cycletrail into St Dizier where we did some food shopping, We were then back on the Marne Saone canal, head down in unremitting rain to Camping Municipal Rives de Marne near Froncles. 76Km (total 535km).

    Sunday 7th May – Day 10

    Froncles to Humes Jonquery

    A very wet day! Following the canal, gradually uphill to the watershed it rained heavily absolutely non stop. Starting to get really fed up with the weather, with two wet days for every one dry one. All our kit and clothing feeling soggy, and our cycling shoes have been wet for days on end now. 64Km today (total 599km), and it was still raining as we went to sleep.

    Monday 8th May – Day 11

    The day dawned dry, but very cold. We followed the canal to Langres where we climbed out of the valley in search of food shops, but it was another bank holiday so everything was shut again. We continued climbing gently southwards from Langres until at 470m we reached the quite unremarkable watershed between the Channel and the Med - downhill from here!
    IMG_20170508_122737.jpg We went downhill to rejoin the canal where it came out of a tunnel, and carried on downstream to Camping du Lac de la Vigneanne, at Villegusien le Lac. Early finish today after only 40km (total 640km). With poor weather, and difficulties buying food we are finding it hard going at present!

    Tuesday 9th May – Day 12

    Villegusien to Grays

    Better weather! Very cool, but sunshine! Followed the canal all morning, but no sign of any shops yet again. We diverted off route (byy 20km) to Grays to find a supermarket. We then went to the Municipal campsite, only to find it closed. The next site was over 20km away, so while we pondered our options the caretaker came over and invited us to stay. As the reception was closed we could not pay, but he cleaned the disabled toilet and shower, and even turned on the hot water for us, so we had a comfortable, if lonely night!
    55km today (total 697km).

    Wednesday 10th May – Day 13

    Grays to Auxonne

    Fine warm sunshine today made us feel more cheerful. We were off our planned route but discovered the V50 cycleroute took us on our way along the Saone river and canal. It was a mix of quiet roads and cycle trails with variable surfaces. In the afternoon a stiff headwind sprung up for the last 25km into Auxonne where we found Camping de l'Arquebuse by he river, within walking distance of the town. After wandering in to town for a beer, we went back to the site and had our first meal out – a pizza in the onsite restaurant. 61Km covered (total 758km).

    Thursday 11th May – Day 14

    Rest Day

    We had been finding it hard over the last few days to took the opportunity of a rest day here, as facities including a supermarket were nearby. In the morning we used the site washing machine to clean clothes, and fortunately it was windy enough to dry them quickly, as it came on to rain in the afternoon again! After eating out last night we were cooking in the tent porch in the rain tonight, but we did venture out for a beer or two!
    Last edited: 3 Aug 2017
  3. OP

    RobinS Senior Member

    Our bikes: We both have Revolution touring bikes, new in 2015, Janet's is a Country Premier with butterfly bars, mine is a Country Explorer with drops. They are both Reynolds cromoly frame, and we have ortlieb front and rear panniers, barbags, and I have a Rack Bag.
    We navigate largely using 1:150,000 or 1:200,000 Michelin maps, though we do have large screen smartphones for which we get power mainly from a PortaPow 11w solar panel carried on top of Janet's panniers. We do also have a campsite hookup plug into which we can plug a european to USB charger, but we never pay extra for electric hookup, only using it where included in the campsite price. For finding campsites in France we have a "Guide Officiel Camping Caravaning" which lists every site, though sometimes we need to check online for opening dates.

    Monday 15th May – Day 18

    St Didier to Parcieux

    Fine weather again! D roads south towards Lyon. Roads getting increasingly busy. Stop for shopping, then decide on an early finish as we do not want to be in the city at the end of the day. Find Camping De l'Ecluse at Parcieux for the night. 38Km, (total 988km).

    Tuesday 16th May – Day 19

    Parcieux to Condrieu

    Hot and sunny. Took the D roads into Lyon, increasingly busy, some bits of cyclepath, then lots of busy roads. Straight through Lyon following first the river Saone then the Rhone.
    Just south of Lyon picked up the Via Rhona cycleway which we followed to the campsite at Condrieu.
    Our 74km today takes us over the 1000km mark, at 1062km

    Wednesday 17th May – Day 2

    Condrieu to Tain

    Very hot and sunny as we followed the Via Rhona southwards, but with a strong headwind. We crossed to the east bank from Tournon to Tain where we stopped for a beer in the warm sunshine, then to Camping Municipal (where we had stayed last year, and changed route to head for Spain). Better weather this year, warm and sunny. 67Km (total 1129km).
    Thursday 18th May – Day 21

    Tain to Beauchastel

    Followed the cycleroute on the west bank of the Rhone to get past Valence without having to go through the city. Hot and sunny again, but still with a headwind. Had lunch and did shopping at a big supermarket near Valence then carried on south against an ever increasing headwind to Camping Les Voiliers at Beauchastel. This was the worst campsite so far – very dirty facilities, such that we would not use the showers or washing up sinks. 42Km (total 1172km)
    Last edited: 3 Aug 2017
  4. OP

    RobinS Senior Member

    Last year when I bought a Nemo air mattress after my Thermarest Evolite failed it was quite wearing blowing it up, taking 40 breaths! This trip, with both of us having the Nemo mattresses I bought a ridiculously expensive thermarest neoair battery pump, and it was fantastic. It is light, runs on two AAA batteries (I use lithium), pumps the mattresses up quickly, and at this stage of the trip was still on it's first set of batteries.

    Friday 19th May – Day 22

    Beauchastel to Chateauneuf du Rhone

    Start of week four of the trip. There was a huge storm overnight with very heavy rain and strong winds, and as it was still raining in the morning we were slow to emerge. I was cooking in the entrance watching the weather while Janet packed away the sleeping stuff, and I commented that I would be evry angry if the rain didn't stop by 9.30am. She was most impressed when it stopped at 9.25 and started to clear ou nicely – short range weather forecasting is much easier if you can see the sky!

    It was a cool but sunny ride southwards along the Via Rhona, over various bridges, then taking a diversion for 20km into the hills. On returing to the Rhone we took a suspension bridge across, then flat roads against a strong headwind towards Chateauneuf.
    It was here that Janet commented that my back wheel was looking very wobbly! On checking, the rim had broken up around one spoke, which completely loose, and had cracked around another, allowing the rim to buckle. As I have disc brakes they were unaffected.
    We went to the rather nice municipal campsite, and booked in for two nights to give us a chance to get the wheel sorted, and handily there was a supermarket nearby.
    59km (total 1235km)

    Saturday 20th May – Day 23

    Rest/bike fixing day

    After breakfast, using google I found a bike shop in the small town so went to see them. The proprieter looked at the wheel and with a typical gallic shrug suggested I try Decathlon. I was sceptical what a chain store would do, but had nothing to lose, so we cycled the 5km to Decathlon Montelimar. It was a busy Saturday morning, and there were no wheels on the shelves, and it took a while to find a bike mechanic hidden behind the tills. I explained then showed the problem, but no disc compatible 700c wheels in stock (they don't call them 700c in europe by the way). The mechanic asked how long we were staying, as he could get a wheel delivered Monday. When hearing that we were just passing through he came up with another solution – he swiped a rear wheel off a hybrid on the display rack, swapped my components over and fitted it for me – all for less than 100euros. We were back on the road! It was not ideal being a generic 28 spoke wheel, but a lot better than a broken one.

    Back to the campsite and spent the afternoon cleaning and lubing the bikes for the first time on the trip, while Janet washed and dried clothes in the fine sunshine.

    11km (total 1246km).

    Sunday 21st May – Day 24

    Chateauneuf du Rhone to Chateauneuf du Pape

    Fine hot and sunny again, really feeling we are getting into the mediteranean climate, with millions of grape vines alogside the roads. We followed the Via Rhona for a while, initially with a good tailwind for a change, but soon we had to leave it as it peters out down the west side of the Rhone. We kept to the east and followed roads down to Camping L'Art de Vivre near Chateauneuf du Pape, in the famous wine growing area. 76Km (total 1323km).

    Monday 22nd May – Day 25

    Chateauneuf du Pape to Remy St Provence

    Another fine, hot sunny day as we followed quiet roads and cyclepaths towards Avignon. Unfortunately these ran out somewhere in Le Pontet, and we found ourselves racing amongst the heavy traffic on the dual carriageway into Avignon – very fast and adrenalin fueled, but quite stressful!

    We did some of the tourist stuff, visiting the Pont and the Palace des Papes, then had a lunch at an outside table in a square in the town centre. Restaurants were competing for business, and this one got our trade by offering to keep our bikes safely indoors by the kitchen for us!

    After lunch we found a better route out of town to the south and headed for a supermarket at St Remy en Provence, then to Camping Parc de la Bastide. There were 4 campsites here so we had a good choice! 46Km, (total 1368km).
    Last edited: 3 Aug 2017
  5. OP

    RobinS Senior Member

    Tuesday 23rd May – Day 26

    St Remy to Lambesc

    Very hot and sunny as we left St Remy after a visit to the boulangerie for croissants. Initially on quite a busy road, but then we turned off onto small, very quiet roads across the “Chaine des Alpilles”, our first taste of Provencal hills. The road only wen a few hundred metres up over this minature mountain range, but in the very hot temperatures it felt big after all the flat terrain of the Rhone valley.
    At about midday, feeling very hot we came into Salon de Provence, where found a bar with tables next to the moss covered water feature in the town square. We could not resist stopping for a cold beer or three to cool down.
    Setting off later we realised the folly of stopping for beer before lunch, so we just had a very short, but very hot afternoon ride, via a supermarket to Provence Camping at Lambesc.

    54km (total 1420km)

    Wednesday 24th May – Day 27

    Lambesc to Peynier

    The day started hot, 26c by our departure time at 9.30am (we are quicker packing away now, and get earlier when the tent gets hot). A hard uphill to Eyguilles led to a wonderful downhill into Aix en Provence, where we followed bus lanes through the city with no hassle – much easier than looking for devious cycle routes! We were then on quite busy roads for a while until we picked up a cyclerail alongside the D6 that led us most of the way to Camping Devancon at Peynier. By the time we arrived it was 40c, so after pitching we went into the village to find a small bar for a few cold beers.
    A short distance, as it is hard going in this heat! 45Km (total 1463km).

    Thursday 25th May – Day 28

    Peynier to Brignoles

    Hot and sunny from the start, with lots of uphill, with a strong headwind as well. It was our 32nd wedding anniversary so not knowing if there would be a restaurant in the evening we stopped for a leisurely restaurant lunch at St Maximinde Ste Baume. After lunch we carried on to Brignoles, but as it was yet another bank holiday everything was shut. We camped at Camping de Brignoles, but as there was no restaurant on site, and the town seemed a bit of a dump (unlike most Provencal towns) we were glad we had had our meal out at lunchtime.

    45km (total 1508km)

    Friday 26th May – Day 29

    Brignoles to Le Muy

    Week five started very hot. We followed back roads parallel to the A8, occasionally having to use the DN7. There is a scarcity of cycleroutes around here, and if you go on many of the back roads you end taking diversions for miles through the hills. We reached Vidauban where we had our normal picnic lunch and stopped for a cooling beer, then had a very hot (over 40c) last stretch to Le Muy where we camped at Camping Les Cigales. Another shortish 52km (total 1560km) today – it is hard to make much distance after lunch when it is 40c!
  6. OP

    RobinS Senior Member

    If anyone has questions about gear, our route, or places we went please feel free to ask.

    Saturday 27th May – Day 30

    Le Muy to Agay

    Very hot and sunny again. Found some nice back roads between the motorway and the mountains, and made our way past the Rocher de Roquebrune, then we encountered busier roads as we made our way into Frejus. Cycled down to Frejus Plage for our first look at the Mediteranean where we had a picnic lunch.
    IMG_20170527_131057_1CS.jpg After lunch we followed the coast road through St Raphael, which was strangely quiet, then on to Camping Agay Soleil, by the beach in Agay. This was a site where I had stayed with my parents back in 1972, and it was even nicer than I remembered. It was a short 36km (total 1598km) day, so after pitching we could wander along the beach into to town for a cold beer. Here we had the first issue with our tent, with a pole section snapping on the rearmost pole. We made a temporary repair using the supplied pole sleeve, and went to the site restaurant for an evening meal.

    Sunday 28th May – Day 31

    Rest Day

    The campsite was in a lovely situation, by the sea, with village bars and a small supemarket within walking distance so we decided to stay and rest up for a bit. The day was spent washing and drying clothes, and generally cleaning kit. In the afternoon we took a walk for a couple of beers in a beach side bar.

    Monday 29th May – Day 32

    Rest Day

    This was Janet's 50th birthday so we staye put, cleaned bikes and generally rested in the sun. We discovered that a tree on the corner of our emplacement had delicious berries on it. I hve no idea what they were, but the campsite owner assurred us that they were very good for you! Our tent suffered another breakage – the temporary pole sleeve snapped this time, leavinga large tear in the fabric of the pole sleeve itself. We effected a temporary repair but it was not looking good.
    To celebrate Janet's birhday we had another restaurant meal in the evening.

    Tuesday 30th May – Day 33

    Agay to Villeneuve de Loube

    Another fine sunny day as we left Agay along the Corniche D'Or, a hilly and very scenic stretch of coast. This led us into La Napoule, then Cannes, where we diverted inland to visit Decathlon. We were able to buy an alloy pole kit, and some tent repair tape, as well as stocking up on gas. Back to the coast and Cannes sea front, then Juan les Pins and Antibes before stopping to camp at Camping de l'Hippodrome at Villeneuve de Loube.
    IMG_20170530_135244_1CS.jpg Using our bits from Decathlon we were to effect a better tent repair, and while Janet sorted our beds I nipped out to a neaby Supemarket for supplies.
    56km (total 1654km)

    Wednesday 31st May – Day 34

    Villeneuve to Ventimiglia

    It was my 57th birthday, but no rest day for me. We cycled back to the coast and followed roads then a cyclepath into Nice. There was a cyclepath along the Promenade des Anglais, but most of it was closed for works, as after last years terrorist attack they are installing thousands of steel bollards to prevent vehicles getting amongst the pedestrians. We were able to cycle along the promenade, but it was slow through all the pedestrians. Ot of Nice we followed the coast road on to Monaco and Monte Carlo. We didn't see much as the road goes through tunnels most of the way through – I am sure there must be better cycling route but we didn't find it! We carried on along busy roads through Menton, then the Italian Border towards Ventimiglia where we stopped for a celebratory beer before finding Camping Por la Mar. 53km (total 1708km)
    This is the only campsite we have stayed at which is fully carpeted!
  7. OP

    RobinS Senior Member

    A note about campsites: In France we could locate sites using our guidebook. They are generally pretty decent, and we paid between 8 and 18 euros per night for the two of us (though bear in mind these are low season prices, along the coast they are much more expensive from mid-July until the end of August). One thing to bear in mind though, is that even the smartest do not provide toilet paper - in France you take your own. Once we got to Italy we located campsites via Google Maps on our smartphones - fortunately there was plenty of solar power to keep them charged. Here they much more expensive, from 18 to 35 euros a night, and in the "Italian" part of Italy standards varied from adequate to atrocious!

    Thursday 1st June – Day 35

    Ventimiglia to Imperia

    Busy coast road east from Ventimiglia, tried to avoid the traffic by going along the promenade, but got stuck in a market that extended for about a mile! Soon came across a very good cyclepath along a disused railway which took us into San Remo. Stopped for a pizza for lunch.
    Carried on along the cyclepath including through a long tunnel. This caused some consternation when one section had no lights, and because of bends in the tunnel was pitch black! Eventually the cyclepath finished and dumped back onto the narrow, very busy coast road for the last few kilometres into Imperia where we camped for the night.

    Friday 2nd June – Day 36

    Imperia to Pietra di Ligure

    Start of week 6. Back on the coast road again. Hot, very humid and very busy. Really not enjoying this road, as through every town it is lined with parked cars, and out of time you squeezed between the traffic and 4ft high armco barriers – not even any laybys with viewpoints. In the town where there is a promenade you cant even see the sea because of high fences blocking off private pay to access beaches. One nice thing is though, Paninis for lunch are easily available everywhere, meaning we do not need to cary picnic stuff, which is useful as the heat means we cannot carry butter, and meat, cheese etc go off very quickly. At Pietra di Lugure we find a campsite up a very steep hill. It is absolutely packed, and they squeeze us in on a patch of gravel! Apparently it is an Italian bank holiday weekend hence the crowds, and you would not believe the amount of noise Italians on holiday make!

    52km (total 1805km) today – the heat is still making longer distances hard!

    Saturday 3rd June – Day 37

    Pietra di Ligure to Genova

    More of the same along the coast road, except even busier and more crowded! It is hot, but the main feature of the weather is the very high humidity, all our cycle clothing feels continuaully damp from sweat, and never really dries fully because of the salt. We try a campsite up a very steep hill from the coast, but are turned away, along with three female French cyclists, as it is full. Carry on along the coast, next site is also full, so we continue on into Genova. Once we find it, again up a very big hill we check in to last free emplacement!

    70km (total 1874km)

    Sunday 4th June – Day 38

    Genova to Rapallo

    The first 25km today were just cycling through Genova, as it squashed between the sea and the mountains it is 30km long along the coast, while only about 2 km wide! We followed the coast road with the same busy traffic to Camogli, where it goes inland over a mountian ridge. We were able to take back roads here to climb to 400m altitude, then a 10km descent to a campsite just outside Rapallo. Fortunately all the bank holiday weekenders have gone home now.
    48km (total 1923km)

    Monday 5th June – Day 39

    Rapallo to Sestri Levante

    Still the very busy coast road, hot and humid, and very hilly, big climbs then very fast descents, but not at all enjoyable amongst all the traffic. At Sestri we stop for a beer and discuss our options. We are not enjoying this Ligurian coast at all, it is hot and humid, the road is narrow and has a lot of traffic, the campsite are pretty shabby and expensive, and there are not even many good food shops! We had vague plans of cycling on down the coast to Tuscany and beyond, but decide instead instead to head inland, over the mountains to the Po valley and thence to Lake Garda. Looking at our last map which we have almost reached the edge of we decide to camp here, and take the road inland in the morning. We find a campsite uphill, just outside of town.
    30km (total 1953km)

    Tuesday 6th June – Day 40

    Sestri Levante to Borgo Val di Taro

    Hot and humid again as we head inland, steadily climbing up through villages, some level sections then more climbing. At about 600m we cycle through a tunnel into a green valley the other side, a short level section leads to the village of Varese Ligure where we buy some food for lunch 5 minutes before they close. It is much cooler up here, just as well, as from Varese it is a solid 10km steep uphill to the top at Passo Cento Croci – 1042m climb, in 42km from the coast.
    It is cold, damp, cloudy and windy at the top – Janet has her arm warmers on for the first time in several weeks! A fantastic, if chilly descent down the other side leads us in 20km to Borgo Val di Taro. It is an attractive town, and we soon find un unprepossessing campsite near the centre. We are the only tent amongst a couple of dozen somewhat shabby permanent caravans, nearly all unoccupied. Here on the north side of the hills the weather is clear, sunny, breezy and about 20c – a nice change after the coastal humidity.
    62km (total 2016km)

    Wednesday 7th June – Day 41

    The campsite may look shabby, but it is peaceful, the facilities are basic but spotlessly clean, and it is handy for the town, so we decide to have a rest day. It is spent washing, cleaning bikes, and trying to repair my air mattress. My valve keeps coming apart, and does not operate smoothly, and in trying to use it has trapped and punctured the mattress. I manage to get a patch to stick, so hopefully will not have to reinflate it during the night!
    In the afternoon we wander into town for a beer – and in Italy it seems that if you buy a large beer they customarily provide lots of free snacks! We also try to buy a new map, as we have reached the edge of our last one. We have been looking for a decent one for days now with no success, and here we have to settle for a 1:600,000 scale map of the whole of Italy!
  8. OP

    RobinS Senior Member

    Thursday 8th June – Day 42

    Borgo to Parma

    Our new map only shows main and regional roads so we have to follow the major route gently downhill, some level stretches, and several short tunnels. The road, while reasonably busy, is quite wide, so that coupled with the fact that traffic never seems as bad when you are going downhill makes for a not too bad run. We did encounter a few stretches of cyclepath as well, but in Italy so far these are really badly signposted, so not as useful as they might be. Unfortunately the nearest campsite to our route is 30km off route up in hills so we decide to resort a hotel.
    The Holiday Inn Express claims it is cycle friendly so we head there. 63 euros for a double room with breakfast is not too bad, our our bikes take pride of place in a secure underground carpark. After making use of the luxurious en-suite shower we take a walk into the outskirts of Parma for a beer, and again get a substantial selection of snacks with it!
    Back to the hotel for dinner, and a very comfortable night.
    70km (total 2086km)

    Friday 9th June – Day 43

    Parma to Mantova

    Week 7 starts with a fine breakfast at the hotel, and without a tent to pack away we are back on the road by 9am. We are heading for Mantova, but our terrible map it is difficult to tell which roads will have least traffic. We leave town on minor roads, but soon end up on a narrow but very busy road with lines of heavy trucks in both directions. There is no room for the trucks to give us any space and it is nerve wracking riding with trucks passing inches away, so at the first oportunity we turn off on to more minor roads. This provides pleasant riding for a while, but as none of them are marked on our map navigation is difficult andI think we cycled 20km to get 5km closer to our destination. Near the river Po we again end up on a very busy road, so we turn off again crossing the river before finding a cafe for a Panini for lunch at Dosolo. Heading onwards the road becomes much quieter, and we go through a section with a 2.2m width restriction, so no more trucks. A very pleasant ride leads towards a bridge over the river Oglio – unfortunately the bridge is down so we cannot get across! A 20km diversion leads us back onto the original very busy road. We are getting fed up with this now, so just get on with it and get to Mantova as quickly as possible. In Mantova we stock up at a supermarket then find a rather derelict farm campsite for the night.
    All the diversions made what should have been about 70km into a 99km day (total2186km)

    Saturday 10th June – Day 44

    Mantova to Torre (Lake Garda)

    At the campsite there were some brochures describing some circular cycle routes between us and Lake Garda, and while they not of use to to us they hinted at a cyclepath from Mantova to Peschiera del Garda, so in the morning we set off in search of it. After a few miles we found it, and followed the offroad, well surfaced route along the Mincio valley to Peschiera.
    Being a Saturday it was quite busy with lots of cyclists, including families, trailers and alsorts. Peschiera is an old fortified town on the south shore of Lake Garda and we stopped for while to look at the tourist sights and have some lunch. Our plan was to head to Arco, just north of the northern tip of the lake, too far for today so as there are loads of campsites round here we decided to head to Bardolino to camp. The road is initially busy, passing theme parks and suchlike, but then it has a weight limit so no trucks and quite a nice ride. We stop for a pleasant beer by the lake, then head into Bardolino to camp.
    Unfortunately the first site we try is full, as is the second, and the third! Apparently there is an international Triathlon on, so everything is full! Onwards then in 36c heat for another 10km or so until we find a site with some space at Torre. From Lake Garda northwards there is a strong Austrian influence, with signage etc in german as well as italian, and fortunately they take an austrian approach to campsites, so while still expensive standards are much higher.
    64km (total 2250km)

    Sunday 11th June – Day 45

    Torre to Arco

    Glorious sunshine, and hot, hot,hot. We follow the lakeshore road northwards towards Torbole at the end of the lake through tunnels where the mountains come right down to the lake, taking advantage of the southerly wind that springs up in hot weather every day. We stop for lunch at a lakeside restaurant, then find a cyclepath that leads us to Arco. We have been to Arco before on climbing holidays, and know it is a place we love, hence making it our target when we had difficult times on the coast. We go straight to Camping Arco and check in. The site is very busy but they give us a nice emplacement amongst dozens of german tents and camper vans. Almost everyone here has bikes and climbing gear and we feel very much at home. We discover the reason it is so busy is that it is the Bavarian half term week. After pitching our tent we head off into town for a large beer, and a pizza in a very nice courtyard restaurant.
    43km (total 2293km)

    Monday 12th June – Day 46

    Rest day

    A day for relaxing, cleaning bikes, washing etc and chatting to our neighbours. The Bavarians on holiday are very friendly, and we were inundated with offer of cups of tea or coffee. We seemed to become something of celebrities on the site as these outdoorsy people were so impressed that we had cycled over 2000km from the UK.

    Tuesday 13th June – Day 47

    Rest day

    Another day off cycling, but not so restful. We rented harnesses, helmets and via ferrata kit and ascended the Colodri via ferrata just outside the campsite.
    From the top it was a 4 minute walk into Arco where we had a large beer while sheltering from a traditional Arco afternoon thunderstorm.

    Wednesday 14th June – Day 48

    Rest day

    Another day of resting, cleaning all our kit, replacing brake pads ready for the mountains and generally checking everything is fit for the next stage.
    Last edited: 2 Aug 2017
  9. OP

    RobinS Senior Member

    Thursday 15th June – Day 49

    Arco to Lago di Terlago

    After saying goodbye to all the Bavarians on the site who had been friendly to us we were soon on the road (or rather cyclepath) heading northwards. We had bought a new map at a decent scale that would see to, and through Austria, but unfortunately it not mark cyclepaths, so we could work out a rough route, but rely on signposting on cyclepaths when we found them.
    We followed a good cyclepath through Dro, past some very scenic lakes and on to Vezzano, uphill all the way. From Vezzano it got very steep, on cyclepaths, with a fair bit of walking required. As we were approaching an altitude of 500m we looked out for a cyclepath to Lago di Terlago where we planned to camp. We saw a sign and followed an unsurface trail, which unfortunately turned out to be an MTB trail! After a few miles of difficult hilly riding we managed to regain the tarmac for a ride downhill through Terlago to the campsite by the lake. There had been no shops at all during the afternoon so we dined on pizza at the onsite restaurant. It had been very hot all day, when we checked out of the campsite we were warned of forecasts for temperatures of 40c, and in that heat an “all day uphill” was hard going, hence only covering 37km (total 2332km).

    Friday 16th June – Day 50

    Terlago to Ora/Auer

    Start of week 8! Hot from early morning. Friendly german on the site brought a a large glass of fruitjuice each over as we prepared breakfast, saying we would need the vitamins!
    A short uphill cyclepath led to the main road to Trento, which was 5km away, downhill. Unfortunately bikes were not allowed through the tunnels so we were directed up another road, and the uphill went on forever! 20Km after starting we finally reached the top at over 800m. It was here that Janet asked what was up with my rear tyre? On inspection I discovered that the rubber on the shoulders had completely worn away, and I was running on the greenguard puncture protection layer! The Scwalbe Marathon Greenguards were on their second tour, and had done around 7000km.
    With no rubber on the tyre I took it very easy on the steep 750m descent down hairpin bends to Trento. On checking again at the bottom we discovered that Janet's rear tyre was almost as bad as mine. At the bottom we joined the Adige valley cyclepath, part of the Via Claudia Augusta, very gently uphill, heading northwards towards the alps, until we found a vey nice campsite attached to hotel at Ora (Auer in German). Still very hot, over 35c.

    Saturday 17th June – Day 51

    Ora to Merano

    In yet more very hot weather we followed the cyclepath uphill to Bolzano, where we ventured into the city to buy new tyres, an unbranded tyre for mine, and a slightly narrower Vittoria Randonneur for Janet. Bolzano was an incredibly cycle friendly city, with traffic free cyclepaths everywhere, and even huge bike parks outside shopping centres.
    Profile of the cycleroute - unfortunately we were going right to left!

    We then headed back to the south end of Bolzano, and took the cyclepath up to Merano, steadily uphill all the way, very hot, and with an increasing headwind, where we camped at the City Camping.
    52km, total 2451km.

    Sunday 18th June – Day 52

    Merano to Goldrain

    The Via Claudia Augusta cyclepath led on up the valley, almost all offroad, wide and well surfaced. We were soon on a very steep section requiring some walking. There were lots of cyclist descending but very few going our way! It was very hot, and uphill all the way so we had a short day, stopping at a very nice campsite at Goldrain. We were still in Italy, but it is german speaking here, and campsite facilities are generally of a very high standard.
    33km total 2484km

    Monday 19th June – Day 53

    Goldrain to St Valentin am der Haide

    Still on the fantastic cycle path, and still very hot. Genty uphill for a while, then a very steep section before it was more gentle into Gurdens where we had lunch at roadside caravan snack bar. After lunch it was very, and we had a very steep uphill (19%) to lake. A pleasant ride along the lakeshore took us to a campsite at St Valentin, at an altitude of 1400m.
    42km, total 2528km.

    Tuesday 20th June – Day 54

    St Valentin to Prutz

    Last day of uphill for a while! Another hot sunny day. The cyclepath led uphill steeply to Reschensee (lake) then a pleasant few kilometres to the far end. From here a short uphill led to the top of the ReschePass, at an altitude of 1504m. In the last 165km from Trento 155 of it had been uphill, taking us 4 days! After a gentle downhill we reached the Austrian border, and followed the cycle route along quiet roads into Nauders.
    We lost the cycleroute here so followed the main road downhill at high speed through tunnels and round hairpins to Pfunds. From here we rejoined the cycle route which we followed down to the very nice “Activ Camping” at Prutz.
    49km, total 2577km.

    Wednesday 21st June – Day 55

    After the big uphill we felt we deserved a rest day, got our washing done and checked over the bikes. It was still very hot and sunny.
  10. OP

    RobinS Senior Member

    Thursday 22nd June – Day 56

    Prutz to Pettneu an Arlberg

    Still very hot and sunny. Downhill on the Via Augusta cycleroute to Landeck, but leave it here to head west towards the Arlberg. As there is a motorway along the valley the normal road was nice and quiet to start with as we steadily climbed up the valley, then in the afternoon it suddenly got busy with heavy traffic, and we realised the motorway was closed and all the traffic heading west was on “our road”. There seemed to be lots of minor roads and farm tracks crisscrossing the valley bottom so we took to these for while.
    It was still very hot on the uphill, over 30c, so we were pleased enough to stop quite early at a nice campsite at Pettneu am Arlberg, again at an altitude of over 1200m. After wandering into town for few beers we went to back to the campsite where they made pizzas specially for just us at the ad-hoc site restaurant. We also learned that there were more issues with motorway further along our route, as the Arlberg Tunnel, which takes the moterway is closed for the whole summer, and the motorway traffic, including the heavy trucks is diverted over the Arlberg pass – our planned route. Because of the heavy traffic bicycles have been banned from cycling up the pass, but a bicycle taxi has been laid on.
    35km, total 2612km

    Friday 23rd June – Day 57

    Pettneu to Bludenz

    Start of week 9! A noisy thunderstorm overnight, but it didn't actually rain much, and was bone dry by morning. According to the website the bicyle taxi ran hourly on the half hour, but you had to phone to make a resevation, as if no-one was booked they wouldn't run. We left in good time to follow the back roads and reached the pickup point at Nasserien just after 10am, in good time for the 10.30 taxi we thought. I phoned the number indicated, and five minutes later a VW tranporter turned up just for us! We loaded our panniers and bikes and bikes in the back and were soon off through St Anton and up the steep road to be dropped at the top of the Arlberg pass at 1806m. There was an almost solid queue of heavy traffic up the pass, so we were rather glad not to have cycle it!
    While cycling the uphill was banned, cycling the downhill was the only way to proceed, so we ventured out into the heavy traffic and started down the steep downhill, complete with lots hairpin bends. The traffic was not a problem, as with a hevy lorry behind us fast traffic couldn't get past him, and we could easily outpace trucks on the fast downhill run to Stuben. I was rather glad that I had put new brake pads in though. After Stuben the downhill continued on a mix of small road and cycle trails, some surfaced, and some a bit loose. We stopped on the edge of Bludenz for a late lunch, then as it was still very hot went to the supermarket for supplies and to a campsite. This was the poorest campsite we had in Austria with very dated facilities, and lots of flies as it was on a farm with lots of livestock.

    Saturday 24th June – Day 58

    Bludenz to St Margaretten

    From Bludenz we followed cycleroute No.1 down by the river Ill to Feldkirch, then onwards to the bank of the Rhine which we followed downstream to Lustenau. We did some shopping here before crossing the Rhine into Switzerland and following the EV15 Rhine cycleroute to the campsite at St. Margaretten. It was still very hot, but not overly sunny. The site facilities were very good, but it felt odd, as the patch of grass we were allocated was on the edge of the play area!
    63km, total 2719km.

    Sunday 25th June – Day 59

    St Margaretten to Umwitt

    It was raining in the morning, so we had a delayed start, until 10.30 when the rain stopped. We had reached to edge of the map purchased in Arco, and had not yet been able to find the next one, so we followed cycleroute signs that led us back into Austria and around a tour of the Rhine delta and along the Bodensee (Lake Constance). Just before crossing we stopped far a final Austrian restaurant lunch, as eating in Austria is vastly cheaper than Switzerland. After crossing back into Switzerland we followed the cycleroute along the south shore of the Bodensee to a campsite at Umwitt. Again it was a very nice site, apart from the fact that we were allocated a space in what seemed to be the playing field by the lakeshore! The after got out very hot and sunny again.
    47km, total 2766km

    Monday 26th June – Day 60

    Umwitt to Stein am Rhein

    I was not really comfortable cycling blind with no map, but fortunately it was simple following the cycleroute along shore of the Bodensee (and in emergency we had our smartphones). Reaching the edge of Konstanz the route skirts along the german border on the Swiss side. Because of the huge disparities in prices we decided to cross into Germany to find a supermarket to buy supplies for lunch and dinner. Luckily across the road from the supermarket with a huge selection of maps and guidebooks and I was able to buy volumes 1 and 2 of the Bikeline guides to the Rhine Radweg, so we knew where we were going again! The Bikeline guides, while being in German, have such good maps that they are all you need to navigate. Additionally they describe the route along both banks of the Rhine. We returned to Switzerland and foolowed the south shore of the Untersee/Rheinsee, then along to cross to the north bank of the Rhine at Stein am Rhein. Despite being on the german bank, this area is still in Switzerland. The campsite was very poor, and as the Migros supermarket in Stein did not sell alcohol I cycled a kilometre into Germany to an Aldi to buy some beer to go with our dinner. It was very hot yet again.
    48km, total 2185km
  11. OP

    RobinS Senior Member

    Tuesday 27th June – Day 61

    Stein am Rhein to Hohentengen am Hochrhein

    Some rain overnight again, but dry by morning. We were glad to get away from this dismal campsite. We followed the cycleroute along the right bank of the Rhine, hilly at times, through forests and farmland. Despite being on the German side of the river there are chunks of Switzerland on the wrong side of the river all along this section, so crossed the border between the two countries several times today. We started in Switzerland, crossed in to Germany, then back into Switzerland. Bought lunch in a supermarket in Schaffhausen, which we took with us to Rhienfalls to eat within sight of the impressive waterfall.

    We continued on the right bank route, which climbed out of the river valley and over some hills back into Germany, back into Switzerland again, then finally back into Germany where we bought supplies befoe he campsite at Hohentengen. This was a really nice site, with the tent field on the edge of the site right by the river.
    48km, total 286km.

    Wednesday 28th June – Day 62

    Rest Day

    Heavy rain overnight, but dry by morning again. Janet was suffering from a stomach bug and not feeling too well, so as the site was so pleasant we decided to stay for a rest day. There was a washing machine which we made use of , and fine breezy sunshine got everything nice and dry.

    Thursday 29th June – Day 63

    Hohentengen to Schworstadt

    Yet again there was rain overnight, but dry by morning. A very pleasant ride following the Rhine downstream through towns and villages. Weather was cooler and showers were about, but the nearest we came to getting wet was sheltering for 5 minutes as one shower went through. Not many campsites in this area. The Bikeline guide had a camping symbol at Schworstadt, and Google listed a campsite at a different location in the same village so we searched both locations, but to no avail! We even found a website for the campsite which gave an address, but on going there all we found was “Private Keep Out” signs! Wondering where we could find the next site, cycling back through the village for the third time we were suddenly hailed by a Dutch woman who had been on the same site as us at Hohentengen, she had discovered that the camping was at “WSV KanoeVerien” - the canoe club. There was a lovely area of grass by the river, a marquee with tables and benches, and we were given a code to access the toilets and showers – and it was cheaer than normal campsites. It was also handily placed for an Aldi where we could by food and a few beers.
    70km, total 2933km

    Friday 30th June – Day 64

    Schworstadt to Bad Bellingen

    The first day of week 10, still fine and sunny, and not too hot. We continued following the Rhine on the right bank, first in Germany, then into Switzerland for while through Basel, along the river bank all the way through. Onwards the route follows the river as it turns northwards, leaving Switzerland for the last time, back into Germany and a very nice campsite at Bad Bellingen.
    61km, total 2994km.

    Saturday 1st July – Day 65

    Bad Bellingen to Neuf Brisach

    Leaving the campsite we returned to the river and followed a mainly unsurfaced cycleroute through miles of forest. There were several substantial diversions where work was being carried out on the floodbanks, but we made it to Breisach for lunch. It was windy, cloudy and cool – 19c felt freezing after weeks of hot weather, and rain was threatening. As camping is cheaper in France we crossed the Rhine and the border to Neuf Brisach where we did shopping and found a very nice cycle-friendly campsite. There was a an area of the site with just seperate small emplacements for cyclist, with a gazebo, tables and chairs for cyclists use only.
    51km, total 3043km
  12. OP

    RobinS Senior Member

    Eating: We like to eat well on tour, usually starting the day with bacon and eggs, or a lardon and mushroom omelette, with Janet drinking tea and I coffee. As it is impractical to have milk it is lucky that Janet drinks tea black. I like milky coffee, so use Nescafe 3 in 1 sachets which are intermittently available across Europe - where I can't get them I buy cappuccino sachets. Where we can we buy pastries for elevenses, easy in France, difficult in Italy, and easy again in Germany, though the French boulangeries are best. Most of the time we had picnic lunches, bread / cheese / salami / tomato etc. In hot weather we did have to resort to squeezy mayo instead of butter. For evening meals we most commonly had meat and salad, sausages, chops etc. are all easy to cook. We did have potatoes where we could buy small quantities, and leftovers fry up for breakfast. Sundays and bank holidays we would have pasta and sauce, with tuna or suchlike. Overall we ate well, and cooked for ourselves the large majority of the time. For cooking we had two gas stoves which take the coleman type canisters, but I have adaptors so I can also use Camping Gaz clickfit, and piercable canister if needed. Gas is easily obtainable in France at Decathlon and many supermarkets. In all the other countries we only found it in campsite shops, and only Camping Gaz.

    Sunday 2nd July – Day 66

    Neuf Brisach to Strasbourg

    Rain overnight again, but today it was still damp and dismal in the morning. We followed the cycleroute along the French side today, first on quiet lanes, then the towpath along the Rhine-Rhone canal, unpaved at first, then a lovely smooth tarmac surface as we moved into a diferent region of France. Weather got out fine, a sunny 22c, but then as we came into Strasbourg it clouded over and rain threatened. It took us a while to find the city campsite, and when we got there it was very busy, as well as being expensive (for France). As it was Sunday we had not been able to buy fresh food, and it was coming on to rain so we had a pizza in the site restaurant for our dinner.
    77km, total 3121km.

    Monday 3rd July – Day 67

    Strasbourg to Lauterbourg

    A fine morning. We followed cyclepaths out of the city, then trails through a forest for a while, before coming out onto farmland and cyclepaths alongside roads for most of the day. Eventually we were back on trails near the Rhine, which led us to Lauterbourg, a supermarket, and a campsite by a lake – our last chance for cheaper camping in France. Warm and sunny again with temperatures in the high twenties.
    77km, total 3198km.

    Tuesday 4th July – Day 68

    Lauterbourg to Philipsburg

    Went into Lauterbourg for the boulangerie in the morning, then back to the river to follow the left bank route into Germany again, onwards through forests, back to the riverside into Germershiem where we stopped for a beer. Across a rhine bridge to Philipsburg for a supermarket and camping. A warm 28c and mainly sunny.
    66km, total 3264km.

    Wednesday 5th July – Day 69

    Philipsburg to Worms

    Fine and sunny again. A very pleasant ride along cyclepaths though farmland, then we came to the outskirts of Mannhiem where things went badly downhill. Miles of shabby built up areas, poor signposting, and difficult routefinding led us eventually to a bridge which we used to cross to the left bank at Ludwigshafen. A much better cycleroute here led us past the BASF factory for 8km, then back into countryside. Just before Worms we stopped at a nice little bar, accessible only from the cyclepath, for a very pleasant beer.
    Entering Worms we had to search out the “Kanu-Verien”, as the camping was again at the canoe club by the river. Very hot day again.
    79km, total 3243km.

    Thursday 6th July – Day 70

    Worms to Mainz

    Hot and sunny again. The trail led out through industrial areas, then into farmland and back to the river. There was a diversion which took us a long way inland and added 12km to the distance which was frustrating in very hot weather. Eventually we came into Mainz where we found a bookshop, as it was then of our first 2 volumes of the guidebooks. Bikeline Rhien-Radweg 4 was purchased, but volume 3 was apparently out of print, but they did supply a Kompass gide to the missing bit which was very similar. After a pleasant beer
    IMG_20170706_151310_2CS.jpg we crossed to the east bank, did some shopping as rain started, and went to the campsite. It was a rainy evening so we ate out for a change.
    73km, total 3416km

    Friday 7th July – Day 71

    Mainz to Trechtingshausen

    Start of week 11. Huge storms overnight, but it dried out by morning. We followed a pleasant cyclepath along the right bank which led us to Rudesheim, where we took a ferry across to Bingen.
    We did some shopping here, then carried on along the left bank. This is the start of the “Romantic Rhine” section, where the river is squezed between steep hills, with many attractive villages, and castles dominating the river. We stopped at a riverside campsite at Trechtingshausen, coincidentally one where we had stayed on a car trip many years before. It was an early stop and we were able to utilise the site washing machine to clean clothes and get them dry before evening. While clothes were drying we could also enjoy a beer in the site bar.
    44km, total 3460km.
  13. OP

    RobinS Senior Member

    Saturday 8th July – Day 72

    Trechtingshausen to Koblenz

    Another hot day. Good cycle trail northwards on the left bank. Some cobbled stretches and some bits along the road. Still on the very scenic section of the Rhine. Through St Goar, and into Koblenz. Stop for a very welcome beer, then on to “Deutche Eck” where there is a huge monument where the Rhine and Moselle rivers meet.
    Across the Moselle to a supermarket, and the campsite directly acroos the Moselle from the Monument. Saturday night so very busy on the site.
    65km, total 3525km.

    Sunday 9th July – Day 73

    Koblenz to Remagen-Rolandsworth

    A good cycle trail leads downriver on the left bank. The scenery is becoming flatter, without the dramatic cliffs crags and castles of the earlier section. Not wanting to be in a big city at rush hour we stop early to leave Bonn for the next day. The campsite has a Biergarten adjacent, so we spend a pleasant Sunday afternoon drinking beer in the company of dozens of germans. Still very hot.

    Monday 10th July – Day 74

    Rolandsworth to Rheinkassel (just north of Koln)

    Heavy rain overnight, and still damp and dismal in the morning. Pack away the gear wet and head northwards to Bonn. We had observed that Janet's rear tyre, a Vittoria Randonneur we had bought in Bolzano had worn out, with the puncture protection layer showing through, so a bike shop was a high priority.
    We soon found “Velocity Bikes”, a fantastic bike shop with an amazing selection of unconventional bikes where we bought a Schwalbe Marathon Tour Plus. Incredibly the Vittoria had only lasted 1100km! We carried on northwards, taking another ferry across the Rhine to the right bank whee we carried on through Koln. Across a bridge back to the left side and on to the campsite. Still cloudy and breezy at 24c.
    69km, total 3648km.

    Tuesday 11th July – Day 75

    Rheinkassel to Meersbusch

    Cooler and windy today. We followed the cycleroute on the left bank, before crossing over on a motorway bridge (with cycletrack!). We then cycled through Dusseldorf along the right bank.
    Stopped for a beer, the supermarket, then took another ferry back to the left bank and a campsite. The site had a Beach Bar, complete with sand, where we had a couple of beers, and also a room with tables and chairs, sink, two burner hob, fridge and cabinet full of charging points, just for cycle tourers to use – a great facility!
    54km, total 3702km

    Wednesday 12th July – Day 76

    Meersbusch to Orsoy

    Very wet with heavy rain that showed no sign of stopping. Luckily we were able to have breakfast in the luxury lounge, but had to pack everything away very wet. In torrential rain we cycled northwards. Along this stretch there was quite a bit of unsurfaced trail, which in the heavy rain was very soft and hard going. I got a puncture in my rear tyre, then another, then another. Patching in torrential rain was not fun, and I discovered that the tyre I had bought in Italy was paper thin! We were starting to get a bit hyperthermic so we stopped at a restaurant for a hot lunch and to consider our options.The next campsite was over 30km away, and I was getting a puncture about every 5km – and the nearest bike shop was closed wednesdays so I couldn't buy a new tyre today. We decided to resort to a hotel for the night, so after a further 8km, and one more puncture we checked in to a very chic Landhotel. The hot shower was most welcome, and as it didn't have a restaurant the owner gave us a lift to a neaby Italian restaurant where we had an excellent meal.
    42km total 3744km

    Thursday 13th July – Day 77

    Orsoy to Wisselsee

    After a very good breakfast at the hotel we were soon back on the road. The rain had finished, and it was fine and sunny. We followed the road to Rheinberg where we found a very good bike shop, and I bought a new Schwalbe Marathon Plus – no more punctures! We then followed nice cycletrails past Xanten and on to Kalkar where we stopped for a beer in the town square. After a visit to the supermarket we carried on the last few km to a large campsite at Wisselsee, our last in Germany. It had stayed dry all day today.
    64km, total 3809km.
  14. OP

    RobinS Senior Member

    Final Instalment:

    Friday 14th July – Day 78

    Wisslersee to Doorwerth

    Start of week twelve! Roadside cycle paths led us through cool damp weather to the Netherlands border at Millingen, where a bakery heated up some delicious sausage rolls for us.
    We then took a pedestrian/bicycle ferry across the Rhine to the north side.
    Onwards and it was raining seriously now. We reached another ferry, this time across the Nederijn canal to Huisson. It was raining heavily so we stopped at a snack bar for some lunch sheltered from the downpour. The rain continued into the afternoon as we made our way to Arnhem where we crossed the Nederijn into the city. The next stretch was hilly, and the rain was torrential. We found a supermarket for supplies, and eventually the rain stopped as we found a nice farm campsite near Doorwerth.
    64km, total 3873km.

    Saturday 15th July – Day 79

    Doorwerth to Beesd

    The Rhine Delta route here followed a meandering path, with, as far as we could tell no reason for the diversions, so we took our own line, but witout going too far off so stayed on our guidebook maps. We made our way to Wijd and took another ferry across the Nederijn.
    Small roads took us to a bridge over the Amsterdam-Rijn canal and on to Geldermaisen for shopping and a beer then on to a large lakeside campsite at Beesd – as it wasSaturday very busy again. Cloudy but dry all day, but with a stiff headwind.
    65km, total 3837km.

    Sunday 16th July – Day 80

    Beesd to Doordrecht

    Cloudy but dry. We again made our own route alog cyclepaths beside main roads, and some minor roads instead of the devious Rhine route. Another ferry from Gorinchem to Sleeuwijk, then along the Boven Merwede to a ferry across the Nieuwe Merwede to Kop van Hek Land, and on to Doordrecht to camp. After pitching we took our bikes the last few km into Doordrecht centre to have a couple of beers by the river. A music festival was going on so we had live music to drink to.
    57km, total 3994km.

    Monday 17th July – Day 81

    Doordrecht to Hoek van Holland

    Rain overnight, but it was sunny by morning. We cycled back to Doordrecht waterfront where we took the waterbus into Rotterdam. This hour long boat ride saved us 30km of riding around the suburbs of Rotterdam, and delivered us direct to Erasmus Bridge.
    We then followed the cycleroute out through Maasluis, where we lost the route in some roadworks. We were taken in hand by a local man on a tandem who had a refugee child on the back. He was volunteering for a charity, helping to integrate refugee children into dutch society, teaching them dutch, how to ride a bike, and to swim. As aprt of this he was taking the boy on his tandem to the beach for a swim, and showed us the way back to the riverside cyclepath on his way. We stopped in the town for a beer, then cycled to the beach and the finish of the Rhine cycleroute.
    We went to a beachside restaurant and had a nice meal before making our way to the ferry terminal and boarded Stena Brittanica for the overnight crossing. A couple of beers on board, then retired to a comfortable cabin for the night.
    48km, total 4042km.

    Tuesday 18th July – Day 82

    Harwich to home

    By the time we got up he ferry had already docked at Parkeston Quay in Harwich. At 7am we disembarked. As our daughter had both our car, and our house keys getting them back had be planned round her work and children. It was arranged that she would come to pick us up after dropping the chldren at school, Felixtowe was more convenient than Harwich so we would need to take the foot ferry across. We cycled into Harwich itself looking for a cafe for breakfast, but there was absolutely nothing. We then cycled back towards Parkeston where ther was a Morrisons, where we had a full english breakfast. Back to the Ha'Penny Pier for the first 9am ferry. This is a small boat, and involves unloading bikes to lift them on board. Unfortunately at the Felixstowe end the ferry lands on the beach, 150 mtres from the nearest hard surface, making it hard work with lots of panniers. Finally on hard standing we had just a 15 minute wait for our daughter to arrive.
    10km, total 4052km.

    Hope you have all enjoyed the story, and if anyone has any questions please ask away!
    fatjel, Pat "5mph", DP and 9 others like this.
  15. Crackle

    Crackle ...

    Excellent write up, enjoyed reading that. I'm most impressed that you did the via ferrata route as well as the cycling.
    Milkfloat likes this.
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