EuroVelo 6 - some noob questions

dimrub

Regular
Hi folks!

Me and my son (currently 16 years old) are undertaking the EuroVelo 6, a week at a time. We've done Ulm to Vienna so far, and are planning either Besancon to Ulm or Vienna to Belgrade next April, most probably. So far we've been mostly staying at hotels and eating out. We're thinking of bringing it up (or down) a notch and making our next trip based more on camping, including cooking our own food, at least some of the time. A further complication is that we're flying in, so transferring our bicycles is a challenge, and we prefer to rent rather than to fly in (last time we rented with BikeBringer in Munich, and it worked like a charm). Hence, a plethora of questions.

  1. I've built a Komoot collection for both segments. Here's Besançon to Ulm and here's Vienna to Belgrade, both built on 7 days of cycling. I'd appreciate your learned opinion on whether the routes - in particular, the per-day distance and vert and the points of staying make sense, or should be tweaked.
  2. Any recommendations regarding either segment will be most welcome, including which is preferable in terms of weather in our chosen month (April).
  3. Our current plan for Besancon to Ulm is to fly into either Basel or Zurich, depending on the flights available, rent with bcyclet.com, then take the bikes with us on a train to Besancon, and at the end of the route return to the same city (either Basel or Zurich), return the bikes, fly back home. Does this make sense, or am I missing a better option?
  4. For Vienna to Belgrade, I frankly don't have a concrete plan of action. Something along the lines of renting the bikes in Vienna then going back from Belgrade on a bus, as there does not appear to be a train? Perhaps for this segment renting doesn't make much sense. Again, any advice is welcome here.
  5. Also for Vienna to Belgrade, the route is split here in two places, going along either side of the Danube, with the choice of Slovakia vs. Hungary, and then Croatia vs. Serbia. What are the considerations in favor of either option?
  6. I've been told by some, that the airlines' steep fees for bicycle transfer can be circumvented if the bicycle is packed in a suitcase and is presented as a regular luggage. This seems doubtful to me, since the dimensions of a bicycle inside a suitcase will be outside of the limits for regular luggage. Has anyone pulled this off successfully, and with which airline?
  7. In terms of cooking, I have a camping stove with a screw on fuel bottle. Naturally, I'll have to buy the fuel locally. Where does one buy such a thing in France? In Austria?
Thanks, glad to be joining this community!
 

mjr

Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next
[*]For Vienna to Belgrade, I frankly don't have a concrete plan of action. Something along the lines of renting the bikes in Vienna then going back from Belgrade on a bus, as there does not appear to be a train?
The direct train is suspended while a high speed line is built (which could easily take decades with Serbian Railways involved), but you can still do it changing with a stopover in Zagreb. See https://www.seat61.com/international-trains/trains-from-Belgrade.htm edit: or you can, once the covid suspension ends.
 
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6.I've been told by some, that the airlines' steep fees for bicycle transfer can be circumvented if the bicycle is packed in a suitcase and is presented as a regular luggage. This seems doubtful to me, since the dimensions of a bicycle inside a suitcase will be outside of the limits for regular luggage. Has anyone pulled this off successfully, and with which airline?
Yes, any "normal" bike will be too big.

You either need a folding bike, or one with those fancy frame joint thingies (which aren't cheap, but can be retro-fitted to almost all bikes).
 
OP
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dimrub

Regular
The direct train is suspended while a high speed line is built (which could easily take decades with Serbian Railways involved), but you can still do it changing with a stopover in Zagreb. See https://www.seat61.com/international-trains/trains-from-Belgrade.htm edit: or you can, once the covid suspension ends.
Thanks, this is good info. The overnight bus seems like an easier proposition, although I do wonder how comfy this bus is. I once traveled by an overnight bus in Chile, and it was comparable to a business class flight.
 

Ming the Merciless

There is no mercy
Location
Inside my skull
Distance , amount of climbing per day are down to personal fitness and preference. How early and how late you are prepared for a day’s cycling to be. Where to stay is a preference taking the former into account. If camping tone it down from the distances you usually manage with hotels.
 
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dimrub

Regular
If camping tone it down from the distances you usually manage with hotels.
That's a good point, which I haven't considered. Do you mean we need some strength kept in reserve to pitch the tent and prepare the meal where otherwise we would have just crushed in a hotel room and went for a dinner out, or are there other considerations at play?

This last trip we did about 73km and 400m climb on our hardest day, riding relatively heavy bikes (if there's one thing I don't intend to spare on in the future it's the quality of the bikes), and we had some more kilometers in us by the end of the day, so I was thinking that 95km/600m days are not out of reach, with some modest training leading up to the trip.
 

mjr

Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next
Thanks, this is good info. The overnight bus seems like an easier proposition, although I do wonder how comfy this bus is. I once traveled by an overnight bus in Chile, and it was comparable to a business class flight.
https://www.srbijatransport.rs/index.php/ponudeitenderi2/pozarevac-beograd-bec makes me think it is run in partnership with Arriva and pictures found in a search makes me think the SRT service is a typical motorway "executive" coach. Not the absolute latest like found on UK and NW Europe routes, but not the 1990s ex-airport smokers providing extra services along the Adriatic coast in summer — and definitely a step up from Greyhound in the USA of about 20 years ago.

The biggest drawbacks I'd expect would be finding out beforehand how much you had to pay for oversize luggage; and getting off the bus to cross non-Schengen borders (which is my experience but I don't know if you always have to and the last time I only crossed outbound by bus, and returned by train on the line being rebuilt, which was a long wait but you remained aboard). On the SRT service, the last crossing seemed a relatively civilised half past midnight into Hungary. The OPTOP service appears to travel through Croatia and so the final border crossing was about 3am, so any sleep would definitely be interrupted!
 
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dimrub

Regular
I've been thinking that perhaps we can fit in a few more days into our next installment. And if we do, it becomes less practical to use any one city as a base for arrival and departure. This, and the fact that we have more riding days, makes bike rental less attractive a proposition as opposed to bringing our own bikes. So a few further questions.

  1. I do have a suitable bike - it's a Canyon Grail, which is a gravel bike, and I have an extra set of wheels for it, with slick road tires. So which shoes do I bring for France, Switzerland, and a bit of Germany? For the part from Ulm to Passau I know what the answer would be - there's a fare bit of unpaved surface there, but maybe the situation in the other parts of EV6 is different?
  2. My son, however, does not have a suitable bike - his Giant MTB can hardly be called suitable. In fact, he insisted on bringing it to our Austrian trip, and it was not a good experience. However, Israel is not a great place to go shopping for a trekking bike, because there's no trekking in Israel. I'm thinking of buying him a bike in France when we get there. Perhaps talking to a particular shop ahead of time to make sure they have several suitable options. Is this a bad idea?
  3. And this brings the issue of getting the bikes shipped back home from Munich (assuming that is where we go from Ulm). I guess we can ask for/buy cardboard boxes from a Munich bikes shop. But what about transferring them to the airport? Will we need a large taxi? How much might it cost?
  4. And finally, previously I'd book all of the accommodations ahead of time. I'm thinking of trying a more flexible approach, given we're likely to have extra days, which can be used for day trips (e.g. to Sarbourg) and rest. How great is the danger of getting stuck without an accommodation if we do not reserve ahead of time, in April?
 
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I've been thinking that perhaps we can fit in a few more days into our next installment. And if we do, it becomes less practical to use any one city as a base for arrival and departure. This, and the fact that we have more riding days, makes bike rental less attractive a proposition as opposed to bringing our own bikes. So a few further questions.

  1. I do have a suitable bike - it's a Canyon Grail, which is a gravel bike, and I have an extra set of wheels for it, with slick road tires. So which shoes do I bring for France, Switzerland, and a bit of Germany? For the part from Ulm to Passau I know what the answer would be - there's a fare bit of unpaved surface there, but maybe the situation in the other parts of EV6 is different?
  2. My son, however, does not have a suitable bike - his Giant MTB can hardly be called suitable. In fact, he insisted on bringing it to our Austrian trip, and it was not a good experience. However, Israel is not a great place to go shopping for a trekking bike, because there's no trekking in Israel. I'm thinking of buying him a bike in France when we get there. Perhaps talking to a particular shop ahead of time to make sure they have several suitable options. Is this a bad idea?
  3. And this brings the issue of getting the bikes shipped back home from Munich (assuming that is where we go from Ulm). I guess we can ask for/buy cardboard boxes from a Munich bikes shop. But what about transferring them to the airport? Will we need a large taxi? How much might it cost?
  4. And finally, previously I'd book all of the accommodations ahead of time. I'm thinking of trying a more flexible approach, given we're likely to have extra days, which can be used for day trips (e.g. to Sarbourg) and rest. How great is the danger of getting stuck without an accommodation if we do not reserve ahead of time, in April?
I'll try to help where I can
1. No idea.

2. What exactly was the problem with the bike? I tour on a basic Trek MTB and have no problems. Changing out the tyres or cassette could make a big difference.

Bikes and components are scarce.
Decathlon may be a good bet as they have lots of stores in Europe. They may be able to help out with a box at the end too.

But you'll have to do your research.

To a certain extent it depends on whether you want to buy a bike that will do the job or the "dream bike".

Alternatively, buy a second hand bike.

3. I'm pretty sure you'll need a van or large taxi. You want to transport two bikes^_^
As for cost, no idea. Google is your friend. Contact taxi companies.
Alternatively, consider riding to the airport and bagging or boxing there. Some airports sell boxes or have a boxing service.
4. In a post Covid world all bets are off.
AirBnB and apps like Booking or Expedia can help as can researching holiday times.
The thing is, if on bikes if there's no room at the inn it may be quite a while before you find one with a room. You can cover 100km in a car in an hour. Not so much on a bike.
If you plan on camping, probably less of an issue. I've never been turned away from a campground (even pitched in the playground of a full campsite) in those parts - but I was solo and it was pre-Covid.

If you think you can get a good bike that will get a lot of use then it may be worthwhile. However, it strikes me as a lot of stress. I wouldn't fancy doing a tour on a brand new bike. I'd suggest doing a mini overnighter to make sure everything is ok before leaving where you bought it. (Not applicable if your mechanic skills are good).

Personally, it would be easier to look at a loop route. Then there is the choice of rental or purchase, presumably a place to store bike box(es) and logistic service that you are familiar with. In that part of the world there are no shortage of bike routes through interesting places. The advantage of a loop route is that if you fall behind schedule there are normally shortcuts to catch back up.

PS the bullet points look really good but they're a PITA to quote^_^

Good luck!
 

cougie uk

Über Member
That's a good point, which I haven't considered. Do you mean we need some strength kept in reserve to pitch the tent and prepare the meal where otherwise we would have just crushed in a hotel room and went for a dinner out, or are there other considerations at play?

This last trip we did about 73km and 400m climb on our hardest day, riding relatively heavy bikes (if there's one thing I don't intend to spare on in the future it's the quality of the bikes), and we had some more kilometers in us by the end of the day, so I was thinking that 95km/600m days are not out of reach, with some modest training leading up to the trip.
If you're carrying the extra weight of camping equipment - it's going to be harder cycling ?

And weather in April can't be guaranteed - you might have awful weather.
 
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dimrub

Regular
Thanks Hobbes!

Some further replies below. Sorry about the bullet points, will try to refrain from using them, if I expect a response :smile:.

2. What exactly was the problem with the bike? I tour on a basic Trek MTB and have no problems. Changing out the tyres or cassette could make a big difference.
His frame is heavy, and the tires are way too wide and knobby. While I can probably switch the tires to somewhat narrower ones, there's nothing I can do with the bulkiness of the frame, and I feel it will weigh on us, what's with the increased mileage. I'm also in favor of switching to a one-by, (his is a three-by) if possible, for simplicity and the reduced weight.

Bikes and components are scarce.
Decathlon may be a good bet as they have lots of stores in Europe. They may be able to help out with a box at the end too.

But you'll have to do your research.

To a certain extent it depends on whether you want to buy a bike that will do the job or the "dream bike".
Yes, that's the rub. I do want this to be a bike that will serve him for some time, both on trips like the one we plan, and back at home. If we do chose the option of buying locally, I plan to write/phone the stores and make sure they at least have a particular model we choose for its specs at his size, but there's still a chance we meet the bike and they end up not becoming fast friends.

4. In a post Covid world all bets are off.
AirBnB and apps like Booking or Expedia can help as can researching holiday times.
The thing is, if on bikes if there's no room at the inn it may be quite a while before you find one with a room. You can cover 100km in a car in an hour. Not so much on a bike.
If you plan on camping, probably less of an issue. I've never been turned away from a campground (even pitched in the playground of a full campsite) in those parts - but I was solo and it was pre-Covid.
Sounds reasonable. Perhaps I'll end up reserving the nights we plan to spend in hotels, and leave to chance the days we plan to camp. This still gives us enough flexibility - I plan the hotel nights for where we want to do some sightseeing, so the locations are fixed anyway.

If you think you can get a good bike that will get a lot of use then it may be worthwhile. However, it strikes me as a lot of stress. I wouldn't fancy doing a tour on a brand new bike. I'd suggest doing a mini overnighter to make sure everything is ok before leaving where you bought it. (Not applicable if your mechanic skills are good).
Well, I can tune my gears, center my brakes and patch/replace a tire, and my son has mastered the skill of righting his brake rotors by the use of a precision tool (i.e., the hammer), so between the too of us, I'm less worried about the shakedown - worst comes to worst, we can hop on a train and go back to the store. But yes, this is a bit of a cat in a sack scenario, for sure. I'm even thinking of ordering him a Canyon by mail (as I did for myself), just for the sake of him getting a bike he's familiar with ahead of time.

Personally, it would be easier to look at a loop route. Then there is the choice of rental or purchase, presumably a place to store bike box(es) and logistic service that you are familiar with. In that part of the world there are no shortage of bike routes through interesting places. The advantage of a loop route is that if you fall behind schedule there are normally shortcuts to catch back up.
Absolutely. Except we got it into our heads that we absolutely want to ride from the Ocean to the Sea.
 
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dimrub

Regular
i would approach it a different way and try and do the several weeks needed in one/two goes (if you can) which reduces the logistics
I'm afraid we can't disappear for that long - my days off are limited, and my son has his matriculation exams to face this year. But yeah, apropos the link you shared, I envy the folks who can gulp the distance from Nantes to Budapest in one go.

If you're carrying the extra weight of camping equipment - it's going to be harder cycling ?
Yes, but not by much - we'll be bringing less clothes, since at camping sites we'll have access to a washer, and also our bikes will be lighter than the rentals.

And weather in April can't be guaranteed - you might have awful weather.
Ouch! That's a bummer. When would you say is the earliest when I can expect reasonable weather?
 
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dimrub

Regular
Change of plans: it appears, some gravel bikes are finally making their way to our backwater, and one in particular caught my eye: a Kona Rove DL. I think it's perfect both for our route, and for the use at home, and I hope my son agrees with me, the only snag is that it's all sold out, we'll have to wait till November to get one. Still leaves plenty of time before our trip.
 
When would you say is the earliest when I can expect reasonable weather?
I had to abort a planned start at the source of the Rhine in late April due to snow. Admittedly, that's pretty high and a bit away from your route.
At lake level the temperature varied from mid 20s C to Zero from one day to the next.
Something like weatherspark.com may help.
You should also consider flooding.
The Danube can flood in the Springtime. That will affect cycle paths, camping and hotels.
 
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