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Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
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Independent Cycle Touring in Europe

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My REI Presentation for "Independent Cycle Touring in Europe"

My REI Presentation for "Independent Cycle Touring in Europe"

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  • 1. Independent Cycle Touring in Europe
    Piaw Na
    REI
    http://touring.piaw.net
    http://books.piaw.net
    http://piaw.blogspot.com
  • 2. Introduction
    20,000 miles of independent touring
    1 trip/year since 1993
    League Cycling Instructor (LCI #1040)
    Cycled in:
    Japan
    Scotland, France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Germany
    New Zealand
    South Africa
    California, New Hampshire, Maine, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia
  • 3. Rosenlaui
    Beautiful mountain views send many cyclists to famous passes such as Grosse Scheidegg
  • 4. Beautiful Bike Facilities
    A cobblestone tunnel bypass provides beautiful views unavailable to car drivers
  • 5. Beautiful hill towns
    Provide a lovely backdrop to ride in, as well as opportunities to explore architecture and other cultural artifacts.
  • 6. Friendly Locals
    By riding your bike, independent tourists meet friendly people who will not hesitate to stop to offer you conversation, or in the case of this vintner, offer you a taste of his wine!
  • 7. Interesting places to stay
    By eschewing reservations and guides, you leave yourself open to interesting opportunities to stay at great places.
  • 8. Bellinzona, a town with 3 castles
    Because your party size is small, you can fit in little hotels that big tour groups cannot hope to get into.
  • 9. Bike paths
    Riverside bike paths ensure you always have a car-free way to get to where you want to go.
  • 10. Less is more
    This couple is trying to combine a backpacking trip with a cycling trip. By focusing all your attention on cycling, you’ll carry less and have more fun.
  • 11. Route Information “On the ground”
    Because bicycle travel at human pace, signs and map guides that are easily skipped by motorists are easily viewable by you.
  • 12. Why Europe?
    First class cycling culture
    Nearly everyone in Europe rides a bike or knows someone who rides
    Laws are predicated on cyclists being legitimate road users—if a car driver hits a cyclist, the burden of proof is on the driver to show that he wasn’t at fault
    $10/gallon gas means fewer SUVs on the road and more public transit friendly to bicyclists
  • 13. Stephanie Raez on her way from Chur to Paris
    Nearly everyone in Europe cycles. Helmets are uncommon, and a summer tour something nearly everyone will do sometime in their lives.
  • 14. First class cycling culture
  • 15. First class cycling culture
    By Wittink, Roelof; I-ce Interface for Cycling Expertise: Planning for cycling supports road safety; In: Sustainable Transport, Planning for walking and cycling in urban environments, ed. Rodney Tolley; Woodhead publishing in Environmental management, ISBN 1 85573 614 4; 2003
  • 16. Facilities
    Summer is the low season!
    Primary tourist facilities are ski resorts—cheapest in the summer
    Big investment in cycle paths and cycle ways
    Bike paths have covered bridges
    Separate bike tunnels
    Very few bike bans on trails
    Dense network of roads!
    Dense network of cyclist friendly hotels/lodging
  • 17. Facilities
    German bike path in Munich: along a river (the Isar), and away from traffic. Note the separate benches for both bike path and pedestrains.
  • 18. Austrian Bike Path in the Salzburger Lakes
    Separate bike “tunnel “ alongside lake. Auto traffic routes through tunnels with no views.
  • 19. Hotel Rosenlaui
    Andreas Kerhli, the owner of Hotel Rosenlaui, welcomes cyclists.
  • 20. Natural Beauty
    “The Sierras no longer look pretty to me.”
    “Best cycling in the world”
    “The prettiest country I’ve ever seen.”
    “After riding in the Alps, the death ride was uninspiring.”
  • 21. Cultural Attractions
    Historical artifacts (castles, grand old buildings)
    Museums
    Architecture (great cities)
    History
  • 22. Switzerland
    Beautiful Alps
    9 major bike-fares criss-crossing entire country
    Clean and safe
    Road engineering superb
    Trains precisely on time
    Expensive? Maybe.
    English spoken
  • 23. Cycling in the Bernese Oberland
    Beautiful lakes, mountains, and extremely polite drivers
  • 24. Grindelwald
    Mountain Views from Grosse Scheidegg are to be seen to be believed.
  • 25. Swiss Road Engineering
    Hairpins are flat. Climbs only happen between hairpins. Grades are consistent. Signage is accurate. Tunnel bypasses for long tunnels. Tunnels are lit and lights are maintained.
  • 26. France
    High mountains
    Beaches on the Mediterranean
    Long river tours
    History
    French food
    Poor train service for cyclists
    Learn a bit of French before you go
  • 27. Col du Tourmalet
    Famous passes frequently featured in the Tour de France can be climbed all through the year in Southern France
  • 28. Col De L’Iseran
    Highest pass regularly climbed in the Tour de France. Ski town on one side provides readily available lodging. Markers every km for grade!
  • 29. French Roadside “Tombstone”
    Provides current altitude, how far to go, what to expect for the average grade over the next km. When you see one, you know you’re in cycling country!
  • 30. French minimum passing law
    1.5m = 5 feet. For reference, California has repeatedly failed to pass a 3 foot minimum passing law. French roads (as illustrated here) are about 7-9 feet wide. The 5 foot passing law means using the next lane!
  • 31. Austria
    Relatively untouristed
    Fantastic bike facilities
    Great train service for cyclists
    Cheap, even for luxury hotels
    Beautiful mountains for hiking/cycling
    Rugged!
    English frequently spoken.
  • 32. Timmelsjoch
    Between Austria and Italy, Austria features beautiful lonely roads, and cheap lodging.
  • 33. Tauern Radweg
    This 200 mile bike path from Salzburg through Tauern National Park is gorgeous and has relatively easy riding.
  • 34. Radstadt
    Little known towns in Austria are gorgeous and cheap to stay at.
  • 35. Austrian Bike Paths
    They are the best in the world. Beautiful and chock full of facilities like water fountains, covered bike bridges, and plentiful lodging and restaurants.
  • 36. Germany
    Beautiful Spring/Fall touring
    Cheap train travel for cyclists!
    Go from one end of country to another for 21 EUR!
    Bringing friends? 28 EUR for 5 people!
    English frequently spoken
    Scenic small towns
    Small towns cheap, large cities expensive
    Mountain roads too well engineered
  • 37. German Farm Roads
    Near Munich, extremely dense networks of roads mean that there’s very little traffic traversing some of the prettiest small towns you can imagine.
  • 38. Bodensee
    One of the largest lakes in Europe spans 3 countries: Germany, Switzerland, and Austria (with the largest portions in Switzerland and Germany). It’s suitable for all ages and features a “car-free bike route.”
  • 39. Italy
    Beautiful mountains
    Crazy drivers
    Road conditions not ideal
    Italian food!
    Friendly people
    Not necessarily cheap
    Infrequent English speakers
  • 40. Stelvio
    This legendary climb features 47 switchbacks and ends at well over 9000 feet. Hotels halfway up provide rest stops and lodging.
  • 41. Fedaia Pass in the Dolomites
    Jobst calls this the “Fastest Highway in the Alps.” with well banked, 13% grade descents.
  • 42. Timmelsjoch
    Beautiful passes in a part of Italy that used to be Austria before world war I. As a result, most people speak German.
  • 43. Italian Bike Path
    Italian bike paths are not as well marked (or sometimes as easily found) as Austrian and Swiss bike paths. This one went through a back alley but was a welcome escape from busy main roads.
  • 44. England/Scotland
    English spoken (watch “Trainspotting”)
    Beautiful backroads
    Expect rain
    Best in late Spring
    Easy navigation
    Expensive
  • 45. Why Tour Independently?
    More interactions with locals
    No “cocooning”
    More local food
    Flexibility
    Raining? Ride less or stay put
    Never have to fight headwinds
    Tired? Choose easier route
  • 46. Why Tour Independently?
    Serendipitous encounters
    Retired chefs cook for you
    People invite you into homes
    Cheaper
    Independent touring in good lodging and eating out—50 to 75 EUR/day
    Tour operators cost $200/day!
    All the support you need is already available in Europe!
  • 47. Friendly People
    I met this man in Chur. He tried to give me money just for being a tourist, then invited me to his home and tried to give us one of his cycling jerseys.
  • 48. When/where to Go?
    Spring
    Austrian Lakes
    German Black Forest
    Southern Italy/France
    Summer
    Alps (Switzerland/France/Austria/Italy)
    Northern countries (England/Scotland)
    DO NOT Visit Europe in AUGUST!
    Fall
    Pyrenees
    Southern Germany/France
  • 49. Trip Planning
    Decide where to go/when to go
    Decide on cycling companions
    Run a qualifying tour
    Buy plane tickets
    Plan routes
  • 50. Equipment
    Need a bike (almost any bike will do)
    Don’t carry stuff on your back! (Panniers/Saddlebags)
    Bikes are designed around their brakes
    Shoes you can walk in!
  • 51. The reason to wear shoes you can walk in.
  • 52. Training
    Don’t sweat it if you’re doing an independent tour
    You can choose the difficulty of your trip according to fitness
    More important to enjoy riding!
  • 53. Cycling companions
    Can make or break the trip (or friendship!)
    Do a test tour (at least overnight!)
    Make sure you can cope with each other’s habits/snoring
  • 54. Choosing Companions
    I did many day rides and overnight rides with Mike before we toured together.
  • 55. Buying plane tickets
    Check bike fees
    United/Lufthansa charging $250 each way!
    KLM: 1 extra piece of baggage
    Air Berlin: 80 EUR round trip
    British Airways/Virgin: Bikes fly free!
    Air Canada: $50 each way
    Always book a jet
    Minimize transfers
    Bike reservations? (Lufthansa/Air Canada/Air Berlin)
  • 56. Bike packing
    Check airline bike packing policy
    BA/Lufthansa allow “naked” bikes
    Cardboard bike boxes
    Boxes at REI! (free!)
    Boxes at Amtrak ($20/free)
    Boxes at Bike Shops
    Can throw away at each end
    Zurich has bike packing service
  • 57. Packing a bike into a cardboard box
    Wrapping things with bubble wrap is a good idea
  • 58. Bike Packing Service in Zurich Airport
    For 25CHF, the man here will pack your bike into a cardboard box for you. This is why I prefer flying into (and out of) Zurich when I’m packing my bike in a cardboard box.
  • 59. Bike packing
    Hardcase bike boxes
    $250/box, but heavy
    Need to store on both sides
    Naked bikes
    Wrap with bubble wrap
    Remove deraileur
  • 60. Public Transit and Bikes
    Bicycle friendly countries
    Germany
    Switzerland
    Austria
    Bicycle indifferent countries
    Italy
    Bicycle unfriendly countries
    France (reservations required)
    Japan (must disassemble bike)
    Need train help? Euraide (http://www.euraide.com)
  • 61. Bike space
    Local trains in France do allow bicycles
  • 62. Alan Wissenberg
    Featured in Rick Steves and Lonely Planet, in 2008, he and I worked together to figure out various train systems and bike friendliness. He is my “goto-guy” for all train travel in Europe. http://www.euraide.com
  • 63. Cell Phones
    GSM Phones required
    Prepaid SIMs available everywhere at low cost
    Incoming calls free/Outgoing calls cost
    Do not expect data plans
    $20/5GB in Germany
    Watch out for roaming data charges!
    Buy a new SIM card for each country
  • 64. Navigation
    Your phone’s GPS feature is useless
    Roaming data charges
    Google’s bicycle routing is poor
    Buy paper maps!
    Choose smallest routes/most scenic routes
    “White” roads over “Red” roads
    Keep water to your right
  • 65. Classic Michelin Map
    The best cycling maps are packed full of information and reward close reading
  • 66. Maps
    1:300,000 scale
    AAA maps are useless
    Motorcycle maps are sometimes useful
    Should include elevation/gradient info
    Should include scenic roads/small roads
    Appropriate maps for each country
    Buy as you go
  • 67. Bike paths
    Can be found on dedicated maps, or look for signs
    Every time you cross a river, look for river-side bike paths
    Some countries (Germany/Switzerland) assume you have a mountain bike!
    Don’t expect bike paths in mountains, but trail riding can be fun!
  • 68. Bike Paths in Switzerland
    Sometimes, they’re dirt. This picture doesn’t show it but to the right is a beautiful lake.
  • 69. Bike path signs in Switzerland, Austria, and Italy
    Switzerland: watch out for difference between mountain bikes and road bikes. Routes are numbered but with no destinations. Austria: little sign posts signed for one end to another. Italy: Some signs with destinations.
  • 70. GPS-assisted navigation
    Garmin Routing units
    Reprogram Garmin to route like a bicyclist
    “Dynamic routing”
    Explore with confidence
    Don’t bring your laptop
  • 71. Language
    Learning “please” and “thank you” goes a long way!
    Europeans more formal than Americans
    Language learning program
    Berlitz much more useful than Pimsleur
    Learn to count
    Learn to ask for lodging/directions
    Learn the right language! Northern Italy speaks German!
  • 72. Daily Tour Timeline
    Tour Daily Timeline
    7:30am Breakfast
    8:30am Ride
    Every 90 minutes Water/snack stops
    11:45am Lunch
    Every 90 minutes Water/snack stops
    16:00 Tourist information
    17:00 Hotel /lodging/campground search
    17:30 Inspect hotel/accept
    17:45 Shower & Laundry
    18:30 Dinner
  • 73. Food
    Breakfasts usually included with lodging
    Bakeries open early (6-7am!)
    Lunch:
    Best deal—Supermarket lunches
    Cheap
    Eat whatever you want
    Fast (no “service waits”)
    Watch out for supermarket closures around noon!
    “Bar lunches”
    Common in England/Scotland. Hotel bars serve quick meals
  • 74. Picnic on the Walensee
    Not only a supermarket lunches faster and cheaper, you get the best possible location for your meal: the great outdoors. If you have special dietary requirements, shopping for yourself guarantees you eat right.
  • 75. Food
    Dinner
    Frequently included in lodging “half-pensions”
    Hotel Restaurants happy to serve non-guests
    “Fixed menu” usually good deal
    Good news: restaurants in Europe now non-smoking!
  • 76. Water
    Fountains near center of every town!
    Exceptions:
    D’leau non-potable!
    KeinTrinkwasser!
    Look for fountains alongside roads in mountain areas
  • 77. Water Fountains
    Most European Water Fountains have potable water
  • 78. Lodging
    Tourist information centers
    Ads/Bill boards in rural areas
    Guidebooks (usually useless unless cycling specific)
    Cyclists’ trip reports (e.g., “Jobst hotels”)
    Family-owned hotel networks “Logis de France”
    B&Bs “Zimmer Frei”/”Gites de France”
  • 79. Lodging (Continued)
    Easy to find on the day
    Start search around 4pm
    Exception: weekends (Friday night + Saturday night) in popular areas
    OK to backtrack
    Check for bed bugs
    Don’t conflict with big multi-billion dollar events like the World Cup or the Tour de France
    Lodging will be booked a year in advance!
  • 80. GafthofBatznhausl
    We lucked out, finding this hotel/restaurant at the end of a rainy day
  • 81. Tourist Information
    Most tourist information staff are more than happy to help you make a reservation, find appropriate accommodations, and even provide a town map with directions to the bike path.
  • 82. Tools/Repair
    Learn to fix flat tires!
    Overhaul bike before you leave
    Easier to carry tool and find someone who knows how to use it
    Spread spares between the group
  • 83. VAR Tire Lever
    Very useful for mounting difficult tires
  • 84. Illness/Injury
    Do not ride with a fever!
    Moist Wound Care
    Altitude Sickness
  • 85. Questions?
    Trip reports:
    http://touring.piaw.net
    Buy the book(s):
    http://books.piaw.net
    Blog:
    http://piaw.blogspot.com
    Follow me:
    Twitter: @choonpiaw
    Google plus: http://profiles.google.com/piaw
    Facebook: Independent Cycle Touring

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