Where to cycle in Europe?
Replies: 6 - Last Post: Jul 1, 2011 5:03 AM Last Post By: pq
Jun 25, 2011 5:08 PM
Where to cycle in Europe?Just thinking aloud here, but I'll need to be in Germany (Koln) for a work thing in late August, and then in Spain (Madrid) for another work thing about 12 days later. It's not worth flying home in between, so I was thinking about doing some kind of cycling holiday instead (yay!). But I've no idea where to start. I like getting off the beaten track (e.g., I'd be more excited about Belarus than Belgium), interesting old places, mountains, and good vegetarian food. I don't like traffic and really steep hills. I could go pretty much anywhere in Europe but I'd have to buy or rent a bike. I like the idea of using the bike to get somewhere rather than just doing day trips, and I'd be open to both road and mountain biking. I'm moderately fit but not, sadly, an experienced bike tourer.
So where would you go if you were me? All ideas welcome - cheers!
Jun 25, 2011 8:19 PM
Jun 26, 2011 1:30 AM
Jun 27, 2011 7:00 AM
3From Koln I'd head up the Moselle and then into France in the general direction of Madrid, and hop on a train/bus when I ran out of time. France is so great for cycling that you can't really go wrong if you have a decent map and stick to quiet roads.
France isn't the greatest for vegetarians, although it's much easier if you speak French. The saving grace is markets where you can buy fantastic ingrediens for a picnic - some bread, a selection of local cheese, some olives and some fruit and you're good to go.
As for getting off the beaten track, this is Erope, so don't get too excited about that! But tourists are mostly an extemely conservative lot, so you don't have to pedal far on a bike before you leave them all behind.
Jun 29, 2011 2:37 PM
4If you want to rent a bike, Switzerland is superbly equiped - very good bikes from many of the Swiss train stations, with the possibility of leavig the bike at a different station - you could go right arund the country in 12 days.Or around Lake Konstanz, for a flat, pretty trip - Switz hs 9 national cycle routes and hundreds af regional ones - all so wellsign posted that I, on my first trip, was able to cycle from near Geneva, up the Rhone valley, down the Rhine and into ZUrich, without a map.
BUT, renting bikes can get expensive. Generally if you want one for a week, you are better off getting a cheap bike - I have done manymulti day trips in Europe, on supermarket bikes that cost under 150euro.
I agree with other posters re the Moselle as well - it's popular with cyclists. If you go up to the head waters, you can then do a steep 9km through pretty forest, and then down and into Basel. Or turn south at Nancy, to head toward Spain.
Jun 30, 2011 11:32 AM
5Hmmm, that all sounds interesting. I'd sort of discounted riding from Germany to(wards) Spain because I've never been that interested in Germany and northern France. But perhaps starting in Switzerland and heading SW would be good.
Have you generally found drivers to be reasonably courteous and give you plenty of space in France/Spain/Switzerland? I was recently in Mallorca and I would have been terrified of cycling with the way people were driving on the narrow roads there. But then I was watching from my sister's car, and she's not exactly the best of drivers. I tried to gently educate her into passing bikers by more than 6 inches but I'm not sure it did much good...
Jul 1, 2011 5:03 AM
6Yes, drivers in France and Switzerland are much better then average. I've always got on OK in Spain too.
Your sister must be an exception in Mallorca. The tourist industry there is pretty much kept alive in Spring by racing cyclists from northern Europe training there. I've never seen so many "serious" cyclists in one place. As a result the drivers are well used to cyclists and treat them fairly well. In fact your sister should change her ways for her own safety if nothing else. If she skims cyclists by 6 inches and then meets the same cyclists in the next town, she's likely to have trouble. Angering a large group of young men by endangering their lives isn't very sensible.
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