24 September 2010
This trip is no more than an idea at the moment; my idea more than Ken's. The plan, as it stands, is to travel from our current home in Malaga to our home town in the UK, Nottingham, starting around the middle of April next year. We will take a direct route there through Spain and the west side of France but a more indirect route back to Malaga, ending the trip some time between the middle and the end of July. Our total experience of cycle touring is a couple of cycling holidays with an organised tour company, one in Cuba and another in India, lasting a couple of weeks each. Not much to go on really!
I'm in the 'planning' phase - Ken's in the 'worrying' phase. Situation normal.
23 July 2011 Post-trip review
Facts and Figures:
Total distance 6684 km
Average daily distance covered (excluding short days due to ferry crossings and trips during rest days): 79km
Longest distance covered in one day: 138 km
Average time in the saddle per day: 5 hours 25 minutes
Longest time in the saddle in one day: 9 hours 53 minutes
Total hours in the saddle: 477 hours
Average speed: 13.9 km/hour
Best average speed in one day: 18.5 km/hour
Worst average speed in one day: 10 km/hour
Maximum speed: 57 km/hour
Average daily cost (excluding 9 days in Nottingham when staying
with relatives, 2 x ferry fares and bike repairs): 88 euros
Average daily cost when staying in hotels (50 days): 104 euros
Average daily cost when camping (50 days): 72 euros
Number of punctures: 3
Replaced, due to wear, back brake blocks, cassette and chain. Re-greased seat post and bottom bracket.
Number of punctures: 0
Replaced, due to wear, back brake pads. Re-greased seat post.
Trip highlights were:
Wild, remote areas deep in the interior of Spain, where you can cycle all day and see only a handful of people and cars
Equally wild and dramatic mountains around Jaen which provide fantastic climbs for bikes
The ferry crossing from Harwich to Hoek van Holland with Stenaline; very impressive first-class facilities
The cycling culture in Holland with their fantastic infrastructure for bikes
Pretty waterway landscapes in Holland
Picture perfect landscapes in Luxembourg
Crossing the Vallee de Joux in Switzerland down towards Lake Geneva; beautiful mountain meadow scenery
The mountains of the Massif de Chartreuse and the awesome Gorges de la Bourne
Mont Ventoux - a magnet for cyclists from all over the world
Pretty, rocky coastline along the north region of the Costa Brava, from the border with France to Cap de Creus
Spanish people - unfailingly helpful and always warm and welcoming
Tips and observations:
Do not cycle tour in France before the start of the summer season (1st June at the earliest) unless you are prepared to wild camp and be completely self-sufficient
National holidays in France, such as Easter, mean that everything closes. You will not find a shop, bar, restaurant, petrol station or anywhere else to even buy a bottle of water
Do not try to cycle tour in southern Spain during a heat wave!
Get off your bike and walk it through the bigger town centres. Determine the direction of your exit road and go straight for it, ignoring any road signs as these are designed for cars and will send you along ring-roads, one-way systems and onto motorways. We found that pushing the bikes straight through the middle, along the pedestrianised bits and the wrong way along one-way streets, was much quicker and way-finding much easier
Always have a compass handy, although on sunny days you won't need it so much
If you have a noise on your bike, try greasing your seat post
Take some waterproof socks. Even if it is not actually raining they are great if your shoes have got wet the day before for keeping your feet warm and dry
Do not use pedals with cleats on a fully loaded touring bike - your chances of falling off will be greatly increased if you do
Put Vaseline or lip salve on your lips several times each day. Your lips will crack anyway but at least it will not be quite as painful.
If you suffer from sweat rash the best cure is to keep the area covered with talc. You will look like you fell into a tub of flour but who cares!
Take a camping stove - the extra weight will be negligible compared to the benefit of greater flexibility to eat when you want as well as keeping the cost of the trip down.
Do not go anywhere near a main road on a bike in France unless you have suicidal tendencies
Bikes: Cube Delhi HS11 with front suspension, hydraulic caliper brakes and Shimano Deore XT 9 speed (11-32 cassette and 48 x 36 x 26 chain rings); Cube Delhi Disc with front suspension, hydraulic disc brakes and Shimano Deore XT 9 speed (11-32 cassette and 48 x 36 x 26 chain rings)
Bags: Carradice CarraDry front and rear panniers, Simond watertight holdalls, handlebar map holder, stuff bags (for clothes)
Tools: Allen keys (2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 & 10mm), Star keys (10, 25 & 30), Phillips screwdrivers, cone spanners, chain whip, cassette locking tool & rachet, tyre levers, spanners (2 x 8mm, 2 x 10mm & 15mm), chain splitter, spoke wrench, Topeak Road Morph pump with gauge, chain wear measure, Mammut multitool, rubber mallet
Spares: Puncture repair kit, chain lubricant, grease, 2 x gear cables, 2 x brake pads, 4 x brake blocks, 2 x Fibre-fix spokes, chain, 2 x inner tubes, 2 x rim tapes, assorted nuts & bolts, zip-ties
Camping gear: Jack Wolfskin Bike n' Hike tent, 2 x 2 metre plastic sheet, Thermarest Ridgerest mats, Wynnster Superlite 1500 sleeping bags, head torches
Clothes (per person): Waterproof jacket, waterproof socks, long-sleeved thick cycle top, thin long-sleeved cycle top, 2 x short-sleeved cycle tops, 2 x cycle shorts, 2 x base layer shorts, cycling tights, socks, cycling shoes, cycling gloves, bandana, trainers, flip-flops, underwear, swim suit, t-shirt, zip-off trousers, fleece, shorts, sunglasses and lenses, helmet, baseball cap
Personal: Toothbrush, floss & toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, hair gel, deodorant, soap, after shave, talc, sun-cream, tissues, razors, small mirror, comb, manicure set, travel towels, lip salve, Vaseline, glasses & disposable contact lenses, First-aid kit
Technology: Camera & charger, 'phone & charger, Netbook & cable, SD cards, bike computer, shaver & plug, spare batteries
Security: Cable locks, D-locks, Pac-safe document/money bags, high visibilty vests
Other: Bike water bottles, Sporks & plastic bowls, small plastic chopping board, line & pegs, travel sink plug, ball of string, needle & thread, washing up liquid, clothes washing powder, microfibre cloth, French phrase book, novels, notebook & pen, diary, highlight pens, maps, compass, documents & money