Sunday, 4 May 2014
The Amazing Race 24, Episode 10 (European Bicycle Touring Resources)
Mt. Titlis (Switzerland) - Seville (Spain)
European Bicycle Touring Resources
I was in Switzerland, Belgium, and the UK on business in March, and I'll be back in Switzerland, Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and the UK in June and July on a bicycling trip.
We're flying with our bicycles to Zurich on June 2nd, taking the overnight ferry from Rotterdam to Leeds on July 2, and flying home from Manchester on August 4th. We have almost nothing else reserved in advance between these dates.
Our route, subject to change day by day, will be anchored by visits to places linked to my family history and that of my partner, visits to friends, and a chance to see the start of the 2014 Tour de France in England. (I'm not a racer, but I'm looking forward to the spectacle.)
Our general idea for June is to cross through the Black Forest to Freiburg, then down the Rhine to Karlsruhe. From there, we'll either go west, connecting roughly with EuroVelo 5, or further north down the Rhine (continuing roughly along EuroVelo 15), before heading west to Hazebrouck (France), Brussels, and then the Netherlands.
We have much less idea where we'll go in July in the UK.
If you are interested in meeting up with us along the way, please get in touch.
See the sidebar of this blog under "Bicycle Travel" for links to my FAQs and other articles about bicycle travel.
Below are some of the resources we've been using to plan our trip. I've travelled in all of these countries, but never before by bicycle. I'll update this list after our trip, when I find out which of these, and which others, turned out to be more or less useful than we expected.
GENERAL INTERNATIONAL BICYCLE TRAVEL FAQs:
- FAQ: Do I need to be young, strong, and fit to travel by bike? (No.)
- Buying guide FAQ: How to buy a touring bicycle
- FAQ: International bicycle travel
- FAQ: Riding skills for bicycle travel
- Bicycling maps from Omnimap (The largest selection of international maps available from any source in the USA. Mainly a wholesale distributor, but happy to sell directly to retail customers. Highly recommended.)
- EuroVelo (European Cyclists' Federation planned network of international bicycle routes. Note that many of these are aspirational and do not yet exist on the ground in the form of signage or dedicated bicycle rights-of-way.)
- Ride With GPS (Despite the name, this mapping service is useful even if you don't have a GPS. Free, but you have to register. There are other online route planning services, but I like it that this one allows you to switch back and forth at any time between Google Maps, Open Cycle Maps, and ESRI topographic base mapping and provides elevation and grade profiles in a format I find useful.)
- CrazyGuyOnABike.com ("A place for bicycle tourists and their journals." The best place to start looking for reports on routes, road and riding conditions, weather, etc. from those who have gone before you by bike.)
- WarmShowers.org (Free, worldwide, members-only hospitality exchange for touring bicyclists)
- Booking.com (Lists more hotels, hostels, and B&B's than any other online booking service. Many lodging places listed in the other directories below, such as "Bed + Bike" in Germany, can be booked through Booking.com. Useful when your plans are subject to change, since most reservations don't require prepayment and can be cancelled without penalty up to 24 hours before scheduled arrival. Read the fine print for the rules for specific places and prices. Be sure to mention in the free-text notes when you make your reservation that you will need bicycle storage, since even if there's secure bike storage it may already be full of other guests' bikes if you don't request it in advance -- I've had this happen.)
TRANSLATING BICYCLE JARGON:
- Sheldon Brown's English-French and French-English bicycle dictionaries
- Sheldon Brown's English-Spanish and Spanish-English bicycle dictionaries
- Vocabulaire panlatin du vélo from the "Office québécois de la langue française", the Québécois counterpart of the Académie Francaise (includes all the major Latinate/Romance languages, even Catalan, Romanian, Galician, etc.)
- ADFC (German cycle touring club) dictionaries: English-German, German-English, French-German-English (much better for German than French, naturally)
- Park Tool's Bicycle Mechanic Languages Spreadsheet (not always as accurate, but includes German and Dutch among other non-Latinate languages)
BIKE PARTS, COMPONENTS, AND SUPPLIES:
Prices are often lower in the USA than in Europe, and many Europeans buy bike components from online shops in the USA. But sometimes I've gotten lower prices on specific items, even including the cost of shipping to the USA, by buying them directly from some of these European suppliers. More importantly, if something on your bike breaks while you are travelling in Europe, and you can't repair it or get it replaced locally, these companies can probably get you a replacement part much faster than if you had to have it shipped from the USA. All of these have at least partial English interfaces to their online stores, although detailed descriptions aren't always available in English, and customer service in English may be limited.
- XXcycle.fr (France)
- Bike-Components.de (Germany)
- Rose Bikes (Germany)
- Planet X Bikes (UK)
- Wiggle.com (UK; note that Wiggle says that standard delivery time to the USA is 8-10 business days, but they won't refund, re-ship, or try to trace a missing standard shipment until at least 4 weeks, and I've had a delivery take 6 weeks)
I was in Geneva for a week this March, and it was just as overpriced as when I was there at the same season last year. In addition to the bicycle-specific links below, see my previous notes on prices and advice for visitors to Geneva and "La Suisse Romande" (Francophone Switzerland).
- Pro Velo ("The Swiss Bicycle Advocacy Association")
- Switzerland Mobility -- Cycling in Switzerland (Maps, accommodation, and other information.)
- ADFC - Allgemeiner Deutscher Fahrrad-Club (the German national cycle-touring club)
- Bed + Bike (Bicyclist-friendly accommodations certified by the ADFC. Includes Germany and some adjacent areas such as portions of Austria and German-speaking Switzerland. Available on the Web, as an iOS or Android app, or as a printed directory)
- Accueil Vélo ("Cyclists Welcome." Government-certified bicyclist-friendly accommodations, bike repair shops, and other services. Modeled on "Bed + Bike" in Germany and Bienvenue Cyclistes/Welcome Cyclists in Québec, but not yet fully implemented in France. The search form is currently in blue at the bottom of this page, in French only. So far as I can tell, the only way to show these facilities on a map is to start by searching for one of the predefined routes or "stages".)
- Chambresdhotes.org (B&B directory, mainly for France but also including French-speaking portions of Belgium and Switzerland.)
- AF3V - Association Française pour le Développement des Véloroutes et Voies Vertes (Marked long-distance bike routes.)
- France Vélo Tourisme (Official government cycle tourism Web site.)
- French Flanders Tourist Office (in English)
- Pays de Flandre Tourisme (French Flanders)
- Office de tourisme du Pays d'Hazebrouck
- Office de tourisme du Pays d'Hazebrouck
Information for tourists and bicyclists, like almost everything else in Belgium, is bifurcated. There are separate tourist offices and cycling resources for French-speaking Brussels and Wallonia ("Wallonie" in French) and for Dutch-speaking Flanders. Note that "pavé" or "pavés" in French refers to a road surface of paving stones ("Belgian block"), not to asphalt pavement!
- Guide to cycling for international visitors to Belgium (Written for foreign students at the largest university in Flanders. Includes guidance on traffic law and useful illustrations of road markings and signage in Dutch and French, applicable to the Netherlands as well as Flanders and Wallonia.)
- Fietsvriendelijk logies (Government-certified bicyclist-friendly lodging in Flanders.)
- Vlaanderen-Fietsland.be ("Flanders is Bicycle Country!" Bicycle route planner, bikeway maps and guides, and directory of bicyclist-friendly lodging in Flanders.)
- FietsRoute.org/indexuk.php (Bicycle routes in Flanders.)
- Knooppunter.com (Cycling routes, maps, guides, and online route planner for Flanders and parts of the Netherlands, based on numbered waypoint signs at intersections.)
- Fietsnet.be (Online bicycling route planner for Flanders and the Netherlands.)
- Bienvenue Vélo (Directory of bicyclist-friendly lodging and services in Wallonia.)
- Les Gîtes de Wallonie - Bienvenue Vélo (Bicyclist-friendly holiday cottages in Wallonia.)
- Gîtes and guest rooms in Brussels and Wallonia (Government-rated holiday cottages and B&B's. No separate category for bicyclist-friendly "vélo-sympathique" facilities.)
- RAVeL - Réseau Autonome pour Voies Lents ("Network of routes for self-propelled slow travel" in Wallonia. Walking and biking routes, especially routes along canal towpaths and former railway rights-of-way.)
- Les voies lentes en Wallonie (Online map of bike routes, bikeways, paths, and roads in Wallonia.)
- Useful links for bicyclists in Wallonia (From RAVel.)
- Pro Velo (Advocacy organization for bicyclists in Brussels and Wallonia.)
- Fietsersbond.be/ (Advocacy organization for bicyclists in Flanders and Brussels.)
- FlandersFields.be ("The Great War Centenary in Belgium, 2014-2018." The history of the First World War is a major tourist attraction in Flanders, and many special centennial events are being held over the next few years.)
- "Nederland Fietsland" bicycle route planner ("Low Country, Bicycle Country.")
- Knooppuntroutes (Cycling routes based on numbered waypoint signs at intersections.)
- LF Routes ("Landelijke Fietsroutes" or marked long-distance cycle routes)
- Map of all "Fietsers Welkom!' bicyclist-friendly accommodations and services
- Directory of "Fietsers Welkom!' bicyclist-friendly accommodations and services
- Friends on Bikes (Nonprofit membership organization offering homestays for travelling bicyclists for EUR19 per person per night.)
- Cyclists' Touring Club (National UK cycling advocacy organization.)
- CTC Maps (Includes cycle routes and a map-based index of "Cyclists Welcome" services.)
- Cyclists Welcome (Directory of lodging and other establishments recommended by CTC members.)
- Beds For Cyclists (Private, unofficial commercial venture, newly launched for the 2014 Tour de France stages in the UK.)
- BikeHike.co.uk (Online route planner using UK government Ordnance Survey topographic map details.)
- 1914.org (International First World War centenary project led by the Imperial War Museum, London.)
Something I haven't listed that you'd recommend? Leave a comment or send me a message.Link | Posted by Edward on Sunday, 4 May 2014, 23:59 (11:59 PM) | TrackBack (0)