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Updated: 52 min 37 sec ago

Re: SNCF RER trains, has anyone ever been kicked off?

31 July 2014 - 9:47pm
ANTONISH wrote:It occurs to me that you could train your children to burst into tears as appropriate

Just retread and saw this, chuckling. Well, exactly, the sprogs do have their uses and I'm guessing if anyone gets kicked off the TER from a Roscoff it wouldn't be us! Having said that I will have the taxi number with me. I'm going to pass on the voie verte unless we are really stuck. Cycling the corniche into Morlaix is of course also a lovely ride so bagsy me be the one to be evicted from the train if it will take some but not all of us!!

I'm pretty chilled about the journey now that we have the TGV leg booked. En avant.

Re: France: Cycling on Coast Paths and Wild Camping

31 July 2014 - 9:46pm
I can't speak for the specific paths you mention but my experience of coastal footpath in Brittany is some have signs banning cycling, some are just too narrow and some are on soft sand. Not ideal cycling and at this time of year you are likely to find lots of walkers on them.

I've seen quite a few people wild camping in small tents in France so it is not unknown. But for me the thought of stopping to camp all hot and sweaty after a day's ride without a shower is not attractive. I would be aiming for a campsite, but then perhaps I'm an old softie! Wild campers also tend to stop and camp late. I prefer stopping around 5 o'clock.

Re: Touring bike alternatives?

31 July 2014 - 9:35pm
AaronR wrote:Am I just being tight? For £150-200 I can probably find a well specced, clean Raleigh/Specialized/Peugot, service it, new tyres, tubes, racks etc and until you got close it would look like a new Thorn/Kona Sutra/Surly Long Haul/etc etc....

I did exactly this with a 90's Raleigh mtb (cromo 4130 frame). I had the initial bike but have only spent £200 on it, including new wheels from Rose, BB, chain / crank set /cassette/ seat post / front mech and shifters / cables etc.

Re: France: Cycling on Coast Paths and Wild Camping

31 July 2014 - 9:22pm
Claud wrote:2) What are the rules on wild camping in France? I’m particularly thinking of the grassy bits on headlands or above beaches.

(So far googling says nothing about #1, and nothing definitive about #2, but maybe it’s OK-ish??)


Years ago I did a fair bit of "camping sauvage" in France. I had no trouble, even in some fairly visible places.
I also found that "camping municipal" in less tourist areas was good, and often free.
Mind you, this was a while ago.

Re: France: Cycling on Coast Paths and Wild Camping

31 July 2014 - 8:24pm
I came pretty close to the paths you mention. I didn't actually use them. My general impression is that given the steep ups and downs I'd be reluctant to chance it on a footpath. The off-road sections of the TdM are mainly excellent but there are a few rough sections at the Brittany end of the route. In terms of hills, think of Brittany as a tamer version of Cornwall.

Here's an example of a path I didn't ride down, not a cycle route in the area you mention. Problem is not knowing what's round the corner!


Re: coming back from germany by train

31 July 2014 - 8:13pm
OK too late now, but a quick timetable search on bahn.co.uk shows a load of options via Paris, some more attractive than others. Best bet is probably the City Night Line service.

Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 20.10.33.png

Re: Getting to Germany with bikes

31 July 2014 - 8:05pm
Just as a footnote: my last ticket from Paris to Munich on the CNL sleeper cost me the princely sum of 59€ (plus 10€ for the bike). You can travel to/from the West Country for less than a tenner. OK there's then the eurostar fare and bike carriage charges, but probably the train is a lot cheaper than you'd expect.

Driving to Germany the easiest option? Flogging along an autobahn or reading a book, relaxing and looking out of the window (or sleeping)? I know which I'd choose. And flying is, as Usain Bolt might have said, is absolutely awesome.

It might be cheaper for a family of four but for one or two people I'm not so sure.

In my experience people who don't use trains very much tend to have an exaggerated view of how difficult/expensive it is, and then once they take the plunge and find that it really isn't as difficult as they thought, they become converts.

Re: SNCF TER trains, has anyone ever been kicked off?

31 July 2014 - 7:40pm
I did the morlaix to roscoff section yesterday. The tour de manche guide describes it as intermediate. I'd agree, it is certainly not easy, and I'd think an 8 year old would find some bits tough. Mine would have given up when that age. Also the bit close to roscoff is quite convoluted with some rough surfaces in comparison to most of the preceding 450 miles. It does avoid traffic though. The voie Verte are offroad routes which in Normandy are mainly old rail trails and an excellent long path along the river Vire.

Conversely there were loads of bikes getting off at Lannion and Morlaix stations, although I didn't check individual trains.

Re: Getting to Germany with bikes

31 July 2014 - 6:39pm
The driving approach is very doable and less complicated but you may find you don't cycle as much, it's a less full on, relying on your bike, sort of experience. Horses for courses, my first check in your position would be flights from Bristol and then local trains in Germany but if you don't mind the drive not having to deal with loading bikes onto planes and trains has some advantages.

A couple of times when I was too busy at work to get my brain round complicated tours we drove down to south/ south west France and left our car at a campsite, toured for a few days in a circular route with the camping gear and them moved on to do somewhere else. Upside: I finally got to do a decent climb (Ventoux) without all my luggage and camping gear, so nice not to stop on the way up because you're actually doing a decent pace.

Of course driving from Mosel could have one huge advantage that you will no doubt want to take advantage of: filling thé boot of the car up with décent wine and that may make the drive worthwhile. If German wine isn't to your taste you can probably come back via Alsace or Burgundy/ eastern end of the Loire, eg Sancerre).

Re: Getting to Germany with bikes

31 July 2014 - 6:22pm
You don't say if you are prepared to drive or fly, which may help.

As mentioned above, driving could be the easiest and cheapest option. Flying may also be a fairly cheap option. I imagine that are lots of suitable flights from Bristol.

I know its a bit further, but I recently went to visit a friend in Macedonia. I thought it would be good to take the train, but a rough estimate (using maninseat61 website) was about £400 return with many changes. I flew for £70. OK no bike that time, but that would only have been another £60 on the plane. Sad but true

If you want to take the train the website maninseat61 may be useful for route planning.

Re: Luxembourg to Brussels

31 July 2014 - 5:37pm
I don't know about downloadable routes, but this website has a good overview of the 'RV' routes in that area: http://www.randovelo.org/fr/veitin.php

Re: Getting to Germany with bikes

31 July 2014 - 5:14pm
DeutscheBahn do excellent sleeper services from Paris to Berlin, Munich and Hamburg. My knowledge of the geography of Germany is fairly hopeless but I would have thought that one of these would get you to within striking distance of a suitable starting point. I've uploaded the CityNightLine network map. carte_cnl_de_grand.png

Getting there is fairly easy: cycle from Glastonbury to Castle Cary for the train to Paddington, a short hop across London to Saint Pancras. When you get to Paris you need to go from the Gare du Nord to the Gare de l'Est - basically about 300 hundred yards. So not really a massive amount of faff.

I'd be the first to admit that train companies seem to make the process of booking and researching international train travel harder than it needs to be and there's some hassle involved in the changes, but once you're on the trains you can relax and put your feet up. No driving, no worrying about where to park/leave your car (or worrying about whether it will still be there when you get back) etc etc.

I can see the attraction of using the car to get you from one place to another, and then doing day-rides, but I'm not really sure that the convenience outweighs the hassle of the long initial drive and the long drive back.

The DB 1st class sleepers are very cushy and if you book early the ticket prices are surprisingly reasonable. Once you get there you just take off.

For general information on the City Night Line service (and pictures of the beds etc) I'd go to seat61.com.

The DeutscheBahn site is pretty helpful, but if you want to book bike spaces you need to ring their call centre 08718 80 80 66 (in Croydon South London) so if you don't want to go through the hassle of using the website you could just ring them and get them to sort things out for you. IIRC they charge something like 6p/min but that might be money well spent if it avoids an exploding head.

I've written some articles on my website about getting to Italy by train

http://italy-cycling-guide.info/travell ... -by-train/

which are about getting to Italy by train (well duh, I hear you say), but have some information that might be useful (eg using the DB website and taking your bike on eurostar).

Luxembourg to Brussels

31 July 2014 - 5:12pm
I am looking into cycling from Luxembourg back to Brussels, preferably going via Spa and Namur. The whole system of LF routes does not go that far south as far as I can see, but I would like to find a source of downloadable routes. I have searched "voie vert" but come up with nothing. Can anyone point me in the direction of a website or websites with some downloadable long distance routes for that area? Thanks.

Re: SNCF RER trains, has anyone ever been kicked off?

31 July 2014 - 4:33pm
Glad you're sorted. Putting the kids' bikes into a bag is a good wheeze that I've never heard anyone mention before.

MrsHJ wrote:I'll mull over the voies verte, trying to keep it as simple as possible for the sprogs especially my 8 Year old who struggles with change and unexpected stuff ie I don't want to scare him off, that why I'm heading for the canal section to start from.

I mentioned it mainly as a way to avoid the main road. It's basically a fairly simple route through the country lanes with minimal traffic. There's a nice little map here:


IIRC (I did it a few years ago) it was signposted for most of the way except for the village (SaintPaul de Léon) mid-way. The VV goes right past the ferry terminal (unless they've moved it).

There's not much in the way of unexpected things (good or bad): you could play vegetable ABC but once you've done artichokes, broccoli/brussel sprouts, and cauliflower/cabbage you've pretty much exhausted the possibilities.

Re: Long distance MTB routes in the UK?

31 July 2014 - 3:22pm
Thanks everyone for the great tips , now to pick up a second hand mountain bike and make some frame bags

Spotted the highland trail website yesterday too, that looks lovely.

Now just the small issue of accepting that cycling in the UK in November will be wet

Thanks all,

Re: Long distance MTB routes in the UK?

31 July 2014 - 2:45pm
There are always canal towpaths

New European Cycling Website

31 July 2014 - 1:53pm
Between 2011 and 2013, I cycled 22,000 miles (35,500 km) around 53 countries of Europe. I've put together a site (www.UniCycle50.com) about what I learnt in the hope that it is useful for others in future. But, more importantly, I could do with your input. If you have an opinion about a particular country or route, good or bad, or a blog that contains that information, please let me know about it and I will try to absorb your information into what I have written (even, or especially, if it says the opposite of what I've written) so that the site is not just limited to what I think. That'd be wonderful.


Re: Hello & Help!

31 July 2014 - 1:41pm
See if you can find a copy of the AA French language holiday guide book. I got mine from Waterstones some years ago. It has sections on camping, hotels and even on bikes!

My recommendation would be the Loire. En avant!

Re: Long distance MTB routes in the UK?

31 July 2014 - 1:41pm
Have a look at the route used by the Highland Trail 550.

Can be done in 4 days (without sleep!) but a couple of weeks would make a decent holiday.

Alternatively, the Cape Wrath trail (Fort Bill to Cape Wrath) could keep you occupied for a while.

Over three-four days, the Tour of the Cairngorms is another option.
Could be easily linked into the above routes - or done as a wee warmup.

Re: Getting to Germany with bikes

31 July 2014 - 1:35pm
For several years now I've used my car to tour. Like you, I found it quite difficult to get where I wanted to go without massive amounts of faff! What I do now is drive to my selected area, camp or hostel and spend 4 or 5 days exploring the area and then move on to somewhere new. In this way I get to see and explore new areas in more depth than I would otherwise have done and also extend the scope of my holiday with minimum fuss. The other advantage is that it becomes easier to carry some home comforts as you're not limited to the capacity of your panniers.

I highly recommend the Mosel. I have stayed in the hostel in Bernkastel Kues on two occasions, it's a great base to explore the region. There are also other hostels up and down stream as well as plenty of campsites and B&Bs. Umm, better warn you though, the hostel in BK is at the top of a very big hill. Great views but a killer hill at the end of the day! If you wanted to extend your exploration of the area there is an excellent hostel in Prum, in the Eifel/Ardennes with a very good network of local cycle paths. It is also not too far to somewhere like St Goar or Bingen which you can use to explore some of the prettier parts of the Rhine cycle route.


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