CTC Forum - Touring & Expedition

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Updated: 2 hours 28 min ago

Train tickets and bike reservations for someone in the US

24 July 2014 - 1:01am
I live in the US and have family in the UK. I am planning a bike ride Holyhead south along the Lon Las Cymru and back to Beaconsfield, my starting point.

I would like to take the train to Holyhead and start riding from there. For obvious reasons, I don't want to take my full-sized bike and panniers through London and it appears I can start in Slough and make my way up to Holyhead without having to go into London.

I will be traveling by train on September 8.

I have 2 questions:

1) What website do you recommend I use to find routes from Slough to Holyhead that don't go into London? The ones I've tried either always route me through London or have 4 train changes.

2) How do I secure bike reservations on all the routes necessary (using different train companies) from the US? It seems that going into a station or having ticket numbers are necessary and each train company requires a separate contact. I don't want to buy the tickets before I am certain I can get my bike on the train. Yet, I need to get the tickets before I can get a bike reservation or so it seems.

Any guidance would be appreciated.

Re: Getting to Whitehaven

23 July 2014 - 9:29pm
hi mark

here is our route from 10/6/12-13/6/12 3 old sticks 77-65-57 years young
garmin edge 800 great piece of kit ..

well we all got back on wed night a little bit weary.. total mileage was 220.40 no probs with bikes not even one p***ture and best of all 10 mins of light rain at nenthead..
sunday ride from carlisle down to whitehaven .we had to take the short route as when we arrived at newcastle st the train to carlise already had 9 bikes on so we had a 45 min wait for the next which ended up getting 8 bikes on (very helpfull staff) turned no one away
sunday.. http://connect.garmin.com/activity/188717232
monday. http://connect.garmin.com/activity/188717207
tuesday. http://connect.garmin.com/activity/188717152
w/day.... http://connect.garmin.com/activity/188717099

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

23 July 2014 - 8:46pm
Never had any trouble either getting tickets, avec velo on the TER train service but has always been off peak and solo. The trains and stations were very quiet, you would probably have no trouble just turning up but have a plan b just in case like the Hotel de la Gare!

Re: Looking for inspiration/ideas for a tour in Germany.

23 July 2014 - 8:02pm
The Rhine route appeals from an ease of navigation point of view, but I just worry it might be a bit industrial scenery??

Plus I'd have to cycle one way and then back rather than a loop.

Re: Alaska to Argentinia

23 July 2014 - 5:47pm
Hi wannabepunk,
I've been touring in the Americas for 1.5 years now. Although I started in San Francisco, not in Alaska. I'm in Costa rica at the moment. Will try to answer some of you questions, but feel free to message me if you need anything. Happy to help

1. Essential kit needed. I have an old EG Bates (reynolds 531 tubing) tourer that I'd love to do it on but it's 30 years old and I am not sure the thin tyres would cope with the different road surfaces! But other than the bike what else do you think I need?
In general, I would say your mindset is more important than your gear. Things will break, no matter how good they are. So you need to be prepare to be able to solve problems on the road. I've seen people touring with really cheap and old bikes, and every problem becomes a challenge. What I would absolutely recommend is some sort of waterproof bags to keep the important things dry. Most of the tourers use Ortlieb panniers, but I've also seen plastic buckets attached to the racks that work quite well.

2. Amount of money needed.
Well, that depends on your needs. I travel with my girlfriend on 10 USD per day each. This covers everything. I've met people travelling on even less money and others on more. If you want to read about specific touring budgets per country, here you can have an idea: http://www.cyclingelmundo.com/travel-budgets/

3. Best time of year to try and do it (At 80 miles a day it would take about 270 days, so probably closer to a year with stops etc)
Normally, people starts in Alaska in summer, so they hit the fall in the US, the dry season in Central America, clear skies in the Andes and summer again in Patagonia - Tierra del Fuego. But this would take about 1.5 years to complete. It seems you want to go a lot faster than that. So you will hit some not-so-good weather at some point. But hey, that's part of the adventure!

4. Skills needed - which bits of the bike am I likely to need to learn to fix? It took me roughly 5 years to successfully sort out a puncture, so this one is a biggy.
As I said, mindset is the most important. You can always hitch a ride to the next town to get your bike fixed if you can't. But I would recommend to learn how to do the basic stuff, specially the basic maintenance to keep your bike running smoothly.

5. Any tips on routes, or places I can get tips from?
You can check the route i followed here: http://www.cyclingelmundo.com/route/

6. Places to definitely try and avoid?
I would say the caribbean coast of Honduras wasn't my favourite place for bicycle touring. Nothing ever happened to me, but I could feel things weren't just right. I didn't have any problems at any other place

If you need anything else, just ask

Re: Looking for inspiration/ideas for a tour in Germany.

23 July 2014 - 5:33pm
Rhine cycle route

Re: Normandy Queries

23 July 2014 - 5:24pm
Have just got back from a week's tour as previously outlined and thought I'd report back + answer my original questions for anyone's interest:

The voises verte were, as usual great. Whilst unsurfaced the fine grit surface most of the time was excellent (I was riding a lightweight tourer with 28 tyres) and, though an old railway track and well graded, they climbed to some good heights in places with wonderful sweeping views, especially the Valle de See south of Sourdeval on the Vois Vertes du Bocage Virois.

Les Pommiers campsite at Ouisteham was fine. A little on the grubby side but it is well used by lots of ferry passengers + many others, so not a surprise. However, the site can be easily accessed by anyone from the Caen canal path, so if possible try and pitch over on the western side of the site, away from the canal just to be on the safe side.

In summary, St Malo to Ouistreham using the above voises verte via Audan sur Odon and Bayeaux and the eastern end of the D-Day beaches is a very nice 1-week trip which I can highly recommend. If anyone's interested in further detail pm me.

Re: Looking for inspiration/ideas for a tour in Germany.

23 July 2014 - 4:46pm
Thanks for those ideas.

I've done some googling About Munsterland routes and found the 100 castles route which can be split to four different loops. It looks a strong possibility.

Re: Looking for inspiration/ideas for a tour in Germany.

23 July 2014 - 4:39pm
Some ideas for you here perhaps?

Re: Isle of Man - where's good to ride and stay?

23 July 2014 - 2:37pm
We went 2 years ago and going again this year. Just stay B and B in Douglas , its central and where the ferries arrive, and if it rains as its bound to you have a dry facility and can wonder round the town etc .

As has been said the TT course is a good easy ride , although its a climb its very graded.

We also did the whole Island in one ride - taking the outer most road all the way its about 85 miles

You get fantastic views of the sea on most rides , that's one of the reasons I like it

Re: Getting to Whitehaven

23 July 2014 - 1:39pm
Sounds like a good route. I was thinking of Whinlatter pass to Keswick, somehow along to Penrith then follow the A689 to Nenthead down to Stanhope over the hill at Wolsignham stop at my house in Chester or Street then pick up the C2C into Sunderland. I'm riding a road bike with slicks so it's tarmac or well graded gravel only.

Re: Shipping the bike by plane

23 July 2014 - 1:04pm
jamesgilbert wrote:I don't, although I generally avoid flying. The times I have flown, i've cycled or taken the train to the airport and bagged the bike just before check-in.

Looking at your photos, I would be a bit concerned about the fork getting damaged, although it makes sense if you need to transport the packaged bike around the airport.

I wrap some bubble wrap around the forks but the front wheel also provides protection (on one side anyway) and the spacer bar keeps the forks from squeezing together (fake axle).

Re: Shipping the bike by plane

23 July 2014 - 12:58pm
I don't, although I generally avoid flying. The times I have flown, i've cycled or taken the train to the airport and bagged the bike just before check-in.

Looking at your photos, I would be a bit concerned about the fork getting damaged, although it makes sense if you need to transport the packaged bike around the airport.

Re: Getting to Whitehaven

23 July 2014 - 12:48pm
I did my c2c 2 years ago and got to Whitehaven with no problem. Changed trains at Carlisle. I reserved the bike space online but it wasn't an issue on the line to Whitehaven. I did my own route ending in Scarborough though which has good rail connections to the south. I went to Ambleside via Hardknott and Wrynose pass, then on to Hawes in the the Dales, then Swaledale, Richmond and skirted the North York moors to Scarborough.

Re: Shipping the bike by plane

23 July 2014 - 12:31pm
jamesgilbert wrote:@Farawayvisions Why remove the front wheel?

Several reasons James, but mainly so that the size fits on the belts and in the crates at the airport.
Removing the front wheel and dropping the seat means that 2 bikes can fit easily inside our car and if you need to transport the bike somewhere after your flight.
Also it's easy to lift the bike and carry it by the seat over short distances when your 160cm tall.
If using a luggage trolley at the airport, I have encountered difficulty manoevering the trolley through gaps when the bike is carried horizontally. Packed with the front wheel removed means that I can move the bike around with back wheel on the trolley and forks in the air. I can just about see over the bike and can fit in lifts, get through revolving doors and passengers ankles are safe.

I guess you don't remove the wheel?

Re: Looking for inspiration/ideas for a tour in Germany.

23 July 2014 - 12:21pm
Many years ago (1993!) I did a tour in Munsterland which is famous for its moated castles. It is so long ago I can't recommend anything specific 'cos I've forgotten it and it probably would be out-of-date. But it was nice and must have been flat otherwise my girlfriend would not have done it! I've found a Lonely Planet link here:

Re: Shipping the bike by plane

23 July 2014 - 12:08pm
@Farawayvisions Why remove the front wheel?

Re: Shipping the bike by plane

23 July 2014 - 11:07am
I've just come back from a flight with my bike to Holland from London Gatwick with Easyjet. Here's what happened at Gatwick when I arrived with bike in a CTC bag.

Easyyjet’s check in assistant at Gatwick stared at out bikes with a look of horror and confusion.
‘We cannot take bikes like this. They must be in a box.’
Calmly, I explained that I had read the policy and it says that the bikes must be in a bike box or bag.
‘This is a CTC Bike Bag. Cycle Touring Club bike bag specifically for flying.’
‘No, that’s not a bag, it’s just a piece of plastic.’
The assistant phoned her manager at the check in row opposite, telling her to lean over the counter to see the plastic bags we were insisting were bike bags.
‘Go around the corner to the luggage shop and get them wrapped in bubble wrap.’

I was hungry. Up since 5am and it was my birthday. I was beginning to feel a bit pissed off. The shrink wrap packing company refused to wrap the bikes saying they weren’t allowed, so we joined the queue where the Easyjet manager was. She was having a bad morning and decided to talk to us from behind her desk while we were still shuffling along in the queue. A young man with tattooed long socks, dressed like Jean Paul Gaultier’s ‘Le Male’ Eau de Toilette joined the queue behind us.
‘Get some bubble wrap from the luggage shop,’ the manager said
‘We tried. They refused to do it.’
‘They said they are not allowed.’

I think she saw the perfume bottle man behind us and mellowed. Those tiny navy shorts made my mouth curl into a smile.

‘Alright, but you’ll have to sign a disclaimer.’
At last the bikes were accepted and we had enough time to grab a croissant and coffee.

When we showed up in Schipol at the Easyjet counter, there were smiles, bikes weighed and put on the check in belt immediately.
There are pictures and instructions in the link below.


Re: Touring bike alternatives?

23 July 2014 - 11:07am
bikerwaser wrote:How Far Can You Go On A £10 Touring Bike? (Answer: A Surprisingly Long Way)

http://tomsbiketrip.com/how-far-can-you ... ring-bike/

Or even starting with no bikes, no clothes, and no money. The book of these guys' trip is an enjoyable read.


Re: Touring bike alternatives?

23 July 2014 - 10:36am
I lot of people have gone down the old MTB route, and if you have the inclination they world great as tourers. The only thing, is it can end up a money sink if you need to refurb it (i.e. racks, tyres, maybe back wheel, different bars, mudguards, etc, etc) but if you have the bits laying around or carefully select one that doesn't need too much doing it.


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