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Updated: 1 hour 17 min ago

Re: panniers panniers panniers???

9 November 2014 - 7:56pm
If I was looking for panniers again I would look for something with pockets. I curse the pocketless Ortliebs I have every time I use them.

Re: French End to End

9 November 2014 - 7:50pm
I plotted this as a route a while ago on http://ridewithgps.com - which is a pretty powerful planner and will give you a route profile and total ascent. Probably worth dividing it into at least two/four sections for easier planning and editing, but a virtually straight line of about 1300km looked pretty viable, skirting just east of Paris. Bray-Dunes and Lamanère lie at almost exactly the same longitude, and sticking as close as possible to that for the whole way down appealed to my sense of whimsy Virtually flat for the first half, then gets unsurprisingly lumpy for the second, but you could probably tweak a fair amount of that out if you wanted to meander via river valleys.

I seem to recall failing to spot any obvious accommodation in Lamanère itself from a cursory Google; the nearest was in Prats-de-Mollo. Would be interested to hear if you find any.

Re: Traveling by Train.

9 November 2014 - 6:24pm
Using several tickets to make up your journey is the "split ticketing" which sweep and I were on about upthread. Actually you don't have to split them where you change trains, it's perfectly valid to travel on a train going from A to B to C using a ticket from A to B and another from B to C (as long as the train actually stops at B). That gives you a few more options for splitting.

The Ellesmere Port ticket you mentioned is a good example of what I was referring to above about how you can take advantage of the flexibility of Off Peak and Anytime tickets. It is nigh on impossible to offer customers a choice of routes on a single price ticket without creating inconsistencies with other ticket prices. Alighting at a station prior to the destination on the ticket is commonly known as "stopping short" and is permitted on these tickets (unless the ticket specifically excludes a "break of journey").

People should be aware that you are never allowed to do this with Advance tickets . With those you must board and alight at the stations you booked and travel only on the exact train and route you booked. Thinking it's okay to buy a cheaper ticket for a longer journey and just hop off a few stations early is a common (and costly) error people make with Advance tickets

Re: Traveling by Train.

9 November 2014 - 5:59pm
If you have a change of train on your journey, I've found it is often worth checking what the fares for the individual legs booked separately would be (for the same trains if it is cheaper ticket). For instance - I've found that not having the leg from Bolton to Manchester, which is £3.80, as part of a single ticket can often reduce the fare for the main journey substantially, often by £10 or more.

Another oddity I've found in recent months is that a return from Wigan to Ellesmere Port is £5 cheaper than a return from Wigan to Chester - even though going via Chester is a legitimate way of getting to Ellesmere Port (the alternative is via Liverpool). As my usual destination is between Chester & Ellesmere Port, I usually get the ticket to EP but only get the train as far as Chester and ride from there (going to EP is 2 extra trains taking an additional 1/2 hour leaving me no closer to my final destination).


Re: panniers panniers panniers???

9 November 2014 - 5:28pm
I've had a pair of Ortlieb Rolltop rear panniers for about 20 years and they've done 50 tours or more and are still waterproof and have had to have nothing replaced. I know of nothing else which would equal this durability.
I think that Carradice stuff is pretty good too. I've three of their saddlebags, some for a long time and one racktop bag which is super durable. Cotton Duck is the stuff though

Re: Traveling by Train.

9 November 2014 - 5:04pm
Even better - I had an inkling that one or more of the train companies still offered free ticket postage on all tickets regardless of collection facilities and it seems at least First Transpennine Express and First Great Western do so they are the ones to use if you want 1st class post.

No special tips really. With Advance tickets the key is to travel at less popular times, be flexible with travel times, book early and try out different routes and combinations of split tickets. Things can get more complicated with Off Peak and Anytime tickets because the greater flexibility of route choice and the ability to break your journey (http://www.railforums.co.uk/showpost.ph ... ostcount=9) can allow people to take advantage of the inconsistent pricing of tickets. All very geeky! Most of the time the best option is just to get Advance tickets if available. Those aged 16-25; 60+; mature students; disabled people; families, couples and friends travelling together should consider whether a railcard makes sense. If the ticket(s) for the journey and any others in the next 12 months come to more than £90 you will probably make a saving.

Train companies choose how they price and allocate Advance tickets and they do use these to fill up trains at inconvenient times. Often the best fares can be had for night journeys. As you have discovered these are often still available in the days before travel. There is often a tier of Advance fares for a journey (say £10, £15 and £20) each is limited in number and the cheapest ones get sold first - that explains why you see different Advance fares for the same journey. You'll be pleased to know that £16 is the lowest tier of Advance ticket for that journey to "rural Lancashire".

I'm guessing Clitheroe

Re: French End to End

9 November 2014 - 5:03pm
You could follow one of these routes...


Re: UK to Prague via northern Germany

9 November 2014 - 4:23pm
Thanks again Anne for your very comprehensive answer. Time to get some maps and start planning while it rains outside!

Re: panniers panniers panniers???

9 November 2014 - 4:22pm
The two good things about Karrimor panniers are that a) they a re light in weight b) they are made of a woven artificial fabric so wear well and easy to repair. I ve had mine now for going on 15 years

Re: Traveling by Train.

9 November 2014 - 3:43pm

Since you are cleary an expert on all this I wondered if you had any top tips (maybe small number of bullet points) bicycler for getting cheap tickets?

Apart from split ticketing of course or just booking three months ahead.

Any truth in something you hear sometimes, that particular days of the week are cheaper?

I remain puzzled by my £16 relatively-late-booked Christmas Eve ticket London to rural Lancashire.

Re: Traveling by Train.

9 November 2014 - 3:36pm
It is automatic. The booking system knows where tickets can be collected. If the departure station has not got a machine where you can collect tickets then it will offer the post option for free
East Coast.png
If it has a collection machine the post option will show a £1 fee:

Re: Traveling by Train.

9 November 2014 - 3:08pm
Yes, I knew that there was an option.

If I click that with no machine near me, that is when presumably it offers the miser option

Re: Traveling by Train.

9 November 2014 - 2:30pm
It's a tick box on the delivery options page below the option to collect from a machine. They will only offer the post option if you are booking several days in advance: http://www.eastcoast.co.uk/rail-travel/ ... y-options/

Re: panniers panniers panniers???

9 November 2014 - 1:50pm
I have a set of Altura Orkney panniers front and rear and they have provided very good service over several thousand miles and are still in very good condition. My own preference, supporting British companies, would be for either Carradice or Altura.

I would recommend, however, regardless of brand, that you go for a sturdy build. The lightweight panniers will always need additional waterproofing and are more susceptible to damage. I have met several people in the past whose (expensive) lightweight panniers were surviving only through the extensive use of duct tape!

Re: panniers panniers panniers???

9 November 2014 - 12:41pm
Thanks for the response,
my local bike shop's limited on panniers,but there is another not to far away.
don't think foot cleanance will be a problem as I have only got small feet,
I may look into altura & upgrade if need be(leaving me with spare panniers for my daily shop)

Re: UK to Prague via northern Germany

9 November 2014 - 10:46am
Hi Groberts...

Well I quite like camping in NL - they all speak fluent English and love cycling so have often been approached by friendly dutch people inquirying about my tour, had offerings of hot tea and once during a storm my dutch neighbor told me she had to peek out her camper window a couple times to make sure I was ok in my little tent...very friendly people and they are easy to engage conversations with and often share tips. I try to find campgrounds with good ratings, they often have a 'green camper' discount for cyclists (not using a motor vehicle I guess). The only time I felt insecure was when I chose to stay at a vacation park place, the sort with permanent camper homes. You can read more about my experiences in my blog which I had linked, I try to give honest reviews. I am not sure but think that wild camping is illegal in both countries.

Germany can be a little more challenging with language and have lesser wifi hookups, but some owners really take pride in their campsites and keep them very tidy. Since stumbling across the campsite search site (linked in my last post here) I really just use that, check reviews, sometimes click onto their links or check their rating with tripadvisor. Note that camping is very popular in both countries, generally there is 'always a spot for small tents and cyclist" but if you are travelling during a four day bank holiday on a sunny weekend you may not be so lucky (bank holidays are generally the church holidays such as Pentacost). Oh - if you didn't know already...FKK is the abbreviation for the German term for nudist colonies, they do have quite a few of those actually, so when planning you might just want to keep that in mind if searching about.
I do agree with Foxyrider, using prepared route maps can be frustrating because of limitations, the pp maps are just really a good price without the extra tour book bits they are available at most bike and book shops as well...the adfc maps are better but you may need to get these ahead of time. I like the security of having a printed map with me as my devices always seem to have moods when I travel. I will go to http://www.bikemap.net/en/?tab=top#/z15 ... 51/terrain and search using typing in the a and b cities in my tour (or section thereof) and print out a map. Because people can post freely here it has become a hot mess, not sure how to filter this site best...but use the a/b search over racing and MTB routes. I'm sure there are better online sources but every once in a while I will cross a route someone posted here that seems useful for my needs. Basically what I do is print it out in half or quarter sheet size, additionally I write down the cities I will pass through and ignore the printed route and just follow the bike path signs from city to city (in both countries they are white with cities/km in green, sometimes red).

More and more themed/named routes are being put together by communities and tourist boards, they often just add their route sign or sticker to the existing city/km signs. Paths in NL are generally seperate from car traffic, they do allow scooters on their paths so you need to take care, also the shared stretches can be a bit frightening because the dutch motorists do not swerve or slow for cyclists...I guess everyone is so used to the tighter situations and stay very steadfast in their paths. The German routes are a combinations of bike paths and agricultural paths, often in/near cities they are shared with pedestrians, but give a little ring and they will allow you to pass. Most are paced, sometimes you will have a stretch along a well packed gravel path.

If you prefer to have a proper route ahead of time...you can pick up the EuroVelo15 (Rhine Route) in Rotterdam ... then at Xanten/Wesel switch to the Lippe Römerroute (search the net for their logo, the route interchanges between the Lippe river and Wesel canal) to Paderborn...from there I would use a map from bikemap.net - looks like they list a couple ca. 500 km from Paderborn, flattish. The Ruhr (river/canal) route is just a bit south of the Lippe, the two run almost parallel so both could be good ways to work yourself eastwards, depending on where you enter Germany.

Here is a dutch site with a English translation offering advice about their Cycling paths and both the LF routes (long distance) and Fietspunktroutes (junction system)...they even have a LF route planner. http://www.nederlandfietsland.nl/en

Re: panniers panniers panniers???

9 November 2014 - 9:26am
If it's possible take your bike to a shop with a range and try them out. You'll find out how the fittings work with your particular rack, if you've got enough heel clearance etc. etc.

I like Ortliebs, not really about the waterproofing (as noted, all it takes is a plastic bag, though I'd go for a rubble sack rather than a binliner as they don't rip nearly so easily, and if touring you'll probably want liners anyway so when you need to put e.g. a wet jacket or tent in you don't get all your dry stuff wet) but more about the ease of use and quality of the fittings. To lock the pannier on to the rack, let go of the handle. To unlock, pick up by the handle. I appreciate that every time I use them, rather than if it's raining.

Also have a think about how you like compartments. If you like lots of separate places with independent access then a One-Big-Bag style probably isn't best, and vice versa. This is again something that's easier to work out with them in your hands in front of you, rather than a third party recommendation and some interweb pictures.


Re: panniers panniers panniers???

9 November 2014 - 9:08am
+1 for the RCP bags.
I've had mine since July this year and they're brilliant. Very large capacity (45ltr I think) and literally airtight when closed. Water won't get into these. The mounts are adjustable to fit pretty much any rack.
These do a similar job to ortliebs for half the cost.

Re: panniers panniers panniers???

9 November 2014 - 8:02am
I have some of those disklock things.

Including a really nice small pair that i use on the back for day rides.

Goes off into a corner to weep for now long lost karrimor - my partner is from the middle of the Med and even as a young woman out there was aware of the company's reputation for quality.

On the OP if they also use the bike for shopping at all I'd splash out and go for Ortlieb now - I bought a pair almost 20 years ago and they still look fine after ferrying all sorts if stuff. Have long since paid for themselves.

Re: Map(s) of Wales

8 November 2014 - 8:26pm
mcallaghan wrote:Trying to avoid bringing my phone as well (I live in the US) due to the international charges etc. I think I can pickup a prepaid phone for cheap in case of emergencies? Or count on my mate who lives in the UK that is going to come with me on having a phone. I do have a GPS (Garmin 500 I think) but it has a battery life of 8 hours before needing a charge, and I am not sure how frequent I'll have access to electricity while camping most nights. I got away with it in Ireland as well (but did have my Laptop + GPS and did the B&B thing the whole time).

Those CycleCity Wales maps look pretty decent and at that price, much cheaper than the other options I've seen. Something to give me an idea of what is around the route, potential hills, campsites, castles, etc.

My American friends get prepaid phones when they come here. In fact, I think they arrange it from the States, but not sure how they do it. I think you can PM me, if you want me to ask them how.
Good luck with your trip.


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