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Updated: 1 hour 17 min ago

My worst tour, and why..

24 November 2014 - 9:25pm
A new thread for you folks.

In about 1995 in June I and three friends arrived in Bordeaux. It started lashing rain. Headed for nearest village. Stayed in nice hotel.
That was the start of a nine day tour in which we cycled over the Pyrenees via Bielsa Tunnel to Ainsa, then into Tremp and Catalunya, then over Andorra and eventually to Toulouse.
There was torrential all-day long rain on 6 of the nine days and at altitude it was very cold.
Even though we had three nice days it was awful.
On the last day, in Toulouse we went drinking with the Toulouse Rugby League team who'd just won the French Championship. Some were Aussies etc.

After that holiday, I needed a holiday.

Re: Cornish way / west country way

24 November 2014 - 7:40pm
honesty wrote:Theres a little garden sandwich shop place in Charlestown that does fantastic pasties, but I've never tested them back to back so cant say which ones are the best. Philips pasty was definitely up there though!

Charlestown is one of those fantastic finds that simply should not exist in the modern age.

When I did this I also detoured to visit the fantastic Quaker meeting house atthe wonderfully named Come to Good

Re: Reivers coast to coast on skinny tires?

24 November 2014 - 5:38pm
Dean wrote:Pah. I ride round there on fixed before breakfast

What was your route?

Gateshead to Hexham along the Tyne, crossed over to Kielder then followed bits of the Rievers to Keswick. Did bits of the C2C between Keswick and Penrith then just followed B roads to Kirkby stephen-Brough-middleton on tees-stanhope-consett then downhill back to Gateshead
MuirSR wrote:Is that a Radical Design Cyclone trailer in your picture?

I thought the "Brompton model" (the Chubby) is available with a black bag only. Is it not a Chubby?,

Its a cyclone III with pimped wheels

Re: Cycle Touring in Japan

24 November 2014 - 3:31pm
Where did you store your bike overnight when staying in the hotels etc?

Re: Cycle Touring in Japan

24 November 2014 - 3:17pm
I would point out you chose a good time to go. Summer is stiflingly humid and hot, winter is cold. Spring and Autumn are good times although avoid the rainy season in late spring/early summer unless you like riding in the rain.

Re: Cycle Touring in Japan

24 November 2014 - 2:37pm
I think I would enjoy it, but I don't speak Japanese.
Is that going to be a problem for me?

Re: Reivers coast to coast on skinny tires?

24 November 2014 - 2:33pm
Is that a Radical Design Cyclone trailer in your picture?

I thought the "Brompton model" (the Chubby) is available with a black bag only. Is it not a Chubby?

Cycle Touring in Japan

24 November 2014 - 2:32pm
I have recently completed a six week cycle tour in Japan and as a number of people asked for details, I have done this short write up. It is not really about the trip but what to expect when touring there. I went for all of October and the first two weeks of November. I flew into Kansai airport (Osaka) and rode a 2,000 kms circuit. Shikoku, Shimanami Kaido (amazing bridges cycle path) to Western Honshu, Kyushu, Shikoku again and back to Kansai. I was more interested in cycling around and didn't visit any main tourist hotspots like Kyoto, maybe next time. Nonetheless many less famous places have plenty of worthwhile sites, natural and manmade.
(NB very roughly, ¥100 = 60p)

Weather:

Generally very good, despite two typhoons! The typhoons passed quickly and only delayed me a couple of days. Weather forecasting is very good and the typhoons and periods of rain are tracked on net and TV. I arranged rest days on a couple of wet days but due to a tight schedule I had to cycle on two other wet days, not bad in six weeks. The days were usually bright and sunny, low humidity with temps in low 20s, ideal for cycling, although by the time I left the temperatures were starting to fall and the wind was getting cold. Winter was coming and so I headed off to pedal in warmer climes.

Accommodation:

Most of the time I stayed in business hotels, which can be found in all reasonable sized towns.These are good quality with bath and shower, AC, TV, fridge and kettle. They usually cost ¥5,000 to 5,500. WiFi was normally available for free. I also stayed in a couple of minshuku (small country hotels) at ¥4000 and 3 hostels in private rooms ¥3,000-5,800. Check in is usualy 3 or 4 pm. Generally they expect you to book ahead and find it odd when you just turn up. I rarely booked and always found somewhere to stay, but beware when business conferences are in town and holiday weekends. I didn't camp and only saw 3 official campsites.

Food:

Excellent! My normal DiY breakfast in my hotel room was bananas and bread or cake, which cost about ¥250, plus tea using the kettle, Some hotels included breakfast, but if not included I thought it poor value at about ¥700. On the road, the convenience stores (cv's) do a great range. Good coffee for ¥100 a cup, cakes, etc for ¥100 and ready meals for ¥350-500. My lunch was normally one of these meals, heated in their microwave, cheap, tasty and filling. You can also get portions of mixed salad, with fish, egg, etc. and fresh fruit. If you choose carefully, eating in cv's can be fairly healthy. Supermarkets also do ready to eat food, plus all the usual stuff.

There are also plenty of small restaurants (noodles, one plate meals, etc) for ¥500-700, but generally I preferred the speed of the cv's when cycling.

In the evening there were many restaurants offering good tasty meals (soup, and main) for under ¥1000. For more specialised or top quality Japanese food, the price rises rapidly. Hotels we're happy for you to take food to your room. Some had communal microwaves.

Roads:

Generally very good quality. Sometimes a shoulder, sometimes not. I found the Japanese drivers very safe and respectful towards cyclists. Everybody obeys the traffic lights, but there are loads of them and they can be a real pain as they are time rather than demand controlled. The lights are above you so you need to keep one eye on the sky. Most Japanese cycle on cycle paths or the pavement, very few on the actual road. The cycle paths can be useful if you are nervous of heavy town traffic, but they are too slow for me when doing a day's touring. Once away from the urban areas you see very few other cyclists. There are lots of tunnels, some have space for bikes, some don't. All are well lit. Remember tunnels are your friends, they cut the top of the hills.

Due to the nature of the country, ie densely populated, lots of hills and a coastal fringe, many of the roads are busy and run along the coast or in the valleys. I found it hard to avoid riding lots of busy roads. Even on days when I rode more rural areas, I was always on the main roads at the start and at the end in the towns where the accommodation is. If camping, you could probably avoid 'civilisation' a bit more. I did more urban and busy highway riding on this trip than on any other.

I didn't use any transport apart from ferries. These are reasonably priced eg ¥1,500 including bike for 1 hour crossing. Bikes on buses and trains are a problem and long distance transport seems expensive. My advice is cycle. Urban transport eg trams, when off the bike, is good and cheap.

Maps:

I looked at the Mapple series of motorbike touring mapbooks and didn't like them. You can get good quality maps in English from the tourist offices, but these aren't detailed enough for urban area navigation where the roads can be a real jumble. Google maps on my tablet with GPS were invaluable. The terrain view also shows what climbs to expect.

Costs:

Overall I found it surprisingly cheap, but you need to think in terms of UK, Europe, Oz prices, not Asia. In 43 days I spent (according to my ATM records) ¥302,000 or ¥6,863 average per day (just under £40 per day).

Impressions:

The scenery is very beautiful with steep wooded valleys and lots of coastline although it does get a bit samey. Lots of volcanoes, particularly on Kyushu and the odd earthquake to liven things up. There are some stunning roads to cycle, but you need to research quite a bit to find them. My favourite area was around the volcanic caldera (largest in the world) of Aso and the nearby Yanamani Highway on Kyushu.There are very few old historic buildings away from the honeypot sites and some of the urban architecture is very uninspiring. Unfortunately, they seem to like covering much of their natural beauty in concrete, possibly to defend it from earthquakes, tsunami, etc or possibly as rural job creation.

It is an incredibly safe country and I never felt threatened. As someone who is used to cycling in other parts of Asia where people all wave and shout hello, Japan was a bit of a shock. Most people just ignore you, even other cyclists. Once you break the ice, they are very friendly and helpful.

I enjoyed my time there and will probably go back next year.

Re: Reivers coast to coast on skinny tires?

24 November 2014 - 1:23pm
Fabulous photo indeed but someone has folded your bike in 2

I'll get me coat,

Paul

Re: Diabetic Feet on Tour

24 November 2014 - 12:15pm
I have no experience of diabetes, but I use these to keep water out:

Shimano MW81 Gore-Tex Winter SPD Boots

I don't know whether they would be any good for you, but might at least be worth a look.

The long cuffs keep out the splashes from deep rural puddles, which is partly why I got them. They are sufficiently warm that I do get sweaty feet in them unless it's very cold, so short of really cold weather I tend to wear thin summer socks in them, but if a person's circulation was a bit compromised they might not be as hot on the feet. You'd need to check the size carefully, most people seem to need a size that's a bit larger than usual.

Re: Reivers coast to coast on skinny tires?

24 November 2014 - 12:06pm
Fabulous photo!

Re: Cornish way / west country way

24 November 2014 - 10:52am
Day 3 is here. A little delayed I know!

Re: Favourite country?

24 November 2014 - 12:44am
For me, three countries stand out head and shoulders above the rest. One - Spain (and more specifically Andalucia) - I have visited often, mostly by bike, and will be going back. The second - Ghana - I visited once and will probably but unfortunately never go back. The third is India which I have never visited but feel a deep sense of longing for and connection with; I may go there, perhaps with a bike.

All three are hot. I love the heat but all three counties are challenging. All have music playing in my mind and tugging at my heart strings: flamenco in the case of Spain, the sitar of India and in the case of Ghana, the music of Jimmy Cliff (it was ubiquitous during my stay there in 1974 and I was often lulled to sleep in a hotel room by the gentle waves of reggae wafting up from the street below).

I think a country to be special must be like a lover: you must feel a sense of emotional attachment. It must retain some mystery, something you might never quite understand about it. And when you leave, you must feel torn in two and promise that one day you will return. A tear shed perhaps. I certainly felt that after hitch-hiking down to the south of Spain on my first trip and when I climbed aboard my plane home from Ghana in Accra.

Some of that mystery must be in the language - which rules out New Zealand - and the food (which rules out America). But I also think you must be affected physically: getting sunburnt in Spain or squeezing onto a hot and crowded bus in Ghana are physical memories not photographs.

More than anything I feel that a country has to allow us to explore ourselves and our differences with it. That may not be nowadays as possible as it once was but I am pretty sure that I wouldn't be complacent about India not challenging my senses to the core.

Re: What is the best dynamo hub for touring?

24 November 2014 - 12:36am
Headset plug by tout terrain. I'm using one on my current tour. Cabling is routed through the steerer tube.

One problem with it which I emailed them about but they have not acknowledged is that when riding under a speed that provides enough charge to a connected device, the led blips periodically and sends power to the device for a split second. Enough for an iphone or other device to light up and think it'd been connected for charging, therefore running down the device! On my bike/wheel setup this is 8mph.

That said it'd still been good, when riding at a speed that causes a problem I pull out the lead.

There's more info on my bike/dynamo/hub on my website.

Gary
www.longbikeride.co.uk

Re: Eurovelo 7 South to North?

23 November 2014 - 10:28pm
I have a cycling friend who's parents live in Malta, Mrs RJS and I had a holiday there, he warned us don't take your bike, its definitely not a very cycle friendly country, roads other than the newest are awful, think uneven patches with pot holes for the worst. The people, when they aren't in their cars, are wonderful and friendly, most speak English. If you enjoy history and architecture, there is just so much to see. What with the small independent Bakery's, butchers, the fish market, and nice warm weather, (Easter), we had a wonderful time, but glad we didn't take the bike.
Cheers, Rob.

Re: Eurovelo 7 South to North?

23 November 2014 - 10:07pm
If not CGOAB then Google is your friend.
Also try looking up "Ciclopista Del Sole" which is the Italian part of EV-7
Have you seen -> http://italy-cycling-guide.info/cyclewa ... urovelo-7/

Re: Favourite country?

23 November 2014 - 10:06pm
smith4188 wrote:Eastern Europe, particularly Bosnia, Macedonia and Montenegro. Beautiful scenery, very cheap and nicely weird.

I really loved Serbia - partly cos I was feeling homesick and the rolling limestone valleys in the east reminded me of the North Pennines.

Belgrade is a cracking city, and the Fruska Gora National Park just to the south of Novi Sad is amazing.

Re: Reivers coast to coast on skinny tires?

23 November 2014 - 9:51pm
Pah. I ride round there on fixed before breakfast

What was your route?

Re: Eurovelo 7 South to North?

23 November 2014 - 9:45pm
Thank you, but I failed to find anything on crazyguyonabike. If there's anything I've missed, I'd be grateful for the link.

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