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Updated: 13 min 50 sec ago

Re: Avenue Verte Blog

23 October 2014 - 8:21am
Thanks for the kind words. Day three is almost ready!

I can't really speak for audax bikes but actually the English side was mostly OK with only a few short stretches of unmade path: The first section by Eridge station could be avoided easily by taking the main road that the track runs parallel with - it wouldn't be much fun as its a sharp uphill with a short section of dual carriageway but is only about a half mile. The second section leads up the hill to Heathfield and that is a section where I stayed on the road which was perfectly fine - you are on a climb with traffic but it doesn't really add any distance and I'm sure is much easier going and I didn't face too much traffic. The final section is the stretch from the bottom of the cuckoo trail between Polegate and Berwick. This section can get quite muddy after heavy rain - not helped by frequent horse use (there is a stables halfway along this section) but actually there are only a couple of short pieces on this mile long stretch that actually get bad. I cycle this particular section throughout the year when riding between Lewes and Hastings so know it pretty well now - over the winter I am going to look for some alternative routes - there are a couple of fairly simple options but each add a mile or more.

It is interesting that you highlighted issues on the English side though. My reading of the Sustrans guide book led me to think that conditions would be much worse in places on the French side (not to ruin the suspense but I took the western route and most of the off road sections were after the split - I might try the eastern route in another year or two but don't know about the track on that side).

Actually the sections around Eridge and Polegate were worse than all bar one section in France. The guidebook hinted at a couple of problem areas but (maybe helped by dry conditions) these actually seemed to be well made paths or farm tracks and were all surprisingly pleasant (I say surprisingly on account of the description in the guide book). However one part which the book didn't seem so concerned with was actually the worst section of the route; around Longuesse area. I actually missed some of this as the track diverts around one village which I went into in a search for a shop but I picked the off road section back up coming out of the village. The section is more farm track than path but is very very uneven and I had to go pretty slow - if I'd know I would have diverted and stayed on the road - but generally the surfaces were fine - I was on a ridgeback tourer but their basic model



Re: Baggage allowance- max dimensions

23 October 2014 - 8:12am
Maybe you do, but....

It is worth regularly checking the prices as they often change almost daily. Last time I flew to NZ with Emirates, I saw fares go from 900ish to 1100ish and thought I had missed the cheapies. A few days later they were back to 9 and I booked. Same thing happened to Taiwan last year.

Probably true of other carriers as well.

If going via US make sure everybody is eligible to enter visa free. Even though in transit, people have been refused boarding in UK because of this. As said above US transit rules change frequently. Personally I avoid flying that way.

I haven't used Trailfinders for quite a while (since direct booking online), but I used to use regularly and thought them very good. Make sure they put any bike info from the airline in writing on your invoice.

Re: Avenue Verte Blog

23 October 2014 - 7:40am
Most of the Avenue Verte in England is fine on a road bike - there's just a few sections you have to watch for, and by definition if you have an audax bike you're probably comfortable on the short lengths of main road that these sections bypass.

Whether or not you actually want to do the bits through suburban London and past Gatwick, of course, is another matter!

Re: Avenue Verte Blog

23 October 2014 - 7:30am
Enjoyable read. Avenue Verte is a route I'd really like to ride some day but you hear such bad things about the conditions of the path in England that I'm put off a bit trying it on my audax bike.

Re: Avenue Verte Blog

23 October 2014 - 7:09am
A lovely read Rich, looking forward to the remaining chapters.

Re: Cycling the Portuguese coastline

23 October 2014 - 6:25am
As you can see below I deliberately avoided as much as possible the coastline, IMO portuguese mainland is by far much better.
The use of velomap digital maps was essential in reaching Porto through minor roads, entering Lisbon following the Rio Tejo coming from Sintra-Estoril was fantastic. If you want to have a look to the entire trip please have a look here below, it's in Italian sorry ... if you need I should still have all the gpx tracks ...


Re: YHA Discount.

23 October 2014 - 5:47am
If the YHA discount is something like the one this time last year (Winter Warmer it might have been called?), then it only applies to certain hostels.
I had the same reaction as you and couldn't understand what was going on.

If it isn't this same deal then ignore my reply.

Maybe phone direct to the hostel you want and they could do it manually and apply discount?

Re: Road Cycle Touring in the Scottish Highlands

23 October 2014 - 4:59am
Ha! I did, I forgot the ferry!
You are right. Perhaps I should have added it, however because its the most likely way to get across to the outer Isles I sort of assumed, but thinking about it these days people fly. I suppose folks taking the ferry from Europe will either have a car, cycle or have taken the train. Def right though should have included:)
Thanks for filling it in greatly appreciated

YHA Discount.

22 October 2014 - 11:22pm
I received an email from YHA offering me 15% off bookings between 29/9 and 21/12.

I tried to make a booking for this Saturday night and it refused the discount saying it was invalid for the booking.

So I thought I would try the CTC discount, I have never bothered doing so before.

This time it refused saying "invalid for the desired stay dates". I had copied it direct from the CTC website just minutes before hand.

Re: Road Cycle Touring in the Scottish Highlands

22 October 2014 - 9:27pm
Filled in the survey. But Q8 - where's the ferry gone?! [emoji102]

Re: Cycling the Portuguese coastline

22 October 2014 - 5:14pm
In general, riding along a coast means traffic and urban areas. My only tour in Portugal (Lisbon to Bilbao) was only enjoyable when I abandoned the coast and rode inland.

Re: Lighting a bike/high vis on tour

22 October 2014 - 4:29pm
Some interesting reading here. personally I'm in the be visible camp and don't go on the bike without front and rear lights. They use rechargeable batteries which last for may hours riding between charges so virtually no cost to using them.

Sure - in the middle of the day hi viz clothing might not always be required but conditions can change and so I've just got into the habit of wearing something 'visible' at all times.

There have been some interesting points about cyclists v pedestrians. Someone made a point about supermarket car parks. The answer to that is simply that Mrs Smith and little Kevin are only walking across the car park for a matter of seconds whereas employees can be out there for several hours each day thereby greatly improving the change of not being seen. And putting your driver's hat on I bet that at least on one occasion when manoeuvring in the super market you've not quite spotted someone as early as you might like. As for pedestrians - of course pedestrians in towns, on pavements don't need to wear hi viz gear - but take a stroll down winding country lanes and anything that can make you visible a fraction of a second earlier could just help.

Back to being on the bike, as soon as conditions aren't optimal it can be very easy to not see people as easily. It can be quite scary as a driver when you come across cyclists with no hi viz gear or lights - and the worst time is not the dark when headlights start to reflect things - but the early evening twilight when the light is starting to fade.

But the main reason I wear the gear? It may not always look the best but I quite like being alive and anything that...
a) might just give me an advantage in staying that way or
b) gives me or my family the upper hand in any legal wranglings that may occur if something does go wrong
...is an easy choice to go for

Re: Lighting a bike/high vis on tour

22 October 2014 - 3:59pm
In the long-term I think what's more important than them seeing you, is you seeing them. What we really need, is 360 degree vision i.e. eyes in the back of the head or a technological equivalent.

A simple mirror is far better than nothing, but far from perfect.

Technology still hasn't caught up to this need, but give it 20 years. It's not just about seeing, but it should emphasise the dangers.

A recent project tried but didn't take off: https://www.dragoninnovation.com/projec ... r-by-ikubu I think the design didn't please everyone.

Something for motorbikes which looks very cool http://www.skullysystems.com/#intro check out the video obviously this is far too heavy for push bikes.

Re: Touring Map(s) Hebrides & West Coast

22 October 2014 - 2:58pm
Thanks for the replies everyone.. I've just picked up some great old maps, from my father in law.. He's also got some larger scale, detailed maps of the Cuillin region. I know compasses are useless in this area & will not even attempt to summit, unless it's a perfectly clear day.. Wouldn't dare risk walking in the mountains on my own in bad weather, although I know conditions can change so quickly in the mountains. Thanks again for the advice..

Re: Baggage allowance- max dimensions

22 October 2014 - 2:39pm
Penfolds11 wrote:I know that NZ transit in Los Angeles and for a while the US authorities insisted that all passengers disembarked with luggage, cleared customs and got back on the plane again! Hand baggage only, checked baggage stays on board, no clearing customs. The aircraft is cleaned, so it is everybody off and into a holding area. True that immigration have to check you in. 12 hours ish to LA and another 13 to Auckland.

Re: Baggage allowance- max dimensions

22 October 2014 - 2:18pm
I know that NZ transit in Los Angeles and for a while the US authorities insisted that all passengers disembarked with luggage, cleared customs and got back on the plane again! A crazy procedure but that's what they wanted to do. They might have ditched that policy now but an important point to remember is the number of transits that may need to be encountered, and waiting times involved. While a cheap fare sound great now, when you're stuck in an airport transit area for 6 hours you'll be wishing you spent another £100 on another carrier with better connection times. Although if you travel via Singapore then you'll want as long a wait as possible so that you can spend time in the open-air swimming pool at Changi Airport.

I can't comment on Southern China Airlines as I've never heard of them before (and I've worked in the travel industry before) but I will advise that cheaper is not always best. Might I suggest the OP tries talking to a more specialised (ie not a package holiday) travel agent? Online investigations aren't always best and even supposed flight-aggregators (eg skycanner.net) can't replicate the specialist knowledge and fare construction of long-haul travel agents. Despite a reputation as a backpackers travel company, Trailfinders have a wealth of knowledge of moving people and luggage around the world and will be able to advise on individual carriers' bicycle requirements as well as the most efficient way of travelling. They will also be able to offer fares that the airlines themselves can't offer which sounds bizarre but is to do with the complicated commercial policies of most airlines. I would presume that the likes of STA Travel and Travel Bag among many others will offer the same service but I can't personally recommend them, which I can with Trailfinders. Although I've not flown a bike across the world before.

Re: Avenue Verte Blog

22 October 2014 - 2:01pm
Thanks James

Re: Cycling the Portuguese coastline

22 October 2014 - 12:55pm
I'm not particularly traffic sensitive. I live close to the centre of Manchester and also less than two miles from one of the feeder routes into the major motorway network. I'm in that every day so I consider myself a good confident cyclist in heavy traffic. The conditions on the coast road from Porto and aggressive driving from truckers are probably the worst I have ever experienced. Both of us were of the same mind and remarked how there was no way those trucks had limiters fitted.
Oh, by the way, I'm also a truck driver when the occassion demands, so I do have some experience on both sides.

Re: Cycling the Portuguese coastline

22 October 2014 - 10:14am
I would be a bit ambivalent about recommending the Portuguese coastline as a touring destination above many of the other places in Europe that you could go to – however, if you are already there and if you have not been and seen then its not that bad

I cycled from Santander to Malaga along the coast one May – I was following the coast – because I Iike coasts and being near the sea – because that’s where I was most likely to find campsites and because I hadn’t been that way before.

Generally I found the cycling pleasant if generally unspectacular outside of the big towns and the traffic was generally OK– I cannot remember beinf particularly threatened by it, but im not traffic sensitive - navigating some of the larger places is not that easy, but not impossible - a comment I could make about many other large European cities – lots of places I had only seen on the map – avoiding them would make a mockery of my mantra to go naively where I not gone before – and good places to restock with gas – once I had actually got to the centres of Porto, Lisbon et.al they were sufficiently interesting to have made the effort worthwhile, a comment that applies to many other European cities I have visited.

Generally north of the Algarve there are lots of pretty coastlines and interesting places – the Algarve was an abomination – miles of apartments, villas, golf courses marinas – (apart from the occasional blue no cycling signs on the main roads between them) – in the context of that it was part of the longer tour it was something I found quite interesting – however, I will not be returning.

Camping - generally I did quite well with camping considering it was early doors – better than I did in Spain – variable in quality – however, im not that campsite sensitive – somewhere to put the tent and a shower is my requirement.

Re: Cycling the Portuguese coastline

22 October 2014 - 8:35am
Porto and surroundings are pretty difficult cycling due to it being the densest populated area of Portugal. But instead of being (substantially) one concentrated city like Lisbon, it's an extended area of towns, not very far apart, and hence largely linked by busy roads. There are probably some quieter roads alternative to the main roads, but poor mapping and unhelpful signing makes it difficult to find. Coming from the north into Porto, I'd suggest you get a train in from somewhere like Braga (worth a visit). There is a quiet country road that leaves Porto to the SE from fairly close to the centre of Vila Nova de Gaia (the bit of Porto S of the river), but that takes you into the hills, rather than the coast. But then the hills are much the best cycling in Portugal. The cycling in the coastal strip gets more interesting on the final approach to Lisbon, from about Peniche southwards, and then south of Setubal, beyond Lisbon (take a train from L to S). But I still think the interior is much more interesting cycling, a comment which applies to pretty much the whole length of the country - there is lovely inland cycling in the N of the country, though from time to time it is difficult to avoid a narrow busy-ish main road for a while, and unfortunately Portuguese driving is aggressive. But there are plenty of very quiet roads in sparsely populated areas in the interior too, and interesting little towns and villagesto visit.

The commuter rail services around Porto and Lisbon are very cycle friendly, and you can even put your bike on the Porto metro. The longer distance trains are pretty cycle unfriendly in Portugal these days - on regional services you can put your bike on if it has a traditional luggage car, though these are becoming much less common. I understand that the absolute ban on putting bikes on inter-cidade trains has now been lifted provided you can package the bicycle to their requirements. The train company website is fairly helpful, but it's impossible (or was when I last tried) to find out which regional trains have luggage cars on the web.


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