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London to Rome in June, thoughts?

iPeteiPete Posts: 6,076
edited August 2011 in Tour & expedition
Hi guys,

Looking for advice on my plans and for anyone who has done this before?

Basically starting to put together a fundraiser/trip for 3 of us to ride from London to Rome in under 2 weeks this summer.

Currently looking at all the options. Originally we wanted to go with a support vehicle but due to unreliable friends and the difficulty in such a commitment I think if we can fit suitable panniers to our racers we'll give this a go.

Some rider background. All in our mid 20's, currently two of us cycle 35-40 miles 5 days a week as a commute & the third person is a low league footballer, so fitness is relatively good but will start to do longer rides and Sportives in the new year.

So first things first, bikes! I'll be looking to do this on my Specialized Allez, am I crazy? Won't have the funds to also buy a tourer just for this. I'm fairly light and think I can keep the kit per biker under 5-6kg's. We will need to carry spare tyres, tools etc, tents, sleeping & cooking equipment though but this can be divided.

Route:
Europe is just a map to me at the moment, I have no concept on the best way to get across the mountain ranges.

Should we, go from France into Italy, go through Switzerland, around it, go across and down through Austria? This is where I'm really un-sure, some direction or help would be fantastic!

Also Dover or Portsmouth for the crossing, something I guess depends on the over all route.

Camping across Europe, how relaxed is it in regards to pitching up anywhere remote and are there plenty of sites around?

Any thoughts/constructive criticism much appreciated! :)

p.s. Udderly Smooth or Chafe Ease :lol:
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  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    If it's any help, here's a map of the Italian cycle network - to give you an idea of the possible crossing points.

    bit1.jpg


    The Ciclopista del Sole is well-established and looks like a great route if you have the time.

    The choice of route is going to depend a lot on how much time you've got [EDIT - whoops just spotted the bit where you say you are doing it in two weeks] - going via France and Turin is going to be the shortest route, but the route via the Brenner pass looks like it could be the most beautiful and take you to some great places.

    Hopefully someone with experience will be able to advise.

    There seem to be plenty of people touring with Specialized Allez (no idea what plural of 'Allez' should be). You could always by a trailer between you and take turns in pulling it :wink:

    Most campsites should be open in June. I don't go wild camping myself, but I suspect that it comes down to discretion and common sense. I doubt many people would object to 'bivouacking' where there are no campsites, but would object to people simply being too tight to pay a few euros to use a local campsite.
  • iPeteiPete Posts: 6,076
    Thank you very much for the map and even more so for the advice! I'll be having a good look into those routes later.

    :D
  • And don't forget that the law about helmet and reflective clothing and all that palaver varies from country to country. And although it's June will all the high passes be free of snow ? This link might help http://forum.ctc.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=29370
  • iPeteiPete Posts: 6,076
    And don't forget that the law about helmet and reflective clothing and all that palaver varies from country to country. And although it's June will all the high passes be free of snow ? This link might help http://forum.ctc.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=29370

    Thanks, great thoughts and very useful link. Have got waterproofs on the checklist, recon it could be cold up top.
  • jc4labjc4lab Posts: 1,055
    Another option maybe Ostende Brugges Ghent Brussels and Belgium and the Ardeenees to start instead of France.to get to Strasbourg and Black Forest...Found Dieppe.Rouen then heading for the Seine following the river to Paris quite peasant if Paris is a must..Each to his own of course
    jc
  • iPeteiPete Posts: 6,076
    Thanks for the suggestion!

    Going to get my hands on some physical maps and start drawing out potential routes.

    Also gonna start picking a kit list and work out how much weight we have to carry etc!
  • Summer is the better season to visit Rome since they will rejoice their “summer festivals” during this season. Since you have the plan to visit Rome in summer it's always wise to plan your visit as early as possible. International travel gives you a pleasant experience.


    http://mysafetravel.com/index.php?id=70&L=0
  • Hi,

    Interested to hear your plans for a London Rome cycle this year. My mate and I are just doing our detailed planning for the same trip. Last year we did a six day cycle and camp 250 mile ride along the Rhine in germany and enjoyed it very much. We wanted to do something more challenging and plan to do it in two weeks, at the moment end of May/beginning of June 10.

    We did learn a lot from practice rides before we went to Germany and got the gear and bike thing fairly well sorted out. Seems to me it would be good to compare notes and keep in touch as we fix up our respective plans.

    I hope your trip works out OK.

    Jo
  • iPeteiPete Posts: 6,076
    Troy5234 wrote:
    Hi,

    Interested to hear your plans for a London Rome cycle this year. My mate and I are just doing our detailed planning for the same trip. Last year we did a six day cycle and camp 250 mile ride along the Rhine in germany and enjoyed it very much. We wanted to do something more challenging and plan to do it in two weeks, at the moment end of May/beginning of June 10.

    We did learn a lot from practice rides before we went to Germany and got the gear and bike thing fairly well sorted out. Seems to me it would be good to compare notes and keep in touch as we fix up our respective plans.

    I hope your trip works out OK.

    Jo

    Hi,

    Nice to hear from someone doing a similar trip. Looking at your dates we may pass on route! I'd be very interested in hearing what bikes/gear/tents you went with on your last trip. I started another thread specifically for that here,

    http://www.bikeradar.com/forums/viewtop ... t=12670354

    Drop me a PM if you fancy a chat on MSN or over e-mail,

    Pete
  • Hi,

    Just did a long post, and then lost it before uploading it. Would be very keen to exchange ideas and the notion of paths crossing is interesting. I am in Harrow, North London by the way. If you want to email try me at [email protected].

    Bikes: We used £400.00 Claud Butler Hybrids with Alloy frames and some suspension. Came with Alloy rack, crank set, gears, wheels, seat post, bars etc so quite light. I have a road race bike and have toured on it but it is too uncomfortable for riding position when pushing for long periods uphill. The upright position was much better. Also, not great on some of the more bumpy cycle tracks.

    Route: Interested to see what you come up with. We are considering Newhaven/Dieppe then France to West coast of Italy. We are also considering a slightly longer route, following the course of the Rhine from its estuary in Holland to its source in Switzerland via Holland, belgium and Germany. This is a long distance official European cycle route. Then down into Italy and along the west coast. We are going to sit and sort a route choice in a few days and would like to compare notes.

    Tempting to consider bashing down all the roads for speed, but we had an amazing time using cycle routes in Germany. They do them so much better than here. we hope to do a combination as roads get very boring.

    Sleeping bags: Can be three season for the Alps at that time of year. We have done that lots of times by car. We will be camping too for the sake of cost although we think a night in a cheap hotel before going over the Alps might be good. For the bag to be light, small and warm it needs to be down filled, which is expensive, but Blacks and Milletts have some cheaper 3 seasons that are not too big or heavy.

    Sleeping mat is essential. I have an inflatable type but they are expensive and a pain to blow up and deflate for packing. I didn't use mine last year. It weighs too much anyway. A cheap 6 to 8mm foam matress is light, dirt cheap, effective and rolls up small.

    The tent we used last year was great, a Khyam self erecting igloo, but too heavy and does not easily split between two. We are going to go for somthing lighter and smaller that divides into two bits for Rome, but don't yet know what. Be interested to hear what you think looks good.




    Will do some more of the stuff tomorrow if you are interested.

    Jo


    [
  • Just thought I'd give you an idea of the route I took on a tour that me and 3 friends did a couple of years ago. It was a bit of a longer journey than your plans as we had a few days off and did a few touristy things along the way.

    We got the Portsmouth - Caen ferry then headed south to the loire valley, then down through the massif central of france before heading east to Grenoble. From here we crossed the alps stopping in Bourg d'oisans for a few days to climbs a couple of mountains without luggage as its at the base of alpe d'huez. Then we crossed over the alps via the col du lautaret and col du galibier into Briancon. Then over the col de montgenevre into italy.

    It was a mountanous route but to get into italy you've got to cross the alps somewhere and there was as good as any. Then we headed around turin and south to the coast to Genoa. From here we followed to coast all the way round to Pisa which was very hilly but no where it seems in italy is flat! Then it was east to Florence and then south through tuscany and lazio to Rome.

    This was just our journey and we made it up as we went along. There are probably easier ways but this just included places we wanted to go and see.

    Map wise i'd highly recommend IGN french maps as they are brilliant. Italy maps are less so. We founs touring club italy maps were the best.

    Anyway good luck with your trip and have a great time! Back to work for me!
  • mididoctorsmididoctors Posts: 8,507
    ridden to Italy a fair few times

    quickest route is wherever to a Strasbourg crossing of the Rhine to Nauders or (alternative Rhine valley route but is longer than it looks)

    1 major mountain pass only

    but far from the most interesting


    OK


    my main advice is this

    DON'T CAMP reconsider the credit card option

    I can not stress this enough
    "If I was a 38 year old man, I definitely wouldn't be riding a bright yellow bike with Hello Kitty disc wheels, put it that way. What we're witnessing here is the world's most high profile mid-life crisis" Afx237vi Mon Jul 20, 2009 2:43 pm
  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    ridden to Italy a fair few times
    [...]
    my main advice is this

    DON'T CAMP reconsider the credit card option

    I can not stress this enough

    Is there something about camping and Italy? Or camping in general?
  • andymiller wrote:
    Is there something about camping and Italy? Or camping in general?

    Just ask Kenneth Williams.
  • mididoctorsmididoctors Posts: 8,507
    andymiller wrote:
    ridden to Italy a fair few times
    [...]
    my main advice is this

    DON'T CAMP reconsider the credit card option

    I can not stress this enough

    Is there something about camping and Italy? Or camping in general?

    I have done both
    "If I was a 38 year old man, I definitely wouldn't be riding a bright yellow bike with Hello Kitty disc wheels, put it that way. What we're witnessing here is the world's most high profile mid-life crisis" Afx237vi Mon Jul 20, 2009 2:43 pm
  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    I have done both

    I had worked that out from your previous post. Any chance of a bit of an explanation as to why you recommend not camping so vehemently. Like the original poster I'm planning to do some touring in Italy this year so my question was a serious one.[/b]
  • Hey guys,

    Have camped all over Europe on tours, and Italian and French campsites are very good. On our trip to germany this year the campsites were a highlight, and most had a bar too!! I think a point is being missed here.. On our London to Rome trip this year, (see above), we want to carry all our own gear, and we want to camp. That way it really seems to us that getting there is a big achievement, being self contained and all that. I think the challenge of carrying all the gear, and not having a support vehicle to carry stuff, and not using hotels, makes it a raw and harder challenge, Us, our gear and the bikes against all!! Childish, but we think it will make it a great achievement. Going over the Alps on a bike with little gear and staying in nice hotels is OK, but expensive, but is it that hard??
  • mididoctorsmididoctors Posts: 8,507
    Troy5234 wrote:
    Hey guys,

    Have camped all over Europe on tours, and Italian and French campsites are very good. On our trip to germany this year the campsites were a highlight, and most had a bar too!! I think a point is being missed here.. On our London to Rome trip this year, (see above), we want to carry all our own gear, and we want to camp. That way it really seems to us that getting there is a big achievement, being self contained and all that. I think the challenge of carrying all the gear, and not having a support vehicle to carry stuff, and not using hotels, makes it a raw and harder challenge, Us, our gear and the bikes against all!! Childish, but we think it will make it a great achievement. Going over the Alps on a bike with little gear and staying in nice hotels is OK, but expensive, but is it that hard??


    if you want to camp as a priority then my point is moot
    "If I was a 38 year old man, I definitely wouldn't be riding a bright yellow bike with Hello Kitty disc wheels, put it that way. What we're witnessing here is the world's most high profile mid-life crisis" Afx237vi Mon Jul 20, 2009 2:43 pm
  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    if you want to camp as a priority then my point is moot

    So to cut a long story short, it's not that camping in Italy is particularly awful, you don't like camping in general.

    Personally, if I could afford it, I'd happily leave the tent at home - but not with the exchange rate the way it is at the moment.
  • mididoctorsmididoctors Posts: 8,507
    andymiller wrote:
    if you want to camp as a priority then my point is moot

    So to cut a long story short, it's not that camping in Italy is particularly awful, you don't like camping in general.

    Personally, if I could afford it, I'd happily leave the tent at home - but not with the exchange rate the way it is at the moment.


    didn't find it that much more expensive.. didn't book 4 star; gites YHA .. french transport cafes (just ask if they have a room)_ blagged free nights off other cyclists! more than once


    is the extra cost is worth it?

    how many camping tourers here end up staying a in a hotel for one(or more) night's decent sleep anyway?

    a fair few is my guess

    and how much money do you really save... swiss mountan farm for 7 quid including breakfast and dinner!.... this is Switzerland I'm talking about?

    sure these cheap finds don't happen everyday but they happen more often the more you interact... and I am the worse little Englander abroad at times.. appalling Franglais

    "what how much?" "no you use boiling water for tea" etc etc etc

    smile and laugh a lot... it gets cheaper
    "If I was a 38 year old man, I definitely wouldn't be riding a bright yellow bike with Hello Kitty disc wheels, put it that way. What we're witnessing here is the world's most high profile mid-life crisis" Afx237vi Mon Jul 20, 2009 2:43 pm
  • iPeteiPete Posts: 6,076
    Hey everyone, sorry for the slow response, been off ill this week.

    Very interesting debate, camping vs credit card. I'm currently weighing up the cost of buying all the gear and will guestimate a credit card cost and see what the difference is, then decide whats going to offer the better challenge/experience.

    Troy5234, my route is currently a google map route that I've somewhat manipulated, once I've got some time, (been ill and on holiday next week) I'll get down to the finer details, look at the advice people on here have given, find some guides and put it down in writing and send it in your direction! (hopefully e-mail you my rough guide at the weekend)

    Again, thanks to everyone for the tips and help!
  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    iPete wrote:
    Very interesting debate, camping vs credit card. I'm currently weighing up the cost of buying all the gear and will guestimate a credit card cost and see what the difference is, then decide whats going to offer the better challenge/experience.

    My twopennyworth would be (all the figures are for one person):

    - estimate of the average cost of a night in a campsite in France 7.5€
    - youth hostel/gite d'étape 15 euros (with dinner B&B at approx 35 euros)
    - decent hotel in non-tourist area 40 euros.

    Payback period on the cost of a basic tent, mat and sleeping bag on its own (ie assuming you camp but don't cook) at 7.50€ a night might be, say, 20 nights. Cooking for yourself as well means you save more and might bring down the payback period to ten nights or so. Payback periods could increase fairly dramatically for top-of-the-range kit.

    I don't know what the comparable figures would be for two people sharing rooms - which drastically brings down the cost per person of staying in a hotel, but also the cost of the tent would be shared.

    So if you're new to cycle touring and planning a first short tour it might not be a good plan to rush out and spend loads of money on camping equipment.

    These figure are for France. I don't know how well they hold up for Italy. I know that in Spain campsites can be more expensive while basic hotels are cheaper. Oh and in Switzerland apparently there are people queuing up to offer bed and breakfast at £7. :shock: although it's not clear how much grinning you have to do to get that price.

    Unfortunately I don't have any experience of using warmshowers.com - but it does look like it could cut costs dramatically.
  • This is my first post.
    Have you considered following the Via Francigena?
    This is an ancient pilgrimage route now designated as a European Cultural route. It starts in Canterbury, Dover-Calais across France over the St Bernard Pass and into Italy. 2000kms.
    As far as I know much of it is off road.
    Thinking of doing it myself and was also considering camping to cut costs.... now I'm not so sure!
  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    The pilgrim routes may well have low-cost accommodation for 'pilgrims'. You may need to get a 'credential' - so it's worth researching how to get one.
  • Hey, thanks Roundywheels my mate and I are cycling London to Rome in mid may and have been talking to ipete. we sat to plan our route this weekend and looked at your suggestion the Via Francigena. We haven't found much up to date info, but have now planned our route around this. It is great, avoiding too many hills through France, and the Col St Bernard looks mad. Don't fancy the tunnel so will probably go over. We have moved away from the route for Italy as we want to go down the West coast. If you are interested in the road by road town by town rooute we have planned, which includes camp sites for planned stopovers, email me at [email protected].
    iPete, will email it to you soon..

    Tents:After years of camping on mountains and all over Europe we know that on a long trip you need space in a tent for all your gear and for emergency cooking if the weather is foul. It has to be light too but not too expensive.
    After a lot of research we are going with the Vango Tempest 200 at about £90. It weighs 2.5kG and has space for gear and emergency cooking. It is also very compact when packed, 40cm long and 15cm diameter. To go lighter with the space is too expensive and these are much lighter that the Colemans. We did think about the Tempest 300, for three people, to get the space but it weighs 3.3kG, good for three people but more than we need. This tent can be pitched in one rather than separate inner and fly. This is unusual and a very big advantage.

    We are using Altura panniers. Used them last year. They are cheap but were fine even in bad weather. we will add front ones this year as found all the weight on the back a mistake. Discountbicycles.co.uk (Brixton) and bikesyoulike are good cheap sources of nearly everything..

    If you balance accomodation costs for the trip against buying the gear for camping it is tight, but at least you have the gear for next time....
    Sorry get carried away....
  • No bother!
    Here's a few websites that might interest you:

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/via-francigena/

    http://www.associazioneviafrancigena.it ... o=7042&c=0

    http://digilander.libero.it/paolaegino/francigena.htm

    http://www.pilgrimstorome.org.uk/index.html

    I live in Ireland; would you have any info on routes from Holyhead or Fishguard to Canterbury/London/Dover....

    My email address is [email protected].
  • apsykesapsykes Posts: 11
    Interesting forum - just read through what people have posted. I have to say that I am firmly in the camping camp. It does seem a pity to cycle through such beautiful and camper-friendly countries and then hide out every evening in a B&B or a hotel. I'm cycling from Berkshire to Puglia following the route of the Eurovelo 5 in July and August this coming summer. I have somehow developed quite an extensive blog which can be found at http://www.puglia2010.wordpress.com . Would love to hear from some of you!!!
  • I have done the route on the Via Francigena. The sites that roundywheels gave you are all useful. There is a meeting of the Confraternity of Pilgrims to Rome in London on the 6th March - look at http://www.pilgrimstorome.org.uk it is a practical pilgrim day aimed at helping walkers and cyclists who want to do the journey.
  • Just do it! thats my only advice to you, camping in belgium, france germany and italy is easy me and my girlfriend cycled to rome in september and have just completed india north to south. the only thing i will say about Europe is apart from Italy we knocked doors of big houses with huge lawns and asked could we pitch our little terra nova up out the back, or asked a farmers permission by approaching them as they are winding down and tidying up the barn in the evenings. 100% success rate even if you have to knock 3-4 doors, avoid houses with kids play stuff in the garden as nobody wants strangers around their children. and every 3 days or so when we saw a cheap campsite we would use it for a night or two to recharge batts, wash clothes and get out and about to a town without the bikes.
    cooking was done every night on a our optimus nova multi fuel stove which is a top unit for all conditions. Italy however you need to be a bit more willing to hunt out a proper campsite as not so many people have gardens from turin to la spezia so the options are limited and the countryside has lots of prostitutes and romas hanging around in the bushes along the highways so best top go to a campsite which are betweeen 15-22 euros which is more expensive than france but well worth it for the security
  • iPete

    Hiya

    Me and a friend are looking to do a bike ride from London to Milan or Rome and wondered if you could give us some info on the route you took to get to Italy and the gear you took with you.

    cheers
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