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London to Rome, pre-tour prep and advice!

iPeteiPete Posts: 6,076
edited April 2013 in Tour & expedition
So in 10 days, me and a friend are embarking on a 1200 mile tour, with 17 days to reach the Roman Colosseum!

Thought I'd share my kit and take on-board any last minute tips!

Our first day isn't easy, 90-100 miles to reach our ferry by 5pm, then the mission is to find a campsite a little into Calais. After that we are going to be winging it down France, crossing the Alps along the West side of Switzerland from Martigny. Then heading for the West coast of Italy and follow the sea down to Pisa and eventually down to Rome.

Something like this:

Plan is to cycle for 6-8 hours per day, cycling for time not distance but needing to cover at least 70-80 miles per day.

Been cycling 35-40miles 5 days a week for 6 months now, so fairly happy with fitness, won't be pushing it anywhere near as hard as I do training.

The bike:
2010 Allez double with 700x25 Gatorskins, with Topeak Super Tourist DX rack, Ortlieb Back Roller Plus panniers, Topeak Tri-bag up front, topeak saddle bag & Topeak Road Morph pump with gauge mounted underneath.

The kit:
Quechua T3 Pro tent, Quechua roll Mat and sleeping bag.

Spare pads, tubes, tyre levers, Topeak Alien II 26 multi tool, emergency tyre boot patch, spare pads, udder cream, sporks, elastic cables, iphone, shuffles, camera and freeloader solar charger.

Gore Path II waterproof, Icebreaker 200 merino base layer, Gore motion III jersey, Shutt VR merino jersey & Endura Humvees with inner shorts, gloves, helmet & spd shoes. Beach tousers, light cheap primark shoes, merino Sugoi cycle socks, t-shirt and boxers.

Not on show is a Jetboil cooker (in the post), bog roll, maps (purchasing soon from, bib tights (un-decided) and playing cards or cleaning stuff.

So any tips on what type of French roads are the most pleasant to ride, insurance, which I'm going to get this week and nourishment would be great oh and some re-assurance that this is possible :lol:

Oh and how easy are campsites to come by, should I be planning our route in more detail etc?



  • ben16vben16v Posts: 296
    passport! good luck sounds like a hell of a trip
    i need more bikes
  • miggersmiggers Posts: 269
    Best of luck Pete.. I am jealous...

    Dont forget an European Health Insurance..

    Campsites are easy to find and in my experience when you find a good one near the end of the day grab it, don't push on it the hope of finding a better one.. :o) It never is.. Though one time we did, it was a nudist one near Lyons :oops:

    Buff's are a most versatile piece of kit... we have a very pretty one on the site..

    Read Tim Moore's French Revolutions..

    Take a notebook

    Avoid the road marked with red dots.. Or you will discover adrenaline is BROWN!!

    Happy riding, Pete
    Peter Bragg
  • iPeteiPete Posts: 6,076
    Thanks guys!

    Pete, I'll do my best to avoid the red dots and 'avoid' those nudist campsites! :lol:

    Added notebook to my list!

    Oh and have a picture of us sporting our Shutt VR jerseys on our justgiving site... hopefully get a shot into our local paper to boot..

  • miggersmiggers Posts: 269
    Great pic!

    I'm reminiscing on my days of european touring...and have a few more ideas..

    Head torch - ... ory_id=253 - Not ultralight weight but a steal at the price..and quick delivery.. worth getting these as insurance too ... ory_id=295

    poker dice, you'll need that notebook to tot up the winnings.. and for making a note of what kit didnt get used etc.

    Lucky coin for flipping at the inevitable junction, turning, restaurant etc..

    Stick something on our FB Fan Page, esp the justgiving link and see if we can get you a few more quid!

    Peter Bragg
  • tatanabtatanab Posts: 1,283
    EN471 flourescent/reflective slip on required by French law when riding out of town if it is dark or limited visibility.

    Personally I'd ditch all the electronics because they require batteries/charging and so on. I'd also use mudguards. Imagine being in the rain for a few consecutive days and being unable to dry clothing overnight.

    Campsites are easy to find in most of France. Roads are generally very good, even very rural R and V roads. Driver's attitudes are a revelation. Stop in the village bar/cafe/restaurant and chat to the locals. Use them also at lunch time when you can get a good feed very cheaply.

    In a couple of weeks I'm off to Switzerland and back, cycle camping. Plan on between 1200 and 1500 miles.
  • iPeteiPete Posts: 6,076
    Thanks tatanab, some great pointers, especially about the potential for bad weather!

    Any thoughts on nutrition, going to eat local for lunch and maybe breakfast, have a jetboil for cooking up quick pasta dishes, what about on the move? Thinking of trying to grab a few bananas a day, maybe some chocolate and the odd sports bar when possible.
  • tatanabtatanab Posts: 1,283
    iPete wrote:
    Any thoughts on nutrition.
    Real food every time for me. Breakfast is from the local boulangerie, usually eaten over coffee in a bar. Lunch is either a village bar/cafe or a picnic. Evening is usually from supermarket ranging from pasta to couscous or even just some of the salad stuff. Snacks along the way tend to be from a boulangerie, pain au chocolat, pain aux raisins etc or bananas. I don't favor the modern ideas of "sports" nutrition because I am on holiday not in a riding against the clock although I do often carry a SIS Go bar "just in case". Beware that in France shops generally close early on Monday or are closed all day so shop early for evening food.
  • miggersmiggers Posts: 269
    I'm with tatana... We used to lug a trangia around until we realised that France has the best and cheapest food on the planet!

    Used low concentrate sports drinks and plain water to drink and we ate out every day... Found it no more expensive than the supermarket... Campsite food was always a bit disappointing and over priced.

    Any room on the trip, I am getting more jealous by the day!

    Peter Bragg
  • iPeteiPete Posts: 6,076
    Ha, plenty, be happy to share around some weight and work :D
  • jc4labjc4lab Posts: 554
    As save money option I go for the shoppers Asda like Supermarket towns like Interlaken Zurich etc etc..You get some great local style grub in there
  • Hi Mate,

    Sorry, been very busy and forgot to check my mail!

    Really like your blog, thats a good way for people to be involved and for you to update them.

    Seems like you've got everything wrapped up nicely. For what it's worth, my bike ride to Yorkshire the other weekend was 80, 80 and 70 miles. First day tail wind and a strong head wind the 2nd and 3rd day.

    I coped with it with no problems, and you've got a lot more miles under your belt than me, so I reckon you'll be fine. I basically had breakfast, ate sweets, had lunch, ate dried fruit, ate a pack of biscuits at the campsite and then cooked a propper meal. Did that and lost weight so my suggestion is just make sure you don;t give your body a chance to run carbs down or it'll take a day off eating to recover.

    Good luck mate, and let me know how it goes when you get back.

  • badloserbadloser Posts: 7
    Me and two friends did London to Rome last year, we went a rather convoluted route down through the centre of France and spent a little time in the Pyrenees before heading across the south coast, then from Nice headed north up 4 Alpine passes and across into Italy, before heading south again to Rome.

    Once in Italy we went through Florence, Siena and the Rome, some nice roads and area around there, can follow the Sr2 and Sr222 nearly all the way, very much recommended. Campsite in Siena does a deal so you can get money off a good campsite just north of Rome when you get there. The Rome campsite (called Camping Tiber) is very close to the Tiber bikepath which takes you into the centre of Rome.

    Good Luck, I'm very jealous!
  • iPeteiPete Posts: 6,076
    Thanks, the Tiber bike path sounds like something well worth finding!

    Also a big thanks to Bikerader for all the help I've got from this board in the last 9 months!

    Chris, all the best with your trip, glad to hear the training rides have gone to plan. I'm looking forward to all the eating!

    - Pete
  • badloserbadloser Posts: 7
    You're welcome sir, any excuse to reminisce!

    If you stay at Camping Tiber , they will give you directions to the bike path along the Tiber, its pretty simple from there, although you have to navigate a busy-ish roundabout. Bike path itself is a few k into Rome but very smooth and flat.

    :D And yes, the apetite gain is incredible, and where better to always be hungry than France and Italy in summer! Enjoy
  • iPeteiPete Posts: 6,076
    Brilliant, I've printed off a map for Camping Tiber! Hopefully we'll make it over there. Could do with an easy route into Rome.

    Right, that's me signing off, back in 3 weeks bike radar.

    - Pete
  • FlavioFlavio Posts: 15
    Hello, nice trip!!

    Where do you plan the route in Italy? Along the sea or in the internal hills?

    For the first, I suggest you to stop in one of the Cinque Terre (small historical towns directly on the sea, very original, with absolutely NO CARS cause of the steep mountains).

    Then, avoid the campings of Marina di Massa (industrial district with ugly coast, don't know why is it so crowed of campgrounds), do 20 kms more and you find beautiful campings in the natural park immediately after Viareggio.

    Also, take a stop in Golfo di Baratti! Maybe the best spot in Tuscan seaside. Elba island would be great... but it is an island.

    For the second, S. Giminiano offers a fine camping and a unique ancient towered town, in the middle of the country; I would pass there. And in Florence there is Piazzale Michelangelo camping, which is practically in the center of the town.
  • iPeteiPete Posts: 6,076
    Hi flavio!

    We are heading down to Genova tomorrow, I'll deffo look at Viareggio as a destination!

    Been in Italy two nights now, camping on lake Mergezzo was nice but camped outside of Novara in the only site, was a hell hole, in a hostel tonight in Alessandia! Heading to Genova tomorrow then down the coast, we have 7 days to reach Rome, hopefully camping is more plentiful!

    Thanks for the help, now where was me beer...
  • jteightyjteighty Posts: 120
    Good luck mate!

    Are u using ur iPhone as a gps and to track the route? If so what app are you using?


  • iPeteiPete Posts: 6,076
    edited June 2010
    Back in little England, what an experience!

    JT80, we just used good old fashioned paper and took the roads as they came, wouldn't be able to power an iphone for long. If anyone is interested I can find time in the coming weeks to plot the route we did including an accidental stint on some french motorway :lol:

    And a few stats to finish..

    1,417 miles
    18 days
    104 hours cycled
    2 sock washes
    A few litres of wine to wash it all down in Rome.
  • jteightyjteighty Posts: 120
    Wow congrats that's brilliant. It mustve been some experience.. :):)

    I think I'm gonna bring maps too but I'll use a battery pack to cope..
  • iPeteiPete Posts: 6,076
    I like to compare it with a drunken night, in the morning, its the best parts you remember!

    Was an awesome experience, mentally very tough, I wasn't prepared for the amount of time I had to think to myself on the bike each day. Physically also very hard, although the first week was hardest as tendons and joints settled into things, couldn't walk on a few evenings thanks to my cleats not being quite right!

    I took a low end solar charger, perfect for charging my iPod shuffle, not so good with an iphone, I also wouldn't want to even imagine what my phone bill would be if I was downloading maps!

    Assume your doing the same? Give me a shout if you want any tips or advice, a few things really caught me out but you may want to discover them yourself :twisted:
  • 1983spr1983spr Posts: 5
    hi pete, ive got a bike ride coming up in 3 weeks time, london to malaga.
    was wondering if you could spare me an email or 2 just to ask you a few questions about what to take and stuff and how hard you found it?
    if you could that would be a great help
  • iPeteiPete Posts: 6,076
    certainly! you have PM..

    For anyone interested, tour video is up here..
  • mididoctorsmididoctors Posts: 10,450
    iPete wrote:
    certainly! you have PM..

    For anyone interested, tour video is up here..

    well edited video
    "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
    Thanks! Oddly on my ride to work this morning I was thinking how I need to return to the Alps and film the 50mph decent with a GoPro :twisted:
  • Really enjoyed the video, I'm so jealous!!

    I've ordered my winter bike which also doubles as a tourer. 2011 is the year for me to venture onto the continent :D

    FCN : 4
  • Hi there,

    A group of friends and I were inspired to tackle London to Rome after finding this thread. We were just wondering what route you took and how you approached it - did you plan each day as it came? or did you plan it all beforehand? Can't wait to hit the road this summer!

  • iPeteiPete Posts: 6,076

    We planned a rough route and used paper maps to get around, roughly guessing how far we wanted to go each day and found accommodation as we went. Finding camping in France was easy, Italy less so and we resorted to planning ahead for youth hostels/backpackers.

    Here is a google doc that has our daily stops in. I can try and scan the paper map we've drawn our route on if needed. ... jnDWc/edit

    Happy to share more details. At 90miles a day avg carrying tents I'd try and credit card tour doing it again!
  • Hi iPete,

    Amazing trip and great video. I'm contemplating taking some time off work to travel and do some bike tours across Europe. Would be interested to know, if you don't mind telling, how much this trip cost you, or even what your average daily expenditure was?

    Many Thanks
    2011 Trek Madone 3.1c
    2012 Ribble 7005 Winter Trainer

    Dolor transit, gloria aeterna est.
  • iPeteiPete Posts: 6,076
    Hi iPete,

    Amazing trip and great video. I'm contemplating taking some time off work to travel and do some bike tours across Europe. Would be interested to know, if you don't mind telling, how much this trip cost you, or even what your average daily expenditure was?

    Many Thanks

    Afraid I didn't budget the whole thing but it can be done cheap. An average day in France was cheap, camping was never more than 7-8 Euro for a night. Food was reasonable and we mostly cooked pasta in the evenings, found boulangeries in the morning and supermarkets for lunch. Less than 20 Euro a day all in, less than 10 some days.

    Italy and Switzerland less so. Camping was much more, 15-25 Euro and in Italy so bad we opted for backpacker hostels where possible.

    This was coming on 3 years ago mind!
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