London to Amsterdam

RossoCorso34
RossoCorso34 Posts: 204
edited July 2017 in Road beginners
As a bit of background I do 2 trade shows every year. Vegas in April, and Amsterdam in September. Having just survived another 10 days in Vegas, my focus is now on the Amsterdam trip. However, this year I've promised that I will do something a little different in terms of getting there. A colleague and I are going to ride from our office in West London (Southall / Osterley) to Amsterdam.

I've not been riding that long, about a year or so with about 15 years off a bike. However, my progress has been OK(ish) so far and I'm starting to log some longer rides. At the moment 100 miles over a weekend and 60 miles with a few thousand feet of climbing in a day is doable. However, 4 days riding and about 330 miles is something different, so I need to try and work out how to train for this. I'm sure there will be many many questions on the way to the ride, but stuff that is flying around my head at the moment is:
  • What sort of bike is best? I have a Cannondale CAADX CX or my Cinelli road bike? Both are fitted to me and both are comfy, but the Cannondale has better all weather ability.
  • How much stuff do I need to take? I'm guessing it's about 90 miles a day with 4 days riding.
  • How do you pack for food on the ride? Do you pack what you will need for the whole ride or try and pick stuff up on the way?
  • What sort of expectations should I have about training for this? What sort of targets should I aim for?
  • What are the main challenges for a route like this? The topology is very flat on mainland Europe, but I've read about issues with wind which can make things interesting

Essentially I'm after advice on all aspects of this, as it's all very new for me. We are leaving in about 4 months, so I have the summer to train for it and a half decent base on which to build my endurance. Hopefully I can also keep this thread running to update on my progress

Comments

  • torino
    torino Posts: 46
    theboyfold wrote:
    • What sort of bike is best? I have a Cannondale CAADX CX or my Cinelli road bike? Both are fitted to me and both are comfy, but the Cannondale has better all weather ability.
    • How much stuff do I need to take? I'm guessing it's about 90 miles a day with 4 days riding.
    • How do you pack for food on the ride? Do you pack what you will need for the whole ride or try and pick stuff up on the way?
    • What sort of expectations should I have about training for this? What sort of targets should I aim for?
    • What are the main challenges for a route like this? The topology is very flat on mainland Europe, but I've read about issues with wind which can make things interesting

    Essentially I'm after advice on all aspects of this, as it's all very new for me. We are leaving in about 4 months, so I have the summer to train for it and a half decent base on which to build my endurance. Hopefully I can also keep this thread running to update on my progress

    1. Confort is definitely the key factor here. Consider larger tires (if you ride 23, got to 25, if you ride 25, go to 28) and lower pressures. New tires for a trip like this is always a good idea. Choose whatever bike is more comfortable/reliable.

    2. In September you need to be prepared for potentially bad weather. That said, for 3-4 days one of these big saddle bags should suffice (search for Apidura, but there are other brands as well).

    3. Picking stuff on the way is time-consuming. Get everything you need for the day in a zip-tie bag. Do your 5hrs ride eating something every hour or so. Then you stop, have a proper meal, and prepare for next day. That said, sometimes you just pass by some scenic city, so stopping for a proper coffee is almost like mandatory and will contribute for the fun factor. Just remember it's coffee, not beer.

    4. Nothing special I would say. Most importantly, do consistent miles during the Summer. Do at least one ride per week with 90 miles or so.

    5. If the wind decides to stop you it will stop you no matter what you do. You should always hold your pace. Arrive at the intermediate sleepovers with endurance enough to do extra 30-40 miles if needed. If you get completely exhausted in a day, chances are the next day can be very tough.
  • imafatman
    imafatman Posts: 351
    >Picking stuff on the way is time-consuming.

    I would have thought carrying food and drink for 4 days would be a fair amount of weight though? I would be tempted to carry less with the plan to re-stock half way when you inevitably cycle past hundreds of Spars, Lidls etc...

    The only advice I can give personally is that whilst I have found doing long rides relatively easy, doing them back to back is something else. I started becoming a much stronger rider when I started putting in consecutive rides.
  • RossoCorso34
    RossoCorso34 Posts: 204
    Totally missed the replies on this, sorry about that. Thanks for the comments so far.

    With regards to the food, do you take what you need on the bike from the start, or pick it up each morning? I can imagine 4 days of on bike food being quite weighty and then trying to buy stuff in the morning will be time consuming.

    As for the training, I'm going to try doing longish rides back to back over the coming weekends, 60 miles and then 40 the next day bookended by a pair of 10 mile each way commutes. That's something I've never really done before, and it's something I'll have to get used to.

    Been doing a lot of reading about wheels and tyres for the CX as I think I'll be taking that as it's more comfy.

    What have people done about hotels? Do you book them in advance and commit to that distance of riding or make it up as you go along?
  • super_davo
    super_davo Posts: 1,194
    My advice would be to book and plan your route and stops in advance as that's way less stressful than having done 90 miles and realising the nearest place to stay is another 20 miles away and it's going to add another 10 miles to your route tomorrow.
    Think guesthouse, b&bs & hostels more than large hotel; they are usually better geared up for cycle tourists.
    Be realistic in you planning; things can and will delay you and the days itinerary always looks much harder when you have to do it than when you're at home plotting it.
    Food is not hard to come by at all as you will pass through large towns, but always keep a day or so in reserve. Pack as light as you can get away with, extra weight will really annoy you. Especially in Kent which is littered with short sharp hills.
    If you allow enough time 90 miles per day for 4 days isn't that hard; think of it as a few hours after breakfast, lunch then a few hours after, dial the pace back and eat regularly and you'll click the miles off without noticing it, particularly if there are two of you to share turns into the wind.
  • geryben
    geryben Posts: 15
    That sounds like amazing challenge.
    Good luck!
  • RossoCorso34
    RossoCorso34 Posts: 204
    super_davo wrote:
    My advice would be to book and plan your route and stops in advance as that's way less stressful than having done 90 miles and realising the nearest place to stay is another 20 miles away and it's going to add another 10 miles to your route tomorrow.
    Think guesthouse, b&bs & hostels more than large hotel; they are usually better geared up for cycle tourists.
    Be realistic in you planning; things can and will delay you and the days itinerary always looks much harder when you have to do it than when you're at home plotting it.
    Food is not hard to come by at all as you will pass through large towns, but always keep a day or so in reserve. Pack as light as you can get away with, extra weight will really annoy you. Especially in Kent which is littered with short sharp hills.
    If you allow enough time 90 miles per day for 4 days isn't that hard; think of it as a few hours after breakfast, lunch then a few hours after, dial the pace back and eat regularly and you'll click the miles off without noticing it, particularly if there are two of you to share turns into the wind.

    Yes, we are looking at planning the route. We think the first day will be just short of the channel, and then it's an early train and back on the road.

    As far as the training is going, this weekend I tried longer back to back rides. 10 miles each way on Friday to work along a mud bath of a canal path! The 2 40 miles rides Sat and Sun, it's my normal route and did one day on my CX and the other on my road bike. To see which bike I'm going to be happiest on, if I want the comfort or the additional speed.

    This week I won't have as much time as I want, and my June looks to be filling up with lots of international travel which is always an issue. My riding partner and I are trying to fit in an 80 mile day, to simulate what our ride to Dover will be like, but he's getting married and heading off on honeymoon so that's going to have to wait a few weeks.

    Thanks for the advice so far, trying to work out what to pack and how best to carry it all at the moment.
  • RossoCorso34
    RossoCorso34 Posts: 204
    So it's been a couple of months since I last posted here. Since then I've taken on the advice offered, been doing back to back rides. Recently completed this with a couple of mates http://www.yorkshirewoldscyclechallenge.org.uk
    Day 1 is very similar to what we'll face heading down to Folkestone, and then it's flat after this. So the Yorkshire ride is a decent idea as to what to expect for the consecutive days. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by how comfortable I felt in day 2, so that's given me a decent amount of confidence for the ride.

    The only slight issue is that my partner had to pull out, the good news is another mate was actually keen to come along but didn't speak up. Until he heard I had been left in the lurch. He's an experienced cyclist and has done Land's End to John O'Groats so has a decent understanding as to what to expect.

    6 weeks today until I leave and August is going to be busy, so I'm not sure how many consecutive days I'll be getting in, but at the moment I am quite confident that I should be able to make it!