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Newbies on tour

Woods on TourWoods on Tour Posts: 3
edited July 2017 in Tour & expedition
Hi all you seasoned tourers.

Although we cycle lots we are embarking on our first European Tour this summer and could do with some advice please.

Our aim is to go to Mannheim seeing as it is the 200th anniversary of the first bike being ridden in that town. The journey will be essentially 2 legs, the second of which will be following the Eurovelo 15 along the Rhine back up to the ferry at Hook of Holland so this part of the route is sorted.

It is the first leg, Brussels to Mannheim, which we are struggling with - how do you all do it? Do you plot a route first - if so what mapping software do you use, or do you go with the flow more and follow a compass/town to town/ local maps - if this is the case please give us some useful tips - we are used to following a preplanned route on a garmin so this scenario both excites and scares us a little!!!

Many thanks :D


  • Hi there. Welcome to the forum and also to touring.

    Start with the bike. Make sure it is fully serviced before you leave. Ensure hub bearings are changed and any minor problems (which will become big problems on tour, like worn bearings, or chain wear) are nipped in the bud. You'll have the opportunity to change your tyres where you're going, but it might be a good idea to put on fresh ones at the start.

    Is your riding position comfy enough for the amount of riding? Is your saddle? Bear in mind that you'll be riding 5-8 hours daily and if you normally have a wee bit of joint pain (lower back and shoulders especially) can become cumulative and no fun.

    In terms of route what I tend to do is find out about the beauty spots of an area (google images is my friend here, or just looking at the tourist sites of particular regions) and/or interesting towns. You can't visit everywhere, so you just have to suck that up I'm afraid.

    I tend to have a rough idea of my route; a start and a finish. I develop, through a bit of research, a more refined, but still rough, route which will take me to some nice places my research has uncovered. My route can change on a daily basis. Example. I was headed to Missoula, Montana as I'd been told it was a cool college town and I'd love it. I then met a couple at Yellowstone who told me about Glacier national park. I went there instead. Other examples abounded of locals urging me to see certain places, and to avoid certain other places, so you should be unafraid of asking locals about your route as you go. It's a rewarding experience.

    Finally, you should relax into it and not rush. You'll get there.

    Edited to add: I use maps. I love them. I can draw on them and locals can also. I can spread it out on a pub table while an increasing group of locals argue with each other about what is the most beautiful and interesting route I should take (happened in Spain).
  • mercia_manmercia_man Posts: 1,431
    Good advice from the Baron. Paper maps are the tourist's friend. I use them to plot and mark my route using minor roads, I draw little circles around towns and villages with campsites plus details and exact locations of the sites in a little notebook and I use my maps for navigation while riding. A mobile phone or Garmin will help to pinpoint your location on your ride. Plotting my own route is much of the fun of touring. I do not fancy the idea of slavishly following someone else's Garmin route. I do like the idea of changing my route as and when I feel like it.

    Multi-day touring is much tougher on your body than, for example, a single 100-mile day ride. Recovery, hydration and nutrition are really important. The cumulative effect of riding day after day will be noticed on the body's contact points with the bike - hands, feet and backside. Keep scrupulously clean down below, wash your shorts daily, use chamois cream for riding and an antiseptic cream for after-ride soothing, and consider using well padded bar tape and mitts. Sun cream is essential.
  • Do a trial 'tour' beforehand - could just be riding to a friend's house 40 miles away to spend Saturday night and then ride home on Sunday. This is to check your panniers/kit and work out what to take. Take less stuff than you think you need.

    +1 for paper maps - we've used spiral bound 1:200,000 Michelin maps. Then just take the pages you need and leave the rest at home. We look at the maps in the evening and mark the route with highlighter pen for the next day. If you have a bar bag then you can keep the map in a map case on there.

    Some people (me included) love all the planning which goes into touring, but it is not essential. If you're not big planners then don't worry too much about planning everything - just start riding and see what happens.
  • Thanks all, really helpful advice.

    We have infact done a trial tour in the pouring rain so consider ourselves well inducted!!!!

    Great advise regarding paper maps. It is well outside our comfort zone but we are keen not to be slaves of the Garmin and forget to look around us!

    Here's to a successful trip - happy riding everyone
  • laurentianlaurentian Posts: 2,325
    Having just done my first "proper" (ie carrying everything with me) tour, the one thing that surprised me was the reduced speed (ie about half the usual pace). Allow yourself plenty of time to get to your destination each day.
    Wilier Izoard XP
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