Touring Qs: Route options and bike security

joey54321 Posts: 1,297
edited July 2019 in Tour & expedition
I am planning my first multi-day bike tour around Northern France and Belgium. With my lack of experience I had a few questions:

- Route planning:
How do people plan routes when in areas they don't know? I know Strava will auto create a route using its route creator but the times I have used this it often directs me down some pretty big, ugly roads. Are there better tools? Or is it just a case of scouting out smaller roads using street viewer for the entire tour?

- Bike Security:
Is it worth taking a lock? Has anyone had any issues with places allowing bikes to be stored in the rooms in hotels/hostels/B&Bs, etc...? How about when out and about during the day, stopping for lunch and things like that?

Thanks for all the help! Much appreciated.


  • lemonenema
    lemonenema Posts: 216
    I cant comment specifically about france but anywhere in the uk that I tour, If I cant leave my bike somewhere in sight whilst in a cafe etc then I dont go there, if I have to go in to a shop Ill ask if its ok to leave my bike just inside, or sometimes its possible to take the bike 'around back'. Most people are perfectly fine with putting your bike somewhere safe so long as you ask nicely.
    I would still carry a small flexible cable lock just to prevent opportunist thieves without any tools.
  • cougie
    cougie Posts: 22,512
    Can't you check Strava heat maps too for cycling popular areas ?

    Mind you in the past we only had OS maps and seemed to survive.
  • mercia_man
    mercia_man Posts: 1,431
    I’ve cycle toured since the 1980s in France and Spain, mostly camping but occasionally staying in hotels or hostels. I’ve switched to taking my bike in a camper van since reaching my 60s - a lot more comfort for my old bones.

    For routes, I’ve always used maps. Old school, yes, but by far the best way to plan your rides to take in the small lanes and any attractions you want to see. I use Viewranger app on my phone to pinpoint exactly where I am while riding. Michelin or IGN maps are great.

    For security while touring, I don’t use a heavy lock. Trying to whittle down the load on my bike is my top priority and I don’t want to haul a massive shackle lock up a mountain pass. I just take a cafe stop cable lock that fits in my back pocket. In hotels, I have never had any issue. I’ve always been able to leave my bike in their secure garages or a room inside - even behind reception desk. On campsites, I normally use cable lock to secure bike to a tree, hedge or fence next to my tent. I would wake up if someone tried to steal it. I do use a shackle lock now I camp with my van. On aires, I store my bike in the van with me at night. I’m happy leaving my bike unlocked or secured with cable lock and keeping an eye on it while popping in to a boulangerie or grocery shop. But I wouldn’t leave it like that for a long time if I wanted to visit a museum or similar.

    Theft is not really a fear for me if I act sensibly and be aware of high risk locations. The only things I’ve have had stolen in more than 30 years of cycling holidays was outside the Michelin museum in eastern France when the Cat Eye computer heads were removed from my bike and my wife’s bike when we were inside. I suspected a party of schoolchildren.
  • martin.thoval
    martin.thoval Posts: 2
    edited July 2021