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First Solo Ride Abroad Advice

BiomechBiomech Posts: 158
edited April 2016 in Tour & expedition
Hello!

I'm thinking of just jumping on the ferry and doing say 100 miles along the French coastline over 3 days (Cherbourg-Caen), maybe next month.

I've never done anything like this before and am really just looking for some advice. My main concerns are things like bike security, gear etc. Are bikes generally safe during sight seeing stops? Do you leave the panniers on or are there special ones that convert into a backpack? Are there certain types of places to avoid etc? Any special road safety/laws for cycling?

Also with accommodation, I'd like to camp in a tent, but probably end up in hostels, how/where would you lockup your bike at a campsite? Do hostels generally provide bike storage or locking racks? If camping in a tent, how do you charge your phones?

Lots of questions I'm afraid, perhaps there's a website or page link with pre made routes with accommodation and/or check lists? I've had a quick look and still Googling the routes etc now.

I'd like to bike the coastline and see the WWII landing beaches and "touristy" bits like that. And cheap, as cheap as possible :P

TIA

Posts

  • marcusjbmarcusjb Posts: 2,412
    Fantastic stuff! It'll be a great trip.

    Security - well, really depends on what you're doing. If you are unlikely to leave your bike for a long period unattended, then all you need is a cafe lock (a light cable lock) to stop someone just pedalling away on your bike. This is only really suitable where the bike is in your vision whilst you are sat having a coffee etc.

    That is all I carry when touring solo. It's enough for whilst I am camping at night (though I also tend to run a guy from the tent through the wheel etc. to further stop the opportunist thief.

    If you plan on leaving your bike for a while and doing some sight-seeing, something a bit bulkier is needed. But, in general, you're unlikely to need a London-standard lock in most parts of France. Bags, I have always left on the bike even whilst sight-seeing. Maybe a light cable lock through the pannier handles etc.

    Often if you are doing some sight-seeing, the people at the ticket office of whatever attraction will keep an eye on your bike or let you put bags somewhere safe. No harm in asking and people are generally very helpful like that.

    Charging phones - carry a backup battery pack (the Anker ones on Amazon are very reliable) and a French USB charger for ultimate backup. A battery pack will charge your phone several times, so should be more than enough for a 3 day trip.

    Good luck and I am sure it will be a great experience. I'm into and out of Caen in a few weeks for a fast tour in France - can't wait!
  • BiomechBiomech Posts: 158
    Thanks a lot for the information! That's great.

    I've just checked the ferries, about £94 return so that's not too bad - although at 4-5 hours it seems a bit long, hope I don't get sick :P They do cabins as well, I never knew that. Next I'll have to price up some panniers and look at stops and attractions on the route :) This could be quite exciting!
  • davidofdavidof Posts: 2,777
    Bike and any other kind of theft is a major issue in France and I wouldn't leave anything out of sight or poorly secured.
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  • mercia_manmercia_man Posts: 1,426
    I wouldn't get paranoid about the risk of theft on your planned touring holiday. I've been taking my bike to France on camping trips a couple of times a year since the mid-80s. I've only suffered once from thieves. My wife and I had parked our loaded touring bikes outside a museum in a town and when we returned the heads of our Cateye computers had both been removed. There was a school party visiting at the same time as us and I suspect it was a prank by those kids.

    Obviously, I would be reluctant to leave my loaded bike in a high risk area in a city. For example, when my wife and I rode the pilgrim route across Spain to Santiago de Compostela, we were warned not to park outside Leon Cathedral as thieves were known to load up pilgrims' locked bikes into vans.

    On a touring holiday along quiet lanes, stopping at cafes and local shops in villages, I think there is very little risk and I leave my panniers on the bike. I use a lightweight cable lock to secure my bike. I have never had any fear of theft on campsites. I normally use my cable lock to secure it to a tree or fence and am pretty confident I would wake up if anyone tried to tamper with it. Hotels will generally have a safe place to store your bike overnight or will let you take it inside.

    For charging phone and Kindle, I have a cheap little battery pack from Maplins. As I tend to go touring in June and September, when rural campsites are often empty, I sometimes recharge from the shaver sockets in the loos. You can also ask at campsite reception if they have facilities for recharging.
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