CTC Forum - Touring & Expedition

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Updated: 2 hours 5 min ago

Re: Bikes & trains in France - any experience?

2 hours 27 min ago
You should be fine, but bear in mind that travelling back into Paris on a weekday is going to be less busy than say coming back on a summer Sunday afternoon.

A quick look at the timetables suggests that you should be able to get back into Paris using the TER (regional) trains which are easier than the TGVs.

It's worth considering booking by capitaine-train.com so you could book a day or two before the end of the tour when you have a clearer idea of the finish point. If you need to you can book bike places on line. capitaine-train.com are also a much better and cheaper option than booking via the SNCF whose website aimed at the UK market is not only more expensive than its normal website but also doesn't give information about which trains take bikes.

Re: Bikes & trains in France - any experience?

2 hours 47 min ago
Hi, there have been quite a few useful posts on the topic recent - key words 'France' TGV' 'book' are fruitful. See for example: viewtopic.php?f=16&t=90047
The rule of thumb for French railways is: local train, no need to book; TGVs, better book first.

Bikes & trains in France - any experience?

3 hours 45 min ago
Looking to do a cycle tour in France on the Eurovelo 6 route in the summer. We're booking the eurostar home from Paris OK, but unsure whether to book a train from end point to Paris.

Has anyone any experience of just rocking up on the day and getting on French trains, with loaded bikes without booking? As this is our first long tour, we are unsure how far we will get and don't want to turn it into a chore by having to get to X trainstation in Y days...

Re: To the bottom tip of Sicily

6 hours 27 min ago

Just realizing now that travelling by bicycle often ends-up turning into a sort of a drug: any excuse, so far, regardless of the season, easily tends indeed to transform into a good occasion to pack-up your bike and just leave … and that’s exactly what happened for this new trip too.
In the deep South of Italy I’d already been several times of course, by bicycle however only a first time in October 2012 and most recently in October 2015.
Being January, this time it will be a full winter cycling experience and therefore, at least in the attempt to meet a milder weather, the trip shall start from Crotone and then following the Ionian coast of Calabria first and then Sicily we will aim to end-up to "Isola delle Correnti”, the southernmost point of Sicily.

Approaching the “start-point”:
17JAN2016, by car, passing through the snowy mountains near Altamura and Gravina di Puglia to reach Crotone, the place chosen as the actual starting point of our bike trip.
The day is terribly cold. In Altamura an heavy snow storm forces me to stop and mount the snow-chains; the journey continues through several difficulties and with some serious concern with respect to the bad weather that we might expect for the upcoming days !!!

- 18JAN2016: Crotone-Cropani, 60km, 526mH+/565mH-
- 19JAN2016: Cropani-Soverato, 45km, 222mH+/224mH-
- 20JAN2016: Soverato-Marina di Gioiosa Ionica, 64km, 122mH+/123mH-
- 21JAN2016: Gioiosa Ionica-Melito di Porto Salvo, 85km, 313mH+/313mH-
- 22JAN2016: Melito di P.to Salvo-Reggio Calabria, 44km, 312mH+/312mH-
- 23JAN2016: Reggio Calabria
- 24JAN2016: Reggio Calabria-Messina, 32km, 112mH+/112mH-
- 25JAN2016: Messina-Taormina, 50km, 468mH+/412mH-
- 26JAN2016: Taormina-Catania, 72km, 588mH+/598mH-
- 27JAN2016: Catania-Siracusa, 72km, 418mH+/420mH-
- 28JAN2016: Siracusa/Ortigia
- 29JAN2016: Siracusa/Ortigia
- 30JAN2016: Siracusa/Ortigia
- 31JAN2016: round trip Marzamemi-Porto Palo-Isola delle Correnti, 38km, 118mH+/118mH-

- TOTAL = 562 km / H 3199 m

18JAN2016: Crotone-Cropani, 60km, 526mH+/565mH-
After a pretty cold night in Crotone, today this first stage has been marked-up by rather low temperatures and a strong side wind that gave us no peace till the end. However, all the way long, we’ve been very lucky to have a bright and somehow friendly sunshine, just few clouds ... and a sea of a blinding blue. ... unfortunately the weather forecast for the next days seems to be quite bad and promises rain and snow even at low altitudes !!
Passing by Capo Colonna we stopped for a while in the neighbourhood of the Greek temple of Hera Lacinia where the ruins of the only one left column still dominate the blue horizon.
The journey continues through a sort of gentle rolling fields planted with fennel and artichokes till the somehow unappealing urban area of Capo Rizzuto. It goes a bit better in the vicinity of le Castella where, barely connected to the mainland by a thin land strip, we can visit the beautiful and so far well preserved Aragonese castle.
Just a few more kilometers, not particularly beautiful, and we finally arrive in Cropani where we can find accommodation in the only open B&B of the place !!

19JAN2016: Cropani-Soverato, 45km, 222mH+/224mH-
Short but rather tough stage today. Cold, very cold, and water, occasionally mixed-up to snow !!!
The planned route was envisaging indeed some deviations to the sea but, due to the very bad weather conditions, at the end we unfortunately had to adapt the planned route to follow the main road (strada statale SS106), quite busy indeed though never dangerous at all.
To highlight the transition to Copanello, definitely the most critical section of the stage; here inevitable the passage for a very dark tunnel of 500 m that before leaving I studied with a magnifying glass ... just in the attempt to avoid it !!
Immediately out of the tunnel, taking a detour to the right and so far leaving the SS106, the road was repeatedly blocked by landslides and falling rocks. Nevertheless a very nice bit of a road, for the most part overlooking the sea from the top.
The arrival in Soverato under a very cold rain offered us a pretty well-deserved shelter where to warm&dry-up and make plannings for the day after.

20JAN2016: Soverato-Marina di Gioiosa Ionica, 64km, 122mH+/123mH-
Today, as soon as the dawn light started to filter through the window blinds I realized that the day would have been much milder than foreseen and, above all, with no rain at all.
Most of the road continued to follow the coastline with long stretches overlooking only from a few meters away the sea, from time to time crossing summer resorts mostly totally desert in these winter days.
A particular mention for their beauty goes to the waterfronts of Soverato, Gioiosa e Roccella Ionica.

21JAN2016: Gioiosa Ionica-Melito di P.to Salvo, 85km, 313mH+/313mH-
The nice weather seems to resist !!! Even today a wonderful day with temperatures in the between 13 ° C in the morning and 17 ° C in the afternoon.
Crispy air blows and superb sea views are obviously deeply welcome though, unfortunately, they seem to be totally unable to “compete” nor “compensate” for so much widespread degradation of the surroundings, hundreds of horrible and generally empty or incomplete houses just a few steps from the beach and then the usual infamous junk abandoned everywhere. A magnificent example of an environmental [rude word removed] anarchy, in other words a sort of a total social and economic self-castration !!!

22JAN2016: Melito di P.to Salvo-Reggio C., 44km, 312mH+/312mH-
The arrival to Reggio Calabria was certainly not one of the best, some twenty kilometers of large degradation that it would have definitely been better to avoid !!!
However, the thrill of being able to see Sicily across the other side of the Strait was equally great and rewarding; definitely exciting in the background the unique shape of Etna in the amidst of leaden heavy clouds as I had rarely seen before.

23JAN2016: Reggio Calabria
Apart the sad degradation of its surroundings the centre of Reggio Calabria is nevertheless worth to be visited. Worth to mention the magnificent magnolias that enrich the seaside boulevard and the Riace Bronzes, finally restored and now standing-up in all their majestic elegance !!!

24JAN2016: Reggio Calabria-Messina, 32km, 112mH+/112mH-
During the night I unfortunately had a very bad dream: the bridge over the Strait was there !!! In the dream it appeared to be beautiful, refined, elegant ... horrible !!
Fortunately it was just a dream, nothing more !!

25JAN2016: Messina-Taormina, 50km, 468mH+/412mH-
Getting out of Messina, and that wasn’t for me the first time, always has been one of the most complicated things I could think.
Nevertheless, once overcome the initial town outskirts, the rest of the route followed the main road again that, thanks to the parallel motorway, was never busy at all.
The various waterfronts up to Taormina, our final destination for the today stage, enrich with a certain continuity all the surroundings; worth to mention the ones of Ali, Roccalumera e Mazzarò.

26JAN2016: Taormina-Catania, 72km, 588mH+/598mH-
Nowadays it appears somehow easy to have everything as for granted, though certain little emotions are still possible, such as cycling in the heart of winter and be faced with scenarios like the one of the picture below: this was the volcan Etna this morning in all its “white cap” elegant magnificence.
Other awesome pieces of a road during today stage, perhaps a little bit "rough" but still definitely beautiful, were: Fiumefreddo, Riposto, Giarre, Acireale, Aci Trezza, Aci Castello.

27JAN2016: Catania-Siracusa, 72km, 418mH+/420mH-
I do not know exactly why but getting out of Catania has always been easier than entering its urban area. The road between Catania and Siracusa is not particularly cycle-friendly and, especially around Augusta, not simple to follow at all. Indeed once in the surrounding of Augusta, not far from the petrochemical plants of Priolo, things all of a sudden get somehow complicated: the SS-114 Orientale Sicula becomes a sort of a motorway and as such effectively banned to the transit by bicycles. Mandatory therefore at this point to move to the provincial road (i.e. SP114, ex SS114) following by close several kilometers of the petrochemical plants for finally arriving to Siracusa through the splendid cycleway built just a few years ago on top of the dismissed railway track.

31JAN2016: round trip Marzamemi-Porto Palo-Isola delle Correnti, 38km, 118mH+/118mH-
A very mild day today … January the 31st, here in the deep South of Sicily !!
An exciting piece of coastline, all over through extremely quiet roads always overlooking by close a splendid sea. After a few km, just from a little more than an handful of meters away, l’ Isola delle Correnti (the Isle of Currents” ... a kind of magical mirage between the Ionian Sea and the Channel of Sicily.

Re: Wheel recommendations for credit card touring

7 hours 11 min ago
When somebody asks for recommendations, then that is what they get. A broad range gives more options than just a few well focused ones.
The OP then does what they want with the recommendations that they receive. If they dont fancy 36 spoke 105 Open Pros that is no skin off my nose. Same goes if they dont want a dynamohub on their bike. Too often though people just leap in to the "obvious" and then later realise that something else may have suited them better.

I am also reading other peoples' recommendations as they may well offer a better option even for me than my own.

My own credit card touring and Audax is done with either 105 or Tiagra and Open Pro, Open Sport or Chrina. I see such wheels riding alongside ones much more expensive and the riders are not suffering from it.

Heathrow airport by bike

7 hours 18 min ago
Looking at the Heathrow airport website, it now states (no date given) that you now can't cycle through the main tunnel to terminal 3. I was under the impression that this was always forbidden but that you should use the parallel service tunnels where cyclists have right of way over other traffic, which is what i have done in the past.

They mention a free bus service.

So what's that all about?

Re: Wheel recommendations for credit card touring

7 hours 26 min ago
nmnm wrote:Didn't the etape come with a nice set of light wheels? Imho, posting this question here is getting you a lot of answers that bias towards the trad touring end of the viewpoints, with deviations into moneysaving options that surely aren't an issue for someone asking about £500 wheels for a £1000 frameset. Anyway, that's maybe just me . I'd email the Enigma guy for a recommended wheelset or post on a board where people are talking more about lightweight £500 wheelsets for general use (not "touring and expedition"). And that flexible wire roadside spoke repair kit is worth a look maybe. Actually, this board is maybe better for that roadside spoke repair point, to be fair.

If you really read the criteria of the O.P. then "traditional" wheels will always come out tops.

"looking for something that's fast and light for the mountains and long distance and multi-day tours and audaxes"
So availability of single spokes is also required - not a full set
- Take between 23mm and 28mm tyres, but mostly 25mm
- Cost less than £500
- Parts available around the world if I get stuck on tour

Where are you going to get replacement parts "available around the world"?
And some fancy wheels will not be take your Flexible wire spoke" because of the spoke design system.
It would be helpful if we knew what wheels the O.P already has including their weight.

Re: Wheel recommendations for credit card touring

11 hours 35 min ago
Didn't the etape come with a nice set of light wheels? Imho, posting this question here is getting you a lot of answers that bias towards the trad touring end of the viewpoints, with deviations into moneysaving options that surely aren't an issue for someone asking about £500 wheels for a £1000 frameset. Anyway, that's maybe just me . I'd email the Enigma guy for a recommended wheelset or post on a board where people are talking more about lightweight £500 wheelsets for general use (not "touring and expedition"). And that flexible wire roadside spoke repair kit is worth a look maybe. Actually, this board is maybe better for that roadside spoke repair point, to be fair.

Re: Brompton touring in Belgium

11 hours 55 min ago
Interesting page about Brompton touring from an interesting fellow:
http://www.shanecycles.com/the-genius-o ... n-touring/

Re: Great Ocean Road.....

6 February 2016 - 10:08pm
Spend a night in Koala Cove. You will see lots of wild koalas then you can micturate off Australians telling them about it, and discover that most Aussies have never seen a wild koala
We did GOR in a camper, loved it, now have our own VW Cali, but it would make a fantastic ride. Your Brompton could do it!!

Re: Touring in Rutland/Leicestershire

6 February 2016 - 8:54pm
Hello All
Firstly my apologies for not replying to you sooner, I have been away for a few days.
I greatly appreciate all the really useful advice (especially all those café stops) it will help me to start planning some of the day rides.
"honesty" as you gathered we will be further East, however there is a possibility we will be up in that area next year, thank you though for the info.
I used to live in Melton Mowbray over 45 years ago and at one time knew the area like the back of my hand, however memory fades with time.

Re: Wheel recommendations for credit card touring

6 February 2016 - 7:05pm
PH wrote:Rabbit wrote:I had a set of Harry Rowland wheels made up last year for a tour - and he was excellent to deal with and the wheels have been superb. Harry seems happy to chat on the phone for ages about what you need and answers emails quickly.
He is like that, until there's a problem, then he really doesn't want to know, tells you it was a poor choice of components though didn't mention it when he took the money.
That's an interesting perspective as he a seems very forthright on component Pros and Cons on his rather old-fashioned website.

Re: Wheel recommendations for credit card touring

6 February 2016 - 6:19pm
£500? Wheel truing stand £80 (Minoura is fine), rim for £30 (£60 for 2), spokes £40, wheel building book £10 (eg, Muson).

If you want a wheel that's repairable at the side of the road, then you're going to need to now how to do that repair. If you just fit a new spoke and tighten it up, then there's a reasonably good chance it (or another spoke) will snap a few miles up the road.

"I've already got some handmade 32 spoke, heavy as lead wheels for fully loaded touring...." and "...I'm looking for something that's fast and light for the mountains and long distance and multi-day tours and audaxes"

can you really not feel the irony? skimping on spokes doesn't make your wheels fast, or light. what rims are on your 'heavy as lead' wheels?

Re: Air France no to CTC bag

6 February 2016 - 6:11pm
More details please.

Not had a refusal yet,but always worried++ Travelled with bike unpacked,and packed in just bubble-wrap.

I always get names and confirmation that airline will take bicycle as I am prepared to take it. Howsoever,I also know that on-the-day,rules can and will be changed as and when they want.

Just a crack-pot question: I wonder how much extra it is to take an animal by plane: dog,Shetland Pony,Giraffe? I'm thinking,I'm paying extra to have my bike go by plane? Surely less aggro than a pony. Yes,I know there's a difference! Cost differential?

Re: Wheel recommendations for credit card touring

6 February 2016 - 6:09pm
I was going to use Continental Grand Prix 4 seasons, although on a recent tour where my friends were on 4 seasons, I had far fewer punctures than them with Grand Prix 4sii

anyone found anything better than the above, and views on whether the 4s is actually better than the 4 seasons

I was on 28mm, they were on 25mm

Re: Brompton touring in Belgium

6 February 2016 - 5:54pm
A couple of years ago we based ourselves in the northern part of Luxembourg in a town adjacent to the Belgian border by the name of Clervaux, with a view to touring round 'Battle of the Bulge' country on our Bromptons. The idea was take the train from Clervaux up to Liege in Belgium, then over to Aachen, and cycle back to Clervaux down the Vennbahn cycle way. As it panned out, we actually started from a place in Belgium called Eupen, then cycled to the Vennbahn to join it just east of the border at Raeren. The route then headed south, snaking in and out of Belgium and Germany, before reaching Troisvierges in Luxembourg. We took great care to be absolutely minimalist with luggage (basically one dry bag each, fastened to our carriers with bungees), and more importantly, we made sure that we didn't overstretch ourselves mileage-wise. As it happened, we only spent one night out on the bikes, and we probably did a total of about 130 kms in those two days. For the remaining time available, we cycled locally around Clervaux on day trips, sometimes using the trains to 'kill' the stem mileage. It's an extremely hilly area, but our six-speeders coped fine with all the hills.

So, in a nutshell, the Belgium we've cycled in was very enjoyable (I appreciate it's not Brussels or Gent, but eastern Belgium is an equally viable alternative!), I'm not convinced that Bromptons are the easiest option for cycle touring, but they are good fun and always prompt interest from our European cycling brethren, almost a two-wheeled confirmation of British eccentricity! As I said earlier, I think it's very important to be aware of your own limitations, within the context of the further limitations imposed by a loaded small-wheeled folder. To give you an idea of our fitness levels, we did the Way of the Roses east to west (ie against the wind) on fully loaded Bromptons a couple of years ago in four and a half days, neither myself nor my wife managed the climb on the alternative route out of Pately Bridge, but that was the only time we had to get off and push!

If you have questions either about our experiences with Brompton touring or perhaps about the Vennbahn and Luxembourg, just post them on here and I'll try to assist

Re: Air France no to CTC bag

6 February 2016 - 5:28pm
I see from the above link that the prohibited item list also includes;
...electric unicycles (even with batteries removed)
That's my plans scuppered.

Re: F1 hotels

6 February 2016 - 5:16pm
bikepacker wrote:F1 hotels do allow bikes in the room. Remember however these hotels because of their cheapness are generally of very poor standard. We have only ever stayed in two and both have been a nightmare experience. If you are looking for low cost hotels, Ibis Budget are good value and usually exceptionally clean. Premier Classe slightly more expensive than F1 are much better and rooms are ensuite.
They don't all allow bikes in a room - and I refer to all the three you mention.
We stayed in a F1 near Moulins a couple of years ago. However they did allow us to put the bikes in a lock up - which was better. I think you are being a bit unfair about the standard of F1. They are not my favourite accommodation but generally I've found them acceptable as an overnight stop and I've used them a number of times over the years -of course you need to pay attention to the word "BUDGET".
Ibis budget are better ( used to be Etap). Campanile IMO are ok but the restaurants are not so good. Premier Classe have pretty small rooms - not good if there are two of you with bikes.
In fact some areas of France like the Pyrenees don't have many budget chain hotels available - but I've found with all the online booking agencies that there are a number of B&B type places that are very reasonable.

Re: Air France no to CTC bag

6 February 2016 - 5:15pm
Bummer. Seems you need to get approval at least 48 hours in advance but there's nothing about a CTC type bag not being sufficienct packaging.

http://www.airfrance.co.uk/GB/en/common ... france.htm




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