We caught the European Bike express coach from Waltham Abbey and headed to Dover. There were 4 of us Neil, Paul, Terry and Richard, average age 56,( that’s only chronologically) and we fancied a bit of touring in Europe. Some delays on the ferry, but soon we were en route to Dijon where we hit route 6 and headed East.
We got to Dijon early on Sunday morning. Lovely cycling along quiet French minor roads. It was a bit rainy for our first few nights camping, but good food along with plenty of French beer and wine made up for it. Eurovelo6 is a long distance path that (http://www.eurovelo.com/en/eurovelos/eurovelo-6) traverses Europe, from the French Atlantic coast to the Black sea. We only had a couple of weeks, so were only doing a section.
We started most days at about 8 am and cycled all day stopping off for food en route. We camped each night where ever we found a campsite at about tea time. We usually ate out, but did cook occasionally, when we found a good place to shop.
The route often followed canal and rivers and was mainly off road, why can’t we do this in UK? Lots of other cyclists around, and many e bikes. Quite disconcerting to be overtaken by a large Fraulein in a tweed skirt going up hill at 15 mph!, maybe e bikes are the answer?
At one stage we had to choose to go down into Switzerland, or head east and do a bit of self-navigating. We ended up cycling up some steep mountain bike trails in the Black Forest, very interesting, but quite tough on fully laden touring bikes. Eventually we hit the Danube and the cycling became easier. We often did 80 or 90 miles a day.
After a week Paul and Terry headed south to Munich and took the train back to UK. Neil and Richard continued into Austria and on to Vienna. Vienna was very hot. We stayed with Neil’s daughter in Vienna and did a bit of sightseeing.
The last day saw us head along the Danube into Slovakia and take the plane to Stansted. A long hot day with a bit of confusion getting to the airport. We took soft cycle bags and dissembled the bikes in the bus station and took a bus to the airport. We did about 1500 miles over the two weeks and had a lot of fun. The European bike express, (http://bike-express.co.uk/), is well worth thinking about, as a cheap efficient and bike friendly way to get into Europe and back. The Danube cycle path is an excellent traffic free way to cross Europe and see a few interesting things on the way.
Paul wants to do the Eastern part later on, and visit his fathers origins. We only had 1 puncture, and no real problems apart from a broken rear rack. We were fairly heavily laden. For one of us it was the first time cycle camping. I don’t think we put him off!