Hello & Help!

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)

Hello & Help!

Postby JonFountain » Tue Jul 29, 2014 10:23 pm

Hi All,

Sorry to introduce myself with a plea for some advice in my first post but then I wasn't expecting my brother to snap his Achilles tendon the week before we're due to set off for two weeks cycling up Eurovelo 6 in the Loire :(

Therein lies my dilema. Neither of us have cycled much for years and as a pair of very middle aged men thought it would be a great way to get into it, see some of France and no doubt sample a few wines on the way. Frankly the idea of heading off alone after all our planning doesn't seem as attractive. However with a new bike about to be delivered and the tickets booked it's certainly possible. What I need to consider is alternatives in this country. Afterall it may not be a bad idea to put it off a year and in the meantime to do some trips in the more familiar environs of the UK, where at least I speak the language.... he was the linguist, and get a feel for cycle touring.

So can anyone help with a few ideas for a week or twos riding here? Preferably a circular route to keep transport costs down a bit. I'll be camping and being new to it all and laden up would hope for either a flattish route or one that at least builds in intensity. Any thoughts on that or general advice would be hugely appreciated.

Thanks for reading.
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Re: Hello & Help!

Postby mjr » Tue Jul 29, 2014 11:21 pm

We can do flattish and gently hilly here in the east. http://keepPushingThosePedals.blogspot.co.UK has some examples that could probably be strung together fairly easily.
MJR, mostly pedalling a Revolution Streetfinder with 28mm DC front, 37mm M+ rear. Webmaster for hire, part of software.coop, so keen on practical sustainable transport. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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Re: Hello & Help!

Postby shane » Tue Jul 29, 2014 11:27 pm

JonFountain wrote: However with a new bike about to be delivered and the tickets booked it's certainly possible. What I need to consider is alternatives in this country..


Though I hate to give a certain sport company the credit for words I live by "Just do it", you already have a plan, just go for it.

Have fun, a solo adventure is also awesome, and you have another year to plan the next adventure together.....

In the mean time be sure to have a blog to make your brother sick with envy :evil: :lol:
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Re: Hello & Help!

Postby MrsHJ » Wed Jul 30, 2014 12:14 am

shane wrote:
JonFountain wrote: However with a new bike about to be delivered and the tickets booked it's certainly possible. What I need to consider is alternatives in this country..


Though I hate to give a certain sport company the credit for words I live by "Just do it", you already have a plan, just go for it.

Have fun, a solo adventure is also awesome, and you have another year to plan the next adventure together.....

In the mean time be sure to have a blog to make your brother sick with envy :evil: :lol:



Another vote for sticking to the plan. It will probably be warmer than the uk,the food is nice, the roads are quieter, the density of camp sites is high, it will feel more like being in holiday and in case of crisis you have a credit card and a phone. I cycle camped a fair bit in Spain and France by myself in my twenties and thirties and it was a very good experience. The Loire is also very nice, gentle cycling country compared to places like Cornwall or devon!

Good luck whatever you decide on.
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Re: Hello & Help!

Postby ANTONISH » Wed Jul 30, 2014 9:46 am

I would stick to your original plan.
I started doing long touring rides in France in my fifties after hardly cycling for many years.
I'm still doing them at 73 (I'm sure there are others older than me doing the same).
The Loire valley is very nice for cycling.
Setting off can be daunting but I'm sure you will find that your fears are unfounded.
Edward Enfield (the comedian Harry Enfield's father) took a couple of similar trips to that you had planned. He wrote a book about his experiences (Downhill all the way) which is amusing and informative. It's a worthwhile read for someone planning a first tour.
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Re: Hello & Help!

Postby Sooper8 » Wed Jul 30, 2014 10:33 am

ANTONISH wrote:I would stick to your original plan.
I started doing long touring rides in France in my fifties after hardly cycling for many years.
I'm still doing them at 73 (I'm sure there are others older than me doing the same).
The Loire valley is very nice for cycling.
Setting off can be daunting but I'm sure you will find that your fears are unfounded.
Edward Enfield (the comedian Harry Enfield's father) took a couple of similar trips to that you had planned. He wrote a book about his experiences (Downhill all the way) which is amusing and informative. It's a worthwhile read for someone planning a first tour.


I had never heard of this, but I just went over to Amazon to check it out, and for info it's 99p at the moment for Kindle.
Everything you love,everything meaningful with depth & history,all passionate authentic experiences will be appropriated,mishandled,watered down,cheapened, repackaged,marketed & sold to the people you hate
http://www.tumblr.com/blog/sooper8cycling
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Re: Hello & Help!

Postby Audax67 » Wed Jul 30, 2014 11:03 am

Welcome, Jon, and commiserations to your brother - daft thing to do before a cycling hol.

I've done a wee bit of Loire Valley cycling: if you like flat it's great. You can get the odd dose of Atlantic weather but that's part of the fun and not insuperable. I wouldn't worry too much about the language: even if your interlocutor has no English there'll often be someone nearby who can interpret.

I'd keep the distances down at first, obviously, and make the most of your surroundings. There's no great merit in pounding on for its own sake.

Couple of tips:

Take Imodium with you. It's available here but best be certain.
You can always get drinking water in cemeteries, they have water-taps linked to the ordinary mains.
Most small shops will close on Mondays. Exceptions will be some bakeries and service station shops. Supermarkets too, but then there's the bike-theft problem.
The "plat du jour" (set meal) in most restaurants is good value.

Any questions before Friday, fire away. After that I'm off myself.

John
Have we got time for another cuppa?
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Re: Hello & Help!

Postby simonhill » Wed Jul 30, 2014 11:37 am

Good advice above, although not sure immodium should be top of your packing list!

I am sure you will enjoy the trip on your own, possibly more so, dare I say it. I tour a lot on my own and realise that I see and appreciate so much more.

As a test, go for a short walk with a friend (urban or country). You will find that you miss much due to chatting. Also if you want to stop to look at something, your friend probably won't so you don't spend as much time as you would like. Then when your friend wants to stop, you probably won't be so interested. Then do the walk on your own and see how much more you appreciate it.

If nothing else, think of the kudos of venturing to a faraway foreign field on your own.
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Re: Hello & Help!

Postby Psamathe » Wed Jul 30, 2014 12:14 pm

I cannot comment on cycle touring solo but in general travel solo is far more rewarding.

Loire valley is a fantastic area.

Re language: Take a phrase book/dictionary (or loads of apps that do same) and always try in French first. It does not matter if you slaughter their language ... it is the fact that you tried French first that will generally ensure they will try their best to help. So never ever start with "Do you speak English?" but launch into what you think might sound like French (or prefix "Excuse/Pardonnez mon français"). (When I lived there and was looking to get my 2nd dog, my dictionary gave me the word for "puppy" but not the pronunciation and when not pronounced correctly the word was rather rude; yet everybody kept a straight face, provided loads of help and at one point somebody tactfully corrected my pronunciation. It was that I had tried that was important).

Ian
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Re: Hello & Help!

Postby Audax67 » Wed Jul 30, 2014 12:55 pm

^^^Good advice re the language. In general, if a word ends in T do not pronounce it. Safest that way.
Have we got time for another cuppa?
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Re: Hello & Help!

Postby simonineaston » Wed Jul 30, 2014 1:06 pm

+ one for launching into your very best French, even if, like mine, its rubbish! Works for me. :-)
Once, in a cafe in Brittany somewhere, I asked for coffee in the usual way and the barmaid glared at me and flounced off to get the boss - I thought, 'Oh Dear, what have I done?!', but when I nervously repeated the request to the owner, he just smiled and got my coffee - never found out what it was she thought I said!! Tried to figure it out with French friends since, but nada...
Michel Thomas is good if you need a crash course.
http://www.michelthomas.com/learn-french.php
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Re: Hello & Help!

Postby Farawayvisions » Wed Jul 30, 2014 5:43 pm

JonFountain wrote:However with a new bike about to be delivered and the tickets booked it's certainly possible. What I need to consider is alternatives in this country.


Get on your bike and pedal. You'll be grand and the adventure will have twice the value. You'll meet people if you want to and sure you can learn a few words in french before you go. 'No time like the present,' my mum always says.
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Re: Hello & Help!

Postby ossie » Wed Jul 30, 2014 6:53 pm

Audax67 wrote: Supermarkets too, but then there's the bike-theft problem.



I see your'e in France . Whats the bike theft problem ? In my experience fully laden tourers arent exactly an attractive proposition to thieves in the bike theft capital of the world ( UK) . Ive always done supermarkets in France and have never even seen anyone look at my bike. Obviously I always lock it but it would take some balls to even approach, let alone attempt to nick something laden down with crap in front of a supermarket.
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Re: Hello & Help!

Postby MrsHJ » Wed Jul 30, 2014 10:21 pm

ossie wrote:
Audax67 wrote: Supermarkets too, but then there's the bike-theft problem.



I see your'e in France . Whats the bike theft problem ? In my experience fully laden tourers arent exactly an attractive proposition to thieves in the bike theft capital of the world ( UK) . Ive always done supermarkets in France and have never even seen anyone look at my bike. Obviously I always lock it but it would take some balls to even approach, let alone attempt to nick something laden down with crap in front of a supermarket.


I had the same thought actually. I've never had any concerns about leaving my bike outside the supermarket, locked up when travelling by myself. I admit I tend to stick to smaller towns as that where I prefer cycling so it tends to be those town centre casino shops or the small town intermarche and of course the boulangerie for brekker after I've done 40 km from an early start ( I used to be so keen which was lucky given my pain au chocolat consumption).

Only place I got something nicked was my cycle pack with some tools that I left on the bike overnight in a campsite in Northern Spain in the Picos de Europa. I assume that was pesky teens but I'm still peeved.
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Re: Hello & Help!

Postby ANTONISH » Thu Jul 31, 2014 8:25 am

quote="Audax67"] Supermarkets too, but then there's the bike-theft problem.

I see your'e in France . Whats the bike theft problem ? In my experience fully laden tourers arent exactly an attractive proposition to thieves in the bike theft capital of the world ( UK) . Ive always done supermarkets in France and have never even seen anyone look at my bike. Obviously I always lock it but it would take some balls to even approach, let alone attempt to nick something laden down with crap in front of a supermarket.



I'm usually happy to leave my bike locked outside a supermarket. I think the exceptions may be large towns with rundown areas.
Calais has something of a reputation in this respect - someone tried to steal a pump from my bike which was on my car's roof rack - fortunately I spotted him in time.
Other people I know have had bikes stolen - but I would agree that generally you are unlikely to have a bike or equipment stolen in France.
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