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Route Planning Where to go, when, what are the interesting places to see
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  #1  
Old 3 Jan 2011
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London to Venice in Late February?

Hi everyone, first post!

I've recently upgraded after passing my test to a 650 V Strom. I really can't wait to put some miles on her and get my first experience of riding outside of the UK.

So I have a trip with my girlfriend to Venice planned for late Feb, she is doing teacher training and as part of the course they will go there on an Art trip to see the sights. Being a professional artist for films myself I was really excited to be invited to come along with them. Originally I was going to fly out but the other day I was struck with an idea that I could take the bike instead!

My worry is the conditions. I wouldn't really say I'm a fair weather rider and have been commuting to work most days this winter but if its snowing or icy I'm not really sure trying to fit that milage in 3 days is a good idea.

Has anyone got any experience with this journey at the time of year?

Any help would be great!
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Old 3 Jan 2011
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Hi James,

Welcome to HU & bravo for starting 2011 with such ambition! You're right to be concerned about the weather. It can be pretty rotten the whole way down your route and WILL be very cold.

Of course, there are plenty on the Hubb that will tell you to wrap up warm and go for it (some residents here have had their senses numbed through years of motorcycle related abuse), but I personally wouldn't do it. You didn't mention whether you were thinking of doing it 2-up or not. From my experience, she will hate every minute of it - for the most part they enjoy the thrill of zipping along and looking around at the scenery so riding 12 hours a day for 3 days in near freezing conditions (before you add the windchill) with the possibility of minimal visibility whilst freezing her ass off may not appeal!

I have ridden to the south of France before in winter (no fun) and my brother in law lives in northern Italy which appears to be colder than the UK's winter for the most part so he doesn't ride in it (and has snow chains on his car a surprising amount of the time).

I know it must be a tempting idea, especially as you've just got your first big bike, but personally i'd save it for later in the year. 6 days (you're gonna have to come back eventually!) of semi-decent weather in Feb is a big ask. And we haven't even talked about snow and ice...

Hell, maybe you'll love extreme winter riding but it's seems like unneccesary pain and suffering to me (and I'm an all weather rider when I'm in the UK).

Just my opinion, and you may get replies saying go for it. Good luck if you decide to go for it, but if not, have a fantastic spring and summer on your new salt-corrosion free bike!
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  #3  
Old 3 Jan 2011
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Hi and Welcome

I too ride a Wee Strom (Blue the fastest colour lol) and I would advise against such a long first run and the weather will be cold and miserable.

I went to Spain and Portugal in Oct and found the weather starting to get a bit too chilly for nice riding. Came back via the Santander ferry because I really couldnt face riding thru a very cold and wet France !

Also, the stock seat isnt the most comfortable for long miles, i now have a gel insert and ride with sheepskin so 500 mile days are ok for me now

google VSRI, its a V strom site and they hold an international meeting every year in Germany, thats a really nice ride out in June

Cheers
Geordie
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  #4  
Old 3 Jan 2011
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just go. part of motorbiking is being frozen while riding. keep out of the Alps and you'll be fine. some bar-muffs will make it a little more pleasant (and they are cheap), M&S thermals work too, and a windproof outer layer. regular coffee/warm-up stops.

and once you've done it, you'll know that riding through france in winter is not such a big deal, because of your new-found hardiness. then you're set to ride down to morocco, or anywhere else, whatever the conditions.

I accept the general concern is the 'first big bike' thing. but a 650's not that big after a week or two, and you only learn with miles in the saddle. plenty of new riders head off on long trips. so I still say, just go.
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  #5  
Old 3 Jan 2011
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Hi MrJames,

Winter riding can be very rewarding but you have to get things right to be anywhere near comfortable.

Firstly is the road conditions. It's amazing what you can ride on on a bike, even snow and ice to a certain level but it's slow going and there's the rub. The last thing you want is 12-14 hour days in sub-zero conditions. It's very tiring and you lose concentration easier, just when you need it most. But short days on major roads shouldn't be a problem. Although there is the little problem of the Alps. You will have trouble finding a lowland route through to Milan from Lyon as you pass through some of the best ski resorts on your way.

The next thing is your gear. It normally takes a while to get all of the best winter gear together through trial and error over a period of years. I've managed to keep my hands warm through heated grips and handlebar muffs but even though I can keep my feet dry they are the first thing to get cold. The next thing would be heated socks. So if you can afford to buy the latest Gore-tex gear and some heated clothing then it shouldn't be a problem.

The single most important thing though is your head. How much do you want to do it. Wrap up warm and go.
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Old 3 Jan 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobduro View Post

I have ridden to the south of France before in winter (no fun) and my brother in law lives in northern Italy which appears to be colder than the UK's winter for the most part so he doesn't ride in it (and has snow chains on his car a surprising amount of the time).

I know it must be a tempting idea, especially as you've just got your first big bike, but personally i'd save it for later in the year. 6 days (you're gonna have to come back eventually!) of semi-decent weather in Feb is a big ask. And we haven't even talked about snow and ice...

Hell, maybe you'll love extreme winter riding but it's seems like unneccesary pain and suffering to me (and I'm an all weather rider when I'm in the UK).

Just my opinion, and you may get replies saying go for it. Good luck if you decide to go for it, but if not, have a fantastic spring and summer on your new salt-corrosion free bike!

I live in northern Italy and I know how the climate here can be.

I echo every single word you said.
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  #7  
Old 3 Jan 2011
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Rain & Cold

Hi James

My we rode from London to Athens in 1976. We left beginning of March and arrived in Athens May 1. We had the notion that once we left the Alps ( our route was through Austria) it would be spring and the weather would warm up. WRONG! We left wearing every bit of insulated ski wear we could beg or borrow - planning to discard it layer by layer as we traveled south. We arrived in Athens wearing every bit of it! One of the most enduring memories of the trip is sitting in cafes clutching large cups of coffee trying to regain feeling in our fingers while periodic spasms of involuntary shivers swept through our bodies. But once the shivers subsided and the fingers had thawed it was back on the road!
Of course we didn't have the advantage of heated clothing or breathable rain gear (did I mention the rain lots of rain).

All that said - it was the trip of a lifetime! So bottom line - if you can wait until it's a little warmer it would be a good idea, but if this is the only time you've got - don't miss the opportunity!
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