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Travellers' questions that don't fit anywhere else This is an opportunity to ask any question, and post any notice you wish that doesn't fit into one of the other sections.
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  #1  
Old 12 Jan 2011
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To the road less travelled . . .
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Daily distance?

I'm starting to plan my European trip for the summer. I will be away 2 to 2 1/2 weeks, going from Blighty to the south of France (via le tour!), then up through the Alps, Zurich, Bruges and then back to England.

I'm fairly new to distance motorbike travel, and am planning between 200-270 miles per day, with some rest days in Cannes, Zurich and Bruges. Is this too much per day? I keep reading that people enjoy a slower ride, taking longer; I like this idea, but am anxious that the trip will end up costing more than I can afford (I'm plannig a bigger trip next year, and don't want to spend ages paying off the credit card!).

Any help / suggestions from those with more experience would be gratefully welcome
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  #2  
Old 12 Jan 2011
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That should be plenty. Are you planning on tarmac or dirt, will you be riding constantly or looking around a bit? What size bike?
My longest days were 800 or 1000 miles but I was getting off the bike around midnight which was a bad plan in terms of finding somewhere suitable to sleep.
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  #3  
Old 12 Jan 2011
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if you are away for a fixed period then the slower you go the cheaper it will be, as you'll spend less on fuel.

if you're not used to riding over the Alps then 200/270 miles might be pushing it. There's the usual thing of weather, and you may well get stuck for a few hours behind a cycle race. But, also, you might just knacker yourself out with all those bends, or you might want to keep stopping and take in the vista.

I think an idea of daily mileage is not very useful. just go to the places you want to go to, and speed up/slow down if necessary, who cares if it's 60 miles or 300. You can always take a b-line for a motorway if you need to get back in a hurry.
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  #4  
Old 12 Jan 2011
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Really depends on you. My answer is don't worry about specific distances.

Do what you feel is right and just find accomodation at then end of the day.

My first europe tour I got really hung up on distance in the planning. In the end Just did what felt right every day I had a rough Idea of what I wanted to do every day and was generally ok.

My experince was 200 - 300 miles were good for Normal roads

Could do 400 plus on Motorway/ Dual Carraigway.

Just enjoy yourself
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  #5  
Old 12 Jan 2011
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D'oh! just realised my longest days were 800-1000km, italian speedo!
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  #6  
Old 12 Jan 2011
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ok, so a little weirdy thing...

I've done barcelona to london on the ZX6 a few times. And barcelona/santander to tarifa a few times on various 'adventure' bikes.

best seat for long distance ? the ZX6, no question about it. 13 hours in the seat and I feel fine.

One of the things I took a little convincing of when switching to long distance cycling (up to 150 miles in a sitting), was the Brooks saddle. this is a 2 ml thick leather panel stretched over some rails. conventional thinking (and marketing) points to you something soft and squidgey. but no, fellow long distancers, this is the wrong path. the reason is to do with your 'sit bones', and they need to sit on something firm to work properly and not give you gip.

so, if I'm on a long distance trip with very long days in the saddle I take the ZX6 with it's 1" padded seat. Rather than the DL1000 with it's 4" padding. 6 hours has me shifting around on the DL.

while motorbikers tend to reach for a gel seat or a sheep skin, cyclists on the long haul go for no padding at all and invest in a Brooks. I'm good on my Brooks for 10 or so hours, and my squidgey seat far far less.

weird, but true.
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  #7  
Old 12 Jan 2011
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Your mileages seem about right (I've done a few 180 mile days on a trail-bike, mostly off-road, without too much trouble) but don't get too hung up on a timetable. As others have said; it could end up ruining your trip. If you like a town or area then hang around for a bit. If you don't get to some places on your list then don't worry; that's a good excuse for another trip.

BYT
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  #8  
Old 13 Jan 2011
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Hi

On my little DL650 wee strom with gel insert and sheepskin I can easily cover 500 miles a day.... but some days Im happy to do 200...

My first few trips to Europe involved moving to my next campsite everyday, now I tend to plan a few days in one place.. its nice to be able to have a day off the bike and chill or walk around and do some exploring

Cheers
Geordie
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  #9  
Old 13 Jan 2011
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All excellent advice! I'm on a F800GS, and will be doing a variety of roads (no real off road this time). I'll be motorway-ing it down to the South of France, and then B-roads up again.

I like the idea of a leisurely juant, but I'm anxious that I should plan accomodation in advance. Maybe it's my lack of experience, but I'd feel more comfortable having things vaguely organised in advance! I am planning to camp for part of the journey, so maybe that could add some flexibility.
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  #10  
Old 13 Jan 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Endurodude View Post
All excellent advice! I'm on a F800GS, and will be doing a variety of roads (no real off road this time). I'll be motorway-ing it down to the South of France, and then B-roads up again.

I like the idea of a leisurely juant, but I'm anxious that I should plan accomodation in advance. Maybe it's my lack of experience, but I'd feel more comfortable having things vaguely organised in advance! I am planning to camp for part of the journey, so maybe that could add some flexibility.
My experince was that apart from the major Backpacker cities you don't really need to book in advance. You may need to go to a couple of Hotel/ B&Bs/Guesthouses before you find a bed. but if your taking camping gear there is almost always a free pitch some where.
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  #11  
Old 13 Jan 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Endurodude View Post
I like the idea of a leisurely juant, but I'm anxious that I should plan accomodation in advance. Maybe it's my lack of experience, but I'd feel more comfortable having things vaguely organised in advance! I am planning to camp for part of the journey, so maybe that could add some flexibility.
I found that having somewhere booked added to the pressure by having to be somewhere at a certain time and took away some of the sense of freedom that just being on the road gives. Admittedly I did end up sleeping in some wierd places
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  #12  
Old 13 Jan 2011
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Is the journey to the target area part of the holiday?

I used to regularly take a bike from London to holidays in the South of France. The 700 mile ride there was just to get there and completed in a day. Once there, touring/sightseeing distances varied between 30 and 300 miles a day dependant on terrain, views, mood, weather, etc.

For pure distance journeys I find 800 miles a day is about the max unless riding through the dark. I regularly ride London/Moscow. The 1900 miles takes 2.5 days including hotel night stops and the protracted border nonsence. I dont think it could be squeezed into much less time (i.e. more daily miles).

Off roading is a completely different matter.
In one very long day on the BAM we managed the grand total of about 5 miles - but it was pure bog and a deep river which we had to part fill with rocks to make a ford shallow enough to push the bikes through!

For holiday touring/sightseeing my advice would be not to set yourself too tight a schedule. It is far better and more satisfying to have the flexibility to spend longer in unexpectedly interesting areas and adding loops or detours. Having to cut things out leaves a feeling of disapointment that mars the overall effect.
Enjoy.
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  #13  
Old 13 Jan 2011
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I dont book campsites (I nearly always camp). I have a tomtom with the "Archies campsite of europe" loaded as my POI.

That way Im not racing to the next stop just to make a booking in time, the only real constraits on my trips is I always visit a couple of International rallys so have to be there roughly on time.

If your going to use motorways in France then be prepared for toll roads and deep pockets !

Best of Luck

Geordie
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  #14  
Old 13 Jan 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Endurodude View Post
All excellent advice! I'm on a F800GS, and will be doing a variety of roads (no real off road this time). I'll be motorway-ing it down to the South of France, and then B-roads up again.

I like the idea of a leisurely juant, but I'm anxious that I should plan accomodation in advance. Maybe it's my lack of experience, but I'd feel more comfortable having things vaguely organised in advance! I am planning to camp for part of the journey, so maybe that could add some flexibility.
The tolls on the peages can really mount up. I suggest you get best value by 'bivouacing' overnight using the rest areas. Unless your route is planned for specific destinations landing at dieppe and slicing to the west of Paris to pick up the A20 (mostly free) south past Limoges. at about junction 53 take a left to Millau from there it is free to Montpellier. Cannes is very expensive and crowded.
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  #15  
Old 13 Jan 2011
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Another reason to love Italy, bikes can go anywhere, you just go round the end of the barriers! Across parks, down steps with cops watching, not a problem at all!
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