Rookie Cycle Tour from London to Trieste

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
Tyre Lady
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Rookie Cycle Tour from London to Trieste

Postby Tyre Lady » 1 Feb 2019, 6:14pm

Good evening all.
Background
I'm supposed to be at 2 running events to be part of their sustainability development and to run in their respective 10K (27 April) and marathon (12 May). Am helping events to reduce the amount of waste generated, reduce litter being tossed onto the ground in the event and to encourage participants to BYOB. The events are happy to pay for my air fare. However in the light of COP24 have decided human powered transport is the best way.

Thus am currently planning my first ever cycle adventure and I need your help because I last cycled probably about 20 years ago and only do the occasional pretend cycle (spinning classes).

The plan is to get to Trieste by 25 April. On Google maps this is about 1000 miles to cover.
I will then head back over to Geneva to run their marathon but need to be there for the 8th May as got to prepare materials for their expo.

- For a person of reasonable fitness - What distance is realistic to think I can cover per day in April so I can plan the date I start?
- And are the hills really bad from Geneva to Trieste?
- What are the tricks to prevent saddle soreness. Have read about padded seats and padded shorts. Do I go for both?
- What is the best type of lock to use? Key or numeric pad. Think am most worried about it being stolen in Paris
- Am thinking about a Dynamo Light & USB charger or to have a Dynamo Light and a solar panel to charge up batteries etc. Which would you go for and would a dynamo be worth the drag?

Got loads more questions but better do more research
Low carbon, zero waste running journey

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foxyrider
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Re: Rookie Cycle Tour from London to Trieste

Postby foxyrider » 1 Feb 2019, 9:11pm

1000 miles is a long way! Whilst you may be able to pick it up a bit further into the ride I wouldn't plan on more than @ 75 per day. It doesn't sound far but by the time you've loaded your bike and added in the uphill that'll keep you travelling all day, say. Nine to five. You need plenty of down time to eat/sleep and recover ready for the next day.

I can't comment directly on the climbing from Geneva to Triest but you will have to cross the southern alps so expect quite a bit of long if not high depending on your route.

Padded saddles only offer short term comfort, an hour maybe. The best approach is a firmer saddle and padded shorts. You need to get some decent saddle time in before departure or your daily ride may well be much shorter than you hope. You'll need at least two pairs of shorts/liners so they can be rotated/washed.

City security is a nightmare, the best advice is to avoid leaving your bike unattended in big cities, keep it in the hotel unless you are riding it. On the road the jury is out, between heavy D locks and lighter cables (there are many threads on here if you do a search) I use a sturdy .5m armoured cable supplemented with a 2m loop end cable to extend its usefulness.

If you are using b&b's you can recharge stuff overnight. If camping, well a hub dynamo with suitable USB connection can work - forget tyre runners, they are not reliable. A hub dynamo shouldn't add a great deal of drag but there will be some.

Don't underestimate the size of the task ahead of you, yes a super fit ultra athlete might manage it in 4 days or less but in the real world you might get it down to 10 days but that'll be hard work to do.

Good luck on the trip
Convention? what's that then?
Airnimal Chameleon touring, Orbit Pro hack, Orbit Photon audax, Focus Mares AX tour, Peugeot Carbon sportive, Owen Blower vintage race - all running Tulio's finest!

MrsHJ
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Re: Rookie Cycle Tour from London to Trieste

Postby MrsHJ » 1 Feb 2019, 9:20pm

- For a person of reasonable fitness - What distance is realistic to think I can cover per day in April so I can plan the date I start? I’d suggest 50 miles a day and plan some days off. My preference is to do a short, say twenty mile day, rather than have a full day off but I’d plan for days and that will give you flexibility. Suggest leave beginning April.

- And are the hills really bad from Geneva to Trieste? Alpine roads are generally well graded- don't sweat it, you;ll be bike fit once you get there.

- What are the tricks to prevent saddle soreness. Have read about padded seats and padded shorts. Do I go for both? Padded shorts and get some miles in with the shorts before you leave to make sure they work (some styles rub delicate bits) and to toughen your bum up. Padded seats are more for leisure cyclists and aren’t generally much use for doing distances. That doesn’t mean you should get an uncomfortable saddle but don’t go for one of those vast super comfort ones.

- What is the best type of lock to use? Key or numeric pad. Think am most worried about it being stolen in Paris. It’s the strength of the material that matters, not whether it is a key or numeric. Ask in a cycle shop- they can give good advice but I’d aim for it to be indoors in Paris and not go for an absolutely gigantic lock as you have to carry it. Try warmshowers.org for places to stay in big urban areas if you aren’t looking to hotel it.

- Am thinking about a Dynamo Light & USB charger or to have a Dynamo Light and a solar panel to charge up batteries etc. Which would you go for and would a dynamo be worth the drag? Given you’ll be in well facilitated places ie not out in the wilds of Alaska you don’t need a USB charger on the bike and batteries are so good these days that you don’t need a dynamo either. That being said if you want to go solar I’d take one but I wouldn’t rely on it in April in northern France.

For outstanding route planning try https://cycle.travel. Many of us use it and it is run by a member of the forum.
Last edited by MrsHJ on 1 Feb 2019, 9:36pm, edited 4 times in total.

MrsHJ
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Re: Rookie Cycle Tour from London to Trieste

Postby MrsHJ » 1 Feb 2019, 9:27pm

Looking at it I'd aim for about 3 weeks plus some rest days so leaving 1st week of April would be my plan (probably 1 April departure to get there for the 24/25th).

Chucked the route onto cycle.travel for some ideas: continental section
https://cycle.travel/map/journey/88392

London to Dover
https://cycle.travel/map/journey/88393

https://www.warmshowers.org/

nirakaro
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Re: Rookie Cycle Tour from London to Trieste

Postby nirakaro » 2 Feb 2019, 12:28am

A "person of reasonable fitness" covers a very broad range. How fit? How old?
When I was such a person in my thirties I could set off with no training and do a steady 80-90 miles a day; in my fifties I'd start a trip at maybe forty miles a day, and work up to sixty odd. If you can run marathons I suspect the limiting factor will be a sore bum.
Don't get too hung up on locks – if you're camping, continental campsites are generally pretty safe, and if you're not, I've never found a room anywhere that couldn't offer some kind of secure bike storage. If you're worried about getting your bike stolen in Paris – don't go to Paris! It looks to be way off your route anyway.
Trieste to Geneva can be mostly pancake flat, with one major climb to get you over the Alps. The Simplon pass is the obvious route, maybe 1700m to climb, which you won't find hard by then, as long as you take your time and have low enough gears. Unless you fancy bragging rights to the Great St Bernard which is a fabulous ride but maybe 2300m to climb.
Take a power pack if camping – they'll charge it for you overnight in reception.

simonhill
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Re: Rookie Cycle Tour from London to Trieste

Postby simonhill » 2 Feb 2019, 1:39am

Nice idea, but some fundamentals first.

Do you have a bike? Is it suitable for such a ride?

What accommodation? Your bike load wil be very different whether camping or hotel-ing.

Do you have the necessary gear? Special luggage, usually panniers are the norm.

With less than 2 months to go you that's not much time to get it all together.

Running and cycling are different and you will need to work to get your body able to do both. You can certainly transition into cycling by going easy at first, but you need to think about being able to run a marathon at the end of the ride.

I like all the optimism above, but with less than 2 months to go and a depart in April, which can be tough weather wise, I think you are pushing it a bit.

ANTONISH
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Re: Rookie Cycle Tour from London to Trieste

Postby ANTONISH » 2 Feb 2019, 9:50am

If you are able to run a marathon and manage spin classes you must have sufficient basic stamina and aerobic fitness.
What you lack is the experience of long distance cycling which you still have time to develop.

You will also have to come to terms with the reality of on road cycling - if you have experienced cyclist friends they may be willing to ride with you.
You will need to build up distance.
Once you are comfortable with say 50 miles it may be worth trying the shorter distance 100k/62.1miles audax rides - they are generally fairly cheap to enter, have a designated route and the minimum average speed is only 15kph (sometimes less).
From there you can build up distance. I'd suggest that if you can manage a 200k audax you will be ok with your daily distance.

You also need to get used to riding a loaded bike which will handle differently and be able to ride your projected daily distance comfortably - if you can manage two or three days consecutively you get a feel for things and can adjust your bike or luggage if needed.
Learn the basics such as puncture repair, the correct way to tighten a wheel quick release minor adjustments to brakes and gears.

I presume you have a bike - whether you have or not you need to ensure that the gears are low enough for the long climbs and that it is set up to enable you to ride comfortably on a daily basis.
As has been said a firmer saddle and padded shorts IMO worth paying a bit extra for but I find the higher end Decathlon shorts very satisfactory . My cycling companion has found the Selle Italia Lady gel saddle very good and has them on all her bikes.
Of course some people don't do any preparation and have perfectly good cycling holidays just getting on the bike and riding off into the distance. :)

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mjr
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Re: Rookie Cycle Tour from London to Trieste

Postby mjr » 2 Feb 2019, 10:26am

Tyre Lady wrote:- For a person of reasonable fitness - What distance is realistic to think I can cover per day in April so I can plan the date I start?
- And are the hills really bad from Geneva to Trieste?
- What are the tricks to prevent saddle soreness. Have read about padded seats and padded shorts. Do I go for both?
- What is the best type of lock to use? Key or numeric pad. Think am most worried about it being stolen in Paris
- Am thinking about a Dynamo Light & USB charger or to have a Dynamo Light and a solar panel to charge up batteries etc. Which would you go for and would a dynamo be worth the drag?

- I'd say average 50 miles a day will be testing. Maybe slightly more if travelling ultralight or after a few weeks.
- dunno.
- padded shorts don't prevent saddle sores. Even pro racers like Tom Dumoulin have had to quit races due to them, despite having a team of medics and carers helping. The top thing you can probably do now is find the correct saddle or short padding for you on the bike you'll use - and I believe it varies by bike. I think one needs something that is firm and supportive under your "sit bones" and largely clear of you elsewhere or at least soft so it doesn't bruise or rub. That probably means the big squishy "comfort" saddles are a bad idea, but IMO also means that thick padded knickers are also a bad idea for many. I find padded undies sweaty with irritating seams and I don't usually sweat much. I'm a big fan of classic saddles like the Concor, Turbo, Contour and Lycett, but the right one varies by person and bike. And it's a really good idea to avoid bulky seams anywhere that might rub or be under the sit bones!
- I carry a hardened 16mm D and a 12mm alarmed cable and I still would try to avoid locking on street in Paris or any big city for long. Put the bike in the hotel room or hostel store. And why Paris? Off the top of my head, London to Trieste is Route 1ish to Canterbury, then Eurovelo 5 to northern Italy and turn left, maybe on EV8.
- Dynamo lights every time. Not worrying how much light battery is left is liberating and well worth the few watts of drag - minimised on most if you wire an on/off switch in. Not sure about charging.

simonhill
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Re: Rookie Cycle Tour from London to Trieste

Postby simonhill » 2 Feb 2019, 10:58am

I see no reason to assume she has bike, given that she last cycled 20 years ago.

thirdcrank
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Re: Rookie Cycle Tour from London to Trieste

Postby thirdcrank » 2 Feb 2019, 11:13am

There's loads of sound advice already posted and you can find loads more in the LEJOG section of the forum, the advice on routes obviously being irrelevant.

I don't think basic fitness is a problem but I can think of four "physical" things which can only be sorted by getting the miles in. A painful backside - as opposed to saddle sores - is caused by the muscles not being used to working and being sat on at the same time. You need to find a riding position which is comfy for you for riding for hours at a time. You need to get used to riding for several days in succession: get to know your own rate of recovery. Longer rides should help you learn what works for you in terms of eating and drinking, both of which are important.

I always emphasis the psychological side and getting used to longer rides is a good way of building up the confidence / banish the doubts about what you can do.

Planning is important, but your timescales are very short so you need to start getting those miles in now, even if it's only a few to begin with. Keep a diary of your rides and the reasons for not riding. If the excuses outnumber the rides, this may not be for you. Planning isn't a substitute for getting some miles in: at such short notice it's procrastination.

If you cannot already do so, learn how to repair punctures. Any other basic repair knowledge is a valuable bonus.

Obviously, crashes may damage anything, but the parts of a bike which will most reward investment in strength thtough quality are the wheels, which tend to be the parts which manufactures skimp on at any particular price point.

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RickH
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Re: Rookie Cycle Tour from London to Trieste

Postby RickH » 2 Feb 2019, 2:23pm

Don't forget to have contingency plans for the Alps as the passes could be closed by snow, sometimes quite suddenly. It isn't uncommon for mountain stages of the Giro d'Italia in May to be shortened, rerouted or, occasionally, abandoned completely due to snowfall.

Tyre Lady
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Re: Rookie Cycle Tour from London to Trieste

Postby Tyre Lady » 3 Feb 2019, 4:06pm

Wow - thank you all so much for your advice. Totally appreciate it

- I was thinking of Paris only as I was following some of the tours from London to Geneva but am happy to skip Paris.
- Will be looking for padded shorts and a firm seat. I remember once doing a trip from Twickenham to Southampton on a basket push bike. My butt was sore even though the seat was a nice comfy cushion seat. So thank you for that advice. I will stand cycle if my butt does get sore
- Training - so I now understand my current bike will be useless as it really does not have a lot of gears and the hills will burn. So now will seek out a second hand touring bike
- Route: Was thinking to head to the South of France first and then elbow to Trieste to avoid the Alps......but if you think by the time I get to the Alps my legs & butt will be hard core, it is a possibility https://cycle.travel/map/journey/88392 and https://cycle.travel/map/journey/88393 + Le Shuttle However just looking - the passes looked closed in April. So there is either back down to South of France or to use the train through the Alps.
- Showers - https://www.warmshowers.org - is this like Couch Surfing? As a lone women - do I need to look out for any weirdos lurking on the site?
- Lights - was probably a bit early to ask - but thank you - will check into Dynamos

Got to find a second hand bike now. Am trying to also go zero waste and to see how much I can get preloved.....Would you have a place you look for reliable 2nd hand stuff?
Low carbon, zero waste running journey

nirakaro
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Re: Rookie Cycle Tour from London to Trieste

Postby nirakaro » 3 Feb 2019, 5:12pm

If you're going through France, the obvious route is Grenoble-Turin, which takes you over the Lautaret and Montgenevre passes, which are both generally kept open – to cars at least. What that would mean for cycling I don't know. I've done the Lautaret, which is the higher of the two, in early May with no problem, but obviously that's no guarantee. Fallback is that you can take your bike on a train through the Frejus tunnel from Modane to Bardonecchia, but only on Saturdays!
If you take a route through Germany and Austria, which looks more direct for eastern Italy, you find much lower passes – the Brenner, or the Reschen on the Via Claudia Augusta cycle route, which almost never close.

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Re: Rookie Cycle Tour from London to Trieste

Postby eileithyia » 3 Feb 2019, 5:28pm

Hello and welcome.

1st priority is bike.
2nd is saddle and comfortable padded shorts. For that time of year make sure you have leg warmers or tights that can be worn over said shorts.
3rd luggage, accommodation... luggage will depend on this. Personally I would aim for B&B style accommodation.
4th. Sort out kit and have a weekend away from home.... get back home and ditch all stuff you deem to be superfluous to requirements. Practise packing and re-packing.
5th Start getting some road miles in, wearing in aforementioned saddle and padded shorts....

I would also agree with the guestimate of around 2.5 to 3 weeks to cover the journey so you have some wriggle room if anything goes wrong / rest day is needed.

Get some basic bike maintenance knowledge.... if there are no up coming classes locally try making friends with your local bike shop and see if you can spend a bit of time in the work shop being shown how things work.
I stand and rejoice everytime I see a woman ride by on a wheel the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood. HG Wells

PaulaT
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Re: Rookie Cycle Tour from London to Trieste

Postby PaulaT » 3 Feb 2019, 6:43pm

Tyre Lady wrote:Am trying to also go zero waste and to see how much I can get preloved.....Would you have a place you look for reliable 2nd hand stuff?


The snag with buying used is that you really need to know what you're buying. You won't have the option of asking the bike shop owner for advice as you would with new stuff.

BTW I've never really understood the preloved tag. All the gear I've sold on was stuff I couldn't get on with. Prehated would be a better description LOL :D