Picos de Europa + Coach travel

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PH
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Picos de Europa + Coach travel

Postby PH » 29 Sep 2019, 1:25pm

Had a couple of weeks in the Picos de Europa earlier this month, with some friends from the local CTC group. For those that don't know, this is a hilly area that forms part of the Cantabrian Mountains in northern Spain. In a word - Gorgeous. We stayed in a variety of accommodation from grand hotels to simple rooms, all good. Excellent food and wine at all price points. Not a high millage tour, average around 40 a day, though with the hills that was usually enough and allowed plenty of time to stop and admire the views. We also had a couple of days with no cycling to do other things including a cable car and gorge walk, so hardly rest days!
To take advantage of the ludicrously cheap European coach fares I took my Airnimal folder, the coach was fine, a bit tedious, but not enough to put me off using it again. The Joey worked better than expected, lost less to a full size bike than I thought it would, though if it'd been a flatter faster tour I'd have been at more of a disadvantage.
Anyway, I could write a thousand words, but hopefully the pictures tell a better story
ImageD4 Morning view by Paul, on Flickr

Album
https://www.flickr.com/photos/phbike/al ... 775569787/

Edited to change the title as I'd like to know more of others experiences travelling by coach
Last edited by PH on 1 Oct 2019, 6:30pm, edited 3 times in total.

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horizon
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Re: Picos de Europa

Postby horizon » 29 Sep 2019, 2:15pm

PH wrote:To take advantage of the ludicrously cheap European coach fares I took my Airnimal folder, the coach was fine, a bit tedious, but not enough to put me off using it again.


Could you say a bit more about how this worked out - was this through France? I'm looking at taking trains and coaches down through France and into Spain - the "ludicrously cheap" caught my eye.

The Joey worked better than expected, lost less to a full size bike than I thought it would, though if it'd been a flatter faster tour I'd have been at more of a disadvantage.


More on this too! Was the Joey packaged? Anything that didn't work well with the bike?

Anyway, I could write a thousand words


You're welcome - please do! :D
Let's just get Brexit done so that we can get on with the important job of re-joining the EU!

PH
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Re: Picos de Europa

Postby PH » 1 Oct 2019, 2:12am

horizon wrote:
PH wrote:To take advantage of the ludicrously cheap European coach fares I took my Airnimal folder, the coach was fine, a bit tedious, but not enough to put me off using it again.


Could you say a bit more about how this worked out - was this through France? I'm looking at taking trains and coaches down through France and into Spain - the "ludicrously cheap" caught my eye.

Ludicrously cheap was - £6 each way Derby>London with National Express. £68 return London>Paris>Bilbao with Eurolines and £7 each way Bilbao>Santander with Alsa (Though I missed one of these and took the luxury coach with drinks, snacks and a movie for £14) I also had a 10% discount code for National Express and Eurolines. All were booked well in advance and I was travelling alone. It was about 30 hours each way, of which around 21 are actually sat on the coach, so not for those who can't put up with the boredom or some mild discomfort. I can sleep anywhere and although I couldn't say I had a full nights, I dozed enough to be reasonably fresh at the end. All the coaches were near capacity, so don't expect a lot of room. We went out on the Dover ferry and back in the Shuttle, as far as I can see there's no way of telling which you'll get, I prefer the ferry.
There are photos on the "show bikes" thread of the Joey with luggage and packed. I put it in two bags to comply with Eurolines policy which is - Two hold bags up to 20Kg each and measuring no more than 170cm (W+L+D) I had to take the rack off to meet this, but didn't bother on the way back. you can also take a carry on bag. The other two companies used have different luggage requirements and I couldn't comply with all three so I chanced it (On the way down from Derby I asked another passenger waiting to put one of the bags on for me and the Alsa policy is any bag up to 25kg, so I could have tied them together).
My experience was that no one cares, the drivers are only bothered that you put it in the right compartment so they don't have to open them all at every stop and move bags around. This is also good for security, on all legs, the compartment my bike was in wasn't opened until we were at the destination. There were two bikes in obvious bike bags on the Paris leg, the riders use it frequently and were not aware of any luggage policy!
While researching this trip, I also looked at Flixbus. Some of their routes can transport full bikes on racks and most will take an oversized bag for 9 Euros, the size/weight is enough for two bikes.
What else? This was my only continental coach trip (Other than Bike Express) so it doesn't make me an expert, though it went well enough to look forward to some more. I've used NE a couple of times for UK trips and I've also been on a couple of out of season UK coach holidays (They can also be a bargain!)

Not much to add about the Joey, I've done a few miles on it in the year I've had it, but not much group riding, I thought I'd be at more of a disadvantage. They're good bikes, a lot of fun to ride, short wheelbase makes them ideal to chuck around, chunky enough to take a bit of off road, the long seatpost makes it a comfortable ride, the Rohloff and disc brakes make it simple to keep running and there's less to get damaged in transit. But, it is a bit harder work than my other bikes, I've come to the conclusion that uphill (Of which there was plenty on this tour) the extra effort gets lost amongst the rest. Without the packing requirement I doubt I'd take it touring, though if it was the only bike available, there''s no riding I do that it wouldn't be capable of.

Well, not a thousand words, but still more than I intended writing...

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horizon
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Re: Picos de Europa

Postby horizon » 1 Oct 2019, 9:57am

PH wrote:Well, not a thousand words, but still more than I intended writing...


I couldn't have asked for more :D - thank you very much.

I'm always looking at options to France and Spain. The bike is usually the fly in the ointment. I checked out Ryanair to Biarritz: they were offering £5.99 for the leg out. By the time I had added in the return, the bike and the luggage I was up to about £350. Fares in the UK to the airport would have carried me over the £400 mark. My favourite is obviously Santander (especially given we live near Plymouth) but the fares for that plus coaches in Spain now put me off. I've taken a full bike plus camping gear on several coaches in Spain in the past so that I think is going to be my strategy - until I look at flights again without the bike . . .
Let's just get Brexit done so that we can get on with the important job of re-joining the EU!

PH
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Re: Picos de Europa

Postby PH » 1 Oct 2019, 11:05am

horizon wrote:My favourite is obviously Santander (especially given we live near Plymouth) but the fares for that plus coaches in Spain now put me off. I've taken a full bike plus camping gear on several coaches in Spain in the past so that I think is going to be my strategy - until I look at flights again without the bike . . .

I don't fly unless it's long haul where it's the only practical option, partly for environmental reasons and also because I dislike the experience.
The rest of the group used the ferry from Plymouth, it was no quicker though with a calm sea probably more comfortable. I'd have been happy to join them, but the price difference was enough to fund a weeks touring elsewhere.
Which coaches in Spain have you used? Did you have to pack the bike?

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al_yrpal
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Re: Picos de Europa

Postby al_yrpal » 1 Oct 2019, 11:45am

This is a pretty useful site. Gives multiple options from anywhere to anywhere... just click on an option to see the route and costs.

https://www.rome2rio.com/s/Roscoff/Bilbao

Al
Touring on a bicycle is a great way to explore and appreciate the countryside and towns you pass through. What do you do to make a difference?

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horizon
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Re: Picos de Europa

Postby horizon » 1 Oct 2019, 12:18pm

PH wrote:Which coaches in Spain have you used? Did you have to pack the bike?


Yes and no. Longer distance, yes, and got caught out with the new charges for bikes when they came in. Local buses have empty holds and there's no need to do anything with the bike (and they don't charge). Some trips with the bike:

Santander to Zaragoza
Granada to Madrid
Almeria to Granada
Zaragoza to Alicante
Granada to Santander
Granada to Malaga
Valencia to Santander
Sofia to Zaragoza

Some of the coach firms seem to have changed (it's mostly Alsa now, or at least on my routes). All these trips were a little while ago now as I stopped taking the bike by plane and travelled without it. I'm not sure if having a folder changes much particularly as it's not my choice of bike for Spain. I remember on the Valencia trip they were strict about everything.
Let's just get Brexit done so that we can get on with the important job of re-joining the EU!