Bike-and-train touring

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
MrsHJ
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Re: Bike-and-train touring

Postby MrsHJ » 5 Jan 2020, 11:48am

Vorpal wrote:I can recommend Norway for combining train, bus, ferry, & bike touring. Most trains and buses take bikes (there is a fee on most routes) without reservation. Long distance (regional trains) can be booked in advance, but except for a few popular routes. they aren't generally required. Ferries take bikes--usually for free, though foot ferries often charge a small fee--generally without reservation. Though it's a good idea to book groups, especially on small ferries. It has become my preferred way to travel, and I have sometimes done something like... Take a train to the starting point, ride my bike a day or two, take a train part way back, ride my bike for a few days and do some touristy things, bus home. Or train to starting point, ride my bike for a couple of days, ferry, ride my bike home. Some areas, for example the scenic west coast, it is necessary to use ferry or bus at some points.


Sounds perfect to me. I’m moving towards this sort of travel in Europe too. Partly enforced when I got an ear infection and vertigo 18 months ago but also embraced enthusiastically to miss out boring/busy bits or to fill in gaps to match my available time or to keep the family engaged.

The only draw back can be the baggage logistics. One bike, two heavy panniers (try to have straps so they can go on your shoulders), bar bag, steps to the platform and sometimes steps into the train can be tough to manage especially if travelling by train due to being unwell. Luckily the kindness of strangers often kicks in- usually the teens in a hoodie or the women in a headscarf, not the smart suit brigade.

Eg Lyon station has a gentle ramp leading to the platforms from the concourse so that’s a good one but the trains in the region are sometimes older ones with narrow and steep steps to access.

Vorpal
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Re: Bike-and-train touring

Postby Vorpal » 5 Jan 2020, 6:00pm

Bus drivers and train conductors alike have let me leave front panniers on the bike. Some have also let me leave the tent on, which meant I only needed to take the rear panniers & water bottle with me.

I've also had help from staff and/or fellows travelers.

Once last summer, I was coming home by bus, and we switched buses half way. There were two bikes on my bus and a recumbent & trailer on the other. One of the bus drivers couldn't be bothered, but the other was extremely helpful.
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SA_SA_SA
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Re: Bike-and-train touring

Postby SA_SA_SA » 5 Jan 2020, 10:31pm

Given the cycle 'provision' on the new IEPs and others, and the need to book on most Mainland franchises, I wondered about buses/coaches: but even with motorways they seem a lot slower than expected. I think my limit on a bus/coach would be 3 hours :)
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pq
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Re: Bike-and-train touring

Postby pq » 6 Jan 2020, 11:33am

I did it in Mexico (although using buses). Almost a full day on the bike followed by an hour or 2 on a bus so that I got to the airport in time. I also did it in the Balkans using trains - although on that occasion I took a night train, so I simply exchanged a hotel bed for a train bed.
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nirakaro
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Re: Bike-and-train touring

Postby nirakaro » 6 Jan 2020, 11:47am

SA_SA_SA wrote: I think my limit on a bus/coach would be 3 hours :)

Agreed. Leeds to Narbonne on the European Bike Express was about 29 hours. Rather more on the way back when the bus broke down. Wouldn't do it again.

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mjr
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Re: Bike-and-train touring

Postby mjr » 6 Jan 2020, 1:01pm

SA_SA_SA wrote:Given the cycle 'provision' on the new IEPs and others, and the need to book on most Mainland franchises, [...]

I may have miscounted but I doubt it's "most":

Need to book (3 and 3 halves): Anglia (Intercity), Great Western (Intercity and Sleeper), London North Eastern, West Coast, East Midlands (Intercity), Transpennine
Optional booking (5): Caledonian Sleeper, Cross-country, Hull, Grand Central, ScotRail
Cannot be booked (11 and 3 halves): Anglia (most), Great Western (locals), Wales, c2c, Chiltern, East Midlands (most), West Midlands, Thameslink/Southern/Great-Northern, London North Western, London, Merseyrail, Northern, Southeastern, South Western

Personally, I would prefer the reassurance of at least optional booking on some of those, especially Anglia through Ipswich to/from Harwich and Southeastern to/from Dover, which both currently have official limits of 6 bikes and lovely guards letting more on sometimes.
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mattheus
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Re: Bike-and-train touring

Postby mattheus » 6 Jan 2020, 1:35pm

I believe that fast/long-distance correlates with booking required quite strongly. (I haven't checked every operator, it's only a theory!)

And for touring, long-distance is generally more relevant.

Also, it looks mad to turn up for a Caledonia Sleeper service without a booking, even if it is possible!

SA_SA_SA
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Re: Bike-and-train touring

Postby SA_SA_SA » 6 Jan 2020, 1:50pm

...and what happens if one link in your chain of bookings breaks (or is 'stolen; but is undealt with by any guard (if still present?))

Plus rubbish cycle compartments are still that whether booked or not
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Sweep
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Re: Bike-and-train touring

Postby Sweep » 6 Jan 2020, 3:10pm

mattheus wrote:I believe that fast/long-distance correlates with booking required quite strongly. (I haven't checked every operator, it's only a theory!)

And for touring, long-distance is generally more relevant.

Also, it looks mad to turn up for a Caledonia Sleeper service without a booking, even if it is possible!

I know where you are coming from but have used london northwestern london to crewe and reverse a few times. They also run as far as london to liverpool. I think the no booking thing is OK as long as you are dealing with a reasonable easygoing company. London northwestern appear to be such a company though I don t remember encountering another bike with them on my trips.

Plenty of potential space for bikes on their trains - they are pretty similar to london suburban trains. I commend them to tourists. Not fast but smooth.

Grand central (still going?) i wouldn't dream of travelling with. Gave up trying to get a straight answer out of them.
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mattheus
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Re: Bike-and-train touring

Postby mattheus » 6 Jan 2020, 3:22pm

I'd never heard of london northwestern before today! (not much use to me, living out in the Provinces )

They certainly seem to shoot a hole in my theory.

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Sweep
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Re: Bike-and-train touring

Postby Sweep » 6 Jan 2020, 3:30pm

mattheus wrote:I'd never heard of london northwestern before today! (not much use to me, living out in the Provinces )

They certainly seem to shoot a hole in my theory.

Your theory is pretty sound, i wasn't shooting you :)
I use them a fair bit tacking on a few hours loaded riding to and from rural northwest. Effectively the same bunch as west midlands trains i think. They have had some issues of late but i have always found them great. Not hard to get from london to crewe or even hartford in cheshire for a tenner with not much forward booking.
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mjr
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Re: Bike-and-train touring

Postby mjr » 6 Jan 2020, 11:37pm

SA_SA_SA wrote:...and what happens if one link in your chain of bookings breaks (or is 'stolen; but is undealt with by any guard (if still present?))

You get the next train (even with a timed ticket: get the guard or station who denies you to endorse the ticket)

Plus rubbish cycle compartments are still that whether booked or not

I agree. They should have fitted at least 6 level-boarding bike spaces every 4 carriages like on the new Anglia trains.

50sbiker
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Re: Bike-and-train touring

Postby 50sbiker » 9 Jan 2020, 1:28pm

gbnz wrote:
50sbiker wrote:That particular person does have an issue with""post industrial conurbations""..Frequently they refers to parts of the North east as such..best to be avoided..The poster has no idea of the north east and presumably still thinks of the lake district as covered with mines and pit heaps from the 18th century too!..


It's true! I do have an issue with post industrial conurbations and significant parts of the population they contain. Probably due to a large part of my career having been spent in the North East, dealing with the issues such post industrial populations produce (NB. I can smell the fag smoke now :wink: )

Bizarre,on so many levels...You do seem stuck in the past and have hang ups with sections of society for oddball reasons.What is the connection between people smoking and post industrial conurbations..Do countryside folk not smoke then?....And since pubs etc banned smoking years ago it is not a problem any way.

gbnz
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Re: Bike-and-train touring

Postby gbnz » 9 Jan 2020, 1:49pm

50sbiker wrote:Bizarre,on so many levels...You do seem stuck in the past and have hang ups with sections of society for oddball reasons.What is the connection between people smoking and post industrial conurbations..Do countryside folk not smoke then?....And since pubs etc banned smoking years ago it is not a problem any way.


The connection between post industrial conurbations, c/w significant sections of society being affected by ill health, smoking, low levels of educational achievement and benefit based lifestyles is well attested. And it's absurd to suggest that you have to be in a pub to be affected by such people.

I was in Newcastle last night waiting for a bus, the only person not smoking amongst perhasp 70-80 in the station. And walking down to the gym this morning, the fag smoke in the air, coarse, grey faced, deformed people lurching down the road with their dogs. The coarse language and behavioural types they exhibit may be interesting to observe, but not at all pleasant when one's obliged to remain in close proximity to such people.

Having been brought up, lived and worked throughout most of my life in more advanced parts of the country, it's impossible not to note how unpleasant post industrial areas and substantial parts of the population they contain are. And from a cycling perspective, it's absurd to suggest that cycling in such areas doesn't affect the pleasure of a ride :wink:

Oldjohnw
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Re: Bike-and-train touring

Postby Oldjohnw » 9 Jan 2020, 1:58pm

gbnz wrote:
50sbiker wrote:Bizarre,on so many levels...You do seem stuck in the past an MPd have hang ups with sections of society for oddball reasons.What is the connection between people smoking and post industrial conurbations..Do countryside folk not smoke then?....And since pubs etc banned smoking years ago it is not a problem any way.


The connection between post industrial conurbations, c/w significant sections of society being affected by ill health, smoking, low levels of educational achievement and benefit based lifestyles is well attested. And it's absurd to suggest that you have to be in a pub to be affected by such people.

I was in Newcastle last night waiting for a bus, the only person not smoking amongst perhasp 70-80 in the station. And walking down to the gym this morning, the fag smoke in the air, coarse, grey faced, deformed people lurching down the road with their dogs. The coarse language and behavioural types they exhibit may be interesting to observe, but not at all pleasant when one's obliged to remain in close proximity to such people.

Having been brought up, lived and worked throughout most of my life in more advanced parts of the country, it's impossible not to note how unpleasant post industrial areas and substantial parts of the population they contain are. And from a cycling perspective, it's absurd to suggest that cycling in such areas doesn't affect the pleasure of a ride :wink:


This elderly Geordie feels really uplifted now!
John