Eurovelo 6

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
AFMS
Posts: 3
Joined: 18 Nov 2009, 2:56pm

Eurovelo 6

Postby AFMS » 18 Nov 2009, 3:11pm

I am considering a trip of the Eurovelo 6 route in the summer of 2010. Although there is a fairly informative website on the route, (http://www.eurovelo6.org/folder_listing?set_language=en) most of the blogs etc by people who have done it are in French. Would really appreciate any info anybody has on doing the whole route. It should take about 3 months, and I was planning to take a tent and maybe do a bit of couch surfing. If anybody else is interested in doing it, get in touch!

Barrenfluffit
Posts: 797
Joined: 20 Oct 2009, 5:31pm

Re: Eurovelo 6

Postby Barrenfluffit » 18 Nov 2009, 4:38pm

I did it last spring from Angers in France to near Ruse in Bulgaria. then headed south to Istanbul and an easyjet flight home. TBH its probably simpler to fly out; dump the box and cycle home.

The advantage of EV6 is that there are maps specifically for the route. Huber Verlag from http://www.kartographie.de but also sold at Stanfords. Covers the ride in numerous sections at 1:100,000. There are also maps produced by Kompass ISBN 3-85491-551-9. There are also books with maps produced by Esterbauer.com ISBN 978-3-85000-249-3.

The kartographie ones were the best but it could be tough finding the marked accomodation (it wasn't always there). My personal record was heading for a campsite at a place called Baja. It has three listed campsites, the first one I couldn't see, the second one was closed with a barbed wire fence and the third one semed fictional. OTOH there was a fantastic Pension above a bar which was miles better than camping. Once you get into Serbia formal campsites are rare. Couch surfing looks a good option in Serbia provided you can get enough net access to arrange it.

Parts of the route require forethought because they might rely on ferries which are seasonal.

Ask some more specific questions !

vernon
Posts: 1584
Joined: 8 Jan 2007, 6:03pm
Location: Meanwood, Leeds

Re: Eurovelo 6

Postby vernon » 19 Nov 2009, 7:13am

I rode along a stretch of it from the Atlantic to Beaune. I did not stick to the route rigidly because it can get a little boring sticking to the cycle paths alongside Loire and I like mixing with the locals more frequently than the route would allow. I took eleven days to get to Beaune and had a wonderful time. Orleans proved to be a trouble spot for me. The camps sites marked on the route maps were closed and had become building sites and my frame snapped. I did enjoy the enforced day off and I purchased a new bike to complete the ride to Beaune. Apart from orleans, camp sites were plentiful and usually cheap.

AFMS
Posts: 3
Joined: 18 Nov 2009, 2:56pm

Re: Eurovelo 6

Postby AFMS » 24 Nov 2009, 11:57am

Thanks for the advice! Barrenfluffit - how long did it take you to reach Istanbul? That would be the ideal endpoint for me too...Also, any information on budget excluding equipment would be very useful. Vernon - what time of year did you do your trip? Thanks :D

vernon
Posts: 1584
Joined: 8 Jan 2007, 6:03pm
Location: Meanwood, Leeds

Re: Eurovelo 6

Postby vernon » 24 Nov 2009, 6:08pm

I cycled along the route in August and there were occasions when it got very warm. I was not averse to finding a shady bus shelter for a snooze when it got to be too uncomfortable :lol:

BE1
Posts: 120
Joined: 22 May 2009, 10:56pm

Re: Eurovelo 6

Postby BE1 » 25 Nov 2009, 6:38am

For the Serbia/Croatia to the Black Sea section this is a very good ressource, with route, maps and accomodation (although teh quality varies between countries)

www.danube-info.org

For my own very modests partial Budapest to Belgrade trip

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?o=R ... d=5489&v=x

Lastly, if it was hot for Vernon in France then Serbia/Romania/Bulgaria can get to 40 degress plus in summer so pack the sun cream :)

Barrenfluffit
Posts: 797
Joined: 20 Oct 2009, 5:31pm

Re: Eurovelo 6

Postby Barrenfluffit » 25 Nov 2009, 12:55pm

AFMS wrote:Thanks for the advice! Barrenfluffit - how long did it take you to reach Istanbul? That would be the ideal endpoint for me too...Also, any information on budget excluding equipment would be very useful.


It took me about four months but I was taking rest days all over the place and my daily distance rarely topped 100km, I also did a side trip by train and spent 3 weeks in Belgrade. In Istanbul its possible to obtain a bike box from Pedal Sportif at minmar kemalettin caddesi 29, one block back from the front of the central train station. Its a tiny shop though and they might need a day or two to bring one over from the store. You can take a bike box on the bookable minibusses to the airport but you also pay an extra fare for it as large baggage. As they will pick you up from the hostel its quite convenient. The baggage trolleys at the airport are free but you go through security going into the terminal. Easyjet take bikes on this route.

The sultan hostel advertises bike parking because the orient international next door does. But they don't really have the space. Even the orient is basically locking it to railings in a tiny courtyard; two bikes and its full. Traffic is mayhem in the centre due to the physical and historic constraints. I opted to get a ferry at tekirdag to sarayler on marmara island. There is then a seasonal fast ferry which takes bikes from the marmara town on the other side of the island ( the terminal is the one in the centre not the first one you come to) to Yenkapi terminal about 2km from the centre. from here there is a broadwalk you can cycle along. The ferry company is called IDO; its quite expensive.

Budget; I was eating from mini markets and supermarkets where I came across them. Bulgaria was the cheapest and the record was £10, bed, breakfast and dinner (pasta and beer) at a hostel. France's hostels varied in price and quality without a close relationship between them. So mulhouse was nice and e16, accross the border freiburg was e23 and the same quality, Dole was sufficiently horrid that I camped instead. German YHA's were particularly expensive between e20 and e30 b&B. Many didn't have kitchens so I yielded to the temptation of dinner for 6-9 a few times; it wasn't great food although letting a touring cyclist go at a buffet is unwise! German camping was often good; the sites could function as low cost housing too.


Early in the ride (france) the main problem was finding open campsites. Even cheap hotels would be e40. If there's a tourist office getting accommodation there can save a lot of riding around in an unfamiliar town. I ended up taking the train at one point to skip past a section with no open campsites or hostels; the train fare was less than the hotels. Singles were rarely much saving. I also free camped once due to a lack of accommodation en route. The advantage of organised campsites was that they had showers, electricity and often somewhere sheltered to hang out in the evening.

If your following EV6 it ends up restricting your accommodation choices as you don't want to go far off route. The publication of EV specific guidebooks etc is massively helpful when your crossing a small portion of a country in a week or two. The trip gets more challenging as you go east, route marking is less comprehensive (if present) and cycle paths rarer. Reading signs and locating addresses gets much harder and road conditions tougher. Hungary is where it starts to get harder.

In Bulgaria a 1:300,000 is sufficient to navigate with; if a road is big enough to be on this map it will have a signpost. get on the small roads and you can't tell where you are, no signposts no village names. Even a junction with a bigger road can be hard to spot as the condition is often the same and there are no signposts. A village will thus have a large number of possible junctions and you can waste a lot of time doing this! For maximum effect the village should be built on a steep hill.

I could go on this vein for a loooong time :D

AFMS
Posts: 3
Joined: 18 Nov 2009, 2:56pm

Re: Eurovelo 6

Postby AFMS » 26 Nov 2009, 1:09pm

Wow this is great to find somebody who has already done it! When did you start your trip? I was aiming for May, and hoping that it won't take more than 3 months. I am living in Budapest at the moment and recently witnessed the roads in Bulgaria, pretty confusing. Even our taxi driver managed to get lost in the countryside! I can see why you chose Belgrade for 3 weeks though, it is a fantastic city. Did you write a blog of your experiences?

Barrenfluffit
Posts: 797
Joined: 20 Oct 2009, 5:31pm

Re: Eurovelo 6

Postby Barrenfluffit » 26 Nov 2009, 5:17pm

AFMS wrote:When did you start your trip? I was aiming for May, and hoping that it won't take more than 3 months...
I can see why you chose Belgrade for 3 weeks though, it is a fantastic city.


You can work out the length of the route and get a rough idea of how many weeks ride it is. I tried to take my rest days during the week as everything is available and in Germany/france the route is busier and thus more sociable then. If you wanted to split it up riding down the danube would leave the loire for another time. Belgrade was er "intense" but I stayed so long because it was the base for a train trip to Istanbul to meet friends from the UK. Incidentally if your thinking of using trains to skip parts of the route consider using them within countries rather than internationally. Cycling across a border to connect local trains can work where an international train is officially impossible. So Bratislava - Budapest is impossible but Bratislava; ride to Mosonmagyr, train to Budapest is possible.

The weather on my ride was astonishingly good. I cycled in the rain for one or two days. Otherwise it rained overnight, when I was in a hostel/pension or i had a day off. Other days it just failed to rain in my precise location. It was incredibly lucky. Serbia was getting hot and heat became a determining factor in ride times (and my acquired love of air conditioned rooms!) through much of Bulgaria and Turkey.

In france a lot of the route is on tracks/paths built to maintain the waterways. In germany its usually on good quality riverside tracks. There are cycle paths out of Budapest but to a much lower standard. Beyond there the route is based on minor roads. The route can be irritating as it may follow all the rivers meanders; it's dedication to the byways can mean big detours when the main road is much more direct (Novi-sad Belgrade for instance). I suspect very few people do the route exactly. There are long curved unlit tunnels in the approach to the Iron gates so lights are needed. Riding in total darkness is rather disorientating and you need lights to maintain a distance from the tunnel wall. The scenery is fantastic and the whole section is an excellent adventure. Where the danube is in a gorge (a lot of the time) off route excursions mean a lot of climbing. Where road connections are scarce there may be an alternative route along a path. These can be so feint (and rough) that its hard to believe its part of a transcontinental bike route. Progressing eastward I was regularly shocked at how bad the route conditions could be!

Barrenfluffit
Posts: 797
Joined: 20 Oct 2009, 5:31pm

Re: Eurovelo 6

Postby Barrenfluffit » 27 Nov 2009, 10:47am

One of the features of EV6 is that it passes through a lot of historic and interesting places. Major cities like vienna, bratislava and budapest line the route as well as a horde of places that are interesting but on a smaller scale. Most of these are in the France/germany/ austria/ danube bend portions. The number of castles is substantial. So there's a strategic decision about how much time to devote to off bike tourism. My timing was based on the fact that I'd seen many of these cities and could return easily. When I set out EV6 was part of a bigger overland ride so I bypassed many places in order to make the seasons work later on. This failed as I was getting some signs of heat exhaustion in early June so I reckoned Turkey in July would be dangerous. This is likely to be a personal experience, many other cyclists have passed through the area in summer without serious problems.

After Budapest the experience is more cultural in the sense that your in rural area's with a very different way of life.

Jamesnh
Posts: 6
Joined: 5 Aug 2009, 9:53pm

Re: Eurovelo 6

Postby Jamesnh » 30 Nov 2009, 4:46pm

I've recently come back from completely this route. Left London 5th Sept, and went dover- calais and quick jaunt in paris, before heading to the Atlantic coast and St. Nazaire/ Nantes.
For France pretty much followed the route as laid out in the first official map pack. This was primarily due to wanting to explore the Loire wine regions, and the maps act as a good dot to dot of historical places of interest. In Switzerland I went off track a bit and had some fun in the mountains, before heading to Doneschingen (the supposed source of the Danube) then used the Cicerone Danube guide. Which is a useful tool, but tired of the authors obsession with all things religious. Took detour in Germany to go to Munich, then returned to the Danube. Route is simple and overall good quality. At times was a tad repetitive, but heading into Austria ( the passau/linz/vienna stretch) was more interesting from a cultural perspective, and with rather more traffic. At this stage of the route a capital city or major place of interest pops up at regular intervals. comfortably ride for a few days and have a long weekend in a new capital. Budapest in terms of the cities I went to was a real highlight.
But for me the real joy was cycling through the countryside and interacting with the countless numbers of people I ( and the people I travelled with) met. Finally leaving western europe and the euro zone was by that point a real relief. Then followed the route all the way to the black sea at Constanta, before heading to Tulcea and the delta reserve. This section I made several detours as the Balkan countries were a real revelation. Serbia was my favourite country, the warmth and kindness of the people was incredible, and the iron gate was truly beautiful especially with all the golden autumnal colours. Going through about 18 tunnels in the dark with no lights in the same day is not big nor clever, but can't fail to put a smile on your face. Romania was also a big highlight, travelling through the rural areas gave a much better sense of the country. So much so Constanta and Bucharest feel almost alien. I enjoyed all the places I went and I appreciate one has to be open to exploring everywhere, however preferred immensely the bits in-between and the people I met to any of the larger conurbations I went through/stayed in.
Eventually I flew back from Bucharest (18th November),flew Aer Lingus, very well priced and using a CTC plastic bag it was all rather simple (which i was relieved about). Wearing spd shoes through check in wasn't the cleverest idea, but needs must.

Weather= Sept very nice, borderline Indian Summer. A few 34 degree days in France.
Oct generally pretty decent, until very cold snap in the middle of the month when i was in Hungary. Snow, etc.
November: although was prepared for serious winter, it never really came and generally it was fine. The wind however was a bit of a killer at times.

I reckon i had 8/10 days of rain the whole trip (and these aren't full days) and about 5 days of snow. I only wore trousers 3 times, still wearing shorts cycling in wintry November is definitely a conversation starter.

The weather issue is far more a consideration when camping, as towards the end of Oct and Nov it was starting to get seriously cold at night. sleeping bag liner, multiple merino layers, etc. waking in the morn to find tent frozen shut, and ortlieb bags covered in ice was
I camped maybe 75% of the trip. Camp sites are everywhere in the France, although the price ranges for basically the same facilities is rather big. I wild camped a fair amount too, especially in the East when camp sites don't exist and certainly not in Oct/Nov. Had a few nights in pensions/ affordable hotels when I got stuck somewhere. In major cities and capitals I stayed normal backpacker hostels, which was nice for the social aspect and I met several people touring this way who I then travelled on with. Romania wild camping was great fun, cooking on open fires and pretending to be ray mears was great although following the danube in the this area of the country there is little in the way of cover. It's very much flat marsh type land, so finding a nice wooded spot needed more time and consideration. In saying that stayed in a few local hotels and the price is such that I was more than happy to pay for a warm bed.
I travelled alone, however I met several other cyclists who I travelled with. When leaving Belgrade there was me, a scottish guy and a german couple on a tandem all in convoy. So i would say if you were going on your own never underestimate the chance of meeting other cyclists, with whom you'll probably instantly get along.

Also the amount of kindness (in the form of directions to places, being bought coffee, dinner, giving places to stay, invited to a wedding..etc) you'll likely encounter really affirmed my faith in humanity :)

Either way this is me rambling, but if you have any specific questions please ask. I also have a whole range of maps/guide books (including the official maps) which I'd be happy to sell you for a small token. I would offer them for free, but feel I should recoup some of my looses! I also have a blog, but need to finish it off as only updated it twice whilst away and currently its still in France!

Barrenfluffit
Posts: 797
Joined: 20 Oct 2009, 5:31pm

Re: Eurovelo 6

Postby Barrenfluffit » 30 Nov 2009, 10:29pm

:D Did you get lost coming out of Vienna?
Its such a long trip that when people ask what its like its impossible to say. Your experiences are like a tenuous thread of memory across an entire continent. :lol:

Jamesnh
Posts: 6
Joined: 5 Aug 2009, 9:53pm

Re: Eurovelo 6

Postby Jamesnh » 1 Dec 2009, 1:39am

I know exactly what you mean, there's just far too much to condense. I wrote a journal, which have shortened to create my blog and that definitely helped with remembering things.
Got slightly lost leaving Vienna. Left the city with a Scottish couple (who are on route to china) and ended up on the wrong side of the canal, and then there was a diversion due to works which we missed. Eventually a man on a mountain bike ride escorted us onto the right path, which was nice as it was about 5miles out of his way. Going past the Hundertwasser incinerator works made it worth getting lost

Tony
Posts: 408
Joined: 28 Jan 2007, 2:48pm

Re: Eurovelo 6

Postby Tony » 8 Dec 2009, 12:49am

Barrenfluffit wrote::D Did you get lost coming out of Vienna?
Its such a long trip that when people ask what its like its impossible to say. Your experiences are like a tenuous thread of memory across an entire continent. :lol:

I got lost going INTO Vienna, but used Aktiv Camping in the SE of the city so getting out was easy. Flooding was the sole problem.

Barrenfluffit
Posts: 797
Joined: 20 Oct 2009, 5:31pm

Re: Eurovelo 6

Postby Barrenfluffit » 8 Dec 2009, 4:42pm

Lol actually I got lost going into and out of Vienna. On the way in it was a shock going from obvious cycle route through countryside to a dense city with tons of streets and a basic map. Not helped by the fact that the marathon was on and major sections of the city centre were closed. I think its the trying to find a specific address that stresses me! On the way out it was missing a vital turning point off the established cycle path and twigging that Hainburg was the right way to go. But the ride out through the park was gorgeous.

I was amused to read that Anne Mustoe got lost here too; it seems a lot of people have trouble. :D