Experience of La Vélodyssée/ Eurovelo 1

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
convert
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Experience of La Vélodyssée/ Eurovelo 1

Postby convert » 6 Jan 2015, 12:08pm

Hi,

I am after some real world experience of the La Vélodyssée cycle route in France if possible.

My plan is to use it, or a road route equivalent next summer. I plan on getting the ferry to Bilbo, riding (solo) into France then riding back to one of the northern French ports to get back to the UK - either Roscoff, St Malo, Cherbourg or Le Havre depending on the chosen route - not too fussed at the moment. I'll be camping. My early resesrch has brought up the Eurovelo routes and number 1 in particular which uses the french La Vélodyssée route. It really appeals but I am wondering about how suitable it will be for me. I plan for it to be a tour of big days, circa 160kms a day, and I am concerned that it might be slow going in this context in comparison to the alternative quiet road routes I might be able to put together. Are there lots of frustrating gates and fiddly sections or are there areas with many walkers to navigate around? I have read some reports of sections being a little tedious and also it being unnecessarily winding to avoid small sections of roads. I don't feel a huge desire to avoid roads at all costs but this route still appeals if it is genuinely workable for fast touring.

Any

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ConRAD
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Re: Experience of La Vélodyssée/ Eurovelo 1

Postby ConRAD » 6 Jan 2015, 3:52pm

convert wrote:Hi,

I am after some real world experience of the La Vélodyssée cycle route in France if possible.

My plan is to use it, or a road route equivalent next summer. I plan on getting the ferry to Bilbo, riding (solo) into France then riding back to one of the northern French ports to get back to the UK - either Roscoff, St Malo, Cherbourg or Le Havre depending on the chosen route - not too fussed at the moment. I'll be camping. My early resesrch has brought up the Eurovelo routes and number 1 in particular which uses the french La Vélodyssée route. It really appeals but I am wondering about how suitable it will be for me. I plan for it to be a tour of big days, circa 160kms a day, and I am concerned that it might be slow going in this context in comparison to the alternative quiet road routes I might be able to put together. Are there lots of frustrating gates and fiddly sections or are there areas with many walkers to navigate around? I have read some reports of sections being a little tedious and also it being unnecessarily winding to avoid small sections of roads. I don't feel a huge desire to avoid roads at all costs but this route still appeals if it is genuinely workable for fast touring.

Any


Already did San Sebastian to Lacanau Ocean and now planning to do it again but this time covering the entire stretch from San Sebastian to Roscoff.
In April it was fantastic, just a few gates, no walkers at all, frequently impressively scenic, reasonably winding-up dunes and the forest.
Plenty of camp sites, hotels generally expansive (mostly closed till May).
160km/day seems to me a bit too much.
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DaveP
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Re: Experience of La Vélodyssée/ Eurovelo 1

Postby DaveP » 6 Jan 2015, 7:56pm

Hi Conrad. You couldn't have revealed yourself at a better time for me!
I too would like to use some or all of this part of Eurovelo 1 this summer. I would appreciate any comments you may have about the quality of the track. I don't mind rough going - but I want to use a tandem with a two wheel trailer. I have found reports from people who found no need to comment on the track - but I have also seen photos of a very narrow strip of concrete with a serious ditch on both sides.
Any advice about sections to avoid would be most useful.
Trying to retain enough fitness to grow old disgracefully...

manybikes
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Re: Experience of La Vélodyssée/ Eurovelo 1

Postby manybikes » 6 Jan 2015, 8:00pm

Last year I rode from the Med to the Atlantic (just S of Bordeaux) where I picked up La Velodyssee up to Roscoff. I was camping and using a full sus mountain bike for comfort. Suspension not essential but fatish tyres useful. Lots of different surfaces from muddy slippery canal side paths, wide gravel tracks and quiet tarmac roads.
I averaged 50 miles per day (80km) and sometimes could easily have extended that on occasions but for the location of campsites and having a desire to enjoy the countryside.
For me, a reasonably experienced cycle tourist, 160km would be too much and be just a painful slog.

convert
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Re: Experience of La Vélodyssée/ Eurovelo 1

Postby convert » 7 Jan 2015, 8:32am

Thanks for the reply so far.


I agree 160km a day is a bit of a challenge - I've done it and more a day on trips that are less 'sightseeing' and more a day of 'a mission with a view' akin to stage racing (my background) with panniers . I agree not for everyone and not for me on every trip. And not for me on this trip if the track is mostly similar to a canal tow path in the UK. What I am trying to comprehend is if it is indeed mostly like riding a canal tow path but then if it is a good enough experience to try to do it anyway and 'conjure up' some more time for the trip or not worth it and I'll plot a road route instead (or mix the two).

MrsHJ
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Re: Experience of La Vélodyssée/ Eurovelo 1

Postby MrsHJ » 7 Jan 2015, 7:11pm

For the nantes brest canal section it is towpath ( but you can easily find substitute small roads-I've cycled the route before the Velodysee was there and without knowing about the towpaths). I found the path surface mostly good but not in the same league for speed etc as Tarmac. You are often away from services for most of the day. There are quite a few cyclists doing it but it was mostly very peaceful. Not too many stop points ( road crossings etc) which would annoy me and disrupt the cycle flow as you're can cycle for good periods with no disruption especially if you don't take a grumpy 8 year old.

I've cycled the whole france/spain route like lots of others here before it was the Velodysee. The roads in South west france are nice and peaceful so if you dint like the paths don't use them. It's mostly a very logical choice for those of us based in the south west as it makes a circular route from plymouth using roscoff and Santander.

Ps I also vote for 80km per day but actually nantes to the Pyrenees ( we crossed in the mountains instead of using the coast) is mostly flattish and fast- except funnily enough for the old sand dunes which were aggravating and slow to cycle on the cycle paths.

PH
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Re: Experience of La Vélodyssée/ Eurovelo 1

Postby PH » 7 Jan 2015, 7:50pm

I rode Derby to Barcelona last year at the same sort of daily mileage you're talking about, crossed Portsmouth to Caen and was on and off the EV1 from Rennes till I turned west for Bordeaux. Some of the route is simple fantastic, the wooded dunes from where you get off the Royan ferry to Cap Ferret are great and the paths tarmac for the most part. Other bits are less good, some of the coastal paths have a thick covering of sand and caution required. Cycle travel* have the route clearly marked, you can see what's path and what's road, also where the route meanders which you might like to avoid. I didn't come across any paths with lots of obstructions, sometimes you ride for miles without even a junction. If you're on a budget you might want to go inland a bit and use municipal campsites, these to me are the real jewel in cycling France. Do you use a GPS? This was my first proper tour with one (Etrex 20) and it converted me. Loaded all the campsites and when I'd about had enough each day, let it direct me to the nearest.
The 100 mile a day thing isn't hard if that's what you want to do, even at a modest 10 mph you've still got 14 hours a day off the bike. There's nothing wrong with doing a lot of sightseeing and having lazy days on the campsites, but for me I'd rather do most of my sightseeing from the saddle and treat the tent just as somewhere to get a good nights sleep.

* http://cycle.travel/map

dodger
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Re: Experience of La Vélodyssée/ Eurovelo 1

Postby dodger » 7 Jan 2015, 11:02pm

I think you need to pick and choose which parts of Velodyssey to follow.
The canal towpath is Ok, but can be boring. However, I liked the old rail line from Morlaix to Carhaix-Plougeres and there are several towns on the towpath worth stopping in, such as Josselin, Pontivy and Malestroit. The surface varies, particularly between Redon and Nantes and wider tyres are better.
From Nantes I avoided the published route and made my own way on small roads to La Roche sur Yon because it was more direct and avoided the many coastal resorts, which can be busy.
The section from around Arcachon to Cap Breton is endless very well surfaced, quiet, flattish paths through interminable pine trees. Easy going, virtually no traffic, but again, to me it was too quiet.
I suppose I averaged 40 miles per day on a loaded bike, with a few days of torrential rain and a constant cold headwind. I'd like to repeat it, with a few tweaks in pleasanter temperatures.
160km per day would to me be vastly excessive, but I guess it depends on your preference and fitness.

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ConRAD
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Re: Experience of La Vélodyssée/ Eurovelo 1

Postby ConRAD » 8 Jan 2015, 6:58pm

Both OFM and Velomap exhibit, very clearly, the entire EV1 track from Hendaye to Roscoff complete of relevant elevation data.
To prepare the trip you can also visit CARTOVELO website.
I just purchased their guides and I must say that they are very well done.
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BARRACH
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Re: Experience of La Vélodyssée/ Eurovelo 1

Postby BARRACH » 25 Jan 2015, 3:58pm

Just read a great book on my kindle on just such a trip. You may find it interesting also. Its called CYCLING
NORTH THROUGH FRANCE by Elan Homer. He started his trip in Santander cycling all the way to Roscoff.

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DaveP
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Re: Experience of La Vélodyssée/ Eurovelo 1

Postby DaveP » 25 Jan 2015, 9:07pm

Thanks for that - your suggestion caught me at a vulnerable moment with nothing much in the unread folder :D
Trying to retain enough fitness to grow old disgracefully...

dodger
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Re: Experience of La Vélodyssée/ Eurovelo 1

Postby dodger » 26 Jan 2015, 9:21am

Good to read that account, especially as I was going the opposite way at the same time. We probably passed near Mimizan.
Funny though, the wind seemed to be in my face too, even though I was 180 degrees different!
Coldest and wettest I've ever been in France.

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BeeKeeper
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Re: Experience of La Vélodyssée/ Eurovelo 1

Postby BeeKeeper » 30 Jan 2015, 10:13pm

This is our account of our trip two years ago. We went in June and there was a lot to see, Avocets and other waders with young, orchids in bloom, lots to see but some might find it boring! http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/France2013

dodger
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Re: Experience of La Vélodyssée/ Eurovelo 1

Postby dodger » 30 Jan 2015, 10:57pm

Thanks for the link Beekeeper. I enjoyed going through your account. How did you get so many blue sky pictures? I was going South on the route (Or parts of it) and there was plenty of cold wind, cloud and rain from around 11/5 onward, culminating in torrential rain and thunderstorms on 17th and 18th. Not much sunshine. Definitely a relief to finish!

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DaveP
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Re: Experience of La Vélodyssée/ Eurovelo 1

Postby DaveP » 30 Jan 2015, 11:52pm

Thanks for the link from me too Beekeeper. I do dip into CGOB from time to time, but had managed not to find your account. We'll be doing an extremely leisurely trip from Bayonne to La Rochelle, just for the sake of the peace and quiet, the birds, the flowers - and the boulangeries :oops:
Sounds as if I won't be needing that single wheel trailer after all :D

A suggestion for you: I noticed your comment about the problems of reversing a track. I have found that one way to cope with this is to use Google Earth Streetview. Half an hours virtual exploration should be enough to sort out any urban one way system. Whether you then modify the gpx or make notes on a card is entirely a matter of choice. HTH
Trying to retain enough fitness to grow old disgracefully...