The route

Map

The map below (which might take a few seconds to load) shows the actual route that I took, as recorded by my Garmin GPS device. There were a couple of small sections where the device lost the information, but most of it is there. The colours differentiate different days.

The above map is interactive and allows you to zoom in, or you may wish to view the map at a larger size.

Picking a route

I’ll have to admit I wasn’t the most organised when it came to planning a route. I thought it would be good to visit Germany as I’d never been, and I like France and wanted to practise my French as I’d just done three months of evening classes. I know a couple of people in the South East of Germany and used Google maps directions to get a rough indication of mileage – I figured I could probably manage 50 miles / 80 km per day. So I calculated roughly that a big loop out to Munich and back through France would fit in with my 6-week time allowance.

The day before I left I found a website that listed some National cycle routes through The Netherlands and Germany, so downloaded these routes onto my Garmin satnav, which I could use to guide me to Munich. So my plan was just to do the following:

National cycle paths to Munich
National cycle paths to Munich

And then I’d review the situation when I got to Munich – i.e. how was I doing for time, did I actually want to continue and so on. Turns out I was doing ok for time, and I did want to continue.

Heading to Salzburg and then west through Austria was an option, but I’d already visited there (by car) so thought Germany was a better choice.

Bodensee (in the South West) had been recommended to me by a couple of people and I liked not having to worry about routing, so I picked more national cycle paths to take me there.

After reaching Bodensee I decided to head North on the German side as 1) I could see more campsites 2) I figured it would be cheaper and 3) I didn’t want to have to start using Swiss Francs.

Then I headed to Basel to get to France and found myself on a Eurovelo route, so just decided to follow that West to the Atlantic. Then it was just a case of booking a suitable ferry back to the UK and making my way to the ferry port.

Travelling along canals tends to be flat and straight but a bit boring. Travelling alongside rivers is much more scenic but the route can meander with the river.

Road quality

It’s true what they say about cycling in The Netherlands – the infrastructure is set up well. I found in the west especially the streets were filled with cyclists of all ages using their bikes as their main mode of transport. Car drivers were generous and patient with sharing the road.

Because I stuck to cycle routes quite a bit, it meant that possibly the majority of the roads I went on were traffic free, and usually shared-use with pedestrians.

In Germany and France, the terrain covered by the national cycle routes varied a lot, from smooth tarmac to rough gravel paths.

Signposting for the national cycle paths was good everywhere, but exceptional in Germany, where it was very difficult to go wrong. In France sometimes the signposting was slightly ambiguous as to which way to go.

The Brompton coped admirably with pretty much everything. The only bad surface it wasn’t good at (and I imagine the same is true for most bikes) is cobblestones, especially where there is no grout between the stones.

Routing on-the-fly

My Garmin has built in routing so you can pick a destination and get it to guide you there. I found this to be very unreliable, with the route it picks sometimes being horrendously long-winded or taking me unnecessarily over very big hills. There are various options to switch on and off, I tried a few different things, but found nothing satisfactory.

Google maps provides better routing, but this requires internet connectivity, and the phone isn’t as suited to being used on the bike – not waterproof, more sensitive to drops, fussier to operate, and loses charge more quickly.

Daily summary

Day Date Start Finish Distance (km) Elevation gain (m)
1 09 Aug 14 London Harwich 70 491
2 10 Aug 14 Hook of Holland Utrecht 103 332
3 11 Aug 14 Utrecht Arnhem 81 341
4 12 Aug 14 Arnhem Lochem 79 343
5 13 Aug 14 Lochem Ammeloe 86 158
6 14 Aug 14 Ammeloe Havixbeck 86 321
7 15 Aug 14 Havixbeck Münster 42 90
8 16 Aug 14 Münster Bielefeld 105 189
9 17 Aug 14 Bielefeld Bad Meinberg 64 753
10 18 Aug 14 Bad Meinberg Hemeln 100 565
11 19 Aug 14 Hemeln Bad Hersfeld 141 869
12 20 Aug 14 Bad Hersfeld Motten 89 729
13 21 Aug 14 Motten Karlstadt am Main 84 606
14 22 Aug 14 Karlstadt am Main Market Taschendorf 103 585
15 23 Aug 14 Market Taschendorf Riedenburg 110 547
16 24 Aug 14 Riedenburg Irfersdorf 56 478
17 25 Aug 14 Irfersdorf Oberahrain 121 637
18 26 Aug 14 Oberahrain Munich 97 301
19 27 Aug 14 Munich Munich 0 0
20 28 Aug 14 Munich Bad Tölz 70 321
21 29 Aug 14 Bad Tölz Bannwaldsee 88 731
22 30 Aug 14 Bannwaldsee Großer Alpsee 72 858
23 31 Aug 14 Großer Alpsee Lindau 68 490
24 1 Sep 14 Lindau Wahlwies 82 399
25 2 Sep 14 Wahlwies Waldshut-Tiengen 109 690
26 3 Sep 14 Waldshut-Tiengen Mulhouse 119 369
27 4 Sep 14 Mulhouse Besançon 155 390
28 5 Sep 14 Besançon Saint-Usage 97 156
29 6 Sep 14 Saint-Usage Montceau-les-Mines 141 731
30 7 Sep 14 Montceau-les-Mines Digoin 58 348
31 8 Sep 14 Digoin Decize 83 342
32 9 Sep 14 Decize Pouilly-sur-Loire 101 159
33 10 Sep 14 Pouilly-sur-Loire Sully-sur-Loire 111 314
34 11 Sep 14 Sully-sur-Loire Blois 128 222
35 12 Sep 14 Blois Langeais 110 404
36 13 Sep 14 Langeais Angers 112 396
37 14 Sep 14 Angers Nantes 120 320
38 15 Sep 14 Nantes Pornichet 96 300
39 16 Sep 14 Pornichet Rennes 152 1,092
40 17 Sep 14 Rennes Avranches 92 805
41 18 Sep 14 Avranches Mosles 116 1,265
42 19 Sep 14 Mosles Ouisteham 95 302
43 20 Sep 14 Portsmouth London 160 1,464
Total 4,152 21,203

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