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Cycling South For Winter - Memories


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#121 OFFLINE   castros_bro

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Posted 03 November 2018 - 10:48 PM

Blog,

Only as old gits need to live vicariously through your young gits eyes. May have a ex-army artic sleep sack if you pop in.

#122 OFFLINE   willswitchengage

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Posted 04 November 2018 - 09:43 AM

I'm very grateful for the offer Mally and Big Dave, but I'm sure I'll sort summat out.

All very interesting stuff from our resident cyclepro willswitchengage. As is obvious from this thread so far my cycling level is defo more Stan Boardman than Chris Boardman but it always great to hear from proper cyclists. Some of their advice I will definitely use, some goes straight over my head, and some is just not suitable/usable for a skint oaf like me, but it is all interesting.

I guess there are two ways of looking at fitness. The correct way is to get fit beforehand to make progress easier and quicker, whereas my way will be to gain fitness on the journey. At least with being unfit I will be getting more hot and sweaty quicker which will keep me warmer through winter (not the sweaty actually, but my point stands).

I didn't consider that some main roads in some countries might not permit cycling but that doesn't bother me too much. I won't be going on anything with more than a single carriageway and am happy to ride on owt else that looks suitable. If any police want to tell me not to ride somewhere then I'll do as they say, otherwise I'll just use my (limited) common sense. I'll take my lead from my time in Istanbul, where I was told that there are lots of things that are supposedly illegal, but if there isn't a sign telling you not to do it then just crack on 'til you get arrested.

I guess dogs like chasing bikes then? I encountered a lot of stray dogs during my walks through Eastern Europe but all of them were dissuaded from getting to close to me by just a proper hard Paddington stare, except for the Transylvanian forest dogs. They are not happy to see you. TBH they may have been wolves but I wasn't hanging about to ask them.

I've just signed up on the warmshowers site as mentioned twice on here and surprisingly it wasn't repellent porn. Throughout France previously I used HelpX and similar where people provide you with accomodation and food in exchange for a few hours of work a day, and I'll be considering using that again also.
I reckon I'll be spending one night every couple or few weeks in a hostel, it would be nice to do it more often but the costs soon add up.

I think I'll be sticking with the tyres that came with the bike, because free, and if they wear out or whatever then I'll deal with it then. I'm not particularly concerned about performance, I'm not expecting to do big distances every/any day. Plus spotting is one of my main priorities and I don't want to go so fast that I miss something.

Please tell me if I'm wrong or have missed something but I really can't see the point (for me) of writing a blog. I'll be doing the equivalent on here anyway, so why write everything out twice when I will have very limited battery and internet. If I wasn't trying to keep the AS collective very mildly entertained then I wouldn't be writing anything.

 

Just to elaborate a bit... there are loads of things that can go wrong, typically these are mechanicals, crap weather, getting lost, injury, lack of food/water. Basically if you are 'fit enough' (this is not trying to be arrogant I promise!) you don't have to worry about 'can I do that hill?' etc and 'can I make the next campsite?' you just keep on plodding. I had a couple of friends who tried trips around Europe but they spent most of their time in hostels sat around and on trains because they realised it was too hard - but then again their main hobby back in England was weed. There are 1,000,000 blogs out there though that suggest anyone can ride around the world, and they do, if you take it easy and focus mainly on having fun.

 

Something I missed before was weather and ride timing. I have done all of my tours bar one just before the summer solstice (to maximise daylight) and when it's no longer cold but not baking hot. Still I've had temperatures well into the 30s which are a nightmare and riding through and camping in snow.. in May. My mates and I did London to Paris in August and it was uncomfortably hot. In winter you'll have six hours of daylight a day and it's freezing at night. Honestly I would wait until summer, if anything just for the light, but I guess one of your initial statements was the now or never thing. Still, this this is a great book about an amateur who started his ride in Siberia in winter to ride to England and it worked for him, even if he did convert to some weird Christian evangelism along the way.

 

Austria, Italy and Slovenia were the only places IIRC where cycling was banned on main roads but there was a good networks of paths to use instead, other than in Austria where I essentially had to push my bike on some crazy trail over the Alps:

 

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Things improved though later:

 

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Dogs yeah honestly you need to see it to believe it. Unlike here they aren't always penned in to people's gardens and will peg it after you as soon as they hear you. Most of the strays around in town are too lethargic but some will still chase. Be very careful, although it's mainly an Eastern Europe thing.

 

Warmshowers is basically like couchsurfing but easier and 'less risky' as it's community led. I only stayed with one nutter but most people almost want to have you over as it's company and someone interesting to talk to - that's the part of the bargain you have to keep up! Arrange visits on the day or the night before, it works really well I found. The app is really good. One of them even let me play with his guns! #staysafestaysecondamendment

 

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#123 OFFLINE   Luxxo Waftybarger

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Posted 04 November 2018 - 11:47 AM

If you haven't got padded cycling shorts yet please get some before you go or it will be horrid. You can get them off eBay for next to nowt. Also no one tells you this but they are designed to be worn commando! Pant wearing will result in horrific chafing. TMI.

I cycle in Spain for 2 weeks every year, mostly masochist climbing in the Sierra Nevada mountains which night not appeal (look up Pico Veleta!) but have done a fair bit along the coast too. I'd highly recommend the area if you don't mind a hill and Spain generally is brilliant for cycling. Roads are the smoothest I've ever ridden, weather is great and contrary to popular belief the drivers are very courteous to cyclists. The law is you have to wear a helmet outside of towns but I never did on the big climbing days due to heat and never got stopped by the bacon.

Cycling in most of North and Western Europe is like a national sport and viewed so much better than the UK where most seem to think you are just a weirdo who can't afford a car and needs to be run over.

Something else you need to be weary of is eating enough. No need to go mad with heavy meals but your muscles only have enough glycogen for about 1 hour of serious cycling. If you don't eat regularly you will 'bonk' as cyclists call it. No not that sort, more like what runners call hitting the wall. Basically keep snacking small amounts as you go even before your hungry. By the time you are hungry it will be too late. Fig rolls are awesome or just a jam butty rolled into Swiss roll and stuffed into your pocket
Also good idea to put some sugar or fruit juice in the water bottle.

Looks like you have 1 x 500ml bottle which is not enough ideally you want at least 2 x 750ml if you are going to out all day. Dehydration is a serious risk and will make you ill.

PS that saddle angle is all wrong and will wreck your nads, too high at the front. Try to get it level.
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#124 OFFLINE   Cavcraft

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Posted 04 November 2018 - 12:15 PM

Have to say, really jealous of what you do Willswitch. It must be amazing biking to/through places like that.


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#125 ONLINE   colc

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Posted 04 November 2018 - 12:15 PM

p.jpg

One of these is always useful.........poncho/ground sheet, emergency tent.


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#126 ONLINE   richardmorris

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Posted 08 November 2018 - 09:01 PM

Mr bucketeer has just called in a well know ZX estate, loaded it up with various surplus stock and left happy.
He says he’s all set for the off.
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#127 OFFLINE   Bucketeer

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Posted 15 November 2018 - 09:22 AM

Early yesterday morning I finally got round to booking the ferry and I broke the news to the bike that there's no turning back now.

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It's a few weeks later than originally planned because of reasons, but three weeks today I be gone.

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The night time ferry was slightly more expensive than the day time one (due to the mandatory cabin booking) but it's much better arriving in the morning and having a full day of light rather than getting there in the dark.

I reckon I've got everything I need now (let's not mention trailer tyres), thanks to Richard Morris, Skizzer, Nyphur and Skattrd for my recent goodies (soz if I forgot anyone).
Thanks go to everyone for encouragement, advice and kit. I received the odd message telling me I'm a massive idiot and I'll probably freeze to death in the middle of nowhere. The level of my idiocy has never been in question and if I do end up dying to death then, you know, meh.
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#128 ONLINE   andy18s

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Posted 15 November 2018 - 10:07 AM

Sent you a pm Alex
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XT600z Tenere for the off road fun
Happy trails....

#129 OFFLINE   Coprolalia

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Posted 15 November 2018 - 10:21 AM

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#130 OFFLINE   oldcars

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Posted 15 November 2018 - 10:21 AM

Massive LOL at the stan boardman comment. Good luck with the trip, should be exciting stuff.



#131 OFFLINE   Bucketeer

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Posted 15 November 2018 - 11:23 AM

stan boardman comment.


It was either that or Mrs Miggins/Bradley Wiggins.
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#132 OFFLINE   binhoker668

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Posted 15 November 2018 - 11:45 AM

Just out of interest, how much was your ferry ticket?


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#133 OFFLINE   Stanky

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Posted 15 November 2018 - 12:07 PM

I have a pair of decent 20" BMX tyres which I think are 20x1.75" which have been cluttering up my garage for several years after I swapped them for some less knobbly ones as I rarely ride offroad. They are yours if you send me a postal address? Could I post them to 6cylinder towers maybe? Do you have spare inner tubes if not I can chuck some in. The tyres are a few years old but hardly used and have been stored out of direct sunlight.

 

I think they are maxxis Holy Rollers if it makes any difference?


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#134 OFFLINE   Bucketeer

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Posted 15 November 2018 - 01:52 PM

Chris - It's £45 for the day crossing and £45 + £30ish mandatory cabin for the night crossing. I was expecting to be able to just kip in a seat but you have to book a cabin nowadays unfortunately.

Huw - Yes please very muchly, as long as the postage isn't horrendous. I'll message you.
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#135 ONLINE   dollywobbler

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Posted 15 November 2018 - 02:20 PM

They're nice ferries and cabins to be fair. Enjoy!


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#136 OFFLINE   Mally

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Posted 15 November 2018 - 03:27 PM

Have also been in a Cabin on that route, was 3 off us and quite roomy.

They call you several times before landing because asleep. We held all our row up.

Be fine with a bike though.

Whats happening with the funding?



#137 ONLINE   richardmorris

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Posted 15 November 2018 - 07:02 PM

Bon voyage, and watch out for rabid cats in Morocco.
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#138 OFFLINE   Bucketeer

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Posted 15 November 2018 - 07:04 PM

Basically if you are 'fit enough' (this is not trying to be arrogant I promise!) you don't have to worry about 'can I do that hill?' etc and 'can I make the next campsite?' you just keep on plodding.

The main reason I'm happy to just build up some fitness once I set off is that I don't have anywhere to be at any particular time so I don't ever have to do more cycling than I'm comfortable with. I never use campsites, I just whack my tent up somewhere inconspicuous when it's about to get dark. I could comfortably do 20-30 miles a day walking so owt more than that on the bike will be a bonus to me.

Looks like you have 1 x 500ml bottle which is not enough ideally you want at least 2 x 750ml if you are going to out all day. Dehydration is a serious risk and will make you ill.

I've also got a Camelbak, a fold up 5L water container and a filtration unit so I'll be alright for hydration.

Whats happening with the funding?

I've managed to get some funds together doing a bit of cash work, so I'll use that and then worry later if I run out I guess.

#139 ONLINE   richardmorris

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Posted 15 November 2018 - 07:12 PM

Damn, i meant to to give you the bladder ( brand new and unused) from my Decathlon back pack.
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#140 OFFLINE   Cavcraft

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Posted 15 November 2018 - 07:36 PM

We'll all be raising a (metaphorical or otherwise) glass to wish you will, HyALcynth Bucketfear.  Swashbucketing tales of derring-do, epic tomes of foreign lands conquered on your trusty steed and occasional electronic updates of your good health are the order of the day.

 

Or just an update on the dysentery you got after you had a puncture outside a knocking shop and were invited in to eat at the Y free of charge.


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#141 OFFLINE   Bucketeer

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Posted 15 November 2018 - 07:42 PM

I've dug out my old memory cards to re-use for this trip and I've been reminding myself of some of the places my tent took me last time.
In lieu of owt much of interest until I set off in three weeks time I might post a few of these memories up here.

One of my favourite/least favourite camping spots was halfway up a waterfall on the side of Lake Konig/Konigsee in Austria.

The path to the lake went as far as here.

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I then spent an hour or two scrambling further round the lake until I found a big waterfall with a small ledge halfway up it that looked just big enough for a tent.

The view from inside my tent, looking down to the lake.

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It was hard to take pictures as there was nowhere to step far enough back to get a shot.

This was the top part of the waterfall as I approached it before setting up camp. Note the lack of flowing water.

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Unfortunately as night fell the heavens opened. Around 2am I had to leave the tent to take my ease and that was when I discovered that the heavy rain was increasing the flow of water down the falls massively. At this point I had the choice of packing everything up and heading off (in the pitch dark and heavy rain) or getting back in to my tent, closing my eyes and waiting 'til I got swept down into the lake. I chose the former option. It wasn't pleasant, but preferable to being dead I guess.
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#142 OFFLINE   willswitchengage

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Posted 15 November 2018 - 08:00 PM

Sweet, really hope that's a joint behind your ear too ;)

 

Good luck dude


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#143 OFFLINE   Bucketeer

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Posted 15 November 2018 - 08:03 PM

Contrasts.

Winter in Slovakia. I think. Or maybe Hungary.

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And summer on the Black Sea coast.

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#144 OFFLINE   Bucketeer

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Posted 15 November 2018 - 10:01 PM

I had a lovely wander across the mountain spine of North Cyprus, which provided some great camping spots.

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A lot of the mountainous regions are controlled by the Turkish army. I had asked locals previously if I was alright to walk through these areas but got no definitive answer so just went for it.
Signs like this didn't say I couldn't.

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Most of the nights I didn't bother putting up my tent and just slept in my sleeping bag instead. It was chilly after dark but my sunburn kept me warm.
I had a particularly pleasant night on this ledge looking out to the South.

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The next day I was strolling along the road, talking to the goats and revelling in the surroundings, when I came across an army checkpoint. The soldiers and their machine guns didn't seem happy to see me. No amount of shrugging and smiling seemed to placate them and they held me there for about an hour until a car finally came along the road. He was stopped and I was shoved into the car. After we set off the driver (who spoke some English) informed me that I was definitely not allowed to be walking up there and that the soldiers had told him to take me away out of the military zone and dump me near a main road. Apparently I was lucky they let me off so lightly. You live and learn.
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#145 OFFLINE   DeeJay

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Posted 15 November 2018 - 11:52 PM

I'd definitely take one of those flint/steel fire starters Bear Gryll uses (I know he makes it look easy).



#146 OFFLINE   Mally

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Posted Yesterday, 02:44 PM

I'd take Bear Grylls.


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#147 OFFLINE   Cavcraft

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Posted Yesterday, 04:23 PM

I'd take George Foreman's. 


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#148 ONLINE   richardmorris

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Posted Yesterday, 07:44 PM

I'd take Bear Grylls.


Ray mears is better in the Wild I think - bear will tell you how to catch and eat a fish, but ray will light a fire and cook it first after finding some wild herbs.
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#149 OFFLINE   castros_bro

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Posted Yesterday, 08:44 PM

Ahhh not sure that this will help but here is a picture of foreignland beyond my foot in my tent.

 

 

PIC0012.JPG


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#150 OFFLINE   Bucketeer

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Posted Yesterday, 08:52 PM

I'd definitely take one of those flint/steel fire starters Bear Gryll uses (I know he makes it look easy).

I tried one of them last time but it was impossible.
I am absolutely hopeless at starting fires so this time I will be using the age old method passed down from generation to generation over thousands of years -

IMG_20181116_194944220.jpg
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