Thursday, May 31, 2007

Bike, long distance touring for the use of

We get asked from time to time what the best bike is to cycle on long distance European trails like the Rhine or the Danube. "Shall I bring my road bike or my mountain bike?" We are of the opinion that a touring bike is better than either a road bike or a mountain bike, since it is easier to carry luggage and can cope with occasional gravel trails. Otherwise really which you choose depends on the kind of route you want to take. We're currently in the process of completing a book about cycling in Switzerland so we've seen a lot of Swiss cycle trails in the last 12 months and are currently at home in Germany having been defeated by 9 inches of late snow in the mountains above Lucerne! We have several meisterwerks in print in English, including one about the Rhine from Basel to Rotterdam, and there are plenty of cycle routes in the Netherlands between Nijmegen and Amsterdam. From Z├╝rich Swiss national route 5 can be accessed just north of the city and links with Route 8 along the R. Aare to its confluence with the Rhine upstream of Basel. A more sporting route would be to swing west from Neuchatel onto Route 7 through the Jura to Basel. These routes link minor roads and are superbly well signposted, plus there are plenty of places to stay. They do use forest and farm trails where necessary, hence the point about touring bikes. If you decide to bring either of the other two then one point to bear in mind is that it is better to carry your gear on the bike rather than on your back and that it can rain in Europe in summer. We met two Canadians recently on road bikes who had had to hike along a rough trail plus puddles happen after rain so mudguards come in handy. People do cycle on major roads, apart from autobahns, we just don't care for the noise and the fumes. We've done our research on Dahon Speed TR folding bikes which coped with everything so far apart from the 9 inches of snow.

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