|Prep Message 1, Feb 25, 2017
|Intro to the Trip
Per my recent e-mail, I've added you to our list of cycle tourists to join us for the Loire a Velo tour in 2019: http://www.andwa.com/events/details.asp?eventid=1173
June 2019 is a long way off yet, but it's not too soon to start thinking and preparing for it if this will be your first major cycle tour (besides, I'm excited already, so you should be too). I'll send out some "prep" messages fairly regularly, and if you have specific questions, please send them to me (others may have the same question as well).
The first thing I'd like to tell you is exactly what you're signed up for. Although I've titled the trip "Loire a Velo", our total route is actually more than that. Loire a Velo is a very beautiful and popular route following the Loire Valley in France. "Velo" is French for bicycle, so "Loire a Velo" means "Loire by Bicycle". Loire a Velo forms a portion of the EuroVelo 6 (EV6) route, and we will be doing more of EV6 than just the Loire Valley.
Let's unpack that.
"EuroVelo" is a network of cycle routes defined which criss-cross Europe. Although an entire network of trails has been defined, not all of the route are finished. EuroVelo route 6 crosses Europe from east to west and is one of the most complete, and most popular routes. You can find more information about the EuroVelo network itself here:
Here's a good map of the entire EuroVelo network:
If you look for the pink line going across from the coast of France all the way to the Black Sea in the east, that's EV6.
EV6 crosses Europe, but the most popular sections are "Loire a Velo" and the "Danube Cycle Trail" (which Brent, Laura and I did in 2015). Our intended route for 2019 starts in Basel, Switzerland and follows EV6 west down to the coast of France. In 2015, Brent and I rode a portion of this route from Nantes (near the west coast) to Orleans. We wished we could have done more, but we had to get on over to Germany, so we used a train to get from Orleans to Strassbourg, France. We've been dying to go back - France, and the Loire Valley, were definite favorites for us.
Here's some information about the France section of EV6:
And here's some information about just the Loire Valley portion:
Here's a Google map sketch of our intended route for 2019:
You will see that I have us starting in Basel, Switzerland and ending at Bay of Biscay, for a total of 1055km. You can see the elevation profile (on the left) and it looks like there are two sections of climb, but overall downhill to the coast. I haven't yet figured out where we would fly in and out (probably Paris?), or how to get from that place to the tour and back, so the exact route may change slightly as I investigate further. Also, on the event details, you'll see that Brent and I want to stay past the end of June to go catch some of the Tour de France (and you're absolutely welcome to do the same). 1055km in a month (mostly downhill) isn't so bad, right?
|Prep Message 2, Apr 10, 2017
|Practice Cycle Tours 2017
Want to get a jump-start on preparation for our tour in 2019? Brent and I have a couple of easy beginner cycle tours set up for this year. We'll also plan at least two for next year. If possible (conditions willing), we'll try to set some up for early 2019 before the tour, but no promises yet.
If you'd like to participate in the ones this year to get a sense of whether touring is for you or not, we have:
- April 29/30, Edmonton area: http://www.edmontonoutdoorclub.com/events/details.asp?eventid=4861
- September 16/17, Calgary area: http://www.andwa.com/events/details.asp?eventid=1402
|Prep Message 3, May 14, 2017
|Follow us in Germany, 2017
Brent, Laura and I will be leaving soon for Germany. June 1st can't come soon enough! If you'd like to follow our trip (and think about how fun and easy it looks), you can follow us on my web site, DAMDetails: http://www.damdetails.com/calendar/trips/12/2017/6
The site is part planning tool and part blogger, so if you're interested in finding out more about what we're doing, where we're staying, and how much we're cycling each day, that will be posted on the site. Or, if you're more interested in just living vicariously, you can do that too. The link above is for the calendar page (which shows everything, day by day), but you can also go directly to:
- The important info: http://www.damdetails.com/trips/lists/12
- The vicarious living: http://www.damdetails.com/trips/triplog/12
|Prep Message 4,July 1, 2017
I know I've been giving you the sales pitch about coming along on our cycle tour in France in June of 2019. I just got back from Germany, and although we had a great time, this kind of trip is quite difficult, and is not without its hardships.
So, in the interest of being completely honest with you about what I'm trying to talk you into, here's a list of hardships that Brent, Laura and I have drafted to make sure you're properly informed. This list will likely evolve over the next several months if/as we think of more stuff.
Hardships per 2017
|Prep Message 5, Mar 4 2018
|Brent's Bike Training Schedule Blog
What better way to pass a "Snow Weekend" than to start planning your training schedule for our trip to France? You'll probably have a couple of months to train early next year before we leave, but if you're feeling ambitious, or maybe unsure of whether you can do it, it might not hurt to do some training this year.
To that end, I would like to share Brent's Bike Training Schedule blog with you. He wrote this several years ago, but it's super helpful if you're not sure where to start.
|Prep Message 6: May 24, 2018
|Planning for Pre-Trip
I guess it's high time we all start thinking seriously about getting ready for our self-supported
cycle tour this June. Here's some info to help you prepare. Let me know if you have any
questions that I haven't answered in this message (or previous messages).
Unless the weather is completely wretched and/or dangerous, I am not planning on canceling this trip due to weather. When I say "dangerous", I mean, so much rain that we will not be visible enough to be safe as we cycle along the highways. If we have inclement weather on our France trip, we will have to ride through it or adjust plans; the same applies to this pre-trip. Please be prepared for rain and/or wind.
Please note that, if the trip is not canceled, it remains a mandatory pre-trip to France. You're not obligated to come to France if you do this pre-trip, but you are obligated to do this pre- trip if you're coming to France. This trip is everyone's opportunity to assess two things: (1) Do I want to do this activity for a month, and (2) Do I want to do this activity for a month with these people.
If the trip does get canceled due to wretched/dangerous weather, I will, of course, give each of you your share of whatever refund I'm able to secure for each of the three campgrounds. And then we'll start talking about a "Plan B" with regards to a pre-trip.
When we go to France, Brent and I will not be hauling backpack food and cookware. For this trip, though, it is something you might want to consider. Although we will be traveling through the town of Bentley each day, and the assumption is that we can "provision up" in Bentley, thereby making backpack food unnecessary, I can't guarantee that. There is an AG Foods (http://www.agfoods.com/index.php) in Bentley that we will check out.
My plan is as follows - I will be bringing backpack cookware (pot, stove, fuel) and backpack food. When we drive through Bentley on the way down, I'm going to stop in at the store (hopefully it's still open) and see what they have. If we can "provision up" each day, then I will leave the backpack stuff in the car for the duration of the trip. But, if it looks like appropriate cycle provisions aren't readily available, then we'll at least be able to carry our backpack stuff and actually eat during the trip.
This is just what I'm planning to do. You can do whatever you're comfortable with. Food and food preparation will be an individual responsibility, so be sure you are prepared.
We will be meeting at the Jarvis Bay Campground at Sylvan Lake (on the evening of June 18). They have a nice big parking lot right beside their admission hut, and I'm hoping they'll let us leave our vehicles there for the duration of the trip. If they won't, we'll figure out a plan for putting the vehicles someplace nearby instead.
Please stay in touch with me regarding your ETA for that night. If you beat me there, we'll figure out how you can check in before me. If I beat you there, I'll either provide instructions, or come and escort you to our camp sites. 780-566-8327. Text messages preferred (although I'm not even positive that we'll have cell coverage at the campground, so we'll need to have a "Plan B", and maybe even a "Plan C").
On the 19th, we'll be cycling from Jarvis Bay, north through Bentley, and then continuing north to Sunset Legion campground at Gull Lake. On the 20th, we'll head south, through Bentley, and then head west and north to go to Wilson's Beach campground on the other side of Gull Lake. On the 21st, we'll return through Bentley and then back to Jarvis Bay. Each day should be about 35km, which sounds pretty easy until you're hauling all your gear on your bicycle.
At the bottom of this e-mail, I'm sharing my sample packing list for this trip, and Laura's sample packing list. Michel may be willing to share his packing list as well, as he is also experienced in self-supported cycle touring.
|Prep Message 7: June 7, 2018
|Fully Loaded Rig
See a photo here for a demo of how I have my rig packed for our cycle tour:
Note that I also have, attached to the bike:
- A pump
- A cable lock
- A horseshoe lock
- Some velcro straps, which are great for immobilizing your wheel. When your bike is fully- loaded, it tends to topple over from the weight. The front wheel swings around, and everything destabilizes. Using a strap to apply the brake to your front wheel stops that from happening. If you want one of these, let me know and I'll bring you one.
Also note, for packing, that I normally stand with the bike on my right. For convenience, I keep the stuff that I'm not going to need until night time (tent, sleeping bag) in the right-hand panniers (harder to reach), and the stuff that I may want during the day (clothes, sandals, nalgene bottle) in the left-hand panniers (easier to reach). The tailbox is also good for stuff that I want to keep handy.
Also also note that I will have my day pack on, which will have my camelback in it, and probably some of the stuff out of the panniers once I'm ready to actually start rolling. In France, I will also be carrying my Windows surface in the day pack.
Also also also note that Brent will be carrying some of our shared stuff as well. He will have the tent poles and pegs (I carry the soft but bulky bits), bicycle repair kit, and food.
Lastly, also also also also note that I am carrying my -20 bag for this trip because I find camping in Alberta cold. In France I will be carrying a much lighter, and less bulky, sleeping bag.
Brent's configuration is somewhat different, with a cooler box on one side in the front, which is great for food. Laura is a master at packing light - she really puts me to shame. To look at my rig you'd guess that I'm carrying the kitchen sink. Perhaps I am...........
Packed bike box
Brent and I label our bike boxes (and stuff boxes) before flying: Name, date of flight, flight number(s) and airport codes. We've never had a bike lost. Does the labeling help? Not sure, but it surely can't hurt.