Europe

Bike Tour Summer 2012
The north coast of France provides very dramatic seascapes to enjoy after a long day of cycling. The north coast of France provides very dramatic seascapes to enjoy after a long day of cycling. The Maison Forte de Reignac is one of many castles and houses built into the stone walls of the valleys of the Dordogne and Vézère rivers. The Maison Forte de Reignac is one of many castles and houses built into the stone walls of the valleys of the Dordogne and Vézère rivers.
Performers at the Festival d'Avignon. Performers at the Festival d'Avignon. Summer festivals can make your trip more interesting, but they can also make it more frustrating if you are trying to find a place to stay at the last minute. Performers promoting their play at the Festival d'Avignon. Performers promoting their play at the Festival d'Avignon. The Festival consumes the entire old city of Avignon, with schools, churches, and any other available space turned into a venue for theatrical performance.
A café in Avignon, covered with posters for the Festival d'Avignon and the larger A café in Avignon, covered with posters for theatrical events as part of the Festival d'Avignon and the larger and concurrent "Avignon Off" festival. Farmers markets in France an an opportunity to eat cheaply and well.  Most villages have a market once a week, and we passed through three or four villages a day, so it was a frequent occurrence.  Here, a market stall in Provence offers a variety of olives. Farmers markets in France an an opportunity to eat cheaply and well. Most villages have a market once a week, and we passed through three or four villages a day, so it was a frequent occurrence. Here, a market stall in Provence offers a variety of olives.
Traveling in Europe creates interesting challenges for carrying food. Here, Joe readies a pizza to be carried on his bike rack in Florence, Italy. Traveling in Europe creates interesting challenges for carrying food. Here, Joe readies a pizza to be carried on his bike rack in Florence, Italy. Not every day was a picnic.  Our map failed to mention the appropriately named Not every day was a picnic. Our map failed to mention the appropriately named "Riserva Naturale Valle dell'Inferno", which had steep roads -- trails, really -- of deep gravel, sweltering heat, and difficult-to-decipher intersections.
Joe and Suzanne drinking Aperol spritzes in Arezzo, Italy.  Living the cafe lifestyle is a good way to recover after a long day of biking. Joe and Suzanne drinking Aperol spritzes in Arezzo, Italy. Living the cafe lifestyle is a good way to recover after a long day of biking. Tourists gawk at the Duomo di Siena.  The same reasons everyone travels to Europe also apply to bike tourists: art, architecture, and culture. Tourists gawk at the Duomo di Siena. The same reasons everyone travels to Europe also apply to bike tourists: art, architecture, and culture.
Relaxing in the central plaza of Siena with Aperol spritzes. Relaxing in the central plaza of Siena with Aperol spritzes. Switzerland produced the greatest feats of bicycle-path engineering that we experienced. Switzerland produced the greatest feats of bicycle-path engineering that we experienced. At Lake Lucerne, the bike path is not only separated from the road, it sometimes has its own separate tunnel from automobile traffic.
The views provided by the road around Lake Lucerne are jaw-dropping.  It was often a bit of a challenge to stay focused on the bike path when, just a few feet away, there was a steep drop into the crystal-blue lake. The views provided by the road around Lake Lucerne are jaw-dropping. It was often a bit of a challenge to stay focused on the bike path when, just a few feet away, there was a steep drop into the crystal-blue lake. Lake Lucerne in central Switzerland.  Most parts of Switzerland look like a postcard of Switzerland -- blue lakes, green hills, and steep mountains. Lake Lucerne in central Switzerland. Most parts of Switzerland look like a postcard of Switzerland -- blue lakes, green hills, and steep mountains.
Bike signage for national bike routes was also excellent in Switzerland. Bike signage for national bike routes was also excellent in Switzerland, such as this one for the Swiss national bike route #3 that runs north-south. Bike sign for Swiss National Bike Route #3. Bike sign for Swiss National Bike Route #3. The Swiss frequently posted "reassuring" signs on straight areas of the path, even where it wasn't necessary to make a turn.
Cooling off in an ice cold mountain-spring-fed fountain in Switzerland. Cooling off in an ice cold mountain-spring-fed fountain in Switzerland. Entering the French section of the train station in Basel, Switzerland. Entering the French section of the train station in Basel, Switzerland.
Sign for a Sign for a "bike street" in Karlsruhe, Germany. Separate bike paths predominate in Germany, although many are dirt, gravel, or bumpier pavement. A long, straight bike path leading north from Karlsruhe, Germany. A long, straight bike path leading north from Karlsruhe, Germany, as part of Eurovelo 15, a trans-continental bike route running from Basel to Rotterdam.
A campsite near Speyer, Germany. A campsite near Speyer, Germany. Campsites are fairly common in Germany, particularly tourist areas. Not all of them are this scenic, however. Toasting to a good day of biking on the east bank of the Rhine. Toasting to a good day of biking on the east bank of the Rhine. Radler, a mixture of pilsner beer and lemonade, is very refreshing beverage during a ride.
Riding along the east bank of the Riding along the east bank of the "Romantic Rhine" near Bad Godesburg, south of Bonn, Germany. While Eurovelo 15 follows the Rhine Valley for almost its entire distance, it is only in a few sections that it actually is directly adjacent to the Rhine. Although it is possible to bike tour in Germany just by following the signs, it is often helpful to have a bike touring map as well. Although it is possible to bike tour in Germany just by following the signs, it is often helpful to have a bike touring map as well.
Bike signs in Germany make it significantly easier to navigate on a bike tour. Bike signs in Germany make it significantly easier to navigate on a bike tour. Crossing the bridge from the German mainland to the island of Fehmarn, on the way to the ferry to Denmark. Crossing the bridge from the German mainland to the island of Fehmarn, on the way to the ferry to Denmark.
Exiting the ferry between Puttgarden, Germany, and Rodby, Denmark.  The ferry runs every half-hour around the clock. Exiting the ferry between Puttgarden, Germany, and Rodby, Denmark. The ferry runs every half-hour around the clock. Both ferries that we took -- the other was between Ringaskiddy, Ireland and Roscoff, France -- worked out very well as a way to get between countries. Bicycles outside a train station in Copenhagen, Denmark. Bicycles outside a train station in Copenhagen, Denmark. The bicycle was a part of daily life in Copenhagen like nowhere else we visited.
Bike repair station inside a gas station in Birkerod, Denmark. Bike repair station inside a gas station in Birkerod, Denmark. Visiting Copenhagen is like visiting a bicycle zoo: there is an example of every species, including a lot of utility bikes.  Here, Joe studies the steering system of a Christiania bike. Visiting Copenhagen is like visiting a bicycle zoo: there is an example of every species, including a lot of utility bikes. Here, Joe studies the steering system of a Christiania bike.
Cows in the Road, Cty. Kilkenny. Go to Spain to run with the bulls; come to County Kilkenny in Ireland to bike with the cows. Cows in the Road, Cty. Kilkenny. Cows stopping traffic in County Kilkenny, Ireland.
Musicians playing at a pub, Dublin, Ireland. Going on a musical pub crawl is an excellent way to hear, and learn about, traditional Irish music. Riding by boats floating on the high tide in Dourduff, Bretagne, France. Riding by boats floating on the high tide in Dourduff, Bretagne, France.
Relaxing by the ocean. The north coast of France provides very dramatic seascapes to enjoy after a long day of cycling. Chomping down on a fat sandwich in Bretagne. Most bakeries will make one for you from a baguette, or you can buy your own fixings for a fat hoagie at farmers markets or groceries.
Riding up a lonely stretch of road on the Breton coast. Riding up a lonely stretch of road on the Breton coast. Finding a little-used road is usually possible with the help of a good map. The SNCF bike-hook system. French regional and inter-city trains allow bikes on board without any additional fare, and every train has a designated bike car with hooks. Often it is possible to leave one or both panniers on the bike.
Eating moules in St. Malo. The north coast of France offers many opportunities to eat excellent seafood, such as these moules marinières in St. Malo. Staring at the sea outside the walls of St. Malo. The steep walls of St. Malo provide a dramatic backdrop for a seaside sunset.
We found it helpful to have our bikes ready to the carry local cuisine. We found it helpful to have our bikes ready to the carry local cuisine. The tidal flats around Mont St. Michel are one of the most striking natural wonders of Normandy. The tidal flats around Mont St. Michel are one of the most striking natural wonders of Normandy. The difference between high and low tide can be as much as 45 feet, and it is possible to see the incoming tide quickly flood the surrounding beach.