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Europe’s Best Bike Routes In 2014

Posted January 23rd, 2014

It’s almost that time again, when the annual Fietsenwandelbeurs takes place in Amsterdam.

If you’ve never had the pleasure of going, let us explain. This is a huge two-day exposition, dedicated to everything for cyclists and hikers. We go every year to check out new gear, the latest bikes and of course to get inspiration for future bike tours.

Ahead of the fair, the Fietsenwandelbeurs nominates bike routes for the “Route of the Year” award. This year there are four nominees:

#1. The Pirinexus (through Spain and France)

The Pirinexus is a 350km loop, of which 280km are in Spain and 80km are on the French side of the Pyrenees.

Pirinexus Route

At the moment, it’s southern Europe’s longest marked bicycle route. The route is mostly flat, taking in a part of the Costa Brava and former railway lines. That said, you will have to climb a couple mountains with peaks of 1,000-1,500 meters. The roads leading up these mountains aren’t too steep, however. Part of the Pirinexus also tracks EuroVelo 8 from Athens to Cádiz. Read more…

#2. The Tour de Manche (France and England)

The Tour de Manche is a bike route around the English Channel. Ferry services help you make the connection between England and France. In total it’s a route of 1,200km but there’s also a smaller version of 440km, which takes in the Channel Islands.

Tour de Manche

The Tour de Manche doesn’t always follow the coast. Sometimes it uses old railway lines and small tracks to cut across Normandy. The English section involves a few steep climbs. On the return leg, you get a wonderful view over the cliffs. You can also use the Tour de Manche route to hook up with the Vélodyssée, which runs down the coast of France towards Spain. Read more…

#3. Valsugana (Trentino, Italy)

The Valsugana route follows the Brenta river valley between Pergine Valsugana and Bassano del Grappa. It’s fairly short at just 80km. You bike nearly entirely on dedicated bike paths. The route climbs very gently (you’ll barely notice it). It the Western part you can take on some extra loops around local lakes.

The Valsugana Route

The Valsugana connects to the Adige (Etsch) cycle path from Austria to Verona and the Via Claudia Augusta, going towards the Adriatic coastline. Read more…

#4. Vennbahn (Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg)

The Vennbahn is a dedicated bike path that follows old railway lines from Troisvierges (Luxembourg) to Aachen (Germany). It’s 125 km long.

The Vennbahn

Leaving Aachen, the route climbs to 500 meters but the grade is never more than 2% so it’s a gentle climb. Save your energy! There’s a 10% climb just before the Luxembourg border. As far as the landscape goes, the bike path mostly goes through green areas and there are many signs of the area’s railway history. We’ll be cycling this route over Easter, so there’s more information to come! Read more…

9km Moresco to Igoumenitsa

Posted September 17th, 2007

We hauled ourselves out of bed before the first light hit the skies and by 7am we were speeding down the hills of Le Marche towards the town of Pedaso, where we caught a train to Ancona and then boarded our ferry for Greece. We briefly considered retracing our steps to Ancona by bicycle but decided the busy seaside roads weren’t really worth the trouble and time it would have take us to pedal the whole distance. Instead, we were happy to find modern Italian trains with low floors that almost met the platform and made it easy for us to get on with our bikes. The train conductor even shooed several local school kids out of the bicycle area so we could prop our bikes up in a large space made just for them. In Ancona we made a quick stop at a supermarket for provisions for the 15-hour voyage and then headed to the port, just a few kilometers from the train station. When the boat arrived we weren’t sure what to expect. We’d only bought deck tickets and didn’t know what that entitled us to. As it turned out, we were very impressed. The deck was partially glassed in so there wasn’t much wind and each side of the top floor had a long line of large picnic tables , with a swimming pool and hot tub in the middle section. If only we’d thought to pack our swim suits! Eventually we spread our sleeping mats out and crashed on the floor and on the picnic table and managed to get a few hours of sleep before the boat docked in Igoumenitsa at 5:30am.

On the road again… with butterflies

Posted September 17th, 2007

Wheat covered the arched doorwayAltidona in the distanceAfter a month in the beautiful rolling-hilltop region of Italy called Le Marche, it’s time for us to move on once again. We have truly had a wonderful time staying with the Wills family, earning our keep by doing lots of painting and household chores for them, while sampling the local wine, swimming in the sea and admiring the view. On a good day we have seen mountains over 350km south of here — amazing! We’ve also done a fair bit of work for ourselves, ordering new sleeping bags, applying for visas and renewing our health insurance. So many things pile up when you’re on the road.

All good things have to come to an end though and now we’re up at the crack of dawn, ready to get a train to Ancona and a ferry to the Greek port of Igoumenitsa. From there we’ll take about 2-1/2 weeks to reach Turkey via northern Greece, where again we’ll settle down for a few days to collect various visas for the trip eastwards.

We’re a little nervous about the journey ahead. It’s hard to leave good friends — we get attached easily to people and places — and for the past year we’ve been on relatively well known territory. After Greece we’ll be treading new ground and Central Asia sounds like a challenge: tales of weeks of nothing to eat but mutton and rice and plenty of travellers falling ill with stomach woes. We hope we can rise to the challenge and keep our sanity while also enjoy the fantastic scenery the area has to offer.

Trip to Mirabilandia

Posted September 15th, 2007

Mr. KangarooOne of the fun jobs we’ve had over our time here in Italy has been taking the Wills’ kids to an Italian theme park. For two days, we all rode the roller coasters and splashed on the water rides. You can click on the picture to see all the shots from Mirabilandia or check out the videos below.

Posted in Italy, Video

Visiting Moresco

Posted September 1st, 2007

We went for an afternoon walk today with the dogs to Moresco, a hilltop village just up the road from the house where we are staying. It’s said to be one of the most beautiful villages in Italy and certainly its archways and views over the surrounding countryside are worth the stop. We took a few pictures to share with you. Click on the photo to start the slideshow.