Does anyone have any experience with long distance biking across countries? I’ve been thinking about biking from central France to The Netherlands in April and would love some advice for anything regarding camping, food, mileage, and packing for a rigorous journey like this. Thank you in advance I appreciate it!
I biked across Canada last summer and plan to do some more trips — across Japan, Asia, Europe, and possibly South America. So, I like to think I made many mistakes and have some advice to give, but I am by no means an expert.
First, buy a good bike. Google good brands as they vary on location. For me in Canada, I would buy surly, kona, koga, or possibly thorn (UK bike). Also, get drop bars, as the change in hand and body position will matter after biking all day.
I bike an average 100 km a day. You could do more, like 150 – 200 km, but you miss out on the adventure (meeting people, seeing the landscapes, side projects). Sometimes you may bike more or less, depending on the weather, terrain, and energy levels. 100 km is a good average.
As for camping, obviously have a tent, but I hear some people have had hammocks (much lighter) with great success. Paying for a campsite is absurdity, so you will learn where the best/safe/free places are to camp. This varies from place to place. For me in Canada, I would camp on beaches, forests, parks, dugouts at baseball diamonds, and people’s places when they invited me in. I hear is so densely populated to Canada that wild camping is less feasible at times and you must pay or lodging. Then again, never been so I do not know.
Food depends on the person. I always had a pound of butter with me, the odd time lard. Then the staples for me would be canned meat and fish, bread, cream, yogurt, cheese, and chocolate. Nuts are great as well. Other people would include more junk foods, I knew one guy who fished every night. A stove is an asset, not needed, but it is helpful to have. When I used mine I mainly made oatmeal with butter, cream, nuts, and some sugar. I think I made eggs once lol.
Get a good sleeping bag… mine was rated for -10C, made with down. As for clothes, NO COTTON and do not over do it. Get a pair of shorts, a shirt, and two pairs of underwear made of sports material (ie under armour). The are easy to wash in a bathroom sink, dry quickly, and also do not look wet after you wash them. Plus they last forever. You need rain gear (poncho or a jacket and pants) plus a set of clothes to keep warm, like a wool sweater and wool pants. Wool beats fleece everytime. Then a set of everyday clothes, like one pair of jeans and a cotton shirt. This is your only cotton. You can possibly find good stuff from the thrift store if you keep at it, otherwise this may cost some money if you buy it all last minute.
As for everything else, just standard gear you would need to have on any trip, like documents, maps, maybe a compass, etc..
Take your sweet as time, ITS THE JOURNEY NOT THE DESTINATION!
Anymore questions, feel free to ask. Also, check out http://www.crazymanonabike.com
I live in Holland, and biking is great here, especially on the islands ! From central France to Holland seems a long trip, but one that’s worth it. I should really consider what you are going to pack, you don’t want to get heavy loaded for something like this. Buy a map of Europe and mark the places you want to visit, make sure you cross supermarkets like the Aldi or Lidl (cheap). If you have a good plan and a basic set and you will improvise a little you’ll have a adventure !