Early in 2010 we were cycle touring in France and stumbled across EuroVelo 6. We then made an impromptu decision to follow it for a few weeks. The official website,, does not provide enough detail to allow good planning.

Maps for the French and Romanian sections are now available. Maps for the central section are being prepared but no release date has been announced.

We found that the maps for the French section were not completely accurate as some sections have been realigned, and do not always show route through the larger cities. Portions of the route are still not marked so there are a few challenges.

The maps do not provide accurate information about what accommodation is available, though there is an accompanying guidebook but we have not seen one for sale. Some of the regional tourist boards do have information about accommodation.

This blog is to share information about EuroVelo 6 so those who had ride part or all of the route can share their experience and advice with those who are planning to undertake a ride all it.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A bed for the night

One of the big advantages of camping when cycle touring is that you don’t have to worry to much about where you are going to spend the night. All options are open, rough it in the bush, use a camping ground, or book into a hostel or hotel.

If you do not have camping gear then your options are severely limited, especially when you are far from well-beaten tourist trails. Sometimes this is good as the hotels, hostels; B&Bs are used by business people so tend to have early breakfasts and substantial meals which are not overly rich. One the downside there are only a few to choose from and are often full. In some cases the hotels can be cheap and basic, in other cases extremely luxurious with room rates to match. Therefore, deep pockets and a healthy budget are required.

As cycle touring is not a predicable means of travel due to the vagaries of the weather flats, motorists and a host of factors outside of cycle tourism hotels we usually booked one or two days in advance.

Blois Chateau - Is there a spare room for the night?
The risk of locking in accommodation a week or two in advance is that you must maintain a schedule. This is possible if the distances travelled are short then it can be rather boring if the “attractions” are underwhelming. Too much distance can result in hard riding which is no fun.

We tend to book accommodation only one or two days ahead.

During June and July of 2010 we generally stayed in 2 and 3 star hotels when we travelled from Nantes to Besançon. The cheapest room was €35 per night; the most expensive was €200 per night and averaged around €75 per night for a double room with private bathroom. The cheapest and most expensive rooms were taken in situations where there was no other accommodation within couple of hours riding.

What is your experience when using hotels along EuroVelo 6?

Should we pack the tent for the eastern end of EuroVelo 6?

Alternatively, is there plenty of good cheap accommodation?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Wheel Problems

Perhaps the greatest fear a cycle tourist has, after getting hurt, is breaking their bike in some remote area.

The prudent cyclist always prepares their bike before a trip, selects good quality durable components and carries out some preventative maintenance while touring.

Despite the cyclists best efforts things do break or wear out while touring. When things like tyres, bottom brackets or headsets start showing signs of wear the bike is nursed to a large town and the item replaced.

Perhaps the worst problem is buckling a wheel or breaking spokes. For this reason, we carry spare spokes and the tools to replace spokes. Buckled wheels can be straightened sufficiently to get going again but the wheel has to be replaced.

We prefer using bicycles with 700 mm wheels (29”) and as not every bike shop carries spare tyres for touring bikes, we take a spare foldable tyre with us. At least then, we can get to a town to get a replacement tyre. We have fixed buckled wheels and replaced spokes beside the road to get rolling. Rims for 700 mm touring bikes are not common so a rim for a racing bike is used to replace the buckled one. Not ideal but riding is much safer.

A common argument for the selection of mountain bike wheels (650 mm or 26”) is that replacement tyres and rims are much more readily available throughout the world. We have been in bike shops in Europe, Australia and South America and there is always much more mountain bike spares then traditional racing bike spares and only a few, if any, touring bike spares.

Anecdotal advice is that support for 700 mm touring bikes in Hungarian and Romanian portions of EuroVelo 6 is very sparse. However, mountain bike wheels and tyres are readily available.

Has anybody ridden the Hungarian and Romanian portions of EuroVelo 6 or anywhere else in the former Eastern Bloc? What spare tyres and wheels are the most common in these areas?

We carry spare cable, spokes, foldable tyre, brake pads and tubes. What do you carry when on long (i.e. more than an month in duration) cycle tours?

To GPS or Not to GPS

EuroVelo 6 has a section between Angers and Saumur. The route leaves Angers, riders tour past long abandoned mines, and water filled quarries then through rolling hills and vineyards.

At Gennes EuroVelo 6 is split into an east only path and a west only path. Things are made more complicated as there are several “local” velo routes that are not shown on the EuroVelo 6 map set. Using Michelin touring maps, the few signs and a compass we were able to navigate our way through the maze of minor roads.

While getting lost is part of cycle touring, most tourers prefer getting lost on their own terms.

Another problem is navigating into large towns and smaller cities. If possible, you obtain a map in advance, if not then you follow the signs to “City Centre” and hope for the best.

On a recent tour many of the European cycle tourists use GPS to assist in navigation. The most common were the lower end mapping units. See for some examples.

Garmin now offer a cycling specific GPS, the Edge 705 (See This GPS is normally used for training and racing but can be used for cycle touring. Some functions such as heart rate monitor would need to be turned off.

Given that even the most detailed European road maps do not show every country lane and that the EuroVelo 6 maps do not show every detail, then would a GPS be useful?

How useful would a GPS in navigating the Central and Eastern portions of EuroVelo 6?

Does anybody have firsthand experience of using a GPS while cycle touring?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

iPad, Netbooks and Guide Books

In the not too distant past, a cycle tourist went to a good bookshop and brought a guidebook for the region through which they intended to travel. Then hoped the guidebook was reasonably up to date and accurate. After arrival, the traveller’s knowledge base is updated using advice from locals and other travellers.

The advent of the internet means that you could get up to date information but computers were not portable. Every time you arrived at a new town, an internet cafe was high on the list of things search out.

Modern laptops and inexpensive WiFi means it is possible to log into hotel, restaurant and bar networks. Roaming charges for 3G phone and internet access are horrendous in Europe so management of hotels and restaurants often provide free or cheap WiFi for travellers. Many cycle tourists and back packers now pack a netbook.

Foolishly, earlier this year, we decided that the weight of a netbook and charger was too much to carry for little benefit, as we thought Internet Cafes were plentiful in Europe. However, due to the proliferation of free WiFi the demand for internet cafes has decreased to the point where they are only found in the larger tourist towns. It is now common to see people researching the next stage of their journey, updating their FaceBook pages, blogs and checking their emails at cafes and restaurants using a free WiFi connection.

We, on the other hand, were carrying a guidebook and a thick bundle of notes. After a few weeks, we also accumulated several hotel directories. The combined weight was greater than that of a netbook. We could have also used the netbook to maintain our dairies and track our expenses thereby saving some more weight. We could also used the netbook to back up our digital images and netbook to book accommodation ahead.
Recently I obtained an iPad. This light, thin device is a useful tool for accessing the internet, checking emails and performing some simple tasks. It appears to be more robust than a netbook, but does not have all the features of a netbook. However, do you need all the features of a netbook on the road?

We know in the French portion of EuroVelo 6 WiFi internet access is common in most 2 and 3 Star Hotels. If not then a cafe or restaurant with WiFi and for the price of a coffee and sandwich you can connect to the internet. In any case, you have to eat.

Along the Central Portion and Eastern Portions of EuroVelo 6 is WiFi internet access available?

Has anybody taken an iPad on a cycle tour? Was it useful or would a netbook have been better?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A day in the office - Typical EuroVelo 6 Problems

The Sector between Chagney and Dole contain several typical challenges for the cycle tourist.

Chagney is a reasonable sized town with four or five hotels but the cheaper ones were full when we arrived so the only options left was the €200 a night four star hotel with €150 per person menu, camping or travel on to Chalon-Sur-Saône which is 25 km away.

Chalon is a small city at the edge of which the EuroVelo signs end but before the city map provided in the EuroVelo 6 map set starts. So a combination of luck and guile are needed to get to the centre of the city while avoiding cars and buses. An unmarked bike route, which follows the Saône, takes the rider through an industrial area where the Canal du Centre joins the Saône. Then the difficult part starts, the route follows the main road that is very busy on weekdays. The alternative route is beside the river, in July 2010 the path was little better than a mountain bike track. This track runs for 16 kilometres until the village of Gergy where the track joins the main road.

At Gergy a cycle path takes the rider to the pretty village of Verdun-sur-le Doubs. It has several restaurants, two hotels and several camping grounds. There is no bike path between Verdun and Seurre but the roads are quiet and go from village to village but are not marked. Outside of Seurre, the route uses dirt roads. After leaving Seurre, the route follows more dirt paths. However, after 5 km the route returns to paved surfaces and is well marked. There is little accommodation at Seurre. The next major town is St-Usage, where some accommodation is available and the route follows the Canal Rhône au Rhine.

EuroVelo 6 Near Seurre

The surface is good but at Abergement la Ronce the route detours so as not to ride through a gigantic chemical complex. However, the route takes the rider through several non-descript suburbs in addition to a pleasant ride in a forest. No sooner than the path rejoins the canal the rider arrives in Dole. Dole is a very popular place due to its proximity to the Saône and Doubs rivers, along with its history and connection with Louis Pasteur. However, there is limited accommodation.

In this short section of a little over 125 km of EuroVelo 6 the cycle tourist has to contend with poor maps, bad or missing signage, limited accommodation and poor track conditions. However, we enjoyed the riding along this section. Verdun sur-le-Doubs is worth a stop as is Dole.