Name: Huw Seddon
Occupation: Merchant Navy Officer
Cycling Experience: Two years on a road bike. This was my first long distance ride.
- Merida Ride Lite 90
- Two rear panniers (6kg each)
- Rucksack (5kg)
- Vaude Terralight Tent (1.6kg)
Distance of the ride: 2015km
How many countries have you cycled through?
Six: Italy-Switzerland-France-Germany-The Netherlands-UK
How long did it take you to complete?
Five weeks in total, including a one week extension in Switzerland
Italy (One day – 70km)
At this point cycling back home to the UK was a mere potential idea, I started at Lago di Varese and cycled to Tenero Locarno, Switzerland using my own route on local A roads along Lago Maggiore.
Switzerland (17 days – 640km)
- In Switzerland we started out from Tenero and ended up at Disentis via Passo Del Lucomagno, (1972m) using Swiss Veloland routes 31/3/36. This was a difficult two days (97km).
- Then Disentis – Saas Grund over Oberalp pass (2044m) & and the stunning Furkapass (2429m). Swiss veloland routes 1 & 2. This was a very challenging 148km in three days and we thought we required some kind of ‘rest break’.
- The following four days we stayed in Saas Grund and climbed Via Ferrata Jagihorn and local walks.
- Then we caught the train back to Disentis to pick up River Rhine Swiss Veloland route 2/EuroVelo Route 15 (to Rotterdam)
- Disentis – Chur – Konstanz – Schaffhausen – Zurich – Basel. This route was relatively easy with the majority being flat (398km in 7 days).
France & Germany (11days – 796km)
- We were met by torrential downpours on our route from Basel – Strasbourg which cause flooding, at first we had to cross between the French & German side numerous times, as cycle-ways were completely flooded.
- Flooding continued to block cycle-ways and roads all the way up to ferry crossings up to Karlsruhe.
- Then we continued through the rest of Germany on the West side of the River Rhine passing through: Worms – Mainz – ‘Rhine Gorge’ up to Koblenz – Cologne – Dusseldorf – Xanten.
The Netherlands (5 days – 191km)
We then cycled to Millingen aan de Rijn where the River Rhine splits. We then crossed over to Arnhem to follow Nederrijn, then we followed the Lek Rivers whilst passing Wijk bij Duurstede, Nieuwegein, Schoonhoven and finally Rotterdam to catch the Ferry.
UK – Hull – North Wales (315km)
Initially we planned to go the Trans Pennine way, but we only took this to Selby as I don’t have an appropriate bike for the terrain. We instead crossed over to leeds and picked up the Leeds-Liverpool canal. We came off the canal around Selden to avoid going too far North, we then re-joined the canal in Burnley to the outskirts of Liverpool, where I took the Wirral way back into North Wales and had a much deserved sit down!
How does each country’s cycling culture compare?
Switzerland seemed the best for routing as the National website ‘Switzerland Mobility Veloland’ provides some excellent coverage of all routes. Routes are split up into stages, with the elevation profile, duration etc. Route mapping can also be viewed for free. Also the public water fountains proved to be extremely handy.
We weren’t in France too long, only a couple of days, but if anything, the language barrier was the main issue we had.
Germany, although well signposted was very busy and full of tourists on and off the bikes, especially bad in Mainz, Rhine Gorge up to Koblenz.
Obviously Netherlands is good for cycling. The waypoint system is very handy when crossing the country. Cycle ways were a lot busier though especially in cities.
‘Sustrans’ website was very handy for cycling in the UK, although not the best when viewed on a phone. There were a lot more cycle lanes in the UK than I thought.
Which was your favourite country to cycle through?
How do you allow yourself to recover for the following days ride?
Rest in the evening, maybe go for a beer, bed usually before 23:00. If I had done a lot of cycling that week then I would rest for a day at weekend or do less distance. I also tended to rest in the morning as well and not get on the road until late morning.
How did you prepare for each ride? (food + drink intake)
Brown bread/pasta where possible in the evening. Cereal in the morning.
What food and drink did you have whilst on a ride?
I carried two litres of water, I picked up light lunch on the route and ate cereal bars throughout. I also took energy sweets but didn’t eat them every day.
What are your three biggest tips when doing a long ride?
- Plan realistic destination to aim for each day, ensuring there is accommodation or camping available.
- Keep two sets of money/credit cards separate in case one is lost.
- If using electronic navigation take paper maps also.
Most useful accessory used on the trip?
Travel charger external battery which meant I could charge my ipad/phone whilst on the move.
Highlight of the trip?
Oberalp pass & Furkapass – long climbs but worth it for the scenery.
Lowlight of the trip?
Arriving at a campsite in Germany where the owner didn’t speak English, he was convinced that an extra 20 euros that I had put down on the counter was his! I had nowhere else to stay and just wanted to rest. Only 20 euros but not what you want after cycling all day.