How would you do Europe on two wheels?

I heard from a good friend of mine from Chicago the other day, who was looking for a little advice.

It seems he’s getting ready to enter law school, while a friend of his will be getting married in the fall. So they’re thinking about one last great adventure while they’re still in their 20s, before they buckle down to serious business of life.

And what they settled on was biking through Europe.

Smart guy. And not just because he already has an advanced degree under his belt.

Needless to say, I told him to go. And only begged and pleaded a little to go with him before reality and responsibility — along with an empty bank account — reared their ugly heads.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t be much help. While I’ve got a few European stamps in my passport, I didn’t make it much further than London and Paris — and most of that on foot and rail, since I was accompanied by my non-biking wife.

So most of my answers to his questions were nothing more than semi-informed guesses. Like suggesting that he buy a bike once he lands, rather than shipping one over. And making sure at least part of his trip included Copenhagen — a city so devoted to biking it even seems to have influenced our own city’s mayor.

On the other hand, I know I have some readers who’ve spent time on the Continent — and on two wheels, no less — and may be able to offer more, and better, advice on the subject than I ever could.

So if you don’t mind, take a look at the questions he sent me in a follow-up email.

As we talked about before, my friend and I are trying to find out the logistics for planning a biking tour in Europe. Some of our main questions are:

1. Which bike to buy in a $800-1200 price range

2. Is it better to buy your bike in the states or upon arrival in Europe?

3. If you buy your bike in the U.S., what’s the best way to get it to and back from Europe?

We’d also be interested in any other advice people have to offer, like suggested routes and previous tips that have worked well for others. We have about 2 months to spend and it would be in April-May, possibly early June.

So what do you think?

What advice would you give a couple not-so-serious cyclists planning their first two-wheeled Euro tour?

……….

Thanks to Fred Camino of The Source — your online resource for all things Metro — who listed Biking In LA as one of the city’s 10 essential transportation blogs, along with Streetsblog, the LACBC, and SoapBox LA, home to leading bike and neighborhood activist Stephan Box, just to name a few.

……….

KPCC continues to take the lead on cycling issues, as Patt Morrison talks about cyclists’ rights and peaceful roadway coexistence with LADOT Bike Coordinator Michelle Mowery; Claire Bowin of the L.A. Department of Planning; Alex Tompson of the Bike Working Group; 1st District Councilmember Ed Reyes; Doug Falling, Executive Director of Highway Programs & Interim Chief Planning Officer at L.A. Metro; and Aurisha Smolarski, Campaign and Communications Director for LACBC.

……….

Turns out the FedEx driver who killed an Oklahoma cyclist — and now faces a whopping $100 – $1000 fine — was high at the time of the collision; so was the driver who killed a New Jersey cyclist forced to ride in the lane by plowed snow (thanks to Jim Lyle for the heads-up). Nevada drivers need to get used to cyclists, despite the comments of a few idiots. Alabama cyclists wrap themselves in bandages to make a point about safety. Idaho considers three-foot passing and anti-harassment measures. According to a Virginia state legislator, a bicycle is not a transportation device. Riding your bike for Lent doesn’t mean you have to give up anything. Remembering America’s first great cyclist — and the man who broke the color barrier a half century before Jackie Robinson. According to a report from the Insurance Institute for High Safety, cycling is getting safer. British schoolchildren receive Bikeability training. Sheffield, UK commuters can get free training and a loaner bike if they agree to ride to work at least 50% of the time. Crayfish get better protection than new Zealand cyclists; although Christchurch cyclists and pedestrians may soon get preference. 40% of Queensland residents ride regularly. South African drivers are urged to be more tolerant of cyclists, and cyclists to obey the law. New anti-bike theft registration program in Taiwan.

Finally, welcome back to the cycling cyber world to Texas bike blogger Opus the Poet, whose site is a must read for anyone concerned about making the world safer for cyclists. And he builds a mean custom bike, too.

4 comments

  1. Brent says:

    I’ve traveled in Europe by plane, bus, train, boat, and bicycle. I have found that renting a bicycle worked better for me, although renting for two months might be more expensive than buying. If your friend does buy a bicycle, he might keep in mind that prices in Europe are generally more expensive than in the U.S., and spending the time to find the right bicycle upon arrival will eat into travel time. Most airlines will check bicycles for a relatively small ($100-200) fee.

    Your friend may want to examine closely his goals for the trip. For example, I’m hoping to bicycle between Amsterdam and Copenhagen this fall. I expect it will take ten or twelve days. I will necessarily limit the trip to that small part of northern Europe. However, if your friend plans to “do Europe,” he might also look into his options of going by train or plane. Bicycling isn’t an especially effective way to cover large amounts of territory. Too, with flights within Europe costing as little as $50, it’s sometimes less expensive to fly than to take several days by covering the same territory on two wheels. In any case, if he wants to see locations as distant from each other as Oslo and Rome and Vienna, he will likely find it necessary to adopt a multi-modal transport format.

  2. David says:

    There’s a podcast called something like ‘The Bike Show on Resonance FM’ out of London. Jack Thurston. ]]I’m sure he’d know.

  3. disgruntled says:

    If they do opt for train at least part of the way, the excellent Man in Seat 61 has lots of (UK centric) info on taking European trains – including a page on bikes.

  4. Digital Dame says:

    Have him check with Marc at http://amsterdamize.com. I think he knows everything :)

    Also, Les at http://www.cyclemani.ca and his wife spent two weeks biking around the Netherlands last September. They bought bikes in Amsterdam and brought them back to the U.S.

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