Finishing the rough planning, I search for shelter along the journey. Thereby I follow this pattern: first, it should be near the trip, second, the daily coverage should be about 80 to 120 km, thirdly, the accommodation should have a reasonable price and must include breakfast. I do that primarily with booking.com. More about demands on housing under “How I book accommodation”.
If you can handle digital navigation, you will never go back to a paper map. However, there are some downsides I have to cope. Firstly the limited accumulator power, easy to solver with a power bank, or second phone. More serious is a rainy day, my waterproof smartphone couldn’t stand raindrops following on the screen and got crazy. The watertight case was unsuitable either hard to deal with or fogged up. A simple homemade device is currently the solution. The overall advantage, I get every information I need, offline or online, on a fingertip.
The outworked GPX data leads exactly to and from the daily housing along the planned cycle route. These data are downloaded, stored on my smartphone and is the basis for “offline” navigation for the day. For navigation on the smartphone, I use Osmand with preloaded offline maps. Therefore I just following my “red line” during the day. If something unexpected happened, I do some replanning. However, that seldom happens.
Working through the possibilities of the best cycle environment, I create GPX data for the trip. I do that mostly with Bikemap.net. On difficult segments also with Google Map in the satellite view but also use the territorial information. In Italy, for example, the website Bicitalia is best. For planning in Bavaria, I use Bayernnetz for Radler. But also for other countries, there might be useful information on the internet, so that I get the best route for my demand.
Define the Cycle Route
In my opinion, this is the core of a successful holiday. For cycling, I prefer traffic-free cycle lanes, roads or lanes with a restriction on motorised traffic, roads in the quiet countryside with limited traffic. Therefore my planning for the proposed trip is made up studying maps and publications. Not always easy as most maps not showing the quality behind the marked cycle lane.
My overall concept for planning a tour is as follow. For starting planning a journey, I have to have an aim. That could be a town, or a highly rated cycle path, or some other place of interest. Next step for the basic outwork, is the defined start and endpoint, which depends on the available time for the trip. That could be a circle, halve-circle or a straight line. Following that decision, I have to work out how to get to the start and back home from the endpoint, which is not always easy to manage. See more on travel issues with bicycles.
For fitness, there is no need to be a winner of the last Olympic Games. A basic level of fitness is good enough. There is certainly no problem if you feel tired after the daily voyage. Problems might occur, also on the best cardio fitness level, when you not used doing cycling. There might be some problems not expected, such as knee ache, backache, some problems with tendons, etc. Such annoyance could seriously spoil your tour. Even worse if you get these problems on early stages on the trip. The best preparation to avoid these troubles is to carry out daily trips in advance.
Sometimes there might be some trouble during a trip, usually minor things such as puncture, brake adjustments or gear shift corrections. I always have the tools and a few spare parts with me so I can handle these matters. However, in 2014 I was permanently challenged by chain failure. The new chain has split up every few days. First I used my reserve pin, later I shortened the chain after each incident, at last, I bought a new one. Then I learned that certain chains only link with the original brand chainlink. Conclusion, sometimes I’m challenged by strange technical issues.
Whatever cycle you use, try to get the best out of it. It is not a matter of high-end price. Feel good on your bike is paramount. We, as it fits our demand, decided for trekking bikes with mudguards, lights and pannier in an upright sitting position, but also used foldings bikes in GBR. Since 2015 we are using trekking bikes from VHS with the Rohloff gearshift. This kind of gearshift is very convenient for our way to travel. Using e-bikes is not an issue yet.