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Europe tour - advice/input please

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DUCAUDI
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PostPosted: 23:40 - 11 Feb 2024    Post subject: Europe tour - advice/input please Reply with quote

A couple of buddies and I (at least 3 confirmed so far but maybe as many as 4 or 5 total) are looking to do a short camping tour in Europe this August.

My son and I have ridden to Pays de la Loire about half a dozen times now (family holiday cottage where the others drive down by toll road, we ride the toll-free twisties and meet them down there and spend the week and come home). Some riding around when we get there, usually visit Le Mans, but not out every day. And not camping, we have a cottage when we get there.

Apart from that, the journey there and the journey home, I haven't done any other bike tours around Europe before. Although I have driven to and around Spain quite a lot in the past by car.

Anyway we're looking to put something together this August which would be solely a biking/camping holiday. None of us have ever done anything like this before. Personally I'd be in favour of heading for Portugal or the south of Italy or something but some of the group are less experienced and are in favour of something a bit closer to home. Maybe a week or so around France / Belgium / Netherlands / West Germany.

Any advice and input would be most welcome.

I haven't got any camping gear whatsoever so any advice on what we'll need and what to buy would be great! Personally I'm looking to go as light as possible with only the bare essentials.

Also what are the rules on wild camping / where can we find campsites? Are they expensive and do you generally have to pre-book or can you just rock up?

Any suggestions on places to visit and routes?
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MCN
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PostPosted: 07:00 - 12 Feb 2024    Post subject: Reply with quote

Buy a Garmin GPS.
They only need a satellite signal.

Light weight tent.
Good sleeping bag.
Air mattress.
Stove. Gas.
And other things.
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doggone
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PostPosted: 09:33 - 12 Feb 2024    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've done it before with no cooking stuff at all but you might miss early morning tea.
On a bike you don't need to go for tiny tent, you want to be able to put possibly wet bike gear at one side while in there.
You can get away with little more than waterproofs, tent and sleeping bag if it is summer, even spare clothes are somewhat optional as you can buy a T shirt etc as you go if needed.

Wild camping might be Ok or it might not. In some 'wild' forest areas you might get a pickup going round after midnight full of deliverance types swigging cans and hoping to shoot a deer or rabbits. They might be Ok or might think it funny to scare you
In dry areas they are paranoid you might accidentally start a fire which is a real enough risk.
I've done it many times but it's easier if not in a group.
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Freddyfruitba...
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PostPosted: 11:45 - 12 Feb 2024    Post subject: Reply with quote

Before you go off to Europe, but after you've assembled all your kit, head off somewhere reasonably locally for a night to check it all out. Then you can be sure you know how to pitch your tents, fire up your stoves, you haven't forgotten anything vital, and you can get all you need on your bikes.
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stinkwheel
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PostPosted: 14:05 - 12 Feb 2024    Post subject: Reply with quote

France is a good bet because most towns of any size have a relatively inexpensive and well equipped "camping municipal". The nicer bits of France are some distance from the ferries though (same for all the shorter ferries from the UK).

Have a look at Decathalon for camping gear. For bike camping small (not necessarily light) tent, self inflating mat and sleeping bag. If you're my sort of age, one of those click together chairs is worth taking. Alternatively, if you have room for a quechua popup tent on your bike, the speed of putting it up and down every day may be worth the hassle of carrying a big disc-sized tent.

Take half as many clothes as you initially lay out. Get together and do a wash halfway through.Merino t-shirts are great because you can wear them for multiple days without stinking.

The key to success with touring is to leave early, then you arrive at your next location with plenty of time to do stuff. Don't lie in bed and not land up leaving until 11am.

When I tour Europe, I alternate 1 and 2 nighters so I do a high mileage day, stop for 2 nights, Do a short hop, stop for one night. Seems to work well.
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DUCAUDI
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PostPosted: 15:42 - 12 Feb 2024    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's all really good advice.

Thanks guys.

In theory I should have my new BMW by then which will have the ConnectedRide navigator. Anyone know if that can be used without data? I'm not too fussed about the data, in theory it should be included in my EE package for the countries we'll be going to.

Was thinking of a self inflatable mattress as they offer more support and don't go down overnight.

As for cooking I'm not fussed about eating out every day. That said it would be nice to toast some sausages at night. And I guess only one of us needs to carry a stove between us.

My son said they do bivvys designed specifically for bikes that use the motorcycle for support at one end. Anyone ever tried one of these? Are they any good?

He also said something about sleeping bag bivvys that your sleeping bag goes inside and it's just big enough to give you a bit of breathing space around your head with a mesh you can close to stop the bugs getting in. Again, anyone used these before? Are they any good?

I don't mind the staying up having campfires and sleeping outdoors bit, I just abhor the setting up and packing away bit. So if I can streamline that bit as much as possible that would be great.

It'll be August so I'm rather hoping there won't be any rain and the need for drying gear out.
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MCN
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PostPosted: 16:50 - 12 Feb 2024    Post subject: Reply with quote

DUCAUDI wrote:
That's all really good advice.

Thanks guys.

In theory I should have my new BMW by then which will have the ConnectedRide navigator. Anyone know if that can be used without data? I'm not too fussed about the data, in theory it should be included in my EE package for the countries we'll be going to.

Was thinking of a self inflatable mattress as they offer more support and don't go down overnight.

As for cooking I'm not fussed about eating out every day. That said it would be nice to toast some sausages at night. And I guess only one of us needs to carry a stove between us.

My son said they do bivvys designed specifically for bikes that use the motorcycle for support at one end. Anyone ever tried one of these? Are they any good?

He also said something about sleeping bag bivvys that your sleeping bag goes inside and it's just big enough to give you a bit of breathing space around your head with a mesh you can close to stop the bugs getting in. Again, anyone used these before? Are they any good?

I don't mind the staying up having campfires and sleeping outdoors bit, I just abhor the setting up and packing away bit. So if I can streamline that bit as much as possible that would be great.

It'll be August so I'm rather hoping there won't be any rain and the need for drying gear out.


You will need maps for Europe and UK.
I think BMW get their navigation from Garmin.
It should come preloaded with Europe and UK.
Ask sales if there's any doubt.
And.... no harm in carrying paper maps. They still work and some detail in some maps is not in Garmin.
And they are good if you need to plan a route over a severe distance. Satnavs are Ho to plan sometimes, unless you are familiar with the navigator mannerisms.
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DUCAUDI
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PostPosted: 03:30 - 14 Feb 2024    Post subject: Reply with quote

So I think we've settled on Amsterdam and Nürburgring.

Anywhere specific we should go in Amsterdam / things to see and do?

What's the deal with Nürburgring? Do you literally just rock up and ride or does anything need to be booked / is there anything in particular you need to bring in order to be let on?
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stinkwheel
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PostPosted: 08:37 - 14 Feb 2024    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nimijen is nice. Most of Holland is relatively flat and boring in terms of roads but the people are lovely.

I use an android app called OSMand for navigation. It has all the roads and is open source, also works offline. The mapping is very good, uses open street map. You get 6 free map downloads. The interface is a bit clunky but I even managed to make it follow pre-loaded GPX tracks so it went on the roads I wanted rather than following shortest/quickest/easiest etc. It's not fantastic at finding the places you wanted so i sometimes had to find them on google and drop a pin in OSM once I knew where it was. Navigated the whole of the NR2 in Protugal with it last year.

If you are doing the tourist thing in Amsterdam, I recommend pre-purchasing a "Dam card" which gets you into most of the museums etc, queue jumps for most of them, all day tram and bus pass, boat tour and a load of discounts. You pre-order it and pick it up at the tourist office. The ability to just jump on any bus or tram was great.
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I did the 2010 Round Britain Rally on my 350 Bullet. 89 landmarks, 3 months, 9,500 miles.
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A100man
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PostPosted: 10:57 - 14 Feb 2024    Post subject: Reply with quote

Amsteerdam is edgy but interesting - you will need to pay for secure parking Q-park for example, lots of tourist traps so I just prefer to stroll around. The 'Brown Bars' behind a thick curtain are where the locals drink. The Flea market is fun on Waterlooplein, Leidseplein usually has some good buskers and the nearby Waterhole bar is about about as cheap as it gets with decent sounds too. From Leidseplein you have easy acces to VondelPark for a stroll.
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doggone
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PostPosted: 11:46 - 14 Feb 2024    Post subject: Reply with quote

(In Holland) found riding on the polder dam roads somewhere was interesting, and towards Germany there are pretty forest areas and even gentle hills.
Even 20 years ago Amsterdam did not feel like a safe place to park a bike for long in the street though I did stay in a little hotel very central there was a way to get out of sight behind. It was still a relief to see it still there next morning. It's a confusing place to ride or walk around as the canals are like concentric circles you tend to imagine they are more like a grid at first.
The central area is quite small it reminded me of York.
But other things there are not at all like York. Laughing

Beware of aggressive beggars and 'locals' who will practically take you by the arm to show you things then expect a payment, and be quite angry and rude if you say no.
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DUCAUDI
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PostPosted: 16:57 - 14 Feb 2024    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok great, Nimijen is about half way between Amsterdam and RAF Hospital Wegberg (was going to stop here on the way to Nürburgring as my dad was born there and would be interesting to see, seeing as we passing by) so we'll probably add Nimijen to the list of places to go on the way. Think it's worth a short stop while passing through or a whole day?

So Amsterdam not a great place to leave your bike. Will look into secure parking! What about outside Amsterdam and places we're likely to stop along the way? Is it just Amsterdam we need to be concerned about or pretty much everywhere we go in Netherlands/Germany?
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stinkwheel
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PostPosted: 17:25 - 14 Feb 2024    Post subject: Reply with quote

DUCAUDI wrote:
Think it's worth a short stop while passing through or a whole day?


Depends what you are doing. It was a nice town for a wander about with a relaxed vibe. We stayed there for a day on our way to the Spa endurance racing. Nice street cafes, medeival main street, riverside walks etc. Quite funky and quirky in places.

We stayed in the "Hotel Credible" which is an odd wee place (You wont miss it). Parked the bikes on the street and was happy to do so.
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I did the 2010 Round Britain Rally on my 350 Bullet. 89 landmarks, 3 months, 9,500 miles.
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MCN
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PostPosted: 17:25 - 14 Feb 2024    Post subject: Reply with quote

We had a wee stop-off in Mastrich in Jan this year.
Cute lil ancient town. Nice. People are friendly.
Not as much Eastern promise as in Amsterdam. Amsterdam is ruined by that influx of folk who have no real reason to be there.
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DUCAUDI
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PostPosted: 17:44 - 14 Feb 2024    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not overly fussed by Amsterdam to be honest but I'm going with my son and a mate (possibly more but no others have confirmed yet). I think my son only wants to go to Amsterdam for the hashbars Pale Sick LOL I also thought as it's supposed to be not a mammoth tour, Netherlands kinda makes sense as we can do a few countries inside a week without flogging ourselves with 12 hours in the saddle every day.

For me, it's more about RAF Hospital Wegberg, Nürburgring, hopping through several countries, seeing lots of nice villages and people along the way and getting some beautiful riding in.

I've never been a fan of large cities. Would always much rather find a quaint little village and find a backstreet restaurant or bar and enjoy meeting the locals.

I've never been to Amsterdam though so it's one to cross off the list I suppose.
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Evil Hans
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PostPosted: 17:13 - 15 Feb 2024    Post subject: Reply with quote

DUCAUDI wrote:
What's the deal with Nürburgring? Do you literally just rock up and ride or does anything need to be booked / is there anything in particular you need to bring in order to be let on?


Last time I was there, I just rocked up and paid the Toll.

It was quite a few years ago that I last went, though.
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blurredman
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PostPosted: 17:35 - 15 Feb 2024    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm sorry I can't advise on the camping as I've not really used a tent but for once or twice. Most of the time i've just found a quiet spot and slept in my clothes under the bike.


But the furthest East you go the cheaper so to get hostels (or indeed full on hotels) for £5-£10 a night in Eastern Europe and then the tents just seem pointless.
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MCN
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PostPosted: 18:19 - 15 Feb 2024    Post subject: Reply with quote

Evil Hans wrote:
DUCAUDI wrote:
What's the deal with Nürburgring? Do you literally just rock up and ride or does anything need to be booked / is there anything in particular you need to bring in order to be let on?


Last time I was there, I just rocked up and paid the Toll.

It was quite a few years ago that I last went, though.


Best to check their website.
It was run by a government dept. previously and that sort of messed up schedules.
Companies block book for tests etc. So you could turn up and not be let on.

The website will let you know the deal.

Basically, you buy a lap ticket for 1 lap.
It was €25 when we were there 2016.
So inflation bla de bla..

The track is now managed by a company, that was supposed to have opened the track to the public more days per year.

It is a designated as a public road. So public lic Road law applies.

But you will struggle to get insurance cover for the ring.

You ride with the gods.

Cause a crash and lose yer hoose. Laughing

The track charge those who crash recovery fees, loss of track revenue and any cleaning, fixing barriers etc.

It could all add up if you don't screw the nut.

Though it's a great experience we'll worth the trip.
You can buy a photo of yourself at popular sections from various pro photo folk too.

Remember it was taken of Granprix because the track is not safe for high speeds. Terrible corner design with the camber falling away to the outside of the bend.
In the 30s-40s when they built it cars never went as fast.
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DUCAUDI
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PostPosted: 17:11 - 19 Feb 2024    Post subject: Reply with quote

So our standard bike insurance won't cover it, even though it's a pubic road?
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Nobby the Bastard
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PostPosted: 17:19 - 19 Feb 2024    Post subject: Reply with quote

From my policy...

Quote:
Also, the insurer does not cover your vehicle if you are using it on derestricted toll roads (roads the public can pay to have access to and where speed restrictions are temporarily or permanently suspended).

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DUCAUDI
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PostPosted: 17:34 - 19 Feb 2024    Post subject: Reply with quote

MCN wrote:
We had a wee stop-off in Mastrich in Jan this year.
Cute lil ancient town. Nice. People are friendly.
Not as much Eastern promise as in Amsterdam. Amsterdam is ruined by that influx of folk who have no real reason to be there.


Couldn't agree more.

Mate of mine just got back from Paris.

I asked how he liked it.

Shit, he said, full of dirty foreigners (not tourists, you know, the other kind of foreigners) who have ruined the place.

Such a shame that you go to France expecting a French experience and to absorb some French culture. When in reality, landmarks aside, if you didn't know any better you could just as easily have thought you were walking the streets of the east end of London, which is another bee in my bonnet that I won't get onto at this time.

Cultures and customs are being diluted by the wrong kind thanks to mass uncontrolled economic migration.

I'm all for a multicultural society, but when they start to take over in pockets and drive out families who have lived there for generations, it's gone way too far (not least of all because the knock-on effect is the Londoners end up moving out into the villages in Kent and start buying up all the new housing estates in MY quaint little village LOL).

Thought I said I wasn't going to get onto that at this time?

Never mind.

I've no interest in going to Paris (or London for that matter) for this very reason. The rest of France is fine. I'm hoping Amsterdam is mostly unaffected but reading some comments on here I'm not so sure, but the others are set on going (for the hash bars me thinks, novelty will soon wear off).

I'm more looking forward to the ride, the scenery, keeping away from the tourist areas and trying to find some nice small towns and villages and meeting some interesting locals.
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MCN
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PostPosted: 18:01 - 19 Feb 2024    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are coffee shops and there are coffee shops in Amsterdam.
We popped into some dens.
But there are plenty of really nice places. Very amicable people working the counters too.

If you're buying that boutique style whiffy tobacco it's not cheap.
€12 and upwards.
I don't even know if it's a metered bang-4-your-buck.
It must be a bit more regulated than buying from some kunt in a pub.
We only tried a couple of shops as we were not there to get baked. Just dabble.
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