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credit card touring in Europe(11 posts)

credit card touring in Europegtx
Jan 14, 2004 10:43 AM
Just curious if anyone has done true unsupported credit card touring in Europe. Meaning, no rental car, but no camping either--staying in hotels and eating at restaurants and/or markets. And no formal group--either solo or with one or two friends. What kind of bike/pannier setup did you bring? How long and how light did you go? How did you transport your bike? (maybe a bike case could be left in a storage locker at the airport?) I'm picturing 1-3 weeks with a fairly light bike/pannier setup.
re: credit card touring in Europebrad nicholson
Jan 14, 2004 12:25 PM
i live in germany. no-one takes credit cards, you would probably need to do some "nur bargeld radtouren" if you are interested in riding in germany i would be more than willing to pick you up at the airport and provide you with a storage place for your bike box. i recommend the bike boxes for shipping from colorado cyclist. that is how i brought my bikes over when i moved since i don't trust the movers. lots of answers here shoot me your questions.
re: credit card touring in EuropeRoundabout
Jan 14, 2004 1:30 PM
I did what you describe alone back in the summer of '91. Twelve days touring through southern Germany, France, then Switzerland and back into France. I even climbed Alpe D'Huez. I carried no camping gear, only a change of bike clothes, a windbreaker, one set of warm weather street clothes and walking shoes, essential tools, camera, etc. I used a backpack although now I would use small panniers on a rack that clamps onto the seatpost only. I rode a Dura Ace equipped road bike with road bike gears (maybe a 39-25 but I do not recall for sure). Now I would use a triple. The alpine climbs are brutal.

I never had a problem finding a room or food. I never had a reservation. I didn't have a course mapped out although my ultimate goal was Alpe D'Huez. I did buy good Michelin maps as I rode and plotted out each day the night before or that morning. I flew in and out of Paris, taking a train one way to Mannheim, Germany, to start and from Grenoble to Paris at the end. I probably covered 100 miles each day. When traveling, I used a cardboard box for my bike, throwing out the old one when I arrived in Mannheim and buying a new one in Paris to get home.

It was a great trip. Everyone I met was friendly and helpful. (I speak neither German nor French.) I would do it again if I could. Have fun.
Ireland HereGregory Taylor
Jan 14, 2004 2:50 PM
I did ten days unsupported, totally solo, a couple of years ago. It was a piece of cake. I packed my crap in two panniers, rode a mountain bike set up with skinny road tires, and stayed in local B&B's the entire time. The Irish Tourist Board makes it easy to do this: each decent sized town or village has a tourist board, where for two irish punts you can get an advance reservation at your destination for the day. Barring that, I would just walk up to any house emblazoned with the Bord Failte (Tourist Board) Shamrock and ask for a room.

I transported my bike in a hardshell case, which I left with a bike shop/tour company near Shannon airport. My only other luggage were my two panniers, which I carried on the airplane

As for clothes, I traveled pretty light. I was in my bike duds for most of the day, so you can make do with a couple of shirts and a pair of pants. I packed everything in zip-loc plastic bags, and it stayed dry despite numerous deluges. Mountain bike shoes are passable street shoes. Ireland required good rain gear.

You have to carry a decent set of tools and spares. On my trip, I broke a drive-side spoke in my rear wheel, but had it handled with a chain whip, cassette tool, spoke wrench, and a spare spoke. Take a decent spoke wrench -- those things on the end of multi-tools are almost worthless. Park makes a decent three-sided tool that is one of my favorites. A chain tool also came in handy -- the rear derailleur shed its jockey wheels (a long story -- it involves the airline losing my bike and my having to rent a crappy bike for a few days), and I was forced to make my steed into a single speed for a day, until I could get to a shop.

Ireland was wonderful -- the scenery was amazing, the roads smooth, the people were friendly, and the beer was terrific.
considering the same thing in thailand myselfFrith
Jan 14, 2004 2:54 PM
I have my eye on a sport tourer. The Marinoni Ciclo to be specific. With that I figure I could get away with some pretty modest loads and still have a nice fast century etc. bike. Carrying the bare essentials appeals to me and going hotel to hotel will be the main role for this bike... but i think with some slight modifications (marinoni will do custom geometry for cheap) i can stretch it out to do some *VERY* light camping tours too. I've been hiking using ultra-light techniques for a while now, and at this point i can go four days with a 15lb pack... I figure I can transfer most of these techniques over to cycle-touring.
I'm resisting the temptation to buy a full blown tourer because a)I want to use it as a fast commuter/winter bike/century bike too and b)I don't need an excuse to carry more weight than I need.
I know this doesn't really answer your question but it's so rare that people who are interested in touring want to go lightweight that I thought I'd add a few of my ideas.
If you want to know anything about ultralight camping equipment let me know.
Great responses so fargtx
Jan 14, 2004 3:28 PM
Great responses. On credit cards, I've always used 'em in Italy with no problems. I was thinking of a Paris to northern Italy route. I've always used cardboard boxes myself, too, but the last time it took me a while to find one in Italy to get the bike back to the US. Riding in Ireland makes me think of that Monty Python skit with the bike tourist being hit in the hedgerows. Left side in general scares me. And for Thailand I've traveled through Vietnam and that country would be GREAT to go through on bike--cause that's what everyone else uses. I'm waiting for them to come up with a anti-malaria drug that doesn't have such nasty side effects before I go back, though. Right now in terms of bike I'm thinking of getting someone like Teesdale to build a poor-man's IF Club Racer/winter bike or maybe just a Surly Cross Check. Light paniers would be cool. I refuse to pitch a tent, though.
"Mr. Pither's Bicycle Tour Of East Cornwall"Gregory Taylor
Jan 14, 2004 5:57 PM
...or something like that, wasn't it?

Riding on the left wasn't that difficult. It only seemed weird at roundabouts. The other big menace was sheep crap. There are far more sheep than Irishmen in rural western Ireland, and the sheep aren't nearly as tidy. Ireland is also good if you want to see antiquities. I went through one village where the "new" church was built in the 18th century, and there are plenty of ancient Celtic/early Christian ruins to explore. Way cool.
"day 6...fell off bike again..." (nm)Dave_Stohler
Jan 14, 2004 6:57 PM
do itMJ
Jan 15, 2004 1:35 AM
check this link out -

I've toured all over Germany, France, Netherlands and of course the UK - it's almost always been credit card touring - in my experience everyone takes credit cards so no problems there

I use two medium Jannd panniers - after all you don't need much - do make sure that you can eat in a restaraunt without embarassment i.e. at least one pair of long trousers for the evening

I've toured on my cross bike and my mtb. both have rack mounts for panniers - and I always bring a Camelback large enough to have all my valuables, a rain jacket, food, tools, etc.

I always go as light as possible - from up to a week to over a weekend - have been solo and with a few friends - I'm in the UK so I usually take a ferry to Europe and a train inside the UK

there are a number of maps, tours and advice at the website above - maybe it'll give you some inspiration - it looks like you have the right kind of approach - don't know how you're fixed for funds - but the dollar is extremely weak at the moment and you'll suffer if it doesn't improve - having said that when you cycle tour you usually end up in out of the way places which are cheaper than the tourist trail

don't worry about language - you'll be fine whether the locals speak English or not

if you need a storage place in the UK - I live in north London and have plenty of room

let me know if you need further help
do itbrad nicholson
Jan 15, 2004 1:40 AM
if you are in germany and need another to ride with let me know. i usually tour with my cross bike as well.
may be over in the summerMJ
Jan 15, 2004 5:33 AM
for some rides north of Bremen maybe along the coast - if the trip works out I'll drop you a line