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The Cycle Route Downloads

The route files are in .zip format. The folder needs to be unzipped and saved to a directory of your choice. You can then load individual files into the appropriate applications and GPS.

Download for all the routes in .GPX formats

The Bikes

For this trip we are both riding Airnimal Chameleons Both have been modified and neither modifications should be copied unless you know what you are doing.

The stokerís bike has a Bafang electric motor fitted in the bottom bracket. It is matched with a 10amp/370Wh battery. We have extensively tested the battery and it is good for at least 60km/900m of climb on one charge.

The management's bike has a Rohloff 14 speed gear hub giving a very low bottom gear of around 20 inch wheel and a top gear of around 100 inch wheel.

The personal parts, i.e. saddle and pedals, are inter changeable so that we can each easily ride the otherís bike if necessary.

Both bikes have been fitted with robust attachments to the carriers to make them easy to roll along when folded.

Folded and in their covers the bikes each measure 100cm by 70cm by 37cm. This is just small enough to allow them to be carried as hand baggage on all trains that we have ever come across except, surprise surprise, Eurostar. It takes five minutes to fold each bike. The modifications mean the folded package is slightly bigger than the standard Airnimal first fold.

Navigation by Bike

This gets easier each year, the most difficult bit is deciding where to go. And, more importantly, that the roads are bike friendly.

The management plans with a combination of websites but finishes up with Garmin Connect. He uses booking.com to establish that there are places to stay in the right locations.

The Garmin Connect .gpx routes are downloaded onto his Garmin Edge 1030, and the stokerís much older Garmin Edge device as backup. The management also downloads the .gpx files onto his Android smart phone and our Microsoft Surface Pro tablet.

If the Garmin 1030 fails on the road we can navigate with the stokerís Edge, if that fails we can use the phone. We can check the route during the day on the Surface Pro if we need to. The route can be changed or redone easily on the Surface Pro. We use Garmin MapSource loaded with OpenStreet free maps if we are off line. And when there is no signal it can be sent to the gps by old fashioned wire.

Trains and Boats and Hotels

The stoker organises the transport, usually via Seat 61, Deutsche Bahn (bahn.de), Captain Train (now changed to trainline.eu) and the operatorsí own websites. We buy tickets in advance for boats and trains which get the best price.

Some booking sites only work properly in their native language which is not difficult to do even if we donít understand the language.

Location location location is the key to a finding a hotel for a cycle tour. It can be a palace or a tip but it has to be in the right place. We usually try booking.com first. If we canít find anything we try airbnb.co.uk and other online sites. In some, usually larger, places we occasionally use hotel chains like Ibis. These days we always book in advance so that we can fix the days distance.

Stokerís Comments

The electric motor enables me to do a reasonable distance each day. I had a bad DVT 17 years ago and now have poor circulation in my left leg. I have limited movement of my left foot which makes starting more difficult and I canít pedal as hard as I used to. But then who can at our age?

I need to take anticoagulants for life. Until this year I was on warfarin but for medical reasons my GP changed this to rivaroxaban. The good side is that I no longer need to do regular blood tests so do not carry the monitor any more. The possible downside is that rivaroxaban has no antidote yet. It would be risky if I have an accident, especially just after taking the daily tablet which I do in the evening. We are always aware that we may need swift medical treatment and have our mobiles handy.

I could stay home and maybe reduce the risks but prefer a more interesting lifestyle.