Every year since 2004 I have undertaken a short European tour. Here you will find details of the routes, the hotels and restaurants which have I used.
What started as a one off to mark my fortieth, has turned into an annual event. Away from work and family, on my own, it is my idea of a retreat. I ride between four and six days, never staying away for more than a week but I feel a huge benefit from it. There is the absorption in the physical effort and the accomplishment of finishing some great rides.
With the exception of Tuscany, Corsica and Crete, I have visited places I would be unlikely to go with my family, so it's been a chance to see new areas. I stay in reasonable hotels and eat in good restaurants when I can. It's the combination of the riding, the food, and interesting places to stay which produces the quality of the tour.
The tour also provides a focus for months of planning over the winter - choosing the area, picking out a route, finding hotels. I've found Trentobike.org very helpful in undertaking the research and felt I should reciprocate with my own accounts of the journeys I've undertaken. Invariably, despite the research, there is something to be learnt from the experience which would make it better. In part I have put these pages together for my own benefit, recording my own memories, but those who may be tempted to go to some of the areas I have been I hope will find my descriptions helpful.
I didn't put together accounts of the first four trips. Slovenia, in 2007, was particularly good.
2004 - Spain - Cartagena to Malaga via Alpujarras
2005 - Southern Czech Republic
2006 - Switzerland - Rhone Valley
2007 - Slovenia
2008 - Alpes Maritimes
2009 - Dolomites
2010 - Tuscany
2011 - Norway - Jotunheim Mountains
2012 - Austria
2013 - Pyrenees
2014 - Alps
2015 - Corsica
2016 - Picos de Europa
2017 - Italian Lakes
2018 - Alps
2019 - Western Crete
2020 - North Wales
2021 - Scottish Highlands
My tours of the Dolomites and Tuscany can be found at http://myeurocyletours.webs.com/
I bought an audax or light touring bike in 2004 for my fortieth birthday. It's been perfect for the type of touring I do. The bike has a 631 Reynolds steel frame made by Bob Jackson in Leeds. I have a triple ring and a nine gear 11-34 cassette - I can pretty well climb up anything with that set up.
I have a rack attached and use two panniers for my tours. I stay in hotels but don't particularly travel that light. I use Ortlieb panniers.
Since 2008, I have tracked my trips using a Garmin . The device made such a difference to me, no longer needing to check my map at regular intervals. It's particularly useful for getting in and out of towns and finding hotels. I now have the Garmin Edge 520 plus, which also enables me to link to Strava..
One other useful tip is to have decent lights in the mountains. Whilst I don't ride after dark on holiday, there are times I've needed to go through unlit tunnels. It can be very scary without proper lighting. I've currently got a Ravemen 1200, which also works as a portable charger