3 Summer Cycling Adventures
- By SwissRetreat
- 9th Mar 2012
If the recent spring heat wave has got you dreaming of summer then why not plan a European adventure by train and give your bike a holiday too?
It’s never been easier to travel by train with your bike in tow in Europe, with touring bikes lighter than ever and many trains boasting ample bike storage. The rise of Boris Bikes and similar rental schemes near major train stations also means you don’t even need to take your bike with you to have an on or off-road adventure on the continent.
However you spin it the train and the bike were simply made to go together, like a nice cup of tea and a dunking biscuit. To celebrate this joyful union we’ve teamed up with SwissRetreat to bring you some top tips for taking your bike on the train, and a clutch of two-wheeled spring breaks in Europe to get your geared up for your next trip.
5 Top Tips for Travelling With Your Bike By Train
1. Always ask the train conductor which end of the platform the bike carriage or luggage compartment is, getting to the right end of the platform with your gear will make it less stressful for everyone!
2. A collapsible soft bike carry bag can help you travel on some trains for free as it will just be treated as another piece of luggage that you can take into the main carriage.
3.Take two bungee cords with simple hooks on the end, which are great for fixing a bike in place in a cycle rack, particularly when using mountain cog railways where the steep gradients can result in bikes falling out of position.
4.Take two locks – better to be safe then sorry. One long chain lock with a padlock and a smaller D lock should suffice.
5. Take a few pictures of your bike including any distinguishing features and note down the frame number (underneath the bike directly beneath the bottom bracket where the pedals go round) since you’ll need this if it gets stolen.
For more detailed information about taking your bicycle on European trains, and particularly on Eurostar, check out the Loco2 Engine Room to read other people’s tips, or submit your own.
Italy – The Home of the Bicycle
Italy has a rich heritage in cycling and many of the worlds most famous and beautiful bicycles are made in Northern Italy. Every cycling fan should add a cycling pilgrimage in Northern Italy to their “to do” list.
The Dolomites mountain range is stunning and each year sees a cycling festival spring up around the Maratona dles Dolomites, voted the 3rd favourite international cycling event by readers of Cycling Weekly. If a road race isn’t your scene there are plenty of other tracks, climbs and winding descents to explore throughout spring and summer.
Catching a train to Bruneck-Brunico leaves you just a short ride from the charming town of Corvara in the South Tyrol. From your base in Corvara several one or two day circuits can be ridden including challenging yourself on the Passo Giau and Passo Valparola that feature each year in the Maratona dles Dolomites.
Nearest train station: Bruneck-Brunico
The Pyrenees – Cycling and Cerveza
Cycling in the Pyrenees is a challenge but the rewards more than compensate for your aching limbs. The area is steeped in history when it comes to cycling, with many professional bike racers of the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España having pedalled these paths.
If you fancy following in their tracks a weekend cycling tour from Pau in France to Huesca in Spain could include the Col du Marie Blanque (14 appearances in the Tour de France) and the Col du Portalet on the border between France and Spain. If you time your trip properly you might even bump into some of the pros en route.
For those of us not chasing a yellow jersey, the area offers many hundreds of miles of excellent track to explore. Be prepared for steep climbs and extraordinary views. Don’t forget to reward yourself with a well-earned cold Spanish beer after a couple of challenging days in the saddle.
Nearest train stations: Pau in France | Huesca in Spain.
Switzerland – Land of Chocolate, Cheese and Wine
If the Dolomites and Pyrenees sound a bit much then Switzerland offers a gentler cycling experience.
Switzerland is famous for its holey Gruyère cheese and sumptuous chocolate but few people know that it’s a fantastic wine-growing region too. A cycling tour along the shores of Lake Geneva (known as Lac Léman locally) will take you through the stunning scenery of the UNESCO World Heritage Lavaux Vineyards and gives you ample opportunity to dismount and appreciate your surroundings.
The journey from Geneva to Montreux can be broken up over a long weekend with stays in the lakeside towns of Morges and Lausanne, allowing you to taste some wine en route!
Nearest train stations: Lausanne | Morges
To find out more about train travel in Switzerland, check out the Loco2 Engine Room forum.
Have you had a European train and bike adventure? Got any good tips? Share your bike travel tips and cycling adventures in the comments below:
Tom Eeles is Directeur Sportif at SwissRetreat Cycling Tours and is working with Loco2 to bring you some of the best cycle rides in Europe that can be combined with beautiful train rides. Make sure you don’t miss out on the next adventure on Twitter.