Preparations are going well. For the first time we have maps and guides for the whole route. No more spending hours in tourist offices and bookshops looking for decent scale maps. No more following the sun in the vague hope that any road south will lead to journey’s end. No more arguments on which road to take and whose fault it is that we are lost. (fat chance!) However with all these guides comes a plethora of information on places that must be visited and historical artefacts that just have to be seen, although, if we exclude churches, chateaux, and any climb over 10% for a view, I think we’ll manage to keep to our 75 to 100kms a day target. Just in case, I’ll do a Google search for bicycle blinkers and continue my lifetime obsession with culture avoidance.
The net is providing a wealth of information on this route. Looks like it’s quite a popular ride. Accommodation does not seem to be a problem until we get to Romania but we’re still discussing the option of leaving the Danube and venturing into the Carpathian Mountains so it could be back to basics and seeing what’s available when we start to get tired at the end of the day. Getting back home might also be a problem but worst case scenario is another two months of cycling!
We’ve only slightly modified our kit. We’re leaving behind the sub-zero clothes and I’ve bought new shorts after it became apparent that my old pair had become almost see through when stretched. (embarrassing and not pretty). We have also bought a couple of Ortlieb handlebar bags with map cases on top. There might now be a tad too much information on the handlebars with GPS, mini cycle computers maps and guides. It’s a good job we don’t have mirrors. Various undergarments designed to hold up and squash wobbly bits and to cushion dangly bits complete the purchases. The usual highly efficient service was received from Wiggle and Chainreaction.
The bikes were desperately in need of service so we entrusted them to our local village cycle shop, not that you would recognise it as a cycle shop. Outside is an array of ladders, seed potatoes, dog food, various agricultural implements and two fuel pumps. Inside is everything you would need to survive a nuclear attack (and probably enough bits to build a missile for a counter attack). Tucked away to one side is the bike shop stocked with the kit of your dreams. I love rural France. After a lecture on changing the chain every 4000kms and a lot of laughter, our bikes were returned and are now performing better than new. Just the legs to get back in shape……..