Bordeaux (& some Gironde) Information Sheet ~ FRINF8
This sheet has now been updated to a large extent and all the links work. Some feedback from people who have ridden in the area recently would be helpful. http://www.ctc-maps.org.uk/routes/route/1336
Rome’s Cycling Centres: the Ciclofficina Popolari di Roma
Since my first Critical Mass in 2007 I have been hooked on cycling and living in Rome, where the traffic is deafening and deadly and I was led to frequent Ciclofficina Ex-Snia, a local cycling centre. This helped to keep me on the road as I had an old 1970’s Graziella which needed constant TLC and to maintain my commitment to use the bike whenever possible. Since then I have built my own bike and now help others to fix theirs at a newly opened centre called Ciclofficina Spartaco.
There are over 6 Ciclofficina in this city and each one forms a hub for local cyclists. It’s a place where we get together, chat and build bikes. There is no cost to do this, as these centres are usually set up in unoccupied buildings; however donations and fundraising is needed to pay for utility bills. In one particular case the Ciclofficina Centrale as it’s known requires users to become members at a cost of 5 euros per year if they want to use the premise regularly. It’s not unusual though that a cyclist would only need to fix a bent wheel, in which case no membership is required. Of course you need to know where your local centre is in order to make use of its facilities, but as the cycling scene here in Rome is still in its infancy, it means that only those few who risk their lives to cycle on the open road generally know where their nearest one is anyway.
We do a lot to promote the use of the bike to others and to change people’s opinion of cycling as being a hobby or a Sunday thing. I view it as part of my lifestyle now and don’t know how I’d manage without my bike. Actually recenty I had it stolen and found myself having to rely on public transport which is slow and prone to cancellation, not to mention the almost daily sit-ins and marches this city experiences. Amongst the reasons for using the bike comes the desire for improved living conditions. To demonstrate this we stick a cut out with the words NO-Oil under our saddles and wear it as if it were the license plate of a car. It’s a subtle jab at motorists facing an impending oil shortage, whilst promoting a cleaner life style, i.e. one that doesn’t rely on oil. It’s another movement that unites us.
The combination of these centres and movements affects the culture of cycling here and makes our community one of the happiest and most positive to be part of. I hope that my synopsis of what’s happening here will encourage the reader to cycle more in their own city, whilst also providing a model on which one can open something of a similar nature elsewhere. For example in France there are Ciclofficina, so why not in Great Britain?
the Red Bicycle (Glenn Newland)
Also worth checking out
HI-VIZ IN ITALY
A.M. advises: as of today the italian equivalent of the Highway Code has been changed, with new requirements for cyclists to wear high-viz Sam Browne belts at night-time (outside centres of population) or in tunnels – at any time. The Italian text is downloadable from http://www.governo.it/GovernoInforma/Dossier/ddl_sicurezza_stradale/codice_strada_29072010.pdf – go to page 79, but the important paragraph is:
Dopo il comma 9 dell’articolo 182 del decreto legislativo n. 285del 1992 e’ inserito il seguente:
«9-bis. Il conducente di velocipede che circola fuori dai centri abitati da mezz’ora dopo il tramonto del sole a mezz’ora prima del suo sorgere e il conducente di velocipede che circola nelle gallerie hanno l’obbligo di indossare il giubbotto o le bretelle retroriflettenti ad alta visibilita’, di cui al comma 4-ter dell’articolo 162».
This requires cyclists to wear either a ‘retroreflective’ gilet or Sam Browne belt, if they are riding outside a centre of population between the following times:
– half an hour after sunset;
– half an hour before dawn.
Belts or gilets must be worn at all times in tunnels.
There’s no mention of an EU standard, so far as I can tell, but I could be wrong
Fines of between 23 and 92 euros.
(I’m not sure what the reference to Article 162 is about).
CHECKING OUT IRELAND’S OFFICIAL CYCLING ROUTES
Does anyone want an independent assessment of Ireland’s Official Cycling Routes? If they do read on. My name is John Walshe and I have decided to cycle them all. According to the Failte Ireland website we have about 79 cycling routes in the Republic of Ireland which came as news to me when I happened upon that claim earlier on this year (2010). Since then I have been cycling them one by one and I have uploaded my report on each route onto my web page. Some of them are o.k. but most of them are dreadful. I intend to assess each and every one of them. I am cycling them solely from the viewpoint of a touring cyclist i.e. the kind of person who uses his holidays to cycle bringing with him all his luggage, tent etc. on the bike. As I cycle these routes I also bring along with me a theoretical nine years old daughter and an equally theoretical 10 years old son. This is the standard test that is used internationally. Would you let your two kids cycle this route? If the answer is ‘yes’ then the route qualifies all things considered. If the answer is ‘no it’s too dangerous’ then the route does not qualify. It’s as simple as that. Of course scenery has to be factored in and the degree of difficulty.
So that is what I am doing and I want people to know about it because it’s important. Why should people either natives or foreigners have to cycle some incredibly dangerous or incredibly ugly cycle route? These routes are being heavily promoted by various authorities all over the country and I am not happy about that because most of the routes as I have already said are dreadful from the perspective of a normal touring cyclist who values his life and the lives of his loved ones and is not happy been hoodwinked into cycling some route which is extremely dangerous, obscenely ugly (ribbon development ad nauseum) or impossible to follow as half the signs have been twisted and most of the other half have been stolen. I do not know how long it will take but whatever length it takes it will take.
In addition I have uploaded onto my site accounts of various adventures I have had abroad cycle touring and of course I am also trying to sell a book on cycling or walking ‘The Kerry Way’ but for most people the assessment of Ireland’s cycling routes is the most relevant part of the site. So check it out! http://www.travellogireland.com/
LONDON TO PARIS BY BIKE
This route, popular with charity ride organisers particularly, is an excellent way of escaping for a long weekend or a mid-week break, giving you the chance to enjoy (and compare) cycling through two culturally different countries.
Depending to some extent on the way you choose to go, the ride to Paris should take you between two and three days. It’s roughly 60 miles from the centre of London to Newhaven, and 105 miles from Dieppe to the centre of Paris. The route described in the article below quotes 250 miles and four to seven days, so their route must go round the houses a bit.
We highly recommend using the Newhaven ~ Dieppe ferry to cross the Channel. If you go via the Dover ~ Calais ferry, you’ll ad a lot more miles: about 76 of them between London and Dover and a whopping 170 between Calais and Paris. This might suit those who want a bit more of a challenge – there’s three good day’s cycling here and don’t be fobbed off by people saying that the Pas de Calais region is boring because it isn’t all bad by any means.
A recent article (which prompted this information sheet) describes the route via Dieppe and explains the principal benefit of this route which is that a significant proportion of it is on cycle tracks. Here’s the link to the article in question: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-11447348 And here is the route on www.gps-routes.co.uk ~ http://www.gps-routes.co.uk/routes/home.nsf/RoutesLinks/499?OpenDocument
The article isn’t particularly kind about the National Cycle Network (NCN) tracks in England and, unless you’re hell-bent on following cycle tracks, I would recommend using one of the CTC routes which use the best lanes and is more direct. However the voie verte between Dieppe and Forges les Eaux is silky smooth and takes you in absolutely the right direction.
Here are a few links to relevant CTC routes:
E17 ~ London to Brighton / Newhaven http://www.ctc-maps.org.uk/routes/route/344/summary
EU23 ~ London to Paris (several routes via Dieppe & Le Havre) http://www.ctc-maps.org.uk/routes/route/464/summary
FR4 ~ Dieppe to Paris http://www.ctc-maps.org.uk/routes/route/485
FR11 ~ Le Havre to Paris http://www.ctc-maps.org.uk/routes/route/488
Jumieges (nr Le Havre) to Paris via Chartres http://www.ctc-maps.org.uk/routes/route/754/summary (GPX track)
London to Paris http://www.ctc-maps.org.uk/routes/route/1072 (GPX track)
Other Useful CTC Information
FR1 ~ CTC’s ‘country information sheet’ for France
INF36 ~ CTC’s information sheet on planning routes and finding route information.
Getting back to the UK
CTC have information sheets covering this topic.
FRINF1 ~ Taking Cycles on French Railways
INF19 ~ Transporting a Cycle to Continental Europe
INF20 ~ Channel Tunnel Services
NEW ‘VOIE VERTE’ ROUTE IN N.E. FRANCE (ARDENNES)
This is not a particularly popular area, inasmuch as it’s not a ‘hot and sunny’ destination, nor is it quite close enough to the UK to be an easy short visit. It should be more popular than it is because it ticks a lot of boxes in terms of historic and scenic interest. You can get out there by following this route: http://www.ctc-maps.org.uk/routes/route/558/summary. For information on the voie verte and plenty more besides, visit http://www.voiesvertes.com/htm/departement08_GB.htm
SPAIN ~ PILGRIM’S ROUTE
Here’s a link to the Michelin Travel website, and useful information for anyone contemplating doing the Pilgrims’ Route or Camino or Way of St James, whatever you like to call it. http://www.web-landing.com/viamichelin_caminodesantiago/index_uk.html
Here’s a good article about a tour in Iceland. http://news.guelphmercury.com/Life/Travel/article/668871 Remember CTC has some good info about touring Iceland too, written by our Iceland expert, Dick Philips.
BORDEAUX TO TOULOUSE
A new guide to the Canal de Garonne which runs between these two cities is available. It’s in French and the details are below. Before giving up because it’s all in French, maps are maps so it doesn’t matter if they’re in a French guidebook. And addresses are, well…, addresses and very useful too.
Un guide pratique de l’Association Vélo… écrit par J.Savary
et M.Nilly avec les informations utiles pour réussir votre randonnée:
• description de l’itinéraire et des accès aux sites et villes proches;
• conseils techniques, sources d’information, choix des étapes,
trains acceptant les vélos…
• principaux sites à visiter sur l’itinéraire et à proximité;
• points d’eau et toilettes
• 274 hébergements décrits: hôtels, chambres d’hôtes, campings,
gîtes d’étape et de groupe, auberges de jeunesse…
• informations mises à jour sur le site Internet de l’association Vélo:
http://toulousevelo.free.fr (rubrique Guides de Balades)
Bordeaux-Toulouse à vélo
en Gironde et le long du canal de Garonne
Guide nº2– 6e édition – 2010
80 km de Bordeaux au canal par l’Entre-Deux-Mers ou par la rive gauche
et193 km de voie verte du canal de Garonne
Vendu sur le site:
MONT VENTOUX – JUST CLIMB IT!
A week long tour to the Mont Ventoux region has just been added to CTC Maps (Ref FR84). Find it here . http://www.ctc-maps.org.uk/routes/route/2094
CHEAP FRENCH MAPS
Whilst working on the above new route, the following website was unearthed offering incredibly cheap Michelin Local Maps. http://www.mapsman.com/store/category.php?id=22
This virtual magazine contains much useful stuff for anyone planning a trip to Denmark
TOUR OPERATOR ~ Go touring in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania! Go http://www.bicycle.lt/lt
UK to the Lofoten Islands ~ New CTC Route Sheet
A new information sheet went up today about a trip from sunny Hertfordshire to the Lofoten Islands. Member Robert Turner cycled to Harwich and took a ferry to Denmark, then through Jutland to catch another ferry to Oslo in Norway. He then rode all the way up and beyond the Arctic Circle to spend some time in the Lofoten Islands. Go to http://www.ctc-maps.org.uk/routes/route/1893/map. You’ll need to log in to download Robert’s journal.