Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Berlin to Copenhagen by bike.

There's a bike path running from the north of Europe all the way to the south. Well, it's not completely finished yet, but it goes most of the way. It's part of the EuroVelo project, which aims to have a high quality cycling network made of 15 routes all around Europe completed by 2020.

All my clothes and possessions for a seven day trip from Berlin to Copenhagen. I was just going to tie a sack under my seat... but was convinced that perhaps these special bags are a good idea after all.
One part that's done well is the Berlin to Copenhagen leg(I guess not so surprising since they are two cities that are really into supporting bikes).
Scroll down on these photos someone took, if you want a look.
http://www.slowtravelberlin.com/in-photos-berlin-copenhagen-cycle-route/

Except, I'm going to do it at the end of April, not in winter like them. Which is usually the most dry time of year, and with a temperature that's not so hot or cold(usually). Fingers crossed it will be dry and warm. It will probably take 7 days if I can ride fast enough each day (about 100km). Eeek. And this part of the route (like many other parts) has a really nice website http://www.bike-berlin-copenhagen.com/route/brandenburg-stage
Going to go very minimal, and take my fast(ish) road bike. With just three sets of clothes(including the ones I'll be wearing), a netbook, and a toothbrush. It probably would be nice to have a tent, but I'll pass. Instead I'll sleep in the forest. If it rains, I'll just get wet.

Just kidding (or am I?). I'll probably cheat and stay in a hotel some nights rather than sleep in forest. I chose the laptop over the tent, because it's nice to be able to sit by a river in a field with no one around and write some nonsense.

A tiny paper notebook and pencils for drawing will also make it into my bike-pack.

Already I've started training a bit, since I didn't ride my bike for much of the winter. The first 6 hour test ride I did left me sore and tired. But that was going from almost zero riding over the last four months and straight into that. Not the smartest idea to go from nothing into such a long ride... but very enjoyable none the less.

Learning from long practice rides around Berlin. Sitting by a lake.
So what have I learnt so far?
  • Padded pants are a good idea.
  • Water is important.
  • Sunscreen is important even on cloudy days.
  • I am not fit.
  • Riding around is one of life's pleasures.
My next long practice ride is going to be with all of my gear on the bike. I expect to learn more. For example, I'll time how far I can go and at what speed. And I also want to try riding in some heavy rain - to test if my bags are actually waterproof. But unfortunately the weather has been pretty nice recently.

Other than experiments I plan to do, I'm reading about what other people do on their long bike rides. And also talking with people. But it's always hard to learn lessons from others, and the best way to find out what is important to me is to do practice rides.

I think I should be able to ride five hours each day with breaks in between, and still get up to my 100km target. But unsure really. By then the days should be quite long, and the nights with a fair bit of light.
  • Berlin day length: 14:30
  • Copenhagen day light length: 15:30
Spring flowers such as 'Tommies' and 'Snow drops' are popping their heads out for spring. Looking forward to seeing all the different landscapes along the way.
With 14-15 sunlight hour days, there's lots of time for slow riding if wind is in my face, for detours, and for sits under trees drawing. By not using the side bags, and not carrying all that much weight I should be able to go a lot faster than other people I've talked to who have done the ride. Their bikes were pretty bad, and they carried a lot more weight than what I'm going to.

I don't really have a good solution for route planning. I have a route I'd like to go, but I can't really put it on google maps easily, so it's visible on an app. So that's another thing I need to find out about. Luckily I've done lots of map development before... but I hope there's not much coding to do such a simple task, that surely other people have done before.

Also, I'm a bit worried about riding in the rain. On average it rains 8 out of 30 days that time of year. So it's quite likely I'll see rain. Generally, I just don't ride my bike if it rains. But I'll have to I guess, because 'waiting it out' doesn't work if it's raining all day.

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