Dragging a folding bike across France and beyond? - CycleBlaze

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Dragging a folding bike across France and beyond?

Robert Ewing

Here’s the set up to my question about traveling to Europe with my Dahon folding bike. I arrive in Paris from Portland, OR in mid-June and meet my wife, MJ, and my son, and his sweetheart.  We are there to see the quarterfinals of the Women’s World Cup Futbol championship, plus a few days of sightseeing. Presumably, everyone including me will get city bike-shares to get around as needed. Then we board a high-speed train to Lyon for the semifinals and the final matches. Between matches, we are renting bikes for a 70 KM day ride being planned by the children. And again probably renting city bike to get around town in Lyon between matches. All the while toting my folder in its wheeled hard shell case across France.

After the finals MJ and I are on our own. And she wants to take five+ day, let’s say, credit card type bike tour. Thinking of the Loir Valley, but a ride along the Mediterranean is also being considered. I would expect to be riding my folder for this portion.  After this ride MJ flies home to Portland and I am left in France alone.

My plan is to take a train to Irun Spain, on the French/Spain frontier, and ride the pilgrims‘ route along the Comino del Norte to Santiago de Compostela and then continue riding south along the pilgrims’ route to Fatima, Portugal and fly back to the US from Lisbon. 

So here are the questions. I plan to ditch my hard-shell suitcase wherever MJ and I start touring. So what are the rule for bringing a folder on French trains? Does it need to by covered by a soft bag of some sort or can it just be folded up and carried aboard? When I get to Lisbon should I get it box up or would a soft case be alright for flying home? 

All are welcome to weigh in, but I am particularly hoping the Andersons and the Grampies with their extensive folder experiences in Europe will offer their advice. A note the Dahon has all internal gearing, so not too fragile.

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1 month ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Robert Ewing

I'm dying of the heat just thinking about cycling in those regions at that time of year, but that's me.

I'm assuming you won't have a direct flight from Lisbon to Portland, so your baggage will be handled multiple times.  In my opinion, the more flight changes, the more risk that something might be damaged or go astray.

You might want to consider mailing your case from wherever you start riding to Lisbon.  If you've booked a hotel for your last night, they might be willing to receive and store it until you arrive.

As for taking a folding bike on a train, I know nothing.

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1 month ago
Joel EmoTo Robert Ewing

Hi Robert, I may see you in Lyon as I have tickets to all games there along with Australia’s group games. From my research and talking to locals on the French train website sncf, you can put in when searching for trains if you can carry bicycles either fully assembled bicycles or folded bicycles. I assume you will find more trains if you select folded bicycle. Some trains you don’t need to fold them at all, usually the non-fast ones. Some lines on the fast TGV services allow non-folded bicycles but not around the Lyon area. Bordeaux and Toulouse direction from Paris are generally fine if you book. 

Have no experience with folding bikes but check the sncf website. How do you know which quarter final to attend?

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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Robert Ewing

Hi, Robert.  Sounds like a great adventure!  

I don’t think you’ll have any issues with your folder in France.  We took ours on the train from Menton to Antibes just last fall because we wanted to avoid some rain.  There was nothing to it, and on this particular train (a TER, the regional lines) it didn’t matter that they were folders -  we just wheeled them on.  As long as you’re on a train that accommodates bikes it’s very simple.  Here’s the SNCF page describing their current policy of bikes, in English.  It’s much more cycle-friendly than I remember it being in years past.

From my experience anyway, I wouldn’t ditch your hard-shell case.  I’d find a hotel in Lisbon or wherever your end destination is and ship it forward.  We’ve done this a number of times now and have never had any problem finding a hotel willing to accept and hold our suitcases until we arrived as long as we obtained an agreement at the time we made a booking.  We just use Booking as a resource to look for hotels with baggage storage available, and start sending inquiries until we find a taker.

As far as shipping it forward, I recommend starting from a place with a UPS Mail Boxes etc store.  If you can find one, they make it very simple.  We just wheeled our cases in the door, and they took them like that and shipped them to our hotel at a reasonable price.  I was amazed.

Hey, are you still based in Portland?  We should grab a cup together when we’re in both in town and catch up one of these months.

Aloha,

Scott

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1 month ago
Robert EwingTo Jacquie Gaudet

Yes the heat will have to be dealt with. If the TDF riders and the World Cup players can take it, there's a chance I can also but that is France. As for Spain my plans are to ride the Camino del Norte along the Bay of Biscay coast. The info I've read says the climate is similar to England and recommend July and August for the best weather. If I continue on to Fatima and Lisbon, the Camino is also along the coast but I suspect it will get warmer the further south one rides.

Thanks for you comments.

Robert

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3 weeks ago
Robert EwingTo Joel Emo

Hi Joel, we'll be sitting in the NW corner of the Olympic Stadium in Lyon for the semi and final games. See you there. I'll let you know where we are staying when we get to Lyon. It would be fun to meet. I have to say the Matildas are looking pretty strong.  I pick Australia, France, Germany and of course the US making it to the semis. Brazil, Canada or England might upset any of the front runners. 

Back to bicycles, going over the details MJ will only have four days in France after the final game so we will be doing some short touring in and around Lyon so my folder will not be on a train out of its case until until I reach the Spanish frontier.  My son already bought our high speed train tickets from Paris to Lyon. The bike will be in its suitcase. 

A tout a l'heure

Robert

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3 weeks ago
Robert EwingTo Scott Anderson

Thanks Scott for the info. It makes it all sound doable.

I would love to  sit down over a cup some day, sooner than later if your are available. I'm downtown PDX most Wednesday mornings and free after 10:30 or so. Another day and time works too.

Aloha nui loa,

Robert

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3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Robert Ewing

Sounds good.  I’ll make a note on the calendar.  When will you be in Europe?

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3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Robert Ewing

Sounds good.  I’ll make a note on the calendar.  When will you be in Europe?

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3 weeks ago
Robert EwingTo Scott Anderson

Scott, we arrive in Paris on 27th of June. Leave for Lyon on the 2nd of July with the WWC finals on the 7th. MJ has a flight back to PDX on the 13th from Paris. Still working on the time between the final game and her flight. Sometime after she leaves I'll be on a train hopefully with my bike headed to the Spanish frontier probably Irun and start the Camino del Norte.  I'm thinking 16 days to Santiago but I tend to wander off the beaten trek a bit in my old age. After that I'll take stock and make a decision whether to keep riding or head home. (Never been to Ireland.)

Robert

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3 weeks ago