Trying a new bike touring mode - France and the Low Countries - CycleBlaze

September 16, 2022

Trying a new bike touring mode

Our bicycle touring experience before this tour has all been in the U.S. and mostly self-contained. We usually load up the camping gear on our recumbent bikes and churn out 40-60 miles a day. This trip, our first European bike tour, will be an entirely different mode. We're looking for shorter miles, less gear and more time and energy for sightseeing.

When my husband Barry and I started talking about riding through France, I read a blog about the utility of folding bikes in Europe. If you can fold it up and put it in a bag, you can take it on any train, and the trains go everywhere.

Taking the folders out for a shakedown ride from Sedalia Missouri
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We won't be doing any camping this trip. Camping is great fun at the hiker- biker campsites on the Pacific Coast and the like, but it doesn't feel worth the trouble and weight this time.

We have many ambitions to see the sights and the countryside in the Netherlands, Belgium and France over the next month. From Amsterdam we'll ride south to Rotterdam, hop a train to Bruges, then Paris and more destinations south to Provence. Most riding days will be 20 to 30 miles, topping out around 50. Being able to ride from the train stations to our destinations and around the cities and towns seems like an efficient way to travel.

Our rides are Bike Fridays that we found on eBay - the New World Tourist model. They have decent mounts for gear and the 3 x 9 drive train is good enough to pull my grandson in the trailer up and down the hills in the neighborhood.

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Rachael AndersonGreat photo! What a cute kid.
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3 months ago
Janice BranhamTo Rachael AndersonThanks! He will not sit in a stroller but is always up for a ride.
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3 months ago


Most of said gear is going into the ingenious pannier-backpacks invented by Richard Jones. They convert from a one-piece set of panniers to a backpack, leaving your hands free to muscle the bagged bike on and off the train. My pack weighs about 22 pounds loaded. They're extremely well made with beefy zippers, comfortable to carry in backpack mode, and the green one looks cute on my bike, dontcha think?

My bike posing in front of Kim's Cabins in Windsor MO, a great stay on our Katy Trail shakedown ride.
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Rachael AndersonThose bags look great on your bike and how great to have them convert to a backpack.
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3 months ago
Rich FrasierYes, that's a great idea. I'm going to look into this!
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3 months ago
Janice BranhamTo Rich FrasierGood luck Rich. I think the company was sold recently. The website where I bought them, pannierbackpacks.com, has not been up for awhile. Hopefully its just a transition.
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3 months ago


Every good tour starts with a shakedown ride or two. We did an overnight with all the stuff we're taking on a beautiful section of Missouri's Katy trail, riding through the forest and the tallgrass prairie from Sedalia to Windsor and back. It was just 21 miles each way but should be sufficient since most of our rides in Europe will be 20-30 miles.

We came back with a long punch list of minor things plus some issues to fix on my bike. I took it to the Bike Center in Des Peres, one of our favorite local shops, and they did a tuneup in a jiffy. The shifting is smoother than ever now and the brakes are solid.

Scott Parrent and the great crew at the Bike Center had our backs getting ready for the trip.
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Barry had a big problem with chafing on a new saddle so he went to Big Shark, another favorite LBS, for a different saddle and stocked up on chamois lube. We did one last shakedown to the Bike Center for a headlight and so far the new seat is kinder behind. Here's hoping it works for him. He'd really rather be on his recumbent with the big cushy seat.

Bike thievery is my biggest worry on this trip after reading about the problem in Europe, especially Amsterdam. We bought Abus U-locks (the Granit X-Plus 540 D-Lock) to secure the frames and rear wheels and are bringing cable locks for the front wheels. We also got Tile GPS tracking devices that can help you locate a bike if it's taken. But it sounds like the wisest course is to not leave the bikes unattended for any length of time, especially in the hot spots.

It feels like we're making a lot of bets for this journey, but it always seems so when we try something new.

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Rachael AndersonHow great it is to have you join CycleBlaze. I look forward to to reading the rest of the journal! I hope we meet again someday and have more time to visit! I forget when you will be in Tucson but we are there the whole month of January.
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3 months ago
Rich FrasierI'd like to add my welcome to CycleBlaze. It's always great to have new journals to read, especially as winter is approaching. I look forward to following your journal!
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3 months ago
Janice BranhamTo Rich FrasierThanks Rich. Good motivation for getting busy on the next entry.
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3 months ago
Janice BranhamTo Rachael AndersonI'd love to meet up with you two for a ride in Tucson. We are scheduled to arrive Feb. 1 but maybe we could figure out a way to overlap.
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3 months ago