Planning and prepping for our next European adventure - The Bartletts Bike the Baltics - CycleBlaze

April 9, 2019

Planning and prepping for our next European adventure

Well, it’s a new year and we are ready to hit the road again with our beloved, well travelled tandem-recumbent, Seavo.  

Since retiring in 2012, we have been able to continue fulfilling our dream of undertaking long distance cycling adventures for 3 months every year. This will be our 8th trip to Europe and we can’t wait to return and discover new regions and enjoy all it has to offer....food, bakeries,  beer, rich culture and history with great art and museums, great cycling and last but not least...welcoming and friendly locals who make travelling so special.

Our plan is to ride from Holland to Helsinki on the R1 route, roughly 4500 km. We will ride completely across Germany and Northern Poland, then wind our way through Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Once we are in Helsinki we will take a 30 hour ferry ride from Helsinki to a port city, Travemunde, near Hamburg, Germany.
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We are planning to take a take a different route than the R1 after we leave Gdansk. We are not going to ride through Kalinigrad, Russia as we want to cycle through more of Poland and the Mazurian lakes district, visit Vilnius in Lithuania and then return to the coast, touring the Coronian Spit and then continue north to Riga, Latvia and Tallinn, Estonia exploring the Baltic coast and the many islands.
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We have the luxury and good fortune of owning 2 recumbent tandems -Screamer and Seavo - both are made by Rans in Kansas. Seavo overwinters in Germany with friends and patiently waits for us to return so that we can share another European adventure, whereas Screamer, stays home in Canada and has the tough job of taking us riding in Canada in typically inclement weather. 

We have upgraded Seavo over the years to be more road worthy for tough miles while fully loaded with our gear and two people. First we upgraded with  better parts from Terracycle, replaced the derailleur system with the (amazing!!) Rohloff internal hub, chose better expedition tires (Schwalbe Mondial), added a Bafang e-motor and finally replaced the Avid BB7 brakes with Shimano 4 piston hydraulic brakes.   As Screamer is basically becoming a replacement for our car at home, we have taken the plunge of upgrading her as well....we feel like kids again when we head out on Screamer for a ride to Victoria or around Saltspring Island, as it is so much fun.  Who needs a car??

We had hoped to ride across Canada this year after riding in Europe, but we had to cancel that idea, as life is a bit too complicated at the moment for us to be away for 6 months. We were going to take a family trip to Belleville Ontario by train with Mary Ellen's family (with Screamer in the baggage car), carry on to Europe from Germany and then fly back to Ontario 3 months later and ride Screamer back across the country to our home in BC.  It has been a year of ups and downs, with unexpected challenges. As a result we have made plans, then changed them...purchased tickets then cancelled them...and finally, about 4 weeks ago, we started from scratch and bought our plane tickets to Germany for mid April with the current plan for cycling through the Baltics as a firm plan. 

Max at Fairfield Bicycles in Victoria installed a new Rohloff internal hub and Shimano XT hydraulic brakes. Screamer is loving her new look. Even though we won't be riding across Canada, Screamer, and we, are nevertheless very happy with her new upgrades.
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Mike AylingThose Rohloffs are addictive, aren't they!

Mike
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7 months ago
Barry just turned 65. At last Barry can ride free ( Monday to Thursday) on the BC Ferries. Our tandem also travels for free, any day of the week, with our BC Ferries Experience card. If you are a resident or visitor, it is a good idea to get an Experience card at the ferry both as it gives you big discounts on ferry costs and ensures that your bike is "free" on any of the routes.
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Jacquie GaudetSadly, the Experience card gives no discount beyond eliminating the bike charge ($2.00) on the major routes between Greater Vancouver and Vancouver Island. Good for other routes, though.
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7 months ago
One of the joys of getting older, is a need for better footwear and orthotics. Barry and I visited Barbara and Marcus at Saltspring Footprints for help with their expertise in finding comfort for our feet. Barbara and Marcus are originally from the Muenster area of Germany and we enjoyed sharing memories, stories and tips about Germany.
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I think I am prepared - new orthotics in my cycling shoes and a pair of custom sandals with the orthotic built in. Lucky me.
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Thank you Barbara for your great work and your recommendations about where to eat in Munster. Hope you are able to hike again soon!
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Our German friends, Cora and Georg kindly took our Rans Seavo (the tandem that we keep in Germany) to a recumbent bike shop near Frankfurt. Seavo enjoyed the view from the trailer. Seavo is also getting an upgrade of a Shimano 4 piston hydraulic brake on the front and the usual replacement of the Mondial tires.
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Seavo waiting for some tender loving care at Mainvelo bike shop.
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We have tried to ride through the winter in order to stay in shape.
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We find that Saltspring Island is a beautiful island for cycling and living. However, some people find the hills challenging and the roads too narrow, often without a shoulder. At the north end of the island is our favourite ride, "the Sunset loop" which is essentially like a roller coaster winding through farmland and along the ocean. The North End Farm has a great farm stand, but an even better farm cat that loves to sit in the window on sunny days.
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Mary Ellen is explaining to the cat that we are going to be away cycling in Europe for three months. The cat promised Mary Ellen that he would be waiting for us when we return. People line up before the farm stand opens, so they can be first in line to buy the fresh bread and delicious cinnamon buns . Mary Ellen comes to visit the cat.
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Screamer posing with Barry in front of Mt. Baker. The beach is located in Sidney, BC.
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We often encounter this couple riding their Catrike tandem when we ride the Lochside bike route to Victoria. Like us they love the shared lifestyle of riding a tandem. Interestingly they were avid motorcyclists all of their lives and are recent converts to the "laid back recumbent" life. As he likes to tell us, he is 70 years young and rides everyday.
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Steve Miller/GrampiesOh goodie, another Bartlett adventure to follow. We will be following along with great interest. Happy trails.
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7 months ago
Scott AndersonLooking forward to following along. We’ve wondered if a trip through th Baltic states would be a good idea or not.
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7 months ago
Kathleen ClassenWe are going to enjoy your blog as well. We look forward to hearing about the Baltic. Happy trails. Incidentally, we frequently see the couple pictured on the Lochside Trail as well. If we see them before we head to Europe for our next adventure we will say hello for you. We fly to Zurich on the 26th.
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7 months ago
Mary Ellen BartlettTo Steve Miller/GrampiesHi Steve and Dodie
Good to hear from you. We also are enjoying following your latest adventure. Sounds like Dodie and her knees are doing much better this year. We find ourselves wanting to travel more than 3 months and almost managed that this year with a 6 month trip. However, life has thrown us a few curve balls this year and we are grateful for the 90 days. We were shopping in Frontrunners and Erhard sends his love.
Mary Ellen and Barry
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7 months ago
Mary Ellen BartlettTo Scott AndersonHi Scott
Good to hear from you. Like you, we have wondered if the Baltics were an interesting choice. We almost went there a few years ago but Italy called to us for a return visit,
The more we have researched it, we feel that there are many highlights for sure, but we may miss the infrastructure of more travelled areas. However we do love travelling away from touristic areas as we find the hospitality of locals so genuine.
Can’t wait to get out there
Mary Ellen and Barry
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7 months ago
Mary Ellen BartlettTo Kathleen ClassenHi Kathleen
So good to hear from you.
Isn’t it great that a forum like Cycle Blaze brings us cyclists together?
We are looking forward to getting on the road again, but we still have many jobs to do before our flight. Where will you be travelling this year?
Mary Ellen
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7 months ago