Meridien Ten Travel: A Gem for Touring Cyclists in Croatia

Meridien Ten Bike Rentals Croatia

Whenever my wife and I travel, I almost by compulsion begin looking at what cycling opportunities might be available in the areas we plan to visit. In this case, we knew we’d be spending a few days in Split, Croatia and that we’d love to do some riding on the Dalmatian Islands.

Meridien Ten is a bike rental company that specializes in touring setups for multi-day excursions in Croatia. Though we had only a day to take advantage of their services, I learned that their self-guided route across some of the major Dalmatian Islands from Dubrovnik to Split is their most popular. In order to make that particular route work, they are set up to offer transfers from their shop in Split to Dubrovnik and they do offer fully-custom and guided/supported tours as well.

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Meridien Ten features a line of hybrid trekking bikes and road bikes with quality components. For example, our 24-hr road bike rentals included Shimano 105 groupsets and Mavic Aksium wheels. Having worked in the bike industry for a short time, I can say that 105 components are widely regarded as the workhorse of the Shimano line, solid shifting with enough heft to be both durable and reliable. Mavic is also considered one of, if not the top brand in the wheel category. I mention these things because when renting bikes, quality is important and often lacking. Not at Meridien.

We found the bikes we rented to be well-tuned and ready to roll. In addition, Meridien Ten has lots of add-on options to make trips of various length more convenient. Renters have the option to have their own pedals installed, or to go with flat or toe-cage pedals provided by Meridien. Rack-top bags with fold-out panniers are also available (a very-well designed version of this setup, I might add) as well as handlebar bags.

The Meridien Ten bike shop is located near the tourist center of Split, just a short walk from Bacvice Beach and about 20 minutes walk from Diocletian’s Palace. The shop is operated by Ante and Andrew, two very friendly fellows with excellent knowledge of riding in Croatia. They suggested a route for us on the Island of Brac and even gave us a route sheet with map and turn-by-turn directions. In addition, they knew where all the good little detours and vistas were, and pointed out a great restaurant for us to enjoy some local food and a pivo! Here is my wife Johanna with Ante in front of the Meridien Ten bike shop and again inside.

Best Bike Rentals and Routes at Meridien Ten Travel with Ante

Inside Meridien Ten Bike Rental Shop

Based on our experience, I would not hesitate to recommend Meridien Ten to my travel planning clients at IndependentTravelPlanning.com. Meridien Ten is a great option for cyclists on vacation in need of a quality ride and for touring cyclists looking to cycle the Dalmatian Islands and other parts of Croatia without having to sort out shipping of their own bikes.

For more information, check out these links:
Meridien Ten Travel
Meridien Ten Rental Price List

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Eurovelo: Your Resource for Bicycle Touring in Europe

Eurovelo Cycling Route Logo

Eurovelo.org is a great resource for anyone considering a bicycle trip in Europe. With 14 inter-European routes to choose from and a stated goal of 70,000 kilometers of signed routing, the Eurovelo organization is a touring cyclists dream. Here is an excerpt from Eurovelo on what their organization hopes to provide:

  • promotes economically, environmentally and socially sustainable travel;
  • improves the quality of EuroVelo routes in all participating European countries;
  • promotes the uniform signing of EuroVelo routes in accordance with published standards;
  • provides Europe-wide information on EuroVelo routes and national cycle routes;
  • supports the development of national coordination centres for EuroVelo route and national routes; and
  • fosters exchange of experience and best practice between European states and regions, stimulating high quality cycle strategies and infrastructure.

I have been aware of this organization since I first planned to bicycle tour through Europe after graduating from college (for various reasons I ended up riding the California coast) and it’s great to see the Eurovelo making progress. While it is somewhat lacking in detailed maps and information, their new site now provides first-hand experiences and more details about the routes than has been available in the past. Here is the general map:

Eurovelo Overview Map

I have been planning a few routes through Europe lately and am seeing significant crossover between my ideas and Eurovelo, which is encouraging. Hopefully I will have the opportunity to not only show you my plans, but some trip reports in the near future!

Amsterdam to Rome Bike Tour: Days 9-12 Preview in Photos

The first half of Days 9-12 of the Amsterdam to Rome Bike Tour is all about crossing the Swiss Alps. Up until Day 9 of the route, the roads are very flat, but all good things must come to an end. Perhaps the conquering of Gotthard Pass ought to be considered a nice change of pace and the Lake Como reward on the other end surely makes it a worthwhile endeavor.

After a rejuvenating night in Como (and perhaps a rest day), the route passes through northern Italy’s culture capital of Milan and on to another first for the route: coastal riding in Genoa.

Day 9: Lucerne to Andermatt – 88k

The ride from Lucerne to Andermatt begins by skirting Lake Lucerne, with the option to shorten the route by heading southeast to Beckenried and taking a ferry to Fleulen. The climbing portion of the day begins in earnest approaching the town of Amsteg and continues for almost 15 miles to Andermatt. Reports suggest the road can be narrow in this last stretch and caution should be taken.

The winding route around Lake Lucerne

Day 10: Andermatt to Como – 145k

This day is very long in distance covered, but features a long descent so the mileage is not quite as bad as it seems. Also, if planning to take a “rest day” in Como, one could alter the days ride to finish at mile 75 in Lugano, making Como a very short ride away the next day.

From Andermatt, the route climbs 2,000ft in approximately 8 miles to the top of Goddhard Pass, at which point the 30-mile descent begins. There is an option to take the low-traffic, cobbled switchbacks for part of this descent, although loaded for touring that route may prove too bumpy.

As a 007 fan, it can’t go unmentioned that the famous climactic chase scene from the movie Goldfinger was filmed in Andermatt and the nearby mountain road. Even if you don’t want to watch the whole movie, as a $3 rental on Amazon there’s little excuse to miss out on this chase scene if you want a sense of what the area is like. Click on the image for the link to a bigger one at Amazon.com:

Once on the flat again the course leads lakeside, first through Lugano and then to Como in Italy.

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Late-spring in the Swiss Alps at Andermatt

A wide-angle view of Lugano.

A wide-angle view of Lugano

Day 11: Como to Pavia via Milano – 86.3k

The first full day of cycling on Italian roads affords the opportunity to pass through Milan, capital of the northern part of the country, and a design and fashion hotbed. As per usual, navigating through cities as large as Milan requires some preparation and will be a big adjustment from the lake and countryside riding of Switzerland. Once past Milan, one can follow the Milano-Pavia bicycle route along the canal or “naviglio.”

Bike Path from Milan to Pavia

Bike Path from Milan to Pavia

Day 12: Pavia to Genoa – 113k

After nearly two weeks of riding since leaving the Atlantic Seaboard in Amsterdam, the route returns to the coastline, this time to the Mediterranean Sea in the storied port town of Genoa, Italy.

At the edge of the Mediterranean Sea in Genoa, Italy

At the edge of the Mediterranean Sea in Genoa, Italy

Amsterdam to Rome Bike Tour: Days 5-8 Preview in Photos

The second section of the Rome to Amsterdam Bike Tour is characterized by mostly flat, river-hugging bike path riding and passes through four countries: Luxembourg, Germany, France, and Switzerland.

Day 5: Luxembourg to Saarbrucken – 95.5k

velo 8

Perhaps the highlight of the route from Luxembourg City to Saarbrucken is a jaunt along the Moselle River into Schengen. A small wine-growing town, Schengen is better-known for lending its name to a 1995 treaty, which allows for freer travel across borders in parts of Europe. Click on the photo above for more information about the region from Luxembourg’s tourism site.

Day 6: Saarbrucken to Strasbourg – 135k

The sixth day begins along the Saar river path (pictured above). Although most of this dedicated cycling path heads north towards the Moselle river, it continues south as well, providing a relaxing start to the day.

Later in the day, the route connects to another canal path, leading from Saverne to Strasbourg. Crazyguyonabike is an excellent resource for more detailed information on this portion of the Amsterdam to Rome Bike Tour route and hit photo (below) is linked to the appropriate part of the site, written by bicycle tourist Reuben Ferguson.

Bike path from Saverne to Strasbourg

Bike path from Saverne to Strasbourg

Day 7: Strasbourg to Basel – 128k

Bikes in Strasbourg along the Amsterdam to Rome Bike Tour Route

Click this photo for info on “le petite France” in Strasbourg from TravelingCanucks

The best way to get from Strasbourg to Basel is to take the Rhine Route on the west bank, which passes through Colmar. As is evidenced by the photo below, Colmar can but shouldn’t be sidestepped on the way to Basel. This being one of the longest days on the route, some may choose to travel to Colmar from Strasbourg and continue to Basel on the following day.

Touring cyclists on a budget might do well to buy supplies before reaching Switzerland, as prices move upward rather dramatically after crossing the border and into Basel.

An idyllic blend of French and German heritage in Colmar, France

Day 8: Basel to Lucerne – 112k

Cycling through Switzerland as part of the Amsterdam to Rome Bike Tour is as simple as following the North-South Bike Route.  This route is well-marked and about 85% paved, while the remainder appears to be packed dirt. The route is filled with undeniably attractive Swiss countryside and a few peaceful lakeside villages.

More on the Rome to Amsterdam Bike Tour:

Amsterdam to Rome Bike Tour: Days 1-4 Preview in Photos

Like what you see but have a different route or destination in mind? Independent Travel Planning, the route planner of Amsterdam to Rome Bike Tour, can help you! Click through to IndependentTravelPlanning.com to learn how ITP can help you create the best custom vacation to suit your whims.

Amsterdam to Rome Bike Tour: Days 1-4 Preview in Photos

Eindhoven Bike Route Sign

The first section of the Amsterdam to Rome Bike Tour route is characterized by very flat riding through the most bicycle-crazy part of Europe. Highlights will be the bike route infrastructure of The Netherlands and traversing bits of the spring classic pro cycling courses of Belgium. Challenges are likely to be inconsistent weather and a potential run-in with some jarring cobbles in the Ardennes region of Belgium.

Start: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Cycling to Amsterdam

Click on this photo for some brief information about riding from Amsterdam, including several EuroVelo routes that visit the city.

Day 1: Amsterdam to Eindhoven – 139k

(via)

Day 2: Eindhoven to Liege via Maastricht – 111k

Click on the photo for a history of the Spring Classics, an important series of professional races that visit Maastricht as well as other places along this route.

Day 3: Liege to Bastogne – 103k

Click on this photo for more information about Bastogne during WWII. (via)

History remembers Bastogne as a decisive point in World War II, where the Battle of the Bulge began and Allied forces, surrounded by Hitler’s army, managed to hold out until reinforcements arrived and General Patton drove the Axis powers into retreat. However, Bastogne is also historically-significant to cyclists.

Taken in the 70’s, this photo below encapsulates the heart of the spring classics in Belgium and Liege-Bastogne-Liege specifically – hard men riding through adverse conditions. Click on the photo for a harrowing tale about race winner Bernard “the badger” Hinault and keep in mind that you’re more likely to travel these roads in good weather and there’s no need to return to Liege unless you leave something important behind!

Day 4: Bastogne to Luxembourg City – 76.4k

Luxembourg is known for its excellent roads and has provided cycling routes to negotiate its stunning capital city. Click on the photo for more information from the Luxembourg Tourism Website.

Luxembourg

For those who prefer to take rest days while touring by bicycle, Luxembourg City provides a good opportunity to do so. Why not get off the bike and walk a bit or let the local double-decker bus tour provide an opportunity to relax and take a break from planning your movements.

Amsterdam to Rome Bike Tour: Days 5-8 Preview

Like what you see but have a different route or destination in mind? Independent Travel Planning, the route planner of Amsterdam to Rome Bike Tour, can help you! Click through to IndependentTravelPlanning.com to learn how ITP can help you create the best custom vacation to suit your whims.

Bike Hire Options in the Canary Islands

MTB Gran Canaria

The Canary Islands have long-proved a sunny clime for winter training amongst the professional cycling ranks. With an average year-round temperature of 71.6F, tons of cycling options from the climbing to cruising, and some great beaches to boot, the Canaries are a prime spot for riders of all kinds.

Free Motion Bikes and Tours – Located on Gran Canaria, Free Motion offers the complete line of Cannondale road, mountain, and hybrid bikes, including high-end carbon frames and Shimano di2 shifting. Prices vary by length of rental, but start at about 10 euros per day for hybrids and road/MTB options starting at around 20 euros. Another highlight of Free Motion Bikes and Tours are the varied tour routes available for road and mountain riders who’d like a local guide to help them make the most of the Gran Canaria Island routing options.

Bike Point Tenerife – Bike Point offers hybrid, road, and MTB bike rentals on the island of Tenerife. Depending on rental length, quality bikes can be rented for as little as 13 euros per day, with the top-line models starting at about 30 euros. Bike Point Tenerife also offers guided tours of some of the most impressive bike routes on the island of Tenerife, some of which include transfers by van. Two stores, both on the south end of the island, offer options for start location as well, and the Bike Point website features several gps files for those looking to do their own thing, but would like help routing.

Amsterdam to Rome Bike Tour: Route Summary

Map of Amsterdam to Rome European Bicycle Touring Route

One of the first things I discovered when beginning to explore bike routes through Europe is that crossing into a new country is similar in distance to passing through a new state in the United States. Europe seems more densely packed with interesting stops along the way and I find very little of it unappealing enough to be avoided. Perhaps it’s an instance of “the grass is always greener on the other side,” but for me, Europe is a playground and I want to ride all over it.

All this being said, the Amsterdam to Rome Bike Tour seems an ideal sampling of many things that make Europe great for cyclists. The dedicated bicycle infrastructure of Holland, fabled spring classics routes in Belgium, hairpin bends through passes in the Swiss Alps, and the beautiful countrysides of Italy are just a few of many reasons to be excited to ride this route.

The route itself shares much of its length with Eurovelo 5, an inter-European bicycle route established (though mostly still to be completed) by the European Cyclists Federation, with cooperation from the EU Sustainable Tourism committee. For more information on Eurovelo 5, I highly recommend having a look at CyclingEurope.org, where you can find a first-hand account of that route in blog form.

This Amsterdam to Rome route is similar to Eurovelo 5 in that it traverses the center of Europe, but takes in a number of roads with serious cycling lore in The Netherlands and the Adrennes region and northern Italian coastal cities left out of the other route.

The fittest of cyclists could probably complete the route in as little as 14 days with limited gear to carry and I’d recommend closer to 21 days for those planning to camp or that would like to take a few rest days. For the purpose of the forthcoming series of posts breaking down the route in more detail, the course will be split into 17 days of riding. Here is a summary of the route in numbers:

Countries Visited: 7 – The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, France, Switzerland, and Italy

Total Distance Covered: 1900 kilometers (1150 miles)

Total Elevation Gain: 7200 meters (23,600 feet)

Average Daily Distance and Gain: 112k (68mi), 425m (1390ft)

Longest Day: 145k (89mi) – Andermatt to Como

Shortest Day: 76.4k (47mi) – Bastogne to Luxembourg City

Bike Hire in Bariloche, Argentina

San Carlos de Bariloche MTB hire

The resort town of San Carlos de Bariloche is perhaps best known for being an elite ski destination during the Austral winter, but in the summer, the surrounding area is best seen by bicycle. Considered Northern Patagonia, Bariloche sits in the lake region of Argentina, offering many great opportunities to mountain bike along lakes and up mountains used for skiing in the winter. There are also several multi-day excursion that can be undertaken that explore north into the Andes and other lake district towns in Argentina as well as Chile.

San Carlos de Bariloche Bike Rental Companies:

Dirty Bikes: A high-end rental company featuring Merida road and mountain bicycles. Dirty Bikes also offers a number of different bike tours, from basic level to advanced MTB riders looking for the hidden trails, to touring cyclists looking for a week-long mountain-biking adventure through the Andes.

Circuito Chico Bike Rental: This bike rental company specializes in mountain bikes and offers a 2-for-1 special for all-day rentals if you can get to their shop before 10:30am. Located at the started of Circuito Chico, this bike rental business puts you on the bike in the right place for exploring the best areas around Bariloche.

Cordillera Bike: Offering MTB rentals and targeting mostly those interested in the Circuito Chico, Cordillera Bike offers rentals by the half-day or full-day. Cordillera also offers guided tours and a bike-drop service if you prefer to start riding from your hotel instead of their shop. Reservations can be made online or at the shop.

Bicycle Touring the Pacific Coast Route

Tandem Touring the Pacific Coast

Interested in this couple’s tandem touring adventure down the Pacific Coast? Click the link below for a summary and then scroll down to the end of the post for a link to the detailed day-by-day blog, written while on the road from Portland to San Francisco in August of 2012.

Definitely one of the most revered touring trips in the world, the Pacific Coast Bicycle Route offers riders the chance to get away from the grind and into the rhythm of the road. Here is a great post from our sister site that summarizes the Pacific Coast Bike Route in photos and video, including a few insider tips for great destinations along the way:

http://independenttravelplanning.com/2013/08/05/why-you-should-bicycle-the-pacific-coast-route-in-10-photos/

Bike Rentals in Paris, France

Fashionable ride through Paris

A fashionable Parisienne riding in Paris

Paris is the city of romance and what could be more romantic to a cyclist than a ride through Paris, home of the final stage of the Tour de France? Even for recreational riders, there is much to be found in Paris, as it was just named one of The 20 most Bicycle-Friendly Cities of the World. While hardcore roadies may want to consider riding in the countryside, Paris has become a city very open to touring by bicycle.

Bike Hire Companies in Paris:

Velib – The city’s bike-share program boasts a large number of stations throughout the whole of Paris where you can pick up a bike using your credit card and use it for 30-minute periods for about EU2. These are city bikes with very basic mechanical setups, but have an artistic flair and can be fun for short jaunts. Please, do keep in mind there have been issues with Velib holding deposits for up to 15 days.

Bike About Tours – Simple city bikes for rent, usually in conjunction with a tour of the city, but also for individual exploration. Rent is EU10 for less than four hours and EU15 for more than four.

Paris Bike Company – This company specializes in high-end bikes with Shimano Ultegra and Dura-Ace components at a very reasonable price, although the Cannondale models on their website appear to be a few years old. This may be a good option for those interested in some serious road-riding in the countryside just outside Paris, as the business is located just south of the city.

Holiday Bikes – Offering MTB, hybrid, city, and electric bikes, Holiday Bikes has three locations in Paris to serve you. Bikes rent by the day for EU12-25 depending on the model and the company also rentals motor scooters.

Scooter Rental Paris – City bikes and tandems for rent by the half-day and up. A full day is between EU15-20 for a single bike. This company also rents motor-scooters from its two locations