touring

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 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

San Francisco Bike Route: Velo Rouge and the Paradise Loop

A map of riding the Velo Rouge and Paradise Loop Route

A map of riding the Velo Rouge and Paradise Loop Route (for detailed route slip and gps file, click the RideWithGps.com link at bottom of post)

When in the Bay Area, I often find myself plotting out a bike route that takes me across the awe-inspiring Golden Gate Bridge into my favorite riding area of Marin County. Marin is full of excellent climbs and mountain-top views of the Pacific Ocean and of the San Francisco Bay, but every once in a while, the prospect of scaling Mt. Tamalpais just seems a bit much. For those of you looking for a way to take in the Golden Gate and the many charms of Marin’s waterside towns without bringing your climbing gears, this might just be the best ride out there.

Need to rent a bike for this route? Read this post on bike rentals in San Francisco!

Getting Started

We begin the ride on Arguello Boulevard, where between Golden Gate Park and the Presidio, sits the Velo Rouge Cafe, your pre-ride breakfast provider or post-ride recap spot. You’ll find among you a smattering of neighborhood regulars, surprisingly unpretentious hipsters, and a few of your lycra-clad brethren. With offerings like Levi Leipheimer’s Breakfast Burrito and other cyclist-inspired plates, as well as various coffee options, Velo Rouge is everything a cyclist could desire in an anchor-point for a stellar ride…and stellar ride you shall have!

Postcard of the Velo Rouge Cafe via gogobot.com

Postcard of the Velo Rouge Cafe via gogobot.com

Beginning with a short coast down Arguello you then make a brief but steep hill-climb to the edge of the Presidio. From this point forward, beauty will be around you for the entirety of your ride. The Presidio road meanders through trees and well-kept former barracks until you reach the mouth of the bay, where you get a first glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge

As you approach the Golden Gate, I must warn you that their will most likely be crowds, and the route you must follow to ride across may not always be clear. Your best course of action is to take your time making your way through this section and consider the posted signs. Currently, the side of the bridge you take will depend on the time of day and day of the week, as follows:

Weekdays: East sidewalk until 3:30pm, then West sidewalk until 9pm
Weekends: West sidewalk all day

Once on the correct sidewalk path across the bridge, enjoy the views! While you’ll find some riders flying by, the number of pedestrian tourists and slower riders, coupled with tight spaces at each support post, make it more valuable to cruise through this section and take in the spectacular sights. Weather conditions seemingly change before your eyes as fog roles in and the sun peaks in and out, so you should be prepared for significant changes in temperature as well.

The Golden Gate from the northern observation point on a foggy day in May

The Golden Gate from the northern observation point on a foggy day in May

Marin County – Lowland riding along the San Francisco Bay Coastline

As you reach the north side of the bridge, you can go under it and come up the other side to reach the lookout point, or spiral down the windy road to the ground-level, where your lowland bay coastline pedaling begins. One can also go from the lookout point more directly towards the towns ahead, but in recent years this road has been in bad condition or under construction and the windy route passes by the Bay Area Discovery Museum, a convenient bathroom break or stopping point of its own merit.

Continuing to pedal north along the water, the first town reached is the Sausalito. I can’t say this town isn’t a bit touristy, but they certainly do a good job of it. The main street is lined with little shops, ice cream parlors, and restaurants to suit all types and the sidewalks are usually abuzz with an interesting mix of people from all corners of the world.

Next, you’ll ride through the Bothin Marsh, where you might well see some peculiar wildlife while you enjoy a pan-flat section of bike-path that will certainly have your legs asking for “full steam ahead!”

After negotiating the William Bagley Highway crossing via the Redwoods Highway Frontage Road, you’ll reach the town of Strawberry, where you’ll begin the Paradise Loop portion of the route.

The Paradise Loop

Here, you’ll pass through Tiburon and Belvedere, home to wealthy Bay Area residents looking for great skyline views of the city from a more relaxed and quiet perch. This section also passes by the Richardson Bay Audubon Center and Sanctuary, so bird-lovers should plan to make a stop.

Upon turning the corner past Richardson Bay and through Belvedere Cove, you will again head north and to the backside of the loop, a still more sparsely populated part of coastal Marin. Here you’ll have the opportunity to visit Paradise Beach County Park for a breather and perhaps to walk along the pier that juts out into the aptly-named Paradise Cove. While there is little motor traffic, please keep in mind that the shoulder in this section is narrow and caution should be taken on the curvier sections of road.

View back towards the hillsides surrounding Paradise Beach County Park from the pier’s edge

After leaving the Paradise Valley Park area, one can take the Trestle Glen cut-off, as shown in the route map, or extend the route a few miles by continuing north on Paradise Road and then heading south again upon reaching Corte Madeira, but either way, the route loops back into familiar territory in the town of Strawberry. This is where you can begin retracing your steps and taking advantage of what is usually a southbound wind to carry you home.

Route Info

Distance: 39 miles
Elevation Gain: Approx. 3,000ft
RidewithGPS: Velo Rouge and Paradise Loop Route detailed route info