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Topics - petervanglabbeek

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1
Europe / Cycling Spain and Portugal
« on: February 04, 2011, 09:58:01 AM »
My girlfriend and me will spend some months cycling Spain and Portugal.

Any info is welcome of course, but I have some specific questions, and I know there are some active members from Spain here  ;D

-Of course I have heard about the ancient pilgrim routes to Santiago de Compostella. What about cycling on this routes? Do we share the path with walkers? Is this allowed? I am not only thinking about the famous routes from France, but also the others.

-I heard about old roman roads and old railways in Spain that are now used for cycling. Does anyone know where to find more info about this?

-Any hidden gems, like ancient cities, remote mountain areas with high passes, National Parks, quiet roads, etc?

-We know nothing about Portugal, except the names of some cities and the Algarve. What are the main attractions for cyclists that love nature and peace? I heard there is a route to Santiago through Portugal as well, Cyclable?

Thanks in advance for any info.

Peter

2
Africa / Cycling Morocco
« on: February 04, 2011, 09:46:35 AM »
Hi guys,

The 2nd of April my girlfriend and me will start cycling from Agadir, Morocco and slowly make our way north, back to the Netherlands. For sure we want to explore Morocco, Spain and Portugal extensively (we have about 3-4 months).

Any info is welcome of course, but I have some specific questions as well:

-Morocco is a big unknown for us. Our first steps in Africa (although I have toured Turkey, Iran and Pakistan that might have similarities). Should we, and especially my girlfriend, wear long trousers/sleeves/cover head in the remoter areas? Any other important do's or don'ts?

-Any cyclists over there that are on this forum? Would be great to meet you!

-Any favorite rides/routes in Morocco? We like quiet roads, mountain and desert scenery. Any hidden gems?

-I have Michelin Map 742 in front of me here. It shows the whole country on a 1:1,000,000 scale, but many areas on 1:600,000 scale. Any better maps around for touring?

-I always see this picture of a beautiful asphalt road the descends into a dry gorge with huge hairpins. Where is this? I want to cycle this road!

Thanks for any info,

Peter

3
EVERYTHING ELSE! / hospitality for cyclists
« on: September 25, 2010, 05:12:24 PM »
Hello fellow cyclocampers,
Is it an idea to have a list of people on this forum who would like to host touring cyclists?
Or should we stick to warmshowers and couchsurfing?
Anyway, I am based in Utrecht, The Netherlands. Cyclists always welcome.
Peter

4
Camping Equipment / Marmot Never Summer sleeping bag review
« on: August 04, 2010, 02:53:55 AM »
Hi Stephane,
The sleeping bag you sent us is doing its job well.
We zip our bags (both Marmot Never Summer, one long one regular) together and use it as a big blanket.
So far it was always too warm to sleep inside the bag, but that will change in a few months.
I was a bit worried to bring a down bag to such a wet areas as Scotland and Ireland.
But we have a good tent and it works out well. Every time the sun shines we air the bags.
It is great to have a good sleeping bag so you know you are safe and comfortable up to -20 degrees.
I wish i would have had this bag when I crossed Tibet.
Trust in your gear is peace of mind ;)
Peter

5
Africa / visa for Lybia
« on: June 17, 2010, 01:37:05 AM »
Hello,
I am wondering how the visa situation in Lybia is these days.
Does anyone have any recent info about cyclists getting a visa for more than a few days. And of course not traveling with an escort van and having all nights arranged beforehand in hotels.
There are very few accounts of cyclists getting through, but sometimes it seems to be possible with the right connections.
Thanx,
Peter

6
While on the Road / Low-budget Traveling / Bicycle Touring
« on: April 16, 2010, 12:54:03 PM »
We all know from examples that traveling can be expensive as you want it to be. People have traveled around the world with budgets ranging from 0 to 20,000 a year. Spending more money, usually means more comfort. I will start a thread here to share tips and tricks to travel cheap, but still with some comfort. The most important for me is to stay healthy.

Accommodation: You can probably make the biggest difference in your budget with accommodation. Especially in western countries even the cheapest hostels will cost you at least 20 Euro a night. But it is easy to avoid paying for a place to sleep at all. I prefer a combination of Couchsurfing and Warmshowers to meet people, wild camping to have quiet nights in nature, being invited by complete strangers for the spontaneity and surprise of it and finding other crazy places to put down my matt. I already wrote a post about stealth camping and alternative places to sleep, so will not write about that here. Couchsurfing and Warmshowers have given me some of the best experiences in my traveling life, both surfing and hosting. It is an excellent way to meet locals, get involved in local activities and to make new friends. The Warmshowers list consists only of cyclists and will get you close to cycling clubs, group rides and other cycling related activities. In the couchsurfing community you will find interesting and open-minded people of all ages. In some countries or areas (for example Iran, Colombia, parts of Peru, US) you will not need to camp wild or use the internet to find a place, you will be invited almost every day. The only thing you need is flexibility, don't have anything arranged for the night.

Transportation: When on a bike tour, you usually cycle of course, and cycling is free. But many people still use transport to skip 'boring' parts. I would suggest anyone to cycle everything. The best surprises always occur where you least expect them. Also it is good to have some long 'boring' roads between the highlights. Time to think, to reflect is important for the quality of your trip.
Also consider to cycle loops out of your own house. A long flight might take up more than half of your budget, it is bad for the same environment that you are going to enjoy on your trip and cycling close to your home might offer more than you expect and somehow feels really pure.
If you really need transport for a stretch, think about hitchhiking. It is a lot of fun, you meet the strangest people and of course it is free.

Food: When you are not spending money on transport and accommodation, most of your money will go to food. First of all: don't eat in restaurants, unless you are in a country where it is extremely cheap, like in Asia. Take a stove (see the great post by Stephane on choosing a stove) and cook your own meal in front of your tent. Or even better (and cheaper) on a fire. It is fun to gather food on a market, bargain down on the prices and experiment with new recipes. In harvest season you can easily eat for free. You will find food almost everywhere. It feels so good to pick fruit from trees, gather berries and nuts. You will find left overs from harvesting machines: potatoes, unions, corn, tomatoes, carrots, etc. Also you can pick up old bread in bakeries, ask for old fruit and vegies in shops and markets. Or check a bin or two behind a supermarket.
Another important choice is what you drink. I think a bike tour is your best chance to stop drinking alcohol, coffee and tea and all kinds of sugar-containing soft drinks. In the beginning water will seem boring, but soon you will start to feel healthier than ever. It takes some more time to get rid of your caffeine and sugar addictions, but at some point you will start to enjoy drinking water, even when it is lukewarm. Just ask tap water in a house or shop and take a water filter or tablets for your river water. Of course the most beautiful thing in the world is to drink straight out of a clear cold mountain stream, where this is still possible.

Other expenses: In general I am a big fan of repairing everything yourself as much as possible. Your bike, your tent, your clothes, with a sewing kit and some duct tape you can fix almost everything. It will give you a lot of confidence when you learn to fix everything yourself. Also you take a step away from our consuming society by not throwing away something that can still be fixed, this fits very well in a cycling trip. Also keep an eye open when on the road for useful stuff. It is incredible what you will find, even lots of money.

This are just some of my thoughts and strategies on low budget traveling. Like this I travel with about 1000 Euro per year around the world, still staying extremely healthy and having a lot of fun, not suffering for lack of comfort. I have seen that a lot cheaper is still possible. Once I traveled in France for one month on 5 Euro, 2 weeks in the US on 0 dollar and a week in France and Belgium on 0 Euro. I still hope to learn more about cheap traveling, it makes bike touring possible for almost everyone.

Looking forward to reactions.

Peter

7
While on the Road / Stealth camping
« on: April 12, 2010, 06:02:11 AM »
As I consider myself some kind of an expert on this topic I decided to write some tips and tricks down.
To me the most important part of stealth camping (or wild camping or free camping) is how you feel. You need confidence to sleep well out there in the forest or wherever you are. To me wild camping also brings a lot of joy, brings me closer to nature and gives me a great sense of freedom.

Where: In my opinion you can stealth camp basically everywhere. I have camped in the main square of villages, in parks in cities, under big highways, in empty buildings of all kind, in the forest, in sheds, in peoples back yards, on farmland, on the beach, in churches and monasteries, in peoples garages, in closed camp sites, on jetties, in bus stops, behind supermarkets, in industrial areas, in schools, under a parked truck, etc. I do prefer the quite places in nature and that is where I spend most of the nights. Have a look at your map for a green area, stock up on food and water, cycle to the green area, walk 100m of the road and set up camp. As you go you will develop an eye for good camp spots.

When: It is good to time well the time of arrival and departure from your camp spot. In nature, if you have a place well hidden or in a quiet area it doesn't matter. But if you are in sight of a road or on private land it is probably better to set up your tent around sunset and pack not more than an hour after sunrise. You can still spend more time in the place, but because free camping is illegal in most countries it is good not to have your tent up. In the busier areas I usually cook and have dinner first before pitching my tent. If you want to ask people to camp in there back yard or garage it is better not to wait until sunset. Most people don't like you to ring their bell in the dark. Also it still leaves them time to invite you for dinner:) When I camp behind supermarkets I usually have a look at the opening hours and leave well before that. Industrial areas are best in weekends.

Tent To me the single most important feature of a tent is that it should be free standing. I estimate that I camped at least 100 times in an empty building or under a roof, just using my inner tent. Because of the concrete floor it was not possible to use pegs. Another thing to think about is the color of the fly. Mine is dark green, fantastic in almost all nature, almost invisible in the dark. Once it took me about an hour to find my own tent from the place where i had dinner, about 100m away because of bear risk. Of course the tent has to be wind proof, especially in high mountains, big deserts and on the beach. You will be out there alone and you have to survive storms by yourself, without help available.

Alternatives: In extremely populated areas it can be hard to find a place. If you don't like the supermarket and industrial areas idea. Of course we can use couchsurfing or warmshowers. Also you can ring bells, talk to people in the street, etc, but this turns out to be difficult in cities. In South America I have heard of people staying with fire brigates a lot, myself i stayed with police a fair bit. Try if a church is unlocked or look behind it for a place. Look around for alternative looking people and ask for a squat. I think with all this kind of ideas single women will be more successful. In many train stations and parks quite some people are sleeping every night. Not just bums, also other travelers.

The first few times I was stealth camping I was a bit nervous. Soon I discovered that there is almost nobody out there at night and if there is somebody walking his dog or a shepherd or something, they are more scared of me than I am of them. In about 1000 wild camping experiences I was never chased away or hassled in any sense. Which is pretty amazing. Some people are afraid of wild animals. Close your tent for spiders, scorpions and snakes. In bear country take the normal procautions. The other large animals you are not very likely to see. Dogs will be your most frequent guests. Once i heard wolves and once a wild boar.

Start the first time in a forest or in the mountains where it is easy to hide, soon you will gain confidence and extent your terrain to other places.

I am very interested to hear from other peoples experiences or opinions.

Peter

8
Hello,

To start with our life on the road, my girl friend and me will visit the UK and Ireland in spring/summer.
I bought a good Michelin road atlas of the countries, i love those maps.
Also I have heard of and read about the Sustrans cycling network and downloaded the map.

The reason of my post here, is to ask if anyone has good ideas for any more adventurous cycling.
I know that real adventure in the wilderness is hard to find in developed western Europe.
But maybe you know about a remote dirt road through the mountains or forests?
We like the kind of stuff that is not on a normal map, where you have to push your bike, lift it over fences, cross streams.

All other ideas about cyling in the UK and Ireland are very welcome as well.

Cheers,

Peter

9
Middle-East / Visa for Syria and Jordan
« on: February 19, 2010, 05:50:30 AM »
Who has recent experience with visas for these countries?
Is the Syrian visa hard to obtain in Turkey? Which city is best?
Can I get the Jordanian visa at the border? Or otherwise in Syria or Turkey?
Are any Letters of Invitation needed?
Peter

10
The Bicycle / How to choose a bicycle?
« on: January 10, 2010, 01:48:32 AM »
Hello,

The discussion of how to choose a bicycle is probably mostly one of taste and style. So I just give my opinion here based on my taste and style and of course a lot of experience.

The first choice to make is 26 or 28 inch wheels. In western countries and in China and bordering countries you will find 28 wheels, rims, spokes and tires if you need to replace something. In the rest of the world, like all of South America and Africa it is very hard to find these parts. So, if you make a world trip or your trip includes this places, take 26 inch. Also, 26 inch wheels are stronger, because the spokes are shorter. Take extra strong rims (double sidewalls), and 36 spokes.

A second choice is a steel or aluminium frame. Steel has been the most popular for touring bikes. Mostly because you can weld it almost everywhere when it breaks. I have never heard of a traveler braking his alu frame, but I guess it is possible. Another reason to buy steel could be that aluminium is one of the dirtiest metals to produce. I have always toured with alu frames, but the next time I would take steel.

I think the luggage racks are the most likely to break. I have met so many people with broken racks! That is why I decided to buy the best ones: Tubus. They are made of steel, so you can weld them, but they almost never brake! My front rack has been going for 70,000km! In the same time I have used 3 aluminium rear racks, before I decide to buy a Tubes rear rack as well.

Tires are important. You will reach your goal with all tires, but it is just so annoying to have all this punctures! If you travel in cactus country you can have dozens of punctures per day with bad tires. The best touring tires are probably from Schwalbe. They are available for 28 and 26 inch. They are expensive, but you will make 15 to 20,000km with them. Sometimes without a single puncture.

For the drive train there are only two possibilities that work. Y can take a classic mountainbike derailleur, with a triple chain ring in front. A Shimano LX is good, higher groups are not much better, just lighter. Or you take the Rohloff hub. Make sure that you have the right spokes, rims and frame to fit the hub. This hub is very expensive, but also extremely reliable. It will pay back when you cycle about 70,000km, because you don't have to change chains and cassette all the time. Remember that you can use the Rohloff hub also on your next bike.

There are many brake systems. Disk brakes brake the best, but I don't like them for traveling. If you damage the disk when you throw your bike on the roof of a bus or in the back of a truck you cannot repair it. Some people travel with a hydraulic brake system, I don't know them well and I have seen people messing with it. I would not like to damage a cable and lose the oil and the pressure. For me, v-brakes are the best. Easy to maintain and repair. Also the brake pads are available almost everywhere in the world.

Cycling with SPD pedals and shoes or normal pedals, choosing a seat and handle bars, mud guards yes or no, are all a matter of taste.

Peter

11
Europe / Traveling in Europe is not expensive!
« on: January 10, 2010, 01:09:12 AM »
Hello cyclists,
I have noticed in my travels that many people understand that cycling in developing countries can be cheap. But almost everyone thinks that in rich western countries traveling for a long time is hard to afford. This is not true. In many occasions I found traveling in richer countries cheaper. The only thing is that it depends on your choices. If you use accommodation and eat in restaurants, then it is expensive. But if you take a stove with you and look for wild camping spots or use warmshowers and couchsurfing to stay with local people, traveling is basically for free. I traveled once in France for 5 Euro in one month! I have to admit that it was September, harvest season, with lots of food left on the land. In Germany I traveled 3 weeks for 35 Euro, in the Netherlands 2 weeks on 25 Euro, in the US 2 months for 100USD. I am sure that almost everyone can afford this. Don't decide against a bike tour, just because you expect it to be expensive!
Peter

12
Bikes on a Boat / crossing oceans by boat
« on: January 04, 2010, 03:52:50 AM »
I know that more and more people, especially bicycle travelers, are concerned about the pollution of long distance flights. I have been trying to find boats to cross oceans, but it is hard to find one. Some travelers manage to find free rides in exchange of work on board. And of course there exist many cargo ships that have a few very expensive huts on board for tourists. But I never found something well organized and still affordable way of crossing oceans. Does anyone have suggestions or ideas?
thanx

13
Middle-East / How to avoid Israelian stamp in passport
« on: December 19, 2009, 11:55:42 AM »
Hello,
In the autumn of 2010 I will travel by bicycle in the Middle East, including Israel. I have heard that there is a way to avoid an Israelian stamp in my passport. Apparently you can have a separate piece of paper in your passport that you can take out later. Can anyone confirm this? Is it true that with an Israel stamp it is impossible to enter some Arabic countries in the area?
Thanx,
Peter

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