Eurovelo - 2023

Thanks to the Global pandemic, it has been nearly 4 years since my last big cycling adventure which saw me riding down the west coast of the USA from Port Townsend in Washington to San Diego in California, finishing at the USA/Mexico border, a total distance of 1,700 miles in just 4 weeks.   Since then I have continued to cycle on a regular basis to maintain a base level of fitness but have missed the challenges and daily routine that long distance cycling demands.   There was a suggestion at one stage that I might consider a ride the length of Africa, from Cairo to Cape Town with TDA Global Cycling but I could not reasonably justify leaving home for 4 months and the thought of sand, tents and nearly 6,000 miles of cycling was just too much to contemplate.   So when Paul, (a 2016 USA Coast to Coast rider) contacted me in April 2022 floating the idea of a long distance ride across Europe, I did not take much persuading to jump at the opportunity.

The idea was to ride the Eurovelo6 route from Saint Nazaire in France, eastwards to Constanta in Romania following the course of 3 major European rivers, Loire, Rhine and Danube, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Black Sea.   The route travels through a total of 10 European countries (France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania) and is over 3,000 miles in length.   Unlike my previous long distance cycling adventures this would be a new experience for me in that we would be riding without backup support and carrying all our equipment on our bikes.   We would however still enjoy the luxury of a shower/bath at the end of a long day in that we agreed that having hotel accommodation booked along the route was a prerequisite for the trip.

A few weeks later we were joined on the ride by MaryClare and Lou (both 2016 riders), Roger (MaryClare’s husband) and Kris, (Paul’s wife), who would ride with us as far as the France/Switzerland border.

Getting us all to the start of the ride in Saint Nazaire was one of the first items on the agenda and when I mentioned that their was a direct ferry service from Portsmouth to Saint Malo the idea of a couple of days cycling through the Brittany countryside gained much approval.   The US riders would fly to London where I would arrange to collect and transport their kit to Portsmouth, a quick overnight in Portsmouth to assemble bikes and rest before catching the early evening ferry to Saint Malo the following day.   At the end of the ride we would travel from Constanta back to Bucharest by train before catching our respective flights back home.

The Eurovelo routes are well documented and signposted in many of the countries and are mainly ridden on paved surfaces, although the further east one travels the surfaces become a little less predictable as do the directions.   MaryClare kindly agreed to work on getting the routes sorted and between her and Paul a list of proposed hotels along the route was soon forthcoming.   It was generally agreed that 60 miles/day seemed a reasonable distance to travel, after all, this was a holiday and we would be visiting countries that most of us had never been to before.   Most of our hotel accommodation was done via booking.com and it was always a relief to find that everyone had managed to book a room at the designated hotel.

When the idea was first discussed in April 2022 the ride seemed a long time away but the months have flown by and in just over a week I will be setting forth on my next adventure.   To say I am a little apprehensive is probably an understatement as having never ridden self supported before I have a lot to learn but I know that certainly Paul, MaryClare and Roger all have experience in this area so I will be carefully watching and learning from them as we set forth.

Like my previous rides I hope to maintain a daily blog and it would be great if you would come along on this journey with me.   I know it is going to be challenging but fun and no doubt there will be things that happen along the way that none of us could have foreseen.   It will be during these moments that I know we will all rely on one another’s experience and team together like we did on so many occasions during our cross country ride in 2016.

The Route

 

 

Current Location – CONSTANTA, Romania

 

Distance Cycled since Portsmouth – 3,034 miles

 

Gross elevation gain since Portsmouth – 62,240 feet

 

Distance remaining to Constanta, Romania – 0 miles

 

Mission Control signing off (until next time…!)- Friday 24th June 2023, 17:01 BST

The Story

Prologue – Portsmouth

It is Tuesday before my Friday departure and all seems well with the world and then the phone rings.   “Hello Mr Carey, this is your van hire company, I am sorry but the van you had booked has broken down so we are unable to fulfil your reservation.”  

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Prologue 1 – St Malo to Ploermel

We arrived in the port of St Malo this morning at 08:00 local time after an 11 hour crossing from Portsmouth. It was a grey and overcast with a little damp sea mist in the air. Disembarking was quite quick for three of us whilst Paul and Lou got stuck

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Prologue 2 – Ploermel to Saint-Nazaire

It had rained overnight and the forecast for today was not looking great.  At breakfast it was still raining, but as we came to load our bikes at 09:15 the rain had stopped and the skies looked a little better.  We turned left out of the hotel and at the

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Day 1 – Saint Nazaire to Ancencis

Today was the official start of our adventure across Europe from Saint-Nazaire to Constanta.  We stayed last night at the Holiday Inn Express in Saint’-Nazaire which is just a few hundred yards from the mouth of the river Loire. We decided before setting out to take our bikes to the

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Day 2 – Ancenis to Gennes

Set out from Ancenis shortly after 09:00 after a quick trip to Lidl for bottled water and snacks for the day.  One of the sad things is that we spend nights in many nice towns but arriving late afternoon and departing early morning one doesn’t really have much time to

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Day 3 – Gennes to Tours

We stayed in a really nice little hotel last night in the town of Gennes.  Breakfast this morning was excellent and I made sure that I ate plenty to see me through the day. We rolled out at 09:15 in brilliant sunshine although there was a slight nip in the

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Day 4 – Tours to Beaugency

We made a conscious effort to try to get a slightly earlier start today. For the past few days we had been arriving at our destination hotel late in the afternoon giving little time to complete the daily chores that are needed on a long distance ride. We managed to

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Day 5 – Beaugency to Gien

Well I guess it had to happen at some point during our two month ride, we awoke to heavy rain, and the outlook for the rest of the day didn’t look too promising either. We set off from Beaugency just before 09:00 in our wet weather gear heading for Gien

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Day 6 – Gien to Charite-sur-Loire

We left Gien shortly after 09:00 for a relatively shorter ride to Charite-sur-Loire and our first rest day since leaving.  I think everyone was looking forward to a day off as we have been cycling for 8 continuous days and covered around 540 miles. Today’s ride was mainly along canal

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Day 7 – Rest Day (Charite-sur-Loire)

As the name implies, today is an official rest day, no riding, time to rest the legs and recouperate ready for the next week of riding. As much as you may like to think it is a day of doing absolutely nothing it’s a day of many chores and activities.

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Day 8 – Charite-sur-Loire to Bourbon-Lancy

And so into the 2nd week of this tour and I think I have just about got the hang of being self-supported.  No longer do my panniers just  explode when I reach my hotel room but the contents of each bag are removed in a very controlled manner.  Similarly, when

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Day 9 – Bourbon-Lancy to Montceau-les-Mines

After a long day in the saddle yesterday, today was going to be a relatively short day at just 58 miles but the weather forecast was not looking good. We left Bourbon-Lancy shortly after 09:00 as is becoming quite usual on this trip and after a short ride along country

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Day 11 – Chalon-sur-Saone to Choisy

The days are passing quickly and it’s hard to believe it was 2 weeks ago that I was collecting my USA riding friends from London Heathrow. Since then we have crossed the English Channel, cycled to Saint-Nazaire for the start of our ride across Europe and now, we are coming

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Day 12 – Choisy to Baume-les-Dames

Rollout was a little earlier this morning at 08:30 in an attempt to miss some of the rain showers that were being forecasted for later in the day.  I am now in a routine of setting my alarm for 2 hours before scheduled rollout time.  This gives me 30 mins

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Day 13 – Baume-les-Dames to Montbeliard

After nearly 850 miles of cycling tonight is our last night in France and tomorrow we cross the border into Switzerland.  The last time we were in Switzerland Ben was a toddler so that must be over 30 years ago. The country has some special memories – Sarah and I

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Day 14 – Montbeliard to Basel

We left the Ibis hotel in the centre of Montbeliard shortly after 08:45 and retraced our route into the city before picking up the Canal du Rhone au Rhin  that would lead us all the way into Switzerland. Being a Sunday there were a lot of bicycle and pedestrian traffic

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Day 15 – Rest Day (Basel)

After a week on the road it was nice to have a bit of a lie in this morning although I still made breakfast by 08:30.  I made the decision last night to do a full hand wash of all my clothes rather than spend time this morning visiting a

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Day 16 – Basel to Neuhausen

After a nice rest day in Basel yesterday it was back on the road today.  Whilst rest days are nice to have, they do throw you out of your daily routine and for me, it does take a couple of days to get back into the groove again. Cycling out

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Day 17 – Neuhausen to Tuttlingen

For some reason I did not seem to have a great deal of energy this morning and spent most of the first half of today’s ride a few hundred metres behind the rest of the group. It didn’t worry me too much because I use this time as ‘thinking time’s

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Day 18 – Tuttlingen to Riedlingen

Today was a good day with some spectacular scenery during the first half of the ride.  We rolled out of the hotel as the town clock struck 09:00 and stopped immediately across the road for our first team picture next to the River Danube which we will now follow all

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Day 19 – Riedlingen to Elchingen

Rollout this morning was again at 09:00 and although no rain was forecast for the day we still had the cold and blustery NE wind to contend with.  Another relatively short day of just over 50 miles with an overall decent continuing to follow the Danube as it flows through

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Day 20 – Elchingen to Donauworth

Another short day today of just 48 miles but after several days of dreary skies the sun did eventually break through and we rode in pleasantly warm temperatures although we still had a headwind. The ride started with a trail that ran through a forest but we were soon back

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Day 21 – Donauworth to BadGogging

After a lovely evening last night visiting an old friend and work colleague in Donauworth it was back to the grindstone this morning with a 62 mile ride to BadGogging.  I say ‘grindstone’ in a very loose sense because this is a fantastic adventure and I am enjoying every minute

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Day 22 – BadGogging to Straubing

The hotel last night in BadGogging was really good and I had a nice apartment overlooking the street. Only downside was people were still talking in the street until after midnight but I was so tired I soon dropped off to sleep. This morning I awoke to glorious blue skies

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Day 23 – Straubing to Passau

I didn’t sleep too well last night.  My room at the hotel was in the attic and overlooked the main street which was quite noisy until late. Then the church clock was striking every quarter throughout the night which didn’t help either. Rollout was at 08:30 and we were a

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Day 24 – Passau to Linz

Today was a good day in pretty much all respects.  Flat roads, warm temperatures, great scenery, good food and pleasant company. We left Passau at 08:30 and within a mile we were cycling beside The Danube which would be our companion all day.  Passau is a pleasant town where all

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Day 25 – Linz to Aggsbach

Today was another great day of cycling and scenery. The weather was warm and the trail was tarmac’d all of the 70 miles we cycled which made it really pleasant and easy going. We left our hotel in Linz around 08:45 by the time we had all checked out and

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Day 26 – Aggsbach to Vienna

It’s hard to believe that 4 weeks ago this evening I said goodbye to Sarah and we set sail for France on the overnight Brittany ferry from Portsmouth to Saint Malo to begin our cycling adventure across Europe.  Now I am sat in my hotel room in Vienna having spent

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Day 27 – Rest Day (Vienna)

It was really nice to have a little lie in this morning but I was still down having breakfast before 08:00. The morning I spent touring the streets of Vienna taking in some of the interesting sites and buildings it has to offer. A few hours does not do it

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Day 28 – Vienna to Bratislava

After our rest day yesterday in Vienna today was a shortish 50 mile ride to Bratislava in Slovakia, our 5th country on our trip across Europe. We decided last night that a slightly shorter route was available so we all agreed to take this option which would reduce today’s ride

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Day 29 – Bratislava to Gyor

After a brief  visit to Slovakia, today we would move on to Hungary, a country that I have never been to before so I was looking forward to passing through and experiencing new culture and scenery. With just 50 miles to ride again today we afforded ourselves another 09:00 start

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Day 30 – Gyor to Esztergom

Having gone to bed early last night and slept really well I was ready for breakfast by 06:30 this morning.  My now well established ‘get up’ routine is based upon our planned departure time so if departure is 08:30 then I am out of bed by 06:30. This then gives

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Day 31 – Esztergom to Budapest

We left at the usual time this morning, picked up the Eurovelo trail and headed the 8 miles to the first ferry crossing of the day that would take us across The Danube.  We arrived shortly after 09:00 and waited along with several other cyclist that arrived expecting to catch the

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Day 32 – Rest Day (Budapest)

Rest day today and it was nice to have a bit of a lie in but I was still down for breakfast before 08:00.  I did all my washing last night so I had a completely free day today to wander around Budapest. Set off just after 10:00 and walked

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Day 33 – Budapest to Kalocsa

After our rest day yesterday it was back on the trail this morning with a planned 07:30 leave from the hotel. We didn’t quite make 07:30 but by 07:45 we were heading through the rush hour traffic of Budapest heading back towards the banks of The Danube.  Exiting Budapest was

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Day 34 – Kalocsa to Sombor

It’s hard to believe that we have now been riding for 5 weeks, completed nearly 2,000 miles, travelled through France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary and today we enter Serbia. Today was another long day and having a late breakfast at the hotel was not the ideal start to a

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Day 35 – Sombor to Backo Novo Selo

Today was our 3rd long mileage day in a row, although slightly shorter than the two previous days at just 75 miles.  In total we would have cycled 250 miles in the past 3 days, something I have not done for a very long time. We left promptly at 08:30

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Day 36 – Backo Novo Selo to Novi Sad

After 3 long days today was much shorter at just 52 miles. Departure was slightly delayed as we had to order breakfast this morning and wait for it to be cooked. Nevertheless we were on the road by 08:40 and for the best part of the day we were on

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Day 37 – Novi Sad to Belgrave

As days go, today was not the best of days – headwinds, non existent gravel roads, Serbian traffic and mosquitos. It had rained overnight and when we left Novi Sad at 08:30 there was rain in the air. Getting out of the place was not too bad, the traffic was

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Day 38 – Belgrave to Kovin

Today would end up being the shortest ride of the trip, not intended but just the way things worked out during the day. After getting into Belgrade yesterday I don’t think any of us were looking forward to exiting the city again this morning. We eventually found the bridge we

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Day 39 – Kovin to Moldova Veche

Today we leave Serbia and cross the border into Romania. We reviewed the route last night and decided we would shorten it by around 16 miles by staying on the roads although by doingwe would add a significant climb at the end of the day. We were on the road

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Day 40 – Moldova Veche to Orsova

Today was a really good day both in terms of cycling and scenery although it got off to a bit of a shaky start. Last night, Lou and I shared an apartment, two separate rooms and a bathroom. We agreed bathroom times and I was scheduled the early slot. I

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Day 41 – Orsova to Crivina

Today was a short 40 mile ride to Crivina and based on the enjoyable experience yesterday we were looking forward to a similar ride today. We had a bit of a lie in this morning not leaving until 09:00 and then stopped just a mile up the road at a

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Day 42 – Crivina to Vidin

Today was a longish ride of just over 70 miles but we were heading for a rest day in Vidin, Bulgaria, which after 10 days of continuous cycling I was really looking forward to. We left Crivina at 08:30 after a really nice stay with our guests and straightaway we

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Day 43 – Rest Day (Vidin)

It is rest day, it is raining and I have a cold, or something like that!  I have had something brewing for the past couple of days, sore throat, runny nose, all the normal cold like symptoms. I managed to ditch the sore throat by drinking some local liquor that

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Day 44 – Vidin to Bechet

And so into the final run to Constanta and The Black Sea.  Just 11 days of cycling and under 700 miles left to travel. Having spent most of yesterday’s rest day in Vidin lying on my bed nursing my cold (or whatever it was) I didn’t sleep too well last

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Day 45 – Bechet to Fantanele

After a few days of not feeling 100% I slept well last night and awoke this morning feeling in good shape once again. Just as well really because today was our final long mileage day of this trip – 77 miles.  It would be good to get this one behind

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Day 46 – Fantanele to Giurgiu

Today was the first of 3 days of riding 50 miles or less and so we afforded ourselves a later 09:00 start this morning.  We did manage a cup of coffee at the hotel before we left and I ate the remains of what I had for dinner last night

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Day 47 – Giurgiu to Oltenita

Hotel Sud in Giurgiu is not a hotel that I would want to return to – probably the worse and most unfriendly hotel on this trip. Old fashioned rooms, unfriendly bar staff who tried to charge us for beers that we did not drink and check-in not honouring the prices

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Day 48 – Oltenita to Silistra

And so we move into the final week of cycling across Europe. Just 7 weeks ago today we were leaving Saint Malo and heading south across Brittany to pick up the Eurovelo 6 route that would take us all the way across to The Black Sea.  Since then we have

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Day 49 – Silistra to Cernavoda

Back to the longer days today with a 60+ mile ride and over 3,000′ of climbing. The day started well with a prompt departure from our hotel in Bulgaria and a swift crossing of the border back to Romania. In fact the Bulgarian border guard was very chatty to us

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Day 50 – Cernavoda to Harsova

After the traumas of yesterday, today was a much better day. With just 34 miles to ride today the distance didn’t seem too concerning, however we knew that to there was going to be a significant amount of climbing involved.  The first climb of the day was out of Cernavoda

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Day 51 – Harsova to Braila

Today was another tough day, 67 miles, headwinds and quite a few hills to climb. All in all I think we have been unlucky with the winds as they should, in theory, be prevailing westerlies but we seem to have had more than our fair share of winds coming straight

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Day 52 – Braila to Tulcea

Another tough day of climbing today and just over 60 miles in the saddle. We left Braila around 08:30 and headed out of town northwards to Galati where we would cross The Danube for the final time by ferry. Lou and I arrived just as the ferry was leaving so

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Day 53 – Tulcea to Jurilovca

A nice short day today of just 34 miles that takes us to within touching distance of Constanta and our end goal. We did have a choice today of a short or longer ride of 63 miles.  Being day 10 of an 11 day stint we all agreed the shorter

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Day 54 – Jurilovca to Constanta

Our last day of cycling on this trip across Europe adventure, just 60 miles left to do and we will be done. It’s hard to believe that 8 weeks ago today we were boarding the ferry from Portsmouth to Saint Malo and now, here we are, within spitting distance of

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