Europe bike trip 2015 – Recap

From Vicenza to Madrid
From Vicenza to Madrid

Lessons learned

The bike

I should say that this journey has been more enjoyable, from the cycling point of view, than last year. Using a road bike rather than a single speed impacted the whole experience in a significant way. Last year I choose to ride a single speed bicycle that was much harder to push. Especially on the climbing… having gears helps a lot! Furthermore I have sadly to admit that a single speed is going to f@*k your knees on the long term. If it was only for me, I would only ride a fixie. But doing that with baggages for more than 100 km every day is very physically demanding.

Baggages

This year I invested some money in order to upgrade to lighter and better quality gears especially:

  • the tent
  • sleeping bag
  • saddle bag

The tent. Last year I used a 2.4 kg Quechua Arpenaz 2 (€22.95) bought at Decathlon. It was a very good tent. Not a drop of rain inside. The only problem: the excessive weight and dimensions. For these reasons I’ve done some research and I opted to buy a Ferrino Sintesi 1. More than half of the weight (960 g) for 5 times the price. This is crazy, isn’t it?! 😀
Was the new tent worth the price? There are both pro and cons. Pros:

  • Weight and dimension – I could put it under the handlebar; that’s impossible with the big one.
  • Packing time – much easier to pack.

Cons:

  • Dimensions – inside the tent you can only sleep. With the big one I felt like in a hotel room, a lot of space for all the baggages; when it was raining I could sit and have dinner in it; with the small one it’s impossible to sit inside.

For the sleeping bag I bought a Quechua FORCLAZ 15°LIGHT. 700 g for €35.95. I could have saved 200 g by buying this. Too expensive. But maybe it would have helped me in Munich when I slept at 0 degrees Celsius. 🙂
I’ve been quite happy about the new sleeping bag. Very compact and it did a good job during the night.

The saddle bag has been also a good purchase. Even if relative expensive (€108) I could save some extra weight by not using a rack. The bag is very stable and I didn’t notice any problem even when I had to climb.

Even if I saved a lot of weight with the items above, the overall weight was the same as last year. Where did I put the extra? Electronics! Last year I decided not to bring my laptop but only the smartphone. It was a big mistake. This year I decided to bring my Macbook Air 11′ and it was the best choose I made. With the laptop I could surf the internet in a proper way (many mobile phone websites still sucks), look for campings, writing email and messages to my couchsurfing hosts and creating gpx maps that I could upload on the phone.
Therefore I didn’t regret the extra weight I have to bring on my back(pack).

Accommodation

Last year I only did camping. One of the better aspects of this trip has been the days I spent with my couchsurfing hosts. I have been hosted by people that I didn’t know and I contacted on the internet. As I wrote before in a previous post once you have the first positive experience as a guest you start enjoying the process. You trust people that have your same interests and open mentality and can share amazing experiences with them. I will definitely to it again!

Schedule

Likewise last year I planned this trip in order to complete it in a exact number of days. 31 days. I made the wise decision to leave Barcelona one day ahead in order to gain an extra day later. That was good because I could cycle from Valencia to Madrid in 3 days instead of 2 (that would have been almost impossible).
Thinking about the “perfect journey” for me the ideal will be one day of cycling, one day of city tour followed by a day in which I organise the photos, update the blog and organise the next stage. Due to the strict schedule I couldn’t dedicate time to the update part. Next time: travel slow and if I don’t have time, plan less places to visit!

Cycling experience

In short. the worst country to cycle in is the one I live in: Italy. 🙂
Not from the landscape point of view but for the lack of two main things. Cycling paths and respect for the cyclists from the “motorised” drivers. Also because of traffic laws. In France and Spain a vehicle has to maintain a certain distance from the cyclist during and overtake. In Italy I had a car’s mirror touching me when it was passing me on the left. 😦
Therefore I quite enjoy riding in Germany, France and Spain because the drivers are more respectful and I didn’t feel the anxiety and anger that accumulate when they try to overtake you but the conditions don’t permit to do it.
For people that want to cycle in Italy: be aware that is not as safe as in other countries but is feasible. There are a lot of cyclist in my country. Ask them advices an you will be safe! 😉

For the cycling aspect I enjoyed almost all the journey. The worst moments were

On the other 25 days I have to say to be extremely lucky. The temperature was good and never had to cycle in wet conditions. The highlights:

  • cycling up and down on Cinque terre
  • cycling on the French Riviera
  • cycling with the tailwind as soon as I crossed the border France-Spain
  • the landscape from Valencia to Madrid

Some numbers:

  • 2670 km from May 1 to May 29
  • 20 cycling days
  • 11 touring days
  • 133.5 km/day
  • 20732 m of elevation gain

Costs

On a daily basis I spent less than last year.

  • Total cost for 31 days: €692,21
  • Food: €283,20 (40,91%)
  • Accommodation: €256,01 (36,98%)
  • Transportation: €94,05 (13,59%)
  • Gears: €58,95 (8,52%)
  • Cost per day: €22,33
  • Cost of food per day: €9,14
  • Cost of accommodation per day: €8,26
  • Cost of food+accommodation per day: €17,39
  • Cost per km: € 0.259

Europe bike trip 2015 – Day 32: from Sacedon to Madrid

Sacendon to Madrid map

The goal for the last stage of this 32 days journey was to arrive in Madrid at 5 pm. I would have met my friends in the apartment that we’ve booked for the weekend.
Yesterday I looked at the directions to take using both the app on my phone and google maps. The distance for the walking option was about 120 km with a good amount of climbing. I was skeptical about the directions suggested on the first part:

Directions from Google maps
Directions from Google maps

I didn’t want to take the way around the lake and do some extra climbing but take the national road that I was riding yesterday. I thought there should have been some stretch of road forbidden to pedestrians.
Therefore I choose to leave earlier that the previous days in case I had to cycle the extra-distance.

Camping Sacedon

As soon as I left and took the N-320 I saw some people working on the road and asked them “Could I cycle on the National or are there some interdictions?”. They answered me that there weren’t any problems only “Be aware of the tunnels”.
In fact:

From Sacedon to Madrid

There were a little climbing that I have to affort.

From Sacedon to Madrid

From Sacedon to Madrid

From Sacedon to Madrid

From Sacedon to Madrid

From Sacedon to Madrid

I have to check many times the directions because I passed many towns and there weren’t directions for Madrid. As last year just before arriving in Paris I had to ride on gravel roads… actually, walking. 🙂

Gravel road
Gravel road
Even if I was about 15 km far from the capital it seemed veeeeeery far.
Madrid from far

The residential suburbs outside the city were a little bit sad.
At 3.30 I was already in the city center! I could relax and have some food in the El Retiro Park while waiting for the apartment check in.

Snack

At 5 pm I arrived at destination. Let’s the party get started! 😀

My bike in Madrid

All the photos of the day are here.

Expenses of the day

Food (Dia) 3.00
Totals 3.00

Europe bike trip 2015 – Day 31: from Cuenca to Sacedon

Cuenca to Sacedon map
Today has been one of the easiest day from the cycling point of view. Only 80 km without climbing on the N-320. I left the pension relatively late, around 10.30.
Pension Central, Cuenca
Pension Central, Cuenca
As in the previous days the weather was very nice. Warm, clear sky. The landscape was also similar. Cultivated fields, red, yellow, green and blue as main colours.
From Cuenca to Sacedon
From Cuenca to Sacedon
From Cuenca to Sacedon
From Cuenca to Sacedon
From Cuenca to Sacedon
At 1.44 pm I was already at destination! I checked in at the Camping Sacedon.
Camping Sacedon
After the tent setup there wasn’t much to to. The town is very small and the “walking city tour” took me only 30 minutes. 😀
I just waited for the supermarket to open (siesta time!) and got some food.
Dinner
Tomorrow will be the last cycling day of the trip, 100 km to Madrid!
All the photos of the day are here.

Expenses of the day

Camping Sacedon 8.58
Food (Puerto) 3.24
Totals 11.82