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Messages - leo

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Routes / Re: From east to west starting June 2014
« on: April 12, 2014, 01:27:18 am »
Bonjour les amis

  A mon avis, mieux que vous passiez au nord des Lacs. Nous l'avons fait par le sud et ç'a été une grosse déception : tout en agglo et rarement une vue de l'eau.

happy days


Routes / Re: Cycling in Romania
« on: February 14, 2013, 11:29:45 am »

  You can camp wild pretty much anywhere, except in built-up valleys and obvious places like that. I've never had trouble finding somewhere and never been turned down when I've asked farmers. Romanians are lovely, friendly people who simply didn't deserve their history.

  Sadly, for all their friendliness, they are appalling drivers. Given that the roads are often also raddled with deep holes - although they are slowly being repaired - riding on Romanian roads can sometimes be like taking part in a bullfight.

  Many roads, though, are beautifully empty. But which they are can be unpredictable. Roads prefixed with an E are generally horrendously busy, being international truck routes to the Black Sea. But some can be deserted and charming. I never found a way of guessing which would be which, although your living there will give you local knowledge pretty quickly.

  Bucharest to Istanbul will be one of those busy roads if you take the coast, especially in summer. The Black Sea is a big holiday area built up in the communist era. Take a more inland route through Bulgaria, though, and you should have little trouble. When you get to Istanbul, avoid the obvious route from the west. It is four lanes in each direction with multiple exit junctions. Use either the ferry from the south or use minor roads that will bring you to the Bosphorus north of the city. That way you will have just ordinary city traffic going into Istanbul, with occasional relief from bike paths along the water's edge.

  No problem with being a foreigner. Romania is open to the world and proud of being in the EU. Turkey is famous for its care of strangers and Istanbul is a giant tourist mill.

  Getting food can be a problem in rural Romania. Shops are small and hard to find and tend to supply only what a barter economy can't provide. Hotels are cheaper than in western Europe but prices have risen a lot, especially in cities. Don't expect marked bargains.

  You'll be warned about gypsies. I have never had the slightest trouble and I suspect their reputation comes from bigoted people who've never actually met any.

Hope that helps

Drum bun!


The Fédération Française de Cyclotourisme has more than 122 000 members. I think, but don't know, that it's the world's largest.

happy days


Routes / Northern tier, washington state
« on: March 14, 2007, 03:20:12 am »
Don't forget to write a blog on Crazyguy, especially if you're riding east to west. That's the way I'll be going next year. I'll be your most avid reader!


General Discussion / Renting Gear in France
« on: July 10, 2008, 02:13:08 am »
Hi from southern France

  For all I know, you can hire camping gear here. But I wouldn't be sure it would be what you are looking for. The French are not great campers and what they call camping is often sleeping in a camping-car, what to an American would be a baby-RV.

  They are certainly not lightweight campers with any mass enthusiasm.

  By all means hire gear or send it in advance if you want to but I wonder if you are creating unnecessary difficulties. If you are coming for just a few days, why camp at all? There are plentiful, moderately-priced and often charming hotels everywhere, often in even medium-sized villages. For just a few days, that's where the cost-weight-inconvenience ratio would persuade me to stay.

  If it's of any help, I have written what I hope is a comprehensive guide to cycle-touring in France on Go to "articles" and look for "France: an insider's guide" or somesuch title.

happy days


General Discussion / Getting a US Visa to ride TransAm plus
« on: October 08, 2008, 03:08:40 am »
Quite true... the visa shows only that your case has been considered at a distant consulate. The final decision is at the port of entry, although I think you'd have to be pretty disagreable to be turned away that late.

There are many visas, in the US as elsewhere. Tourist visas don't, anywhere, give the right to live or work in a country. But for our New Zealand friends, I don't think that was an issue, was it?

happy days


General Discussion / Getting a US Visa to ride TransAm plus
« on: August 22, 2008, 10:47:41 am »
Hi Kiwis

  Lots of experience with US visas...

  Just search on "US visas" or "US embassy New Zealand" and you'll get to the visa section of the US consulate. There you will find a form to submit on-line. The price varies from country to country, because of the currency. There is a second stage, which involves sending money direct to the consulate and then you may have to go to the consulate in person.

  The prices are all listed on the site. It should be fairly straightforward provided you are answer "no" to the questions (seriously) about whether your a Third Reich dictator or set on overthrowing the US government.

  Actually getting into America can often be very unpleasant but the pain is brief.

happy days


General Discussion / women cycling solo across the US
« on: January 08, 2008, 03:48:00 am »

  Some years ago I  wrote a feature on women's safety for a national newspaper in Britain. I went through police statistics, government figures and who knows what else until my eyes crossed. And the outcome? That in any age group, men are more likely to be attacked than women.

You are most at risk as a man of 17 or 18. Then come men of 50-60. You have to go way, way down the list before women begin to figure.

I wanted to see if that was because women were perhaps more likely to travel in company or at "safer" times of day. I went to an organisation called the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, started by a woman whose daughter was killed by a stranger. The trust confirmed my "more dangerous for men" figures and referred me to London Transport, the people who ran the Tubes and buses.

London Transport's figures showed no difference from the national picture. They confirmed that men and women are as likely to travel alone as in company and that there is no difference in the percentages at night or in little-used trains. In other words, women are still less likely to be attacked when alone than men.

Conclusion: news is the unusual. We hear about assaults on grannies not because they are common but because they are so rare. We don't hear about assaults on teenage boys because they happen too often to be remarkable.

Relax. Be happy. Have a great ride!

Happy days


General Discussion / Solo touring and protection
« on: January 22, 2008, 02:44:50 pm »
Oh, Western Flyer... such sense! Thank you.

happy days


General Discussion / MY OWN FRANCE TOUR
« on: November 05, 2007, 04:38:02 am »
Another thing... you'll have trouble riding the canal from Bordeaux to the Mediterranean. Some of the way there's a good path; some of the way there's nothing more than a narrow mud or gravel strip; parts of the way there is nothing at all.

I know web sites say it can be done but believe me, I live not that far from the canal and I tried to ride it this summer. I abandoned it.


General Discussion / MY OWN FRANCE TOUR
« on: November 05, 2007, 03:59:05 am »
Hi from France

Have a look at

I put all the information I could think of there.

happy days


General Discussion / transeurope in fall?
« on: July 02, 2007, 02:56:47 am »
The answer is that, yes, it will be cold. Too cold for me, anyway. September is the fall and in northern Europe is rarely dependable. After that, the weather will deteriorate as the days pass and as you move into central Europe.

You can do it - this year I rode from Holland to southern France in the first two weeks of January - but I'd pack gloves...

happy days


On some lines you may not need to box your bike. On others you do. Worse, if the station at which you want to load your boxed bike is unmanned, you can't do it. So, having abandoned the TransAm in Kansas last summer, I couldn't take my bike on the train from Hutchinson to Kansas and nor could I take the train in the other direction to catch up my pals.

The Amtrak web site will tell you which lines and, as important, which stations accept bikes and under what conditions.


General Discussion / helpExtended touring in Europe
« on: March 08, 2007, 02:26:35 am »

  It's a shame to have Schengen dismissed as "nonsense"; it'd be even more a shame if what I hoped would be helpful advice was so dismissed.

  As I said before, your best bet would be to check with the consul of your first Schengen country to see if a visa is needed. I, a European, need a visit to visit the USA for more than 90 days (and I have one in my EU passport right now), so it wouldn't be surprising if you need one for continental Europe.

  I have just tried wading through the European Union legislation on the net for you, but it's indigestible and I gave up. There is a useful summary on Wikipedia, though; just search on "Schengen".

  I think the position still applies that you don't need a visa for fewer than 90 consecutive days. Nor do I need one for the US, for instance. Beyond 90 days, things change.

  Honestly, your best bet would be to call the consul and ask. They're the experts, after all.

  Good luck. I'll be interested to know how you get on.

lanternerouge (at) ifrance (dot) com

General Discussion / helpExtended touring in Europe
« on: March 07, 2007, 03:20:41 am »

  Yes, do check. But I believe the situation is this...

  Most countries of western Europe form what is known as the Schengen area. Schengen is a city where the nations signed a treaty to allow non-Europeans to travel freely. You can consider them as "Europe", although there's a good reason I've written that in quotes.

  When you get to "Europe", your passport will be stamped and you will be allowed 90 days. In which countries you pass them is up to you. Provided you leave "Europe" within 90 days, there is no problem. There are no border controls within "Europe".

  If you want to spend more than 90 days there, you will probably need a visa. Being European, I don't know how that's done, but your state department or the consul of the first country you plan to visit will. It is the first country that provides the visa but the conditions for its issue are standard across "Europe". There is nothing to choose and, indeed, you can't choose, so far as I know.

  Note: there are important exceptions to "Europe". Britain and Ireland aren't Schengen countries. When you go there, you will pass through all the normal controls and you will get 90 days. When you then go to France, Holland, Belgium and so on, which are all Schengen countries, you will pass through more controls and you will get a further 90 days in "Europe".

  What would happen if you overstayed your limit? Probably nothing much. But it is never kind to do abroad what you wouldn't care for foreigners to do in your own country, is it?

  You should be able to find a list of Schengen countries on the net.


This message was edited by léo on 3-6-07 @ 11:25 PM

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