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elcolombiano
03-11-2016, 08:06 PM
I am looking for a place to hang out in Europe to do some riding for a couple of months or more. My choices are to string to gather a bunch of cycling tours each costing $4,000 per week, which I can not afford and even if I could would not do because the cost is unconscionable. I don't need a support van with a crew member leaning out of the truck while I am going up hill wiping the sweat off my eye brows for me. I also don't need a tent and table erected for me with fruits to eat out on the road when in most places in Europe there is a pastry shop or bar every few kilometers. I can get a motor home and live a campground or rent a furnished apartment. The problem with these is I would be living and riding alone every day and it may get lonely. I ran into this (see link below). It is a town on the Adriatic coast of Italy near San Marino. The whole town seems to cater to cyclists. They have many guides, bicycle routes and the accommodations with meals seem reasonable. My expectation is there would be other people in my situation in town there for riding and I would not be by myself the entire time. Does anyone have any experience with this? Am I on the right track? I would do this sometime between April and June, avoid July and August due to the heat. What do you think?

http://www.riccionebikehotels.it/en/routes

Ken Robb
03-11-2016, 09:02 PM
You might ask Steve Hampsten for advice. They host tours and training camps in Italy and I think they also have rental property. Steve is a really good guy and I'll bet he will give you good advice to help you decide where to go even if it's not with him.

MattTuck
03-11-2016, 09:06 PM
I have some friends that use a site called couchsurfing.com

They basically go and stay with people for cheap, like really cheap. If you researched a bit, you might be able to find a host that is a cyclist and would ride with you, or point you in the right direction. I think the catch is that you must reciprocate with other couch surfers and host them at your place. (not an expert on the site, just thought it might fit the bill.)

dave thompson
03-11-2016, 09:07 PM
Riccione is a fabulous place to ride bikes! So many routes for so many capabilities. The best weeks vacation I EVER had in my long life was at three Belvedere Hotel in Riccione http://www.belvederericcione.com/en/bike-hotel-italy/34-0.html If you don't have a bike, they rent DeRosas, they wash your bike clothes everyday, the food was beyond great and the hospitality was absolutely the very best I've encountered anywhere in the world. I still get birthday cards from them 9 years later. Marina, the owner, is great pals with Pantanis mom.

Riccione is a seaside town with excellent food, drinks and interesting places. My wife and I are planning to go there for my 75th birthday.

elcolombiano
03-11-2016, 09:21 PM
Riccione is a fabulous place to ride bikes! So many routes for so many capabilities. The best weeks vacation I EVER had in my long life was at three Belvedere Hotel in Riccione http://www.belvederericcione.com/en/bike-hotel-italy/34-0.html If you don't have a bike, they rent DeRosas, they wash your bike clothes everyday, the food was beyond great and the hospitality was absolutely the very best I've encountered anywhere in the world. I still get birthday cards from them 9 years later. Marina, the owner, is great pals with Pantanis mom.

Riccione is a seaside town with excellent food, drinks and interesting places. My wife and I are planning to go there for my 75th birthday.

Thank you so much for the recomendation.

Louis
03-11-2016, 09:26 PM
The best weeks vacation I EVER had in my long life was at three Belvedere Hotel in Riccione

Dave, you and your wife look good in that picture. When was that, last year or the year before?

christian
03-11-2016, 10:03 PM
Just go somewhere popular with bikies and you'll meet people. Girona, Lucca, etc.

RonW87
03-11-2016, 10:24 PM
I've found great local group rides out of Avignon and Narbonne, if your're interested in France.

Mr. Pink
03-11-2016, 11:07 PM
I have been researching this. Yes, I agree, the bicycling hotel concept is easier and much cheaper than the package tour in Italy.

A couple I know has been to this place twelve, yes, twelve times. That's quite an endorsement, right? It's heavily on my radar. http://italiancycling.com/index.html
I'm told that the owner is a bit, er, eccentric, which, I gather, is because he suffers no fools. So, don't be no whining fool, and enjoy the ride. Fantastic area to ride, which encompasses much of the Veneto, from the Dolomites to the flat farmland south.
This is a blog written by an American ex pat who sometimes guides for that hotel http://www.biciveneto.it. Entertaining to read. "Don't ask me about Tuscany!"

This is a bike hotel on Lake Garda that I stopped in and visited last November on my drive from Venice to Lake Como. http://www.gardabikehotel.com/en/. It's pretty similar to the bike hotels in Riccione, from what I gather. Modern place, right off the main highway between Milan and Venice, with all the amenities you need as a biker, especially, food. Lots of food. There is a buffet set up in the afternoon for post ride eating, and a good dinner. This is important, because, if you've ever been to Italy, you'll find that the serving hours in restaraunts do not mesh up with riding needs, unless you like to eat pizza most of the time, and, even then. That is, if there even is a restaraunt or pizza place nearby. You're going to be riding a lot. You have to eat, right? That's the best thing about those 5000 dollar tours. Food available, when you want it. These places cater to that.
There is also an excellent bike room stocked with very nice bikes for rent, a pool, and a hot tub. Plenty of riders to be friendly with, too.
One thing I really like about the place is how easy it is to get to from Milan by train. Station is just two blocks up the hill, high speed stop. No rental car needed. Also, same train line takes you east to Venice, with Verona and Padua as stops on that line. Much to see in all of those towns. Beautiful area. Serious climbing just to the north.

As I said, I visited Lake Como (Varenna and Bellagio) last November, and was just blown away by the place. A good friend of mine who introduced me to cycling rode there three times, and was effusive about the place, and I understood why when I saw it. Amazing. Unfortunately, he passed away a few years ago to cancer, so, I'll never have a chance to follow him on a few of those climbs there. But, I did find one guide service there http://www.bicyclinginitaly.com/index.asp which may not be cheap, and certainly not a self contained hotel experience, but, damn, what a place to cycle. Best food I have ever had in Italy, too, and that's saying a lot. Como is very easy to get to from Milan, too. Again, can be easily done with no rental car. And Milan has cheap non stops from JFK.

I too thought I could just go over there and rent a room and ride around the countryside, saving a ton of money in the process, but, that is a bit naive. As I said, it's pretty necessary to have somebody feed you, and that's not happening in most agriturismos besides breakfast. You're on your own, otherwise, and, hey, you're out in the country. There ain't much out there for dining choices, especially at 2-3 in the afternoon, after a 60 miler. You might have to wait until 7-8 pm for whatever is available. Furgetabout bike repair, too.

Good luck. I may be there in the fall.

MatthewL
03-11-2016, 11:15 PM
I have some friends that use a site called couchsurfing.com


The bike touring equivalent of couchsurfing is warmshowers.org.

elcolombiano
03-11-2016, 11:54 PM
The bike touring equivalent of couchsurfing is warmshowers.org.

This is a pretty neat site, never knew this existed.

RonW87
03-12-2016, 02:00 AM
Add this place to the mix. It's in Bormio, giving access to the Stelvio, Gavia and Mortirolo. I'm going in July.

http://www.hotelfunivia.it/en/bike/bike.htm

rain dogs
03-12-2016, 02:37 AM
I did a number of multi day/week, high km (~3000-4000km) trips in Europe when I was living in Canada. IMHO you're going to have more fun traversing numerous countries than looking for a "basecamp".

My strategy always was more or less:
1. Pick a depature city and a destination city: For example Berlin>Madrid (this can be informed by flight prices, family, tourism, cycling events, other events whatever.)

2. Pick a region of interest between the two points (Coastal jaunt, mountain crusher, pro-cycing hotspots, cultural journey). For example: Eastern Europe to Ferry Hopping.

3. Start filling in the blanks with cities, events, mountain climbs, points of interest.

4. Find accomodation that fits: Couchsurfing, Warmshowers, Hostals, Hotels. etc. Don't plan to stay more than 2 nights in one place if going the social/host route like couchsurfing.

Make a tour. You'll see the most and experience the most and cycle the most.

maxn
03-12-2016, 02:38 AM
May I suggest a book covering excellent but largely unknown rides by a fellow forum member for route planning (in one part of France)? http://www.velodogs-publishing.com. Full disclosure: Hank is a good friend and ride partner. He might be a good person to ask about the area around San Marino too, as he goes there very often.

Other tips: There are a *ton* of organised rides of various levels in France with feed zones etc. They are generally very inexpensive (like 10-15 euros). Calendar here for the more laid back rides:
http://ffct.org/randonner-a-velo/ou-quand-pratiquer/calendrier-des-randonnees/

There are also fondos and cyclosportives, like this one http://www.cyclodromoise.com/wordpress/ almost every weekend in the Spring.

There are a lot of Gites that cater to cyclists, particularly in areas like Bourg d'Oisans that are near famous climbs.

Finally, many local governments come up with nice bike routes (e.g. http://www.ladrometourisme.com/fr/je-decouvre/velo.html) and even set up signs by the side of the road with route information

basilic
03-12-2016, 03:30 AM
You do not need any bike-specific hotels. Also I wouldn't plan that much ahead. Even in the summer you go to any hotel booking site and find a suitable place for the next night in seconds. If you do not commit to a plan, it'll be a real adventure, you can decide to extend your stay somewhere, or just bag it because of bad weather.

In terms of places that can serve as base camp for 3-4 days:
Cortina d'Ampezzo
Corvara
Bolzano
Bormio
Engadin (St Moritz, Celerina, Samedan)
Andermatt
Bernese oberland (Interlaken etc)
Valais (Sion etc)
Montreux/Bex
Bonnevile/Cluses (Haute-Savoie)
near Annecy
Maurienne valley (St-Jean de M)
Bg d'Oisans
Briançon
Susa
Barcelonnette
Menton
Ligurian coast (Imperia, Sanremo)
Argelès-Gazost (and other spots in the Pyrenees)
St-Jean Pied de port
San Sebastian
Asturias (around Oviedo)

This is just places I know and would be happy to spend a few days, there is surely lots more. Staying in just one place would be a downer.

PS obviously this is biased to mountains...

elcolombiano
03-12-2016, 05:15 PM
You do not need any bike-specific hotels. Also I wouldn't plan that much ahead. Even in the summer you go to any hotel booking site and find a suitable place for the next night in seconds. If you do not commit to a plan, it'll be a real adventure, you can decide to extend your stay somewhere, or just bag it because of bad weather.

In terms of places that can serve as base camp for 3-4 days:
Cortina d'Ampezzo
Corvara
Bolzano
Bormio
Engadin (St Moritz, Celerina, Samedan)
Andermatt
Bernese oberland (Interlaken etc)
Valais (Sion etc)
Montreux/Bex
Bonnevile/Cluses (Haute-Savoie)
near Annecy
Maurienne valley (St-Jean de M)
Bg d'Oisans
Briançon
Susa
Barcelonnette
Menton
Ligurian coast (Imperia, Sanremo)
Argelès-Gazost (and other spots in the Pyrenees)
St-Jean Pied de port
San Sebastian
Asturias (around Oviedo)

This is just places I know and would be happy to spend a few days, there is surely lots more. Staying in just one place would be a downer.

PS obviously this is biased to mountains...

Thanks, this is also good information.

Johnnyfreewheel
03-12-2016, 09:11 PM
Riccione has to be one of the worst places to ride in Italy. Nothing but traffic.

Go to the area just below Livorno in Toscano. Better roads, foods & wine.
I have a 2 bedroom apt, full kitchen plus a washing machine. $1500 euros
per month for 2 riders. Best rides in Europe.

elcolombiano
03-12-2016, 09:54 PM
You might ask Steve Hampsten for advice. They host tours and training camps in Italy and I think they also have rental property. Steve is a really good guy and I'll bet he will give you good advice to help you decide where to go even if it's not with him.

I wrote to him and he wrote me back with an excellent suggestion. Many thanks!

elcolombiano
03-12-2016, 09:59 PM
Riccione has to be one of the worst places to ride in Italy. Nothing but traffic.

Go to the area just below Livorno in Toscano. Better roads, foods & wine.
I have a 2 bedroom apt, full kitchen plus a washing machine. $1500 euros
per month for 2 riders. Best rides in Europe.

Thanks for the heads up.

holliscx
03-13-2016, 07:41 AM
Mallorca is paradise for the time of year you're planning to ride: the north and west where you should be based is stellar

Girona and Barcelona both have great riding

Even the Basque Country trains can be had for €19 one way

elcolombiano
03-14-2016, 12:10 PM
Mallorca is paradise for the time of year you're planning to ride: the north and west where you should be based is stellar

Girona and Barcelona both have great riding

Even the Basque Country trains can be had for €19 one way

Thank you.

bikemoore
03-14-2016, 04:19 PM
Any place in Italy that has squiggly lines on the map. (I'm not kidding).

Sent from my SM-G900F using Tapatalk

572cv
03-14-2016, 04:37 PM
If you decide to further consider France, try going to viamichelin.com on line, select a likely area, or any area, and zoom to get to be able to see the network of white roads. A good density of white roads indicates positive cycling opportunity, low traffic. Yellow roads are just about as good. Squiggly white roads indicate fun climbing. Green highlighting along squiggly roads call out scenic and fun climbing. In such areas, there are usually houses to rent which are generally inexpensive in the fall or spring. Find one near a village with a bakery and a grocery and you are ready to roll. We've been doing this for 15 years, exploring the country. Velotel has demonstrated that France has some of the finest cycling in the world. He's right!
For example, this an area which was featured on stage 6 of Paris-Nice this year :
http://www.viamichelin.com/web/Maps?address=06000%20Nice%2C%20France

Finally, a shout out to Maxn for all the great links. Thanks !

velotel
03-14-2016, 05:43 PM
My perspective is different. It's not the cycling that you ought to be looking at but rather what you'd like to do with the rest of your time. You're talking a couple of months over here; you're not going to be on your bike all that time. (Then again if that is your intention, ignore what I'm going to say.) Simple fact of the matter is that finding great riding here is easy; it's everywhere. As purely an aside on that, in my experience the roads in France are much better than in Italy. Pavement's better, signage is better, maps are better, and the drivers' relationships with cyclists is way better. Swiss roads, in the limited experience I have there, are better than french roads, in all the mentioned respects. Note that is referring ONLY to the roads and their environment; it is not in any way a comment on the relative merits of the various cultures, etc.

Returning to the important, in my opinion, question, what do you want to do with the time when you're not riding? I strongly suspect, if I were a betting man I'd say that it's not even a suspicion but a fact, that this time off the bike is the factor that is going to make or break your time here.

Thus I'd suggest you think about the cities you might want to base out of. Cities because that's where you're going to find a wonderful diversity of activities to fill your mind. Like maybe finding a course you can sign up for to learn the country's language. Or if you're also a rock climber, like Maxn, you'll find all kinds of climbing gyms where you can climb and meet people. Or join a cycling club which will more than likely lead you in directions you never imagined, and that have nothing to do with cycling, just people you meet introducing you to stuff you didn't know about and end up enjoying the hell out of.

Or bars and music where for sure you can meet people, or I think you can. I don't really know because I never go to bars and listen to music, too old now. Or sign up for some dancing course, like learning to tango or whatever. There are all kinds of stuff like that going on. I think probably in most of the bigger cities you can probably find at least one association for americans or anglo-saxons if you want to hang out your fellow citizens. Again I say I think there are these because I don't really know; the only american I've met here in my twenty-some years of living here is Maxn. And his comment to me once when I mentioned that in all my years here I've never met americans was just as well, hear an american voice or voices and quickly go the other way because invariably they'll be boring as hell! He made me laugh with that. Not a quote by the way, just what I sort of remember him telling me.

I'd look at places like Grenoble, Chambéry, Annecy, maybe Avignon, I don't know. Just ideas off the top of my head. Grenoble I know somewhat because I live nearby. A jumping town, lots of young people, lots and lots of very sports minded young people, lots of cyclists, and fabulous riding in the immediate vicinity. I suspect that is equally true for Annecy though Annecy is also swamped with tourii in the summer. Chamonix would be great except the cycling out of there is pretty limited, no, severely limited. It's a mountain town, as in climbing, hiking, skiing, flying, etc.

Probably a place like Como in Italy could be terrific too but it's also super crowded. All of northern Italy is super crowded in fact. Great culture, great food, beautiful women (I suppose men too but on that I can't say), wonderful lakes, good riding, lots of roads filled with italian drivers which isn't really a great thing to have to be honest. As a rule I love italian cities but don't know any of them with any intimacy at all. There is one I'd strongly suggest though, Bologna, what a great town, good riding too, not as good as around here and lots of other places but good.

You'll need/want wheels. Just the way it is. So many places to go ride and for that you'll want wheels. You could buy a scooter and if the motor is less than 125 cc you don't even need a driver's license. Bigger than that and you need a motorcycle license. One potential advantage of a town with a university is the profusion of apartments for rent, even for shorter term rents.

Okay, just some thoughts. Like I said, the riding aspect is easy. It's what you're going to do with the rest of your time that will make or break your time here. And if you're really lucky, you could end up meeting someone who is exactly the person you didn't know you wanted to be with until you meet her. Happened to me. Twenty-plus years later my wonderful chance still makes me smile, especially when I'm off on yet one more great ride on some road i'd never seen before.

Cheers

cnighbor1
03-14-2016, 06:08 PM
do a search for self guided tours in Europe
there are two types
one they give you a map and have a hotel room reserved at next stop
two same has above but take your luggage to next stop
Two would work for you
You can fly into Zurich airport which has a major rail connection below main floor
I suggest take a train to a town in the foothills of the alps stay there a week
do a lot of riding in the area and repeat
there are tourism web sites for Germany, Switzerland, and Austria that have a biking section which list bike friendly hotels and routes
also try crazyguyonabicycle.com

elcolombiano
03-15-2016, 04:13 AM
My perspective is different. It's not the cycling that you ought to be looking at but rather what you'd like to do with the rest of your time. You're talking a couple of months over here; you're not going to be on your bike all that time. (Then again if that is your intention, ignore what I'm going to say.) Simple fact of the matter is that finding great riding here is easy; it's everywhere. As purely an aside on that, in my experience the roads in France are much better than in Italy. Pavement's better, signage is better, maps are better, and the drivers' relationships with cyclists is way better. Swiss roads, in the limited experience I have there, are better than french roads, in all the mentioned respects. Note that is referring ONLY to the roads and their environment; it is not in any way a comment on the relative merits of the various cultures, etc.

Returning to the important, in my opinion, question, what do you want to do with the time when you're not riding? I strongly suspect, if I were a betting man I'd say that it's not even a suspicion but a fact, that this time off the bike is the factor that is going to make or break your time here.

Thus I'd suggest you think about the cities you might want to base out of. Cities because that's where you're going to find a wonderful diversity of activities to fill your mind. Like maybe finding a course you can sign up for to learn the country's language. Or if you're also a rock climber, like Maxn, you'll find all kinds of climbing gyms where you can climb and meet people. Or join a cycling club which will more than likely lead you in directions you never imagined, and that have nothing to do with cycling, just people you meet introducing you to stuff you didn't know about and end up enjoying the hell out of.

Or bars and music where for sure you can meet people, or I think you can. I don't really know because I never go to bars and listen to music, too old now. Or sign up for some dancing course, like learning to tango or whatever. There are all kinds of stuff like that going on. I think probably in most of the bigger cities you can probably find at least one association for americans or anglo-saxons if you want to hang out your fellow citizens. Again I say I think there are these because I don't really know; the only american I've met here in my twenty-some years of living here is Maxn. And his comment to me once when I mentioned that in all my years here I've never met americans was just as well, hear an american voice or voices and quickly go the other way because invariably they'll be boring as hell! He made me laugh with that. Not a quote by the way, just what I sort of remember him telling me.

I'd look at places like Grenoble, Chambéry, Annecy, maybe Avignon, I don't know. Just ideas off the top of my head. Grenoble I know somewhat because I live nearby. A jumping town, lots of young people, lots and lots of very sports minded young people, lots of cyclists, and fabulous riding in the immediate vicinity. I suspect that is equally true for Annecy though Annecy is also swamped with tourii in the summer. Chamonix would be great except the cycling out of there is pretty limited, no, severely limited. It's a mountain town, as in climbing, hiking, skiing, flying, etc.

Probably a place like Como in Italy could be terrific too but it's also super crowded. All of northern Italy is super crowded in fact. Great culture, great food, beautiful women (I suppose men too but on that I can't say), wonderful lakes, good riding, lots of roads filled with italian drivers which isn't really a great thing to have to be honest. As a rule I love italian cities but don't know any of them with any intimacy at all. There is one I'd strongly suggest though, Bologna, what a great town, good riding too, not as good as around here and lots of other places but good.

You'll need/want wheels. Just the way it is. So many places to go ride and for that you'll want wheels. You could buy a scooter and if the motor is less than 125 cc you don't even need a driver's license. Bigger than that and you need a motorcycle license. One potential advantage of a town with a university is the profusion of apartments for rent, even for shorter term rents.

Okay, just some thoughts. Like I said, the riding aspect is easy. It's what you're going to do with the rest of your time that will make or break your time here. And if you're really lucky, you could end up meeting someone who is exactly the person you didn't know you wanted to be with until you meet her. Happened to me. Twenty-plus years later my wonderful chance still makes me smile, especially when I'm off on yet one more great ride on some road i'd never seen before.

Cheers
Velotel - Your recommendations are excellent. I speak Spanish and can also survive with Italian if they speak slowly. With French I am lost. If I am going to France I better start learning French. To be honest I have no interest in meeting expats in Europe. I agree with your friend that would be boring. The majority of my time will not be cycling and I need to be in a place with other things to do. I have bicycled in France and just about any place the French are super respectful of cyclists. In Italy the drivers are crazy with tons of traffic and no shoulder. They think they are on a race track and tail gate each other. Most cars are all bashed up. I was thinking I would need a car or scooter. I hate searching for parking spaces in Europe and the parking can be very expensive. My wife and I have a Yamaha biwis Scooter since 2004 in the US. I guess I could buy a used one for $1000 euros and sell it when I leave? Maybe a place in Spain would be better for me because of the language. The Spainsh food is awful. In Catalunia the food and landscape is better but everyone speaks Catalan and it is sounds very foreign to me.

elcolombiano
03-15-2016, 04:21 AM
If you decide to further consider France, try going to viamichelin.com on line, select a likely area, or any area, and zoom to get to be able to see the network of white roads. A good density of white roads indicates positive cycling opportunity, low traffic. Yellow roads are just about as good. Squiggly white roads indicate fun climbing. Green highlighting along squiggly roads call out scenic and fun climbing. In such areas, there are usually houses to rent which are generally inexpensive in the fall or spring. Find one near a village with a bakery and a grocery and you are ready to roll. We've been doing this for 15 years, exploring the country. Velotel has demonstrated that France has some of the finest cycling in the world. He's right!
For example, this an area which was featured on stage 6 of Paris-Nice this year :
http://www.viamichelin.com/web/Maps?address=06000%20Nice%2C%20France

Finally, a shout out to Maxn for all the great links. Thanks !

I have always drooled over Michelin maps and how they are organized. I also like the Michelin Green guides with their star rating system for things to see. I spent 3 weeks following the Tour de France in 1989 with a British group by bicycle and it was the best vacation of my life.

elcolombiano
03-15-2016, 04:23 AM
Riccione is a fabulous place to ride bikes! So many routes for so many capabilities. The best weeks vacation I EVER had in my long life was at three Belvedere Hotel in Riccione http://www.belvederericcione.com/en/bike-hotel-italy/34-0.html If you don't have a bike, they rent DeRosas, they wash your bike clothes everyday, the food was beyond great and the hospitality was absolutely the very best I've encountered anywhere in the world. I still get birthday cards from them 9 years later. Marina, the owner, is great pals with Pantanis mom.

Riccione is a seaside town with excellent food, drinks and interesting places. My wife and I are planning to go there for my 75th birthday.

Thank you for your ideas. I am checking this out.