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Many European maps, including the Michelin’s, use a green line along a road to indicate that it’s scenic. In my experience these roads also generally have light, or at the worst moderate, traffic. Use these roads whenever they come even remotely close to connecting where you want to go between. However, there is a major caution associated with the green lines: they will sometimes indicate spectacular, mountainous roads which will make your day longer and more difficult. If the whole region is mountainous there isn’t much you can do, but your best bet is always to look for roads following rivers or railroad tracks (which usually follow rivers in rough country). Most nontopographic European maps use the chevon symbol ( > ) to indicate grades on roads. A single chevron might be less than 8%, two together 9-17%, and three together mean you’ll probably be walking with the bike. Sometimes the route you want will be wonderfully close to a straight line, but other times it will seem like you have to zig or zag at every country crossroads. On these occasions it may be best to look for a possible path that goes out of the way in one direction, then bends back towards your goal, in each case following a straighter line than the zig-zag alternative. This

French Pyrenees

then your task is easy. To do this process, I recommend making copies of the sections you need from your maps (use 11” x 17” paper if you can), then use highlighters to mark your planned route. Use a different color to indicate possible options or side-trips. Save these maps and use them on your actual tour. One note here: some European countries have special maps (usually 1:50,000) with bike paths and preferred cycling routes marked on them. You’re not likely to find these in the states, and they’re going to be expensive if you try to get a whole set for the area you’re covering. You may want to purchase these selectively upon arrival for sections where you couldn’t find a good route from a smaller-scale map, or just look at them in bookstores to confirm the routes you’ve planned. Very often these will point you to a less-traveled road than the one you selected. However, following these preferred routes will often require much more 26 Quest June 2013

navigation than simply taking a numbered road. While riding through the Black Forest to Strasbourg, Dana and I found ourselves on uncomfortably busy roads. We stopped at a bookstore in a decent-sized town, and I bought a cycling map for the region that soon had us on quieter and far more scenic roads. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on maps, my recommendation is the Michelin 1:200,000 series sold widely in the US. These will not show every back road that may be of interest to you, but they will meet 90% of your needs. Where these - and often even larger scale maps - fail, is in navigating around large cities. Usually the best bet is to look for signs to the next town you want, but be careful when heading toward large cities, since these signs will invariably point to the fastest route for cars - just where you don’t want to be. Always look for a sign pointing to the next small town on your route - ask if you have to.


Adjustable wrench (6-inch)


Pedal wrench - the longer the handle the better (for increased leverage)


Allen wrench - the longer the handle the better (for increased leverage)


Cables (a new bike shouldn’t have any cable breakages, but always good to have a spare)


Lubricant for chain and other parts


Phillips and regular screwdriver


Pliers (this can be small, 6” or less)


Pump and pressure gauge


Extra spokes


Spoke wrench


Tire irons


Spare tube or two


Tube repair kit


Extra bolts, nuts and washers

Quest Magazine  
Quest Magazine