Farnham UK to Switzerland by Bike

It was a gift for me to spend 2 weeks in May 2010 with my son Mario cycling from Farnham, Surrey, to Switzerland, and I am grateful for this experience. He and Lea had been living in the UK for 18 months, and Mario wanted to cycle back, whereas Lea returned with her father and their belongings by VW Transporter.

On the first day, we rode southeast, for a while accompanied by Mario’s boss Darryl, passed Brighton, still enjoying nice weather, perfect for cycling.

Should I have taken the no cycling sign serious? At crowded times I surely would.

Are these huts rented out on long lease for storing beach furniture and such?

Somewhere on the way through the countryside, before Brighton, we passed by a polo tournament. My only polo match that I had so far watched was in Leh, Ladakh, close to the region where polo originated.

A dish of whelks in Folkestone, only missing a pint of beer.

Trip Summary

29.04.10 Test ride Kaltenbach – Schönholzerswilen 33 km
30.04.10 Schönholzerswilen to Farnham by VW Transporter
01.05.10 Farnham – Brighton – Blyth 95 km
02.05.10 Blyth – Rye 80 km
03.05.10 Rye – Dover – Calais (F) 68 km
04.05.10 Calais – Nieuwpoort (B) 95 km
05.05.10 Nieuwpoort – Brugge – Geraardsbergen (B) 118 km
06.05.10 Gerardsbeergen – Namur 90 km
07.05.10 Namur – La Gleize (Ardennes) 111 km
08.05.10 La Gleize – Ulmen (D) 110 km
09.05.10 Ulmen – Cochem (Mosel) – Koblenz – Bacharach 128 km
10.05.10 Bacharach – Bingen – Rüdesheim – Worms 112 km
11.05.10 Worms – Speyer – Seltz (F) 139 km
12.05.10 Seltz – Strasbourg – Marckolsheim (F) 118 km
13.05.10 Marckolsheim – Basel (CH) 86 km
14.05.10 Basel – Paradies 103 km
Total 1486 km

Calais Campground, after we had crossed the Channel by ferry, was our first night in the tent. In England the bad weather had pushed us to indoor accommodation.

I did a test cooking at home with my new fantastic Primus multi-fuel stove, perfect. It accepts gas, unleaded, diesel, and even olive oil, as fuel. We cooked with unleaded gasoline. Buying gas was fun, pump no. 3, aha, 89 Cents!?

The walls of Graveline, France, a fortified star-shaped old town, with walls and water all around.

Brügge/Bruges market place.

3 km up, 3 km down, 5 km up, 2 km down, and so on, through the Ardennes of Belgium and Eifel in Germany.

We cycled 14 days without a break, in good and bad weather, slept 8 times in the tent, once at a B&B, 3 times at a hotel, and once at Leo’s, a friend of Mario’s in Basel.

My stuff was in 2 panniers at the rear, 2 panniers on the low rider rack, a bar bag, and a large roll with the tent and sleeping bag. In the front panniers were the kitchen equipment and the food, in the back panniers my clothes and other stuff. Mario cycled with his racer and could not take too much weight, although we switched for some days his roll with mine, which gave me some relief.

It was often very cold, for a few days 8 to 10 deg C, even in the afternoon.

Winningen, Mosel (D)

Container vessel on Rhine River.

Tourist boats are prepared for the summer season.

For miles we followed the wonderful Rhine dykes, actually the second spare dykes in the woods, great riding, no hills🙂

Weights of luggage and bicycle
Do you know how much you can check-in for a flight in economy?
20 kg, and the suitcase is heavy!!

2 rear panniers 10.0 kg
2 front panniers 5.2 kg
bar bag 2.8 kg
roll with tent, sleeping bag, mat, .. 8.4 kg
bicycle 15.2 kg
Total 41.6 kg

Writing in the diary, quite a nice evening somewhere in Germany. Camping pleasure, though not too warm, still.

Kaiserdom (emperor’s cathedral) at Speyer, a major monument of Romanesque art.

The cathedral was constructed 1030 to 1061 a.c., imagine the tools they had at that time.

25 km we cycled along Rhône-Rhine Canal, built from 1784 to 1833.

We had some problems with the bikes. I had 3 punctures in one day in Belgium, all originating from the same cause: one of the rims had an internal crack, pinching the inner tube. After the 2nd puncture I realized it and put some cardboard from a nearby waste basket with duct tape on the crack, but it happened a 3rd time due to a weak bonding of the repair patch. Each time we had to stop, disassemble the wheel, pull off the tire, repair the inner tube, and put all together again, not to mention the pumping with a small travel pump.

Mario rode his vintage racer of the famous Italian Gios brand. The rear rim showed a crack at the side, from breaking abrasion over the years. As the bike shop did only sell wheel sets, he exchenged both front and rear wheel somewhere in Belgium. My first puncture was in fact just a few hundred meters before we reached the bike shop that we had looked up in our guide book.

And yes, on the first day, before even reaching the sea, the chain on Mario’s bike broke and we fixed it, quite a troublesome exercise. A 100 meters further up the road, we passed a bike shop and bought a new chain. Why had we not asked for the nearest bike shop? 🙂

Rain, again. On the second last day, shortly before reaching Basel, Switzerland.

This meant the end of my trip, 15 km short of reaching home. Mario rode home while I had to be fetched by car.

Ironically, the location where it happened is called Paradies (paradise), hence, the heading could be „From Farnham to Paradise“.

I had a great time, despite the cold and the rain, and I know that Mario enjoyed it, too. It really was an experience. Thank you, Mario.

The last longer cycling trips I did were from Manali to Leh in Northern India in 1998 and from Auckland to Queenstown in 1992.

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6 thoughts on “Farnham UK to Switzerland by Bike

  1. Wow, what a great ride! Two wonderful weeks. I’m sure you enjoyed the beautiful landscapes.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

    P.S. By the way, I love Nick Cave’s music.😀

  2. i would like to do this and i am thinking of doing it with my boyfriend. You guys both seem very happy too! did you argue along the way? get lost? were you without accomadation sometimes? Either way i donot think it matters you did it right!

    1. Camp grounds were indicated on our map and we always found one or, when it was raining, a hotel. Once, though, we ended at a camp of a private club, but a guy who mowed grass there said we could stay for a night, free.

  3. Tolle Tour! Ich bin letzten Herbst mit dem Fahrrad von Berlin nach Basel bzw. in meine Heimatstadt Lörrach gefahren. Das war natürlich nicht ganz soweit, aber auch eine ungemein bereichernde Erfahrung, die ich nicht mehr missen möchte.

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