When I started the original planning, I used the Bikeline guides to look at the route and jotted down the various stages of the trip. We had a good sense of how much mileage we wanted to do each day, about an average of 40 miles. This will give us the opportunity of lazy cycling days with lots of time to stop and do the touristy things. So sitting down with the 2 Bikeline guides and drawing up a spreadsheet was the first step.
We have since decided on a departure date and a possible arrival date, so last night I took it a step further by checking availability of the Ferry and one or two of the places we wanted to overnight. We will mainly use Youth Hostels in Germany and Holland but with some of the stages, we will have to stay in a hotel. Ibis seems a good choice as it is reasonable and in many instances, very close to our route.
The HiHostel site gives you the opportunity of adding you potential stay into an itinerary which is excellent as it provides you with an overview of those places where you want to stay without booking immediately. It turned out that some of the places which I have originally thought where we could stay, either don't have a hostel, or is full or is so small that there isn't even a decent hotel available as an alternative. So map out of all the hostels in Germany and Holland, Bikeline guide on the side and Excel spreadsheet as third resource open and the tweaking started.
I had to change a few places around but now have a workable itinerary with at least 5 bookings confirmed! Plan is as follows;
Drive to Hull, get onto the Ferry to Rotterdam, then cycle from Europoort to Rotterdam, get onto the train to Basel. At Basel, get off and cycle to Lorrach where we will stay the first night. On Day 1 we will cycle back to Basel and start the official route with the next stop in Breisach.
Here are the overnight stays we will be using:
We still have a few things to decide which can come later like whether we will use the Ferry or will we use the train. We discovered last night that we can get to Basel in one day from Chester! Leaving at 7.35am we can arrive in Basel at 19.30. That means we save a whole day on travelling. It is two connections - one in London and one in Paris.
However, we have the return trip to think about and the Ferry is really nice - a sort of mini-cruise. Very relaxing! The two options have almost the same costs, so no major difference here.
On another note; I rented the series 'Bike' from the BBC via Lovefilm during the week and we finished watching it Friday evening. One of the interviews was with a woman called Elaine Mariolle. She cycled across America from coast to coast (3,000mi) in 10 days, breaking the record in 1986. Using 21 hours per day to cover an average of 300-400 miles A DAY !! Unbelievable!
I bought her book ' Woman Cyclist' and will be reading it from cover to cover soon.
She is such an inspiration, I am in awe of her achievements.