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Planning an international bike tour in 4 days

Planning an international bike tour in 4 days

If not now, then when?

So, in the middle of winter here in Poland, we thought we would only dream about summer and where to ride next year.  We started to pull together a great blog post about easy-to-plan European bike touring trips you could do in 1-2 weeks on your summer holiday.  Some routes we had covered ourselves and some routes we were looking forward to do.  (Don’t worry– the post is coming soon!!)

For the routes we were looking to do ourselves, Italy was high on the list.  With cheap discount airlines in Europe, we didn’t have to wait until summer!!  We bought a 14-day ticket from Warsaw-Rome. Having only four days before take-off, we had some quick planning to do.  After  packing our bikes for the plane, we’re off today off for 10 days cycling the Amalfi Coast, and then some time to take in Rome!

Route-planning

Even if we don’t stick to the route and timetable as planned, it’s good to at least have a rough idea.  There are so many places in Italy we’d like to cycle, but in winter, we thought it best to head south.  Based on the following resources, we pulled together our route, mapped below:

only a couple of really big climbs over 10 days!

only a couple of really big climbs over 10 days!

  • The National Cycle Network of Italy (La Rete Ciclabile Nazionale)
    • All in Italian, but the organization has great plans for a national cycle network–which is still in progress.  We planned to take the Eurovelo 7 or National Bi 1, from Rome, to the coast, and as far past Naples as we can pedal. It is only marked through Lazio, the province of Rome. We’ll see how the rest goes. You can download the .kml files here for your own maps for each section.
  • Organized bike tour operators:  While you won’t get detailed route information, sometimes you get some insight into some great sections for riding.  In looking for more information about cycling the Amalfi Coast, we found this, which really prodded us to continue south past Naples to the Cliento National Park.
  • Maps, maps and more maps:  We don’t normally use a proper GPS system and we haven’t found an affordable international data plan for iPhone, so we aim to use our trifecta combination of maps:
    • Galileo off-line Maps app: We take our plotted route from google maps and load it onto the iPad with Galileo (review coming soon).  No internet connection needed (as long as you pre-cache the route) and google-quality maps.  It’s a little tricky, but when it works, it is great!!
    • Road map:  Once we land in Rome, our first trip is to a good bookstore for a good road map.  If all else fails, this is the ol’standby.
    • Cycling maps?:  At this said good bookstore, sometimes you can find some cycling maps.  As you enter different regions, some tourist offices might have cycling maps, too.  We are always on the lookout.
  • And some sight-seeing, too:  We call ourselves “Two Wheel Travel” because its not just about the bikes–its about traveling on your bike as the means of transportation. I am quite sure that we will see and do in 10 days as much as most people would see and do via some engine-driven transport. Plus we will have the added bonus of travelling at a human pace, where we are free to stop, diverge, interact with locals, see, feel and genuinely be part of our surroundings rahter than simply passing through them at high speed.  We picked up a Lonely Planet Guide to Naples & the Amalfi Coast to help us identify the places we want to stop and sight-see and accommodated with some really short days on the bike– especially around Naples and the Amalfi Coast. It’s amazing to see how many of their suggested itineraries are easily doable on a bike!
  • We need an extra bike!:  Our two sets of wheels has become three sets on this trip, and we needed an extra bike.  The folks at Top Bike Rental in Rome have been super helpful and have a good-looking touring bike waiting for us.  They do tours around Rome, too—what a great way to see the city.

Accommodations

With three of us on this trip, we’ve decided to take it easy and stay indoors instead of camping.   We haven’t booked anything outside of our first night in Rome, because we like to keep things open.  This time of year accommodations shouldn’t be booked, but we’ve also been warned that a lot of things are closed.  We did our research, though, and found a few options close to our daily destination points (and a few in-between, just in case) through some of our favorite budget sites (Airbnb and Hostelbookers).  We usually have a good idea the day before where we’ll make it to on the following day and will call ahead to confirm a spot.  Better start practicing our Italian. Andiamo!

With our late plans, however, we may not have much luck with the Warm Showers network—but we’re also going to give it a try.  Hopefully, we can at least meet a few other cycling nuts (eh, enthusiasts) for coffee and a chat.

Return to Rome on the train

We aim to cover as much ground as possible, we ofter prefer cycling one-way routes and catching the train backTren Italia is pretty convenient for bikes, as they are accepted on all Regionales and some Intercities.  Unfortunately, they are not allowed on the superfast trains unless they are boxed or bagged up.  We’ll see how this works out!!

There you have it!  See how easy it is to plan a bike tour?

Stay tuned for more from the road.  

Now it’s your turn—where is your next trip? Tell us about it….

About Carolyn Bys

Before becoming a cycling vagabond, Carolyn has been a bit of a vagabond in life, always trying new things-- from being a textile artist to vegan chef to outdoor adventurer to criminal defense attorney and international human rights lawyer. These experiences make her passionate about people, history, culture and nature. She is the consummate trip planner, route-finder, navigator and journal-keeper to Two Wheel Travel’s adventures and always in search of the best way to get to her next destination by bike. contact Carolyn

3 comments

  1. I traveled to Sabaudia a couple times and absolutely love the area! Great food/wine and really nice people. An Italy route is on my bucket list for sure.

    • We really liked Sabaudia, too! In wintertime, its the training terrain for hordes of Italian cyclists. In our first 10 km out of Sabaudia we were swarmed by packs and packs of pelotons. Being Italian, they were friendly and playful and cheered US on!! The routes in Italy can be hit or miss– lots of places are full of junk and trash– but we really enjoyed the Lazio coast from Anzio to just past Gaeta– with Sabaudia being our favorite section. We even found a sweet gravel road section a few kilometers before town. Of course, the Amalfi coast was the best part, but we were surprised (in both good and bad ways) at several points along the trip. Our full trip journal will be posted soon!!

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