Sunday, 26 May 2013

Pyrenees 2013!

So it is finally happening, I am in the process of planning the 2013 trip - which this year is to the Pyrenees. We have about two weeks in total to enjoy riding the Pyrenees, throw in some sight seeing and activities and for me to finally visit Barcelona (which I have wanted to do since I was a kid).

I have provisionally worked out where we are staying and when and so far the only thing booked is the ferry from Portsmouth to Santander. But just to give a sneak preview of the rough route we are planning to take on this trip I have put together a Google Map:

View Larger Map

Over the next few weeks I will be adding more stuff. For information on equipment you might need or stuff you should know when driving in parts of Europe then check out the posts I did for the Black Forest trip last year as it would pretty much be the same. Only difference is we are planning to camp for the entirety of this trip but that shouldn't change the equipment list too much, although you may want to take additional stuff for cooking.

So keep checking the blog to see how this develops and maybe it'll inspire your own European trip ! :)

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Black Forest 2012: Day 8 - Durnal, Belgium - Essex, UK

Day 8: Durnal, Belgium - Essex, UK 02/09/2012
Miles: 268 appx. 

This is the last post of the Black Forest 2012 trip! I know it has taken me almost a year to finish it... but I have been swamped with Uni work :). Next up I will start writing about the Pyrenees trip that I am planning, but for now lets finish this final post :).

We got up fairly early on the Sunday, aiming to get to Calais for the 16:35 ferry. En route we wanted to stop in Belgium to take home some chocolates (as you do when in Belgium!). We stopped first in Gent
as there was a shop there that I had visited on another trip but unfortunately it was shut. We walked around the town just taking in some of the sights and just to show Emma around the place before we jumped back on the bikes. We also spotted a very odd looking bike, scooter, whatever it was with a side car :/.

Failing to get any chocolates here, we went back to familiar territory - Bruges. Here we bought chocolates from the shop with the chocolate king of the sea in the window. I asked for a mixed variety of white chocolates (as I am not really allowed cocoa due to my headaches) and Emma got whatever she wanted!

Now the ferry was a nightmare. We arrived pretty early, perhaps a couple of hours early and the port was absolutely rammed. It took an age to get through to the booking desk where we were told there was no chance we could get on the ferry. Our booking got migrated to a different ferry company (My Ferry Line) and we had to visit their offices to get booked in. Whilst waiting in the queue I heard that there was no space on any of their ferries until about 8 or 9 pm. Hearing this (and with her new job starting the next day) Emma marched over to P&O and demanded that we were put on their 5:30 ferry (I think, I can't remember the exact time now). We managed to get back to Essex within good time for her to start her new job the next day - despite perhaps being a little stressed out as a result of this !

Routes wise, we used motorways all the way back to Calais, including to Gent and Bruges to allow enough time to be back for the ferry. If you still wish to see the original map of this route then see below:

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Problems With Motorcycle Routes In Garmin's Basecamp

OK, so if like me you have had to revert to Garmin's Basecamp software and are having trouble with creating routes then this YouTube link will sort you out:

Basecamp is Garmin's map software, which allows you to create routes, view addresses and POI's and much more. Previously I used Garmin's older version known as Mapsource and never experienced any issues. Unfortunately, when I downloaded the new 2013.4 European maps, Mapsource would not allow me to use them and so Basecampe was my only option.

I tried to create a short route from my house in Northampton to the M1 via some back roads. However, the route that Basecamp calculated for me made no sense and made it far more complicated than it needed to be. The thing is, Basecamp utilises a profile system for cars, motorcycles, HGV's etc. You need to configure the profile in order for the routes to be calculated correctly. This YouTube video will show you how to do this and how to perform similar steps on your Garmin device. You can then tweak the settings so that they work for you. For example, the tutorial selects the fastest route option but I leave mine as the shortest route.

If you have any questions regarding Basecamp or other Gamin products then enter a comment below and I will do my best to help you. If you feel you can contribute some useful information regarding Basecamp then please do that too. Although I am still learning with Basecamp myself so won't pretend to know everything !

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Black Forest 2012: Day 7 - Mosel Valley, Germany - Durnal, Belgium

OK, I know it has been forever since I last posted. As you can imagine University got on top of me and I spent the last few months finishing it off. But now I have completely finished, handed in my final piece of work on the 2nd May, so I can continue writing the blog!

Day 7: Mosel Valley, Germany - Durnal, Belgium 01/09/2012
Miles: 144 appx. 

Now, we originally planned to go the fast way to the campsite in Durnal, but as we had a bit of time and it was a nice day we set the sat nav up for the shortest route, avoiding all motorways and main roads. It turned out to be a great idea, as the scenery and sites were amazing.

Me and my sat nav did have a bit of a disagreement however on this route. Originally stating about 90 miles from Mosel Valley to the campsite, we ended up filling up the bikes twice on the way and it took about 3 hours. All was forgiven though as we really enjoyed the ride. Don't let the sunny pictures fool you though, it was freezing!

The biggest highlight were the castles we spotted. In fact, we rode past it the first time and decided that we would go back to see it. I do not know much about them other than they are called The Manderscheid Castles. There is some more information knocking around on google if you are interested. I wish we went up to them now and had a proper look, but as with most things on this trip time was pretty much against us =(. This is the only picture taken of me and Emma together on this trip too lol.

We got to Durnal and set up camp. My Grandad said that we should visit Dinant if we could so we headed up there for the afternoon, with Emma popping on the back of my bike. It's a nice town, not a lot going on really but sits by the river and is quite picturesque. There were large saxophones across the town and over the river, which represented different countries, which was cool. We had a look inside the chapel and had dinner by the river. The waitress didn't speak English but my (very little) french just about got us by.

There are no routes for this trip, but there are some nice roads around the Durnal area, so I would recommended looking some up if you are ever over that way.