Having roughly planned out a route following the North Sea from Calais to Copenhagen I started researching things I might see and do. As usual, my research took me off down some tangents and suddenly I find myself with a change of plan. EuroVelo route 15 leapt onto my radar. Copenhagen would have to wait.
The big ride of 2016 is now to ride the length of the river Rhine, from its source in the Swiss Alps to it's mouth as it pours into the North Sea at Rotterdam.
From a pure cycling point of view, it doesn't look too challenging. 840 miles through six countries, but the vast majority is on well laid cycle paths and starting at the source means it's a net down hill to the sea.
From a holiday perspective, it looks amazing. over two weeks it's only around 60 miles per day, which should leave plenty of time for sight seeing and taking in the scenery.
The route starts high in the Swiss Alps at Oberalppass and an altitude of 2345 meters, not far from Andermatt, on the Tomasee where the offfical source of the Rhine is marked. My thoughts initially are to head out there by train - catching the Eurostar to Brussels and then local trains from there - I figure a day or so to reach the start line, but apart from the Eurostar where I have to book the bike in, I'll probably just play it by ear once I hit Brussels.
The route then travels through Switzerland, Germany, France and the Netherlands with short sections in Liechtenstein and Austria. the scenery promises to be spectacular and the sites of historical interest (for someone with a fascination with all things Roman) should also tick a fair few boxes. To make sure I capture all of this properly, this time I'm taking a dedicated camera. I am investing in a Sony WX500 - which from the reviews looks to be a great bit of kit and won't weight the bike down too much.
Getting home from Rotterdam I have a couple of options - either train to Calais or hit the ferry to Harwich and then train from there via London, but that can wait. That's another one to play by ear depending on how I'm feeling when I get there.
As with previous trips I intend to camp for a couple of nights and duck into a b&b or hotel every third night to recharge batteries and the kit will be similar to last years. The main differences will be technology based - I won't be relying on Google maps - paper guides and sign posts, complimented by the Garmin to track the rides, and I've invested in an iPad mini 4 for typing up my blog posts. I've been experimenting with a few different battery solutions too which should allow me to stay out on the road longer without re-charging (ditching the idea of solar panels - they were a complete failure last year).