17 April 2010

The Volcano Victimisto's Stupid Idea

So. Here's the stupidest idea I've had in many years.

As a Volcano Victimisto, stuck in Barcelona, there is little chance of getting home. Staying at this four star hotel in this amazing city is quite cosy, to be honest. Like I've tweeted, it's not a bad place to be stranded.

There are no flights and no idea when we can fly. The volcano is belching a bit extra day and there are reports that there is five or six more days with ash. There are no seats on international train departures from Spain until Wednesday. Busses are booked as well and car rentals are, too.

But so here's me thinking...

If I could get to Toulouse, in south-central france, I might have a better chance of getting a train.

So. By bike? Some of you readers know about this sporty side of cycling. How many kilometres a day could I average? Sure, there's the Pyranees. And so what? They're just a stiff headwind off the Baltic Sea. I might need a couple of extra gears.

This is in no way a launch party post. I'm just toying with the idea. Chuck your sporty cycling advice into the comments to help me consider the idea.

I'll need a bike, but we'll see what we can scrounge up in Barcelona.

Hmm. I'll get another bottle of vino tinto from the minibar.


Brent said...

A quick Google search puts the distance between Barcelona and Toulouse at 262 km. I'd probably round that to 300 km for a non-motorway route, maybe more.

On multi-day trips for persons of above average fitness, a good rule of thumb is 100 km per day, max. If you have a 50 km climb in the Pyrenees, though, you might do well just to finish the climb.

I'd guess it's a four day trip, with all caveats and "it depends" thrown in for good measure.

WestfieldWanderer said...

Googlemaps tells us it's about 400km to Toulouse. Are you up for 100km per day over the mountains? You'd get there Wednesday so not a lot to gain timewise, and no guarantee of a train out of Toulouse, but a great adventure nontheless!

Kelly D. Talcott said...

I definitely think you should abandon the bourgeoisie comfort of your four-star gilded cage and head for the rugged Spanish plains, tweeting all the way. The route looks simple, actually: http://bit.ly/azPCCp. Maybe a hill or two along the way, but as long as you're the one doing it I don't really see that it's a problem.

I'd definitely go for it.

Erik Sandblom said...

Isn't there a train strike in France?

I think the best thing is a night train Barcelona-Zürich, spend a day in Switzerland and then take another night train Basel-Copenhagen.

Buy the tickets now, and kill time by exploring the countryside by bike.

Glad you're enjoying yourself so far =)

Anonymous said...

300km? Totally doable... but at what cost... you'd have to wear some lycra and padded shorts!

Matt Bridgestock said...

Do it, the mountains will be stunning. Buy a cheap sleeping bag, sun cream, some wine, bread and cheese. Then just head off. Matt

Oldfool said...

You've got to be kidding me. 100 years ago people were moving around the world using muscle, animals and steam. Rest, food and water are all that you need. So if you need to go then go. You won't die it the money runs out and the world won't stop if you are not somewhere on time.

christopher said...

I did a trip from Portland down the west coast of the US, and started out around 80 km/day and worked our way up to 130 km/day by the end of the trip. We were pretty loaded down with camping gear and such.

I say, pick a route that gives you lots of different options for places to stop, ride until you are tired, and call it a day. Sleep, repeat. You'll get there eventually, right?

Brian said...

Bicycling is never a stupid idea. No matter if you cycle across town or across Europe, you'll be glad you did it.

When I was there, almost 15 yrs ago, Montpellier had the closest TGV connections, and it is closer to Barcelona & on the coast. If you go via Portbou, you can avoid much of the major hills in the Pyrenees.

Furthermore, don't feel like you must bike the whole way. If you can get on local/regional trains, get to Figueres and pick up a bike there (the Dali museum is worth it too). The train might even get you to Portbou, then just walk over the hill into Cerbere, France, then pick up a local train there to the nearest city with an international train.

Savor the opportunity to be resourceful, you'll enjoy it.

christopher said...

Oh, and the west coast US route is fairly mountainous, so it is probably somewhat comparable terrain, though probably not quite as much climbing as you'd find in the Pyranees.

pedalpusher said...

I have no idea of how road 'conditions' are in your intended route.

It's always safer with numbers. Find some other Cyclotourist at bike shops or hostels or on a Bulletin board to see if you can find Cyclist partners.

Good idea to ask 'Wifealicious' as well.

Adrienne Johnson said...

What have you got to lose? And when will you have the ability to do something like that? With a jobe, a wife and 2 kids I am willing to bet that every moment is booked, normally. If James were in your place, I would be yelling at him for not buying a bike already!

Jordan said...

You totally should do it. It will be fun and take lots of pictures along the way. This will be a great story for your kids and the wife the adventure of a life time all thanks to a icelandic volcano. I think it may even have the makings for a really great film in the future. I think you could definately do 100 - 150Km a day!

An Affair With Fashion said...

DO IT! But please photograph and blog about it so we can share the journey with you. Please. :)

Vera said...

It's about 400 km and apart from the Spanish side being arid and the French side being dangerous with French drivers ;) I think it's a nice trip and I would have liked to do it myself one day (lived in Toulouse for a long time). If you are fit, 4 to 6 days should work out.

So: Yeah, yeah!!!! Go for it!!!

I am jealous...

Greetings, Vera

aus said...

DO IT! it would be amazing, and just think of all the amazing pictures you'd be able to take. I wish i were in your situation.

SteveL said...

French Trains are on strike, not so easy.

Pyrenees are excellent to cycle in. You know in French that "Tourmalet" means bad route?

LGV said...

the best way is by Andora, but less than 300km in mountain is not same than 300km around Copenhagen, but the road is nice and the vue magnifique, you will enjoy.

Eneko Astigarraga said...

You know dear Mikael,

This is the madness of travelling by plane. And your case is a little bit surrealistic because you are spreading your ideas of a new kind of local mobility easy, cheap and clean. ;-)

Pacience will give you a time to reflex...

Juan said...

I have done several times the multi-stage train trip to Paris w/o taking trhe night train.
You can go from barcelonne to cerbere, and then use the french rail network with have some options such as going to perpignan and take a tgv to paris or going thru montpelier. Or deal with french buses.
Not as easy and strightfwd as the night train, but doable and sometimes cheaper. And you will arrive even if no places left in the night train.
Instead of a point to point international travel plan your trip as a several crosscountries trips and plan your stages starting on each border (or when just crossed). That gives you more choices that reliying solely on the international minded routes.
But allow for flexibility.
Hope you enjoy barcelonne.

huygens-25 said...

I'm starting to be quite use to do long distance trips on a bicycle, and our next destination is already booked for Iceland since last Easter. But we will be starting our trip end of July so hopefully we can fly there!

Anyway, the amount of kilometers you can do per day depends a lot of road conditions and weather, and also of how fit you are. You can however easily reach 80km/day avg. when loaded (~30kg of stuff). Somedays you might do only a mere 40, some others 120 or even 200 with good winds!

I live in Toulouse, so I would maybe not recommend you this place as you either have to go to Montpellier or Bordeaux before you can reach Paris. So From Barcelona, Montpellier or Narbonne are better options. Toulouse is sadly stuck in the middle of nowhere as far as train and road are concerns... However, if you still pass by, you can do some couch surfing at my place if you need to!

If you go by bicycle to Narbonne, you can go along the coast line after Figueres (and maybe also before), via Colera, Portbou, Banyuls-sur-mer (do some wine tasting there, it is excellent and famous!), Collioure, etc. Check the web site bikemap.net they might have recommended routes for cyclist or you can build your own and see the road altitude profile! Here is an example of such a route: http://www.bikemap.net/route/206362

lluisa said...

Looks like the airports will all be open at the end of the week. In the meantime, enjoy Barcelona!
If there is anything I can help you with (or you just can use the company) email me at lluisanunez at gmail.com

Anonymous said...

On a road-bike or recumbent you could do 300km in one day. Did this many times (Hamburg to Berlin) on a road-bike. But I can tell you - the pain in the a** after 300km in the saddle is medium fun :D So better go for 100-130km a day. With some pauses and an average speed of 20-22km/h that should be doable. Maybe you find other people who're joining you on your trip. Riding in the wind-shadow of other cyclists saves a lot of power!

mike said...

Gium Valls Teruil, a Spaniard has been riding his bike from Beijing around the world.

He started ten months ago and has done 10,000 kms. to date. He's now in Australia, coming our way.

Now, Mikael, if you weren't so against them, you might be interested that he's on an E bike, a wisper, and that her tells me, as he charges down the East coast to Sydney, he can do 200 kms a day if he has to.

Hard to believe, but he does have a solar panel on his trailer (see my blog for photo of the rig http://situp-cycle.com.)

Now, if you were to use your being dust stuck to provoke your trying an E bike, that might help, though without the solar panel, I guess it would be pretty useless.

It's in necessity that strange discoveries are made, no? Mike Rubbo