The Elbe Bike Trip Preparation
I like to take bike tours along river paths near railways. The flatness of the river ensures our (50+) knees are not ruined and the railway allows us to catch a lift if we want one. I believe there is nothing like riding through a country to meet the people, see the sights and experience the scenery. Because I love it so much I maintain a website giving details of how to organise this type of holidays yourself. This trip down the Elbe in Germany was fantastic and I thought you might like to see the photos, learn how we go about these things and discover some of the highlights.
Bilbo and Mrs Bilbo have wanted to ride the Elbe Bike Route (Elberadweg) for some years now and life finally allowed us to do it in 2011. The Elberadweg website does not permit the critical handbook to be downloaded. Luckily, they were happy to send us a free copy, which must have cost a fair bit in postage. The Bilbos are based in the north of England and getting to the Elbe is a little tricky.
Flights from the north of England do not fly to Berlin in the summer (shock... Berlin cut off) so that only really leaves us with Hamburg, Hanover and Prague as likely airports. Given our usual planning distance of 40km a day, a holiday of 10 days meant a total tour of 860km. We were only going to manage half the river. We decide to do the western half and booked a flight from Manchester Airport to Hamburg (Easyjet), returning from Hanover (Flybe).
The choice of airlines give us a slight problem as flying with Easyjet means you can book the bikes on the flight but with Flybe (who use small aircraft) you cannot book your bike, they treat it as standby. Still, the bikes are very old and could be discarded in Germany if need be. We order the large plastic bags from the CTC, service the bikes and wait for our holiday to begin.
I pack the bikes (in their CTC polythene bags) into small packages to fit into my small car. This means that the mudguards have to come off but the final package is tight and easily handlable by baggage staff. I find it takes 20 minutes to build a bike back up.
Low cost airlines in Europe now charge by the number of pieces of luggage and so I fit three of our bike panniers in one "Kashmiri suitcase" (one baggage charge!). At Manchester Airport we have to take the Kashmiri suitcase and the bikes to the large luggage inspection point. No problems.