Every cyclist I meet on long distances routes seems to have their own unique approach to navigation. Some are dedicated map users, while others have committed entirely to electronic means.
When I set out to cycle around the North Sea, I did a bit of research to see what would be an optimal strategy for each country I would cycle through, while keeping the weight to an acceptable limit. I used a combination of the following:
- Google Maps
- Google MyMaps
- Viewranger (Android and iOS)
- Backcountry Navigator Pro (Android)
- Garmin 520
- Paper Maps
Each method has its uses, depending on the circumstances.
Mobile 4G coverage in Europe, even in remote locations, was excellent. Perhaps not so in the remote areas of the UK. Continue reading
I recorded my journey with a Garmin 520 GPS device, which worked very well. Here is a summary of each day for those who like statistics. My observations:
- Longest day – Inverbervie – 9 hours cycling over 11 hours elapse
- Furthest day – Netherlands – 165 km – flat and a ferocious tail wind
- Quietest roads – Scotland (less than 10 cars per hour) – and the sun was out
- Most off road sections – Denmark, mostly covered in sheep sh*t
- % on busy roads – Sweden (busiest = more than 10 cars per hour), although England definitely heaviest traffic
- Toughest day – Feda to Mandal, Norway (Max speed 60kph, 1889m ascent) – exhilarating descents, including one 450 degree bend (I had to think about that)
- 55 days elapsed, but 53.5 days actual cycling taking into account flights and major ferries (LHR to Bergen, Shetland to Aberdeen, Sweden to Denmark)
- Highest average speed – to Grenaa to Ubdyhøj – 20.4 kph
- 45 nights under canvas, 2 on ferries, brothers house, 3 B&Bs, 3 YHAs and 1 night in Prison.
A total of 5,936 km (missing out the G20 conference in Hamburg by catching the Brunsbüttel ferry to Cuxhaven and also taking direct routes in Orkney and Shetland). 193,000 calories, 347 hours of cycling (6.5 hours per day average) at a daily average speed of 17 kph. 36,436 metres of ascent – phew!
Click here for pdf – NSCR Itinerary
What I did not expect is 74% of the journey (estimated and noted each day) was traffic free or on very quiet roads. By quiet roads I mean less than 10 cars per hour passing you. With a few exceptions (Aberdeen, Sittingbourne/Faversham and a few other locations), even the traffic roads were safe to ride, not needing cycle courier levels of skill to negotiate.
Most blogs I have read indicate a 60-80 day itinerary, which is probably a better bet if you plan to see more of the sights. A lot depends on ferry timings and availability, many ferries do not operate out of a very narrow summer season in Norway. I’ll write about the ferries soon.
All the gear together, just need to tune the engine.
I’m now at the dangerous stage of adding things I don’t need and removing things I do. Pleased to see the gear weight is 13kg. Bike weighs 21kg including tools, lock, lights and fitted bags. Add another 8kg for consumables. I shan’t say what the engine weighs, but the fuel consumption is terrible.