29. January 2020
by Frank Scharlau

2019 Thessaloniki to Athen

Start in Hamburg with two bicycles

This time we packed the bicycles into specially designed cardboard boxes since the bikes have been damaged on the flight back last year, and it turned out to be pretty difficult to repair them (see report Tirana – Thessaloniki). It’s already not that easy to get the 6 feet long boxes through the revolving door at the airport, but it is completely impossible to make it through the narrow zig zag waiting line in front of the Turkish Airlines counter with the two big boxes. Therefore, I park them next to the waiting line, which immediately attracts the attention of the airport security. Wildly gesticulating I try to explain that the boxes belong to me, at the same time trying hard not to lose my position in the queue. Next, the lady at the check-in counter somehow insists to take a look at the boxes, so that I have to pick them up again and push them against the stream of already checked-in passengers to the counter, without being able to overlook those huge containers. By now I am an entertaining attraction for all other people around.

Exhausted and covered with sweat I want to drop off the boxes at the scanner for oversized check-in hand luggage. Since the boxes are too big for the scanner, I am asked to take the bikes out of the boxes. Finally, after about 2.5 long hours of scanning, checking, doublechecking and repacking, the bicycles are on the way to the plane.


This is indeed not the reason that my flight to Istanbul is so long delayed, that I am missing the connection to Thessaloniki. As a side effect I get to know the new, huge airport of Istanbul while I am busy to rearrange my travel plans. As Sven plans to stay the night in Istanbul anyway, I book the same hotel as him as well as the same flight to Thessaloniki next morning. And indeed, our bikes arrive with the same plane as us, so we are ready to start our first day!


1st day stage

The first day’s stage is rather flat, so we take the 111 km to Katerini without major problems. The journey starts from the airport through the city of Thessaloniki and then we head to the south. Located in the West of Thessaloniki is a big national park, which is characterized by a large delta of 3 rivers. Unfortunately, we can’t pass it, since there are hardly any bridges to cross the rivers.

Behind Thessaloniki we can ride on small, well-maintained roads parallel to the main street so that we arrive in the city of Katerini (85,000 inhabitants) in best mood.


2nd day stage

Parallel to the southbound highway is a small, paved road, where we could cycle excellently all the way to Athens. Unfortunately, it has a high wall next to it, which doesn’t allow us to have a good view. After

25 km alongside wall, we choose the alternative option to ride down the coastline to the Aegean Sea. One of the very few fortresses in this area (Platamonas) forces us to make a short ascent up to 250 feet in elevation, but otherwise it is a smooth ride. The weather has mercy on us: a dark rain front just missed us, so that we can take off the rain gear after a short while. Since we ride only 55 miles today, Sven accepts the few gravel roads that we have along the way. The Grand Hotel in Larissa (140,000 inhabitants) is already waiting for us.


3rd day stage

On the third stage, the terrain is a bit more challenging. We have 65 miles with more than 3,000 feet elevation to master. We manage to avoid the highway and drive on a beautiful, quiet road with stunning views on both sides. Almost at the end of our stage it goes downhill to sea level and then again up 600 feet in altitude. This is it for the day, we land in Glifa (260 inhabitants), a little village at the Aegean Sea. Since there is only one hotel around, we had booked a room in advance. We get a warm welcome. Walking through the village, which is just a distance of 1,000 feet along the water, we see the sign: “Man spricht Deutsch”. (We speak German). The owner approaches us fluent in German and shows us to the terrace where we enjoy a sundowner overlooking the Aegean Sea.

The locals celebrate Glifa’s main event of the year this night. We watch from the terrace the gathering of about 200 Greeks, who are taking a ferry to one of the nearby islands, where a church service takes place. After they’re gone the village is quiet and peaceful again. We continue the evening with a dinner at the restaurant next door.


4th day’s stage

Today we must take the ferry to a peninsula from where, after 6 miles, another ferry takes us back to the mainland. We hear that this ferry goes every 2 hours. So, we begin a race across the 350 feet high hill to catch the next available ferry leaving in only 30 minutes. We are right in time, but we just see the ferry leaving when we arrive. After an hour another ferry arrives and we realize at the very last minute that this one is ours ! The information that the ferry runs only every 2 hours was simply wrong.

We lost a lot of time, so take the shortest way to Thiva. This way goes again parallel to the highway on a nicely paved road. With still 20 miles to go, we are facing very strong head winds. Therefore, we try for the first time the ‘Belgian Spinning Top’, one of us takes the lead for a minute with the other go behind before we switch roles. Somehow already exhausted, we decide to make a last stop at the only little village nearby, which means just a detour of half a mile. We were not aware that this short distance also means to climb 300 feet in altitude. The imagination of a large cold glass of Coke keeps us going. At the top of the mountain we find a little bar and buy 10 cans of Coke, they are gone in no time !

The last 20 km should not be a problem at all, at least we think so. Then, suddenly, the road ends. We have only 2 feet between the concrete wall and the slope, quite challenge for Sven with his vertigo. And I am feeling a bit uneasy as well. Then we push the bikes down the hill on a small dirt track in order to ride on a beautiful hiking path along a lake.

Shortly before Thiva some farmworkers stop us to take a short cut. A little later we arrive in Thiva, covered with clay and mud. Our plan is simple: quickly to the hotel, take a shower and rest a bit, then a big dinner. But the day with all its surprises is not over yet. The first two hotels are fully booked, the third and last in town, managed by a nice young man, can’t accommodate us either. He is very helpful and connects us with two holiday home agents outside of the city.

While I try desperately to get one of them on the phone, Sven finds out that the young man at the reception is not satisfied with his life and they start a coaching session right away. In fact, I manage to get an entire log cabin for us, it still needs to be cleaned and is located a few miles outside of the city – in the direction we just came from. Unfortunately, we can’t leave immediately, Sven has to finish his coaching dialog first.

The couple who rents out the cabin is very nice, we even get it 50% off, since we are in the low season.

Totally happy that we finally found a place to sleep, we give them a generous tip. However, the look of their faces tells us that they don’t understand our gratitude. We take a taxi back to the city and look forward to a big piece of meat in a steak house. After studying the menu, the waitress tells us that they are out of steaks, there is only soup and pasta left. BBQ in Greece – incredible but fits nicely into this day filled with mishaps. Nevertheless, we find again a good solution: We find the best restaurant in town and get a real good meal. While we are having dessert, we get a call from our welcome committee in Athens, they are already celebrating their own arrival in Athens.


5th day’s stage

This year, for the first time, I have no printed maps with me, and I am completely thrilled by the App Komoot, which not only shows us the way, but also gives information about inclines and the surface of the selected paths. To avoid riding along the freeway, I work out overnight a route across a mountain which is supposed to have 90% road surface by using Komoot.

We say goodbye to our landlords and have breakfast at a truck stop on the other side of the street. A Greek guest asks us about our tour and is so excited, that he spontaneously buys us a Greek muesli bar and wishes us well. In a good mood and with plenty of time on our last tour-day – we want to arrive in Athens at 4 p.m. – we start steeply uphill through Thivia to the south. After 5 miles, our road turns into a gravel road, although my Komoot is still showing road surface. After 15 miles, we are pretty annoyed, as the road surface changes from gravel to a muddy clay slope. We try to clean our bicycle wheels with small sticks, as we can hardly drive any longer. We decide to take a 10-miles detour and head north to the freeway, as the road surface will not change on the planned route for the next 30 miles and it also includes a climb of 1,500 feet in altitude. After another 10 miles gravel road, we finally have asphalt under our wheels again and a short time later we reach the street along the freeway, which brings us to Athens.

The last 15 miles to Athens, we almost only go downhill. It is a relaxed ride that takes us from quite country roads into a bustling metropolis. Cycling on the streets of Athens in the rush hour with no bike paths is a challenging experience – even if all car drivers think of themselves being very considerate of us. At 5 p.m. we reach our destination, the Panathinaiko Stadium, where the first Olympic Games of the modern era took place in 1896.

Our fan base welcomes us with a big banner, flags and sparkling wine! Jutti serves sparkling wine, Achim W. documents everything with his camera, Klaus and Achim Z. hold the banner. Nicola, Fabian, Petra,

Birgit D, Kai, Bettina, Birgit W., Karin and Lothar are just as happy as we are to have our goal for this year achieved. Special thanks to Achim Z, he organized a minibus, which brings us and our bikes to our hotel, 10 miles away.

We occupy half of the rooms in the hotel which hosts us for the next 4 days. It almost feels like a private accommodation. Every morning we have breakfast together at a long table directly at the pool. In the evening, we all meet for a sundowner at the pool of the hotel after coming back from our sightseeing tours. On Saturday evening Sven and I invite our friends for dinner in a magnificent restaurant with ocean view. We enjoy Greek Tappas and Greek wine. For us – our fan base agreed, the days in Athens were an absolutely worthy celebration of our x-Europe-Tour.


29. March 2019
by Frank Scharlau

2018 Tirana to Thessaloniki

The flight with two shrink wrapped bicycles is meanwhile routine for me. Since we started in Split two years ago to pack the bikes this way, we had no longer problems checking in at the airport.

Unfortunately, this packing solution is still not perfect. The bikes are being treated like regular luggage without any special attention to avoid damages. I reached Tirana on Friday night with two bicycles not in a good shape. Sven was supposed to arrive the next day around 1 pm, our plan was to ride together from the airport to the city, where my family (Petra, Nicola and Fabian) was already waiting to spend the weekend with us. In the morning I assembled the bikes, I managed to repair almost all damaged parts, except of the bent part, which connects the pinion with the back wheel. At the third attempt I did it, the part broke off.

Experts call this part a derailleur hanger which is designed to break in order to protect the circuit from damage. Unfortunately, I did not have a spare rear derailleur with me (I had never heard of it before)! Would we have to cancel our tour this year because of this missing spare part?

The staff of the hotel where I stayed was very accommodating and sent their driver to assist me, he brought me along together with Sven’s bike to Tirana. However, we had only very little hope to get the necessary “derailleur” on a Saturday afternoon. The street we stopped turned out to be an Eldorado for cyclists: within 300 feet, there were 10 little bike shops to the left and the right of the road. Actually, the owner of the third store rummaged the right derailleur hanger up from a big box and repaired Sven’s bike in a few minutes! Our hero!


By the way: On the flight back home, the derailleur hanger of my Bergamont bike broke. In the Bergamont flagship store in Hamburg, the derailleur hanger was not on stock: it would take 5 days for delivery and the first possible appointment for the installation was only 4 weeks later. Hurray on the Albanian bicycle dealers !!!

Therefore, Sven and I had a relaxed ride to Tirana at noon. We stopped to say hello to our hero, checked out downtown Tirana and had a fantastic dinner together with my family.


We were convinced that we had already solved our biggest problem. In the best mood we started next morning to the south. We had already left, when the hotel manager told my family, that the route we chose was not accessible by bike. While planning the route my focus was to a find a moderate slope and I didn’t check the road surface. When the asphalt ended, we were still not worried. As we were greeted by donkey carts however, we started to get a tiny idea of what was ahead of us: 7 miles gravel road which brought us two flat tires and several falls, fortunately without serious injuries, just some scratches. We had to push our bicycles uphill several kilometers. Even Sven’s unbreakable optimisms seamed to fade away.



Fortunately, the second half of the day continued with a ride on a nicely paved road and we arrived at our hotel in time. It turned out to be a well-known stop on the road from Albania to Macedonia: 24 hours open restaurant and probably the only public restroom within miles, just underneath our hotel room.

The next day’s stage brought us uphill to Lake Ohrid, 2,000 feet above sea level. Still exhausted from the first day and because of a thunderstorm coming up from the south, we decided to take the shorter, northern bypass of the lake. When we reached the border to Macedonia, the rain started. To wait was no option, so we put on our rain gear and luckily, we had the rain front fairly soon behind us.

In Ohrid a young cyclist approached us, he was eager to sell us the best hotel rooms for little money. In fact, this became the cheapest overnight stay of our entire tour. It took us a while until we found out however, that there were no bed sheets or towels in the apartment. Who cares! Ohrid is a tourist town with the best access to the lake and with tons of nice restaurants and hotels. Most of the tourists are from Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo and Greece.


The third day brought us again almost 3,000 feet of altitude and with almost 3,500 feet altitude the highest point of this year’s leg. It started immediately with a long climb, but with some breaks it was easy to handle. Halfway I made another attempt to choose a side road, but we turned around after a few feet on gravel. As the main street was not as busy as we thought and most of the drivers honored the speed limit of 70 km / h, we felt rather safe and enjoyed riding on the paved underground. Our stage ended in Bitola, the third largest city in Macedonia with 70,000 residents. The town has a wide pedestrian zone through the center of the city. Here we found a nice restaurant: The food was excellent, and the waiter did a great job to explain the best local dishes and drinks to us.



The fourth day’s stage of the day started relaxed with pleasant temperatures and without headwinds. We soon reached the border to Greece. This is the 15th country we got to on our x-Europe tour: we cycled through Scotland, England, France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia and now Greece. Since we had just mastered 3 rather stressful days, we decided to change our route a bit. 7 miles more saved us 1,200 feet in altitude. A big thanks to Google Maps! Also, the route change brought us an almost untraveled road along a beautiful lake. The final 10 miles went only downhill! We arrived in a good mood in Edessa and found immediately a small, very nice hotel. At the outskirts to the east, the terrain drops 600 feet directly, so that the small rivers through Edessa flow in quaint waterfall cascades towards the valley.


After the short 600 feet downhill ride, the last stage towards Thessaloniki didn’t present any special highlights. We hardly had an opportunity to avoid the traffic of the main road, instead we share it with a lot of trucks. The only exception was a 7-miles-long well-developed road, with almost no traffic. We could ride relaxed next to each other. Big signs explained that this road was built with EU funds. However, as it is 1.5 miles longer than the old road nobody uses it.

In Thessaloniki we enjoyed a huge cup of ice-cream in one of the pedestrian zones with the view on the ocean before we took a sunbath in the afternoon on the lawn around the old lighthouse (White Tower) overlooking the promenade and the harbor. As dark clouds came up, we rushed to our hotel, close to the airport and prepared the bicycles for the flight.


Sven and I could not agree on whether to end our x-Europe-Tour in Istanbul as originally planned, or to go to Athens instead because of the political situation in Turkey. We decided on a double finish. On 05/11/2019 we will celebrate the first end of the tour in Athens, I will be responsible for the arrangements and in 2020 we will celebrate our finish in Istanbul, which will be planned by Sven. So, if you are up for it, please join our small party in Athens on May 11th, 2019!


7. February 2018
by Frank Scharlau

2017 Split to Tirana

A sensational route lies ahead of us: this year we cycle along the southern Croatian coast and continue through Montenegro to Albania.

After carrying our bicycles for more than 20 years on aircraft we found this year the perfect packaging solution: we dismantle the front wheels and pedals, stick the front wheels against the bicycle frame and wrap the whole thing with stretch foil. Small dents on the bikes can’t be avoided, but we are tired of endless discussions with the airline staff in the recent years and the constant fear that they could reject our bicycles. Therefore we will carry with us from now on: a roll of stretch foil and tape, and within 30 minutes our bicycles are transformed into shrink wrapped packages.


Just 3 miles / 5 km on our way from Split airport to downtown Sven overlooks a pothole and we need to fix a flat tire.


Afterwards we find a very nice hotel close to the old town and it is still hot when we stroll through the narrow streets looking for an appealing restaurant to have dinner at the historic market place.


The destination on our first day is the small town of Gradac, which is 65 miles / 100 km away. Riding towards Albania we will stay on highway no. 8 for a couple of days. There are no alternatives: mountains are on our left and the Adriatic is on the right. The hilly territory between a steady uphill and downhill for us.


The maximum altitude on this day’s stage is 600 feet / 200 meters, which shouldn’t be a challenge for us, as we crossed the Alps ! However, since I am not used to the unusually hot weather – it’s over 90 degrees Fahrenheit / 30 degrees Celsius – I’m totally exhausted in the afternoon. We constantly need to do short uphill climbs. Drinking 1.5 gallons / 5 liters of water is simply not enough. Thanks to a power drink from Sven’s “Triathlon Magic Package”, we finally reach Gradac and celebrate the victory of our first day’s stage while sitting by the water drinking Czech beer. At sunset, all lights on the beach and in the restaurants were suddenly turned off. When we ask for the check, we finally realize that this romantic atmosphere is caused by a power outage ! No credit card payment is possible, and we have to collect all cash we still possess in Kuna to pay the bill.


Later we leave our sweaty clothes and cycling shoes on the balcony and assume that they will dry during the night. Around 3am an incredible sheet lightning wakes us up. The summer storm is a great spectacle of lightning and thunder which we really enjoy. On the flip side, we unfortunately need to start our trip next morning with soaking wet shoes and cycling pants. But it is not a complete disaster as we already have 30 degrees. After the short, but steep climb back to route no. 8, we are fully warmed up. We pass the narrow strip that belongs to Bosnia-Herzegovina and return to Croatia after a few miles. The second part of the day is dominated by many climbs. Dubrovnik is already in sight, when we have to master another 300 feet / 100 meters in altitude. We pick the first hotel we can find, it has a beautiful view over the bay.


On our way to the old town we walk down endless stairs and then take a bus. The historic city center of Dubrovnik is really impressive. We stroll through almost every side street and enjoy our dinner in one of the many restaurants.


Our next destination is Budva in Montenegro. Until now a highway which runs parallel to our Route No. 8 took all the transit traffic. After leaving Dubrovnik the traffic volume is much higher, and the trucks are passing by scary close to us. We stay disciplined, on the right side of the road, hoping that the truck drivers are not tired. We make it without accidents to the border of Montenegro. The clerk just smiles at us when we try to pay for the ferry in the Bay of Kotor with Croatian Kuna. We are back in the „Euro Zone“.



Déja vu: It goes steeply uphill again shortly before Budva. We take several breaks to drink plenty of water and finally master the 1500 feet / 500 meters altitude and roll downhill on the other side of the hill to downtown Budva. The place seems to be almost fully booked and we manage to get a tiny double room. On our search for a nice restaurant, we end up together with hundreds of tourists in a kind of adventure park at the beach: restaurants, gambling dens, live music, ice cream parlors, giant swings and cocktail bars are all over the beach. We learn that Budva is the designated destination for teenagers, not only for Montenegro, also for the bordering countries.


Next morning we head to Albania. Shkodra is our next destination. Thanks to Google Maps we find first the small road and then the shortcut that leads us over a small ridge. Once at the top, we treat ourselves with a huge plate of pasta as the only guests of a restaurant, enjoying the breathtaking view over the valley. With recharged batteries it’s an easy ride to the border. The first impression immediately after the border seems to confirm every prejudice: a man in a wheelchair and a family with little kids are begging for money between the waiting cars. A donkey cart, followed by cows and chickens is passing by.


But then we experience another Albania: We see many cars, almost half of them are high end, like Mercedes, BMW or Audi. Shkodra is a bustling city, where we stay for € 80 including dinner and breakfast in a plushy 5-star hotel. The people we meet during our stay are all very friendly and we have nice chats with many Albanians.


The last day will bring us to Tirana Airport. It’s only 50 miles / 80 km, the shortest stage and also almost entirely flat. In addition, the sun hides a bit behind the clouds for the first time. So, we start in our best mood at 100 degrees Fahrenheit / 37 degrees Celsius. But after 20 miles / 40 km with steady, sometimes strong headwinds we are not so sure that this will be an easy ride. We make a detour to the Adriatic Sea to Shengjin, an apartment town with a beautiful beach. After a short lunch break, we continue on the well-developed road to Tirana. Unfortunately, the road then merges into the highway and we have to ride across the fields to reach the parallel road. Instead of 20 miles / 30 km we ride now 25 miles / 40 km and the last 15 miles / 20 km on a dirt road.



Ice cold coke, a huge ice cream and a big swimming pool reward us at the airport hotel. A rich 3-course dinner served in the hotel garden is the ingenious finishing touch of this year’s tour through 4 countries.



4. May 2017
by Frank Scharlau

2016 Triest to Split

This year Sven flew to Hamburg, so we could start our trip together from our hometown. Sven arrived at the airport on time in the morning, met as usual some friends and relatives for breakfast, lunch and coffee, so we could cycle to the airport in the afternoon together and get a quick start.

For the first time, we are flying with Easy-Jet. And for the first time, our tour is at serious risk. Despite the pre-registration of our bicycles, Easy-Jet is not willing to take our bicycles without the appropriate bicycle carry bags. Talks with the manager, phone calls with London, cardboard boxes taken from EDEKA (the local grocery store), quickly wrapped around the bicycles, all without success. Last hope: The complaints desk. A glimmer of hope came up as the manager brought along more cartons. Only 35 minutes left till departure, we finally carry the bicycles to the bulk baggage scanner. Sven’s bike lost already the first carton and does not fit through the scanner. The search for the guy with the hand scanner begins. 25 minutes left until departure. Finally, it works. Now boarding starts, the security checkpoint is packed. The hate-filled looks of the other guests do not bother us: within 30 seconds we make it to the gate and enter the aircraft without a pause, but soaked in sweat…

Big surprise in Venice: Our bike bags and bicycles made it into the plane as well! It is only a short ride, about 25 minutes from the airport to the train station, but the light drizzle seems to signal that this year‘s stage is not going to be an easy one.
Around 11 pm we arrive in Monfalcone, our starting point north of Trieste. After a short disorientation, we find the hotel we stayed at last year.

1. Day

After having a nice breakfast, we ride straight ahead along the coast to Trieste. We have a short break at the Piazza Grande with the stunning town hall and other beautiful palaces.

Along the water, we cycle around the city’s really steep hill, ending up by mistake on the highway yet luckily manage to take the next exit after the tunnel. Then we have the rise to the mountains of Slovenia in front of us. Slovenia welcomes us at the border with a short but heavy rain shower.

In the quite sparsely populated mountains of Slovenia, we fill up our water supplies at a farm and almost miss the only restaurant.  While enjoying delicious chicken with pasta, the next rain shower passes by. The border to Croatia is pretty exciting, secured with barbed wire, three border guards are waiting for some cars passing through once in a while and us, two cyclists.

The last 12 miles are almost only downhill towards Rijeka. On our first day, we started pretty well with 70 miles covered and more than 3,300 feet in altitude climbed.

Rijeka, located in the north of Croatia on the Kvarner Bay, is a beautiful city with nice pedestrian zones and especially in summer is filled with tourists. However, that we are supposed to pay for two cups of ice cream 31 Euro, is surprising to us. Finally, we realize that after 2,000 miles we are out of the Eurozone and must pay in Kuna.

2. Day

The second day leads us along the steep coast of the Adriatic. Right at the start leaving Rijeka we have to master the first 900 feet climb, which immediately leads to a downhill portion again before we start to climb once more. We slow down our pace and take more breaks. This will by far be the most stressful part of this year’s leg! Several power bars and good food refill us with energy.  The water supply is not easy: the two liters are quickly consumed and no store, petrol station or restaurant in sight. Finally, a we see a sign for a restaurant and we are looking forward to some refreshments coming up in the next 2 miles. Unfortunately, the restaurant is closed, but a nice, old lady has mercy on us and not only refills our bottles with water but also gives each of us a handful of cherries. Cherries never tasted so delicious! Finally, we get to the junction leading to our hotel, where we had made a reservation because of the sparsely populated area. The road goes steep down to the bay and all of the sudden we realize that we have to climb up the hill all the way the next morning! Continue Reading →

10. March 2016
by Frank Scharlau

2015 Innsbruck to Trieste

First of all: This was one of the most beautiful stages we had during our cycling tours since 1990.

The flight from Hamburg with both bikes checked in as oversized luggage went smoothly again. Over the decades it has become rather routine for the people at the check in counter to deal with bicycles as bulk luggage. I arrived safely and relaxed in Munich. Almost at the same time Sven flew in from Florida via Dusseldorf and Kjell, Sven’s son, arrived from Stuttgart in a rental car. Very convenient for us, we had a driver who took us to Innsbruck. The next stages starting with Trieste will be for sure more difficult in terms of arrival and departure.

In Innsbruck we had pre-booked a hotel and witnessed a storm of apocalyptic proportions during dinner in a restaurant opposite from „the golden Dächerl“ , storm included tremendous winds & heavy rain. Best conditions for our upcoming bike ride.

00_01 00_02 00_03 00_04

The next morning the three of us travelled by car exactly to the place (Mötz), where we had finished our tour last year after crossing the first Alp pass and reaching the Inn Valley. With perfect weather conditions (no rain and no headwind) we started our cycling tour in high spirits and pumped up with adrenaline on a beautiful path and cycled through the Inn Valley to the west.

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24. March 2015
by Frank Scharlau

2014 Basel to Innsbruck

Like every year we could’t wait to start again, Sven had done the logistics part very well, we arrived in Basel almost at the same time; he flew in from Florida via Dusseldorf, I had a direct flight from Hamburg. All bags and both bikes come in safely, we could start this year’s leg without any complications.

P1030832 P1030834

My job was, as every year, to work out the perfect route. I spent much of my time on that, since we had to master our first mountain pass. I was eager to find the best route, knowing that an „insider“ would join us the first day, I did not want to embarrass myself.

In Basel we got a warm welcome from Rolf‘s and Peter’s families. A dinner with both families and Sven’s sons Finn and Kjell evoked memories of the final stage of our last year’s trip. Once again thanks to the families of Rolf and Peter for accommodating us.

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19. March 2014
by Frank Scharlau

2013 Reims to Basel

Start am 09.06.2013
As usual Sven had coordinated the flights perfectly, we would have arrived at the same time in Paris. But unfortunately my flight had a delay of more than 2 hours. Check in of both bikes ran smoothly, the required unscrewing of the pedals worked well: these were packed in the carry-on luggage. The fact that I had to open my bag to prove to the security people the harmless nature of the pedals did not irritate me. But then the security officer pointed at the pedals and said: „They are confiscated“. Suddenly I felt quite uneasy. Cycling 500 km without pedals did not seem very appealing to me. Fortunately, the humorist meant my cookies, he had the same taste for biscuits.

Sven was waiting for me at baggage claim, he was half reading, half asleep. We received the bikes, assembled them and started.

Sven hat seinen Helm wiederA few meters before we arrived at the station platform to enter the train to Paris, Sven realized that he had left behind his helmet at the luggage belt. In his helmet he had well hidden his papers, credit cards and cash. But in Paris, as is well known, nothing gets lost…

The metro took us to the Gare du Nord: No problems to pass with our bikes, they even had bicycle friendly revolving gates. At the train station we booked our overnight stay in the next hotel, it turned out to be the worst and most expensive hotel of this leg of the trip.

Frank im Zug Mit Fahrrad durchs Drehkreuze

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14. February 2013
by Frank Scharlau

2012 London to Reims

Starting on June 6th 2012
Carrying 2 bikes under my arm I crossed Terminal 1 at Hamburg Airport several times, looking for the right check in counter. Despite the picky supervisor at British Airways, mumbling something about boxes for bicycles according to British Airways policy, I managed to check in after “only “60 minutes; both bikes and my luggage without paying additional fees. However I felt like I had mastered my first tour leg crossing a mountain.

Bericht London Reims 1 Bericht London Reims 2

In London Heathrow I met Sven, who arrived on time half an hour earlier directly from Miami. Contrary to the reputation of London / Heathrow Airport our luggage including bicycles had arrived, so we could put on our bike gear immediately. Sven was wondering about the cold air-conditioning, but after leaving the airport building he noticed that the temperature in the building was almost 10 degrees Celsius above the outside temperature. Now it was very obvious that Sven had brought his bike shorts completely unnecessarily.

Bericht London Reims 3 Bericht London Reims 4

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11. January 2012
by Frank Scharlau

2011 Manchester to London

This year’s leg of our x-Europe -Tour us from Manchester to London on a direct path of about 350 km (220 miles). We had 4 days to complete it and with an average of 100 km (65 miles) per day we were able to afford a  few detours.
2011_1.Tag_06 Manchester - Buxton
We start out with great weather (even Sven wore a short sleeve) and were happy to be on the Road again.
Continue Reading →

14. November 2010
by Frank Scharlau

2010 The first leg of our X-Europe-Tour from Glasgow to Manchester

Karte Glasgow - Manchester

Saturday 07/31/10, from Glasgow to Invararay

We started the tour on fantastic cycle paths, always next to the water with almost no rain, even though forecast was really bad. In the afternoon we had to climb a hill with the interesting name “Rest and be thankful” and enjoyed the great view from the top afterwards. Thanks to Gary Keatings, he arranged accommodation for us in Invararay. The dinner at St. George’s was excellent.

Sunday 08/01/10, from Invararay to Brodick

We experienced the Scottish Highlands ! A fairly hilly leg made us climb in total 800 m. Whether wasn’t perfect, however no rain in the morning and even some sunshine in the afternoon. After our lunch break we cycled exclusively on small roads. A ferry brought us to the island Arran. The last 25 km to Brodick were just spectacular ! Bed and breakfast at Eleanor Hamilton was again arranged by Gary Keatings. Great hospitality ! We enjoyed dinner at Brodick’s brasserie. The chef lectured on the important differences between the Scottish and English cuisine.
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