Episode 4: The so called "Euro Velo 6"
Two months on the road, approximatively 5000 Km of beauty across Europe, and so many nice acquaintances. The Euro Velo 6 is a bike friendly road which brings you from the French Atlantic coast to the Rumanian Black sea coast. Its secret? Follow the rivers and you will make it through Europe with very few climbs.
I first got to know the EV6 two weeks before my departure for a bike trip around the world. I didn’t have much time to study the maps and to prepare my tracks. So, when I ended on the EV website (http://www.eurovelo.org/routes/) it didn’t take me long to choose the EV6.
Most of people doesn’t know the EV6 but they do know “Loire à vélo” (France), “Donauradweg” (Germany), “Ruta Dunav” (Croatia)... Well, the EV6 uses them all to make a continuous way through Europe. What a great initiative!
Europe is a mosaic of people and cultures shaped along history. There is no better way than cycling through to feel all its asperities.
Expect many questions about your trip. Of course, you will have to come out with a solution to make yourself understandable. Not English, not German, not Serb, not Italian, not French… Mix all the languages you know, throw some local keywords and for the rest… use your hands. It requires some efforts but also brings a lot of fun in the discussion. And after all, you will be unbeatable at the Taboo Game.
The more you head east the warmer people are… and the faster they drive. You can see habits slowly changing. People will be very happy to see you. Very surprised also. Seems that cycling few thousands km is fashionable but not enough to be largely spread.
I can’t count the number of kind people met, the advice and the hospitality received. I will remember for long hospitality in Balkans, and the Hungarian/Bulgarian courtesy. I was also surprised to receive so much sympathy in Western Europe.
I have been helped and welcomed from the very first day on the road. Meeting people was my top motivation and I haven’t been disappointed… at all!
The European Cycle Network brings you through quite roads or cycle lanes and only few time, where there are no other choices, through busier roads. Of course some disparities remain. Heading east, the dedicated cycle lanes are replaced by bumpy paths or by common roads used by all types of vehicles. Will it be cars, trucks, motorcycle or even carts. Entering big cities become more difficult as from Budapest none of them are equipped with cycle lanes. They gave it a try in Constanta but cows seemed to have invaded this free space for a while.
The signposting is also very heterogeneous from a country to another. You can almost entirely rely on the signposting from France to Austria. Hungary, Slovakia, Serbia and Croatia are also pretty well signed except from time to time. And for Rumania…. Well, you will not see a single sign along the 1200km. But what for? It is straight ahead all along. You may turn left at Ion Corvin if you head to Tulcea. For Constanta, keep going straight ahead!!
If I had to choose the highlights of the journey, it will probably be the Passau-Vienna section, the Iron Gates (Serbia) and the Doubs Valley (France). The scenery is amazing and the road are very-quite. These areas are natural barriers which became borders between countries.
The EV6 will keep you at the river level every time it’s possible and except for the Iron Gates will stay very flat. You don’t need to be an adventurer or a professional cyclist. If you feel it, do it!! If you look at your bike and wonder how far you could go, do it! If you just want to cycle a bunch of Kilometres, the part I mentioned above are to be seen. Go for it! And
Remember the EV6 is much more famous under its German name “Donauradweg”. People may probably better understand what you look for.
Enjoy and many thanks to the EV team!