After 6000 km by bike, 1400 km by train, 450 km by boat, a few hours by boat, 40km by truck, 12 km by taxi, 12 km by bus, 160 km by minibus... here I am back in Toulouse since 3 weeks, after almost 4 months of stroll :)
I never imagined I’d see so much rain on my way. Would I have left if I knew the weather would be so bad ? Not, for sure, but once I left, I kept going.
In May, rain falls almost every day, and sometimes from morning to evening. In June, until I reached the Danube Delta a little more rain every day even if it was less intense. I only really saw the lasting good weather from there, roughly the third week of June. And then there were regular thunderstorms every 4 or 5 days... But I wasn’t necessarily in the rain !
Updating the site with the layout, photos, translating each article into English was a constraint but also a great pleasure : the way to keep in touch with my friends and a support for exchanges.
The words I received through the forum, emails, text messages, whatsApp, Mastodon or Facebook helped me a lot, especially when the weather was bad and morale was falling !
For those who are interested in the technique I did two articles, one on the construction of the site https://www.jack31.org/122 and the other on the GIS plugin https://www.jack31.org/123
Few encounters on the way. The rain is a bit of a factor : there were few bicycles on the road and in the evening when it rained I would quickly return to my accommodation, sometimes to never leave it again !
Some hosts stand out from the crowd with whom there have been real exchanges. In Besançon, Montbéliard, Bantska Palanka or Krushovene. I have had other good welcomes, but these stand out for the quality and warmth of the exchanges.
No real health concerns : a bee sting, a horsefly sting and an unidentified insect sting that caused my hand to double in volume for two days.... From the pharmacy what I used most was the mosquito repellent and ointment to calm the irritation of the bites. A little anti-inflammatory and paracetamol for early sinusitis or occasional pain.... Also for a while the plasters on my nose because the branch of the glasses hurt me.... That’s all for the three and a half months.
The plaster has also been useful in repairing snags on waterproof covers ^^
On the way back, some pain in the shoulders and knee : arthrosis and tendonitis... I’m going to have to find regular physical activity so that I don’t have pain everywhere as soon as I stop pedaling !
My bike needed little maintenance :
- oil for the chain : I had left without oil thinking that "it would hold", but I hadn’t imagined that my bike would be under heavy rains for that long. My chain was completely dry several times... I put everything on it : a little blue oil apparently quite resistant to bad weather, motor oil and olive oil !
- Tire pressure : I found few places to inflate my bike properly. Either there was no adapter for the Presta valve or no pressure gauge and sometimes the mechanics thought my bike was well inflated. So from Budapest I inflated with my little pump.... Even when I forced it, I was closer to the 4 bars than the 6 I put with my foot pump.
- Punctures : I had puncture-proof tires... my rear tire still punctured three times ! The iron splinter on the ferry, the valve that broke and the broken bottle near Dubrovnik.
Not so easy to find bike shops on the way. In the big cities you can find and fortunately it is in Varna that I had to buy a spare inner tube.
Every day I traced my stage on https://graphhopper.com/maps, with my precise starting point (camping, room...) and my arrival point. Then I exported the track to GPX that I only had to import on my phone, on the OSMand+ app.
The layout is not always faithful to the layout of the Eurovélo, from time to time I checked with the Eurovelo6 app, but I don’t find it very practical.
In particular this application has no precision in the maps if you are not connected whereas with OSMAnd+ I have downloaded all the countries where I used to pass.
My GPS tracker (USB stick format) was used to display the exact route taken.
Two defects :
- A few days before departure the tracker lost the exact date. The tracks were positioned in 1999 and since then it has been increasing. I manually correct the file name in the software provided with the tracker, then export the GPX and replace the date in 1999 with the current date,
- Twice it stopped during a break and did not restart
- It is necessary to think about starting it at the beginning (QED)
I stopped modifying the gpx file when I put the GPS back on line on my camera. In fact, I exported the route in kml, lighter.
First of all, the autonomy of my Honor 10 phone is quite correct. Of course, if you use the navigation of the map on the screen all day long... it won’t hold up. But I tried to consult the navigation only at the critical moment...
Now the data and the ability to call anywhere : for Europe no problem, but several countries I was going through are not part of Europe : Serbia, Kosovo, Albania, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina. To stay connected in these countries if I had used the generous orange offers it would have cost me 6x29€ ^^ (I passed twice in Serbia).
By buying local SIM cards it cost me much less. Here is what I spent for the whole of my stay :
- Serbia 1 : a SIM at 600 Serbian dinars, for three days of local communication and 1 GB of data... (about 5€)
- Serbia 1 : the first SIM was not great, for the end of the stay I took a Telenor card with local calls and 4GB valid for one month, for 500 Serbian dinars (a little more than 4€) clearly I would have found that from the beginning it was enough for me for the first stay in Serbia)
- Serbia 2 : I was just passing through, but I stopped in the first city to find a Telenor shop and reloaded with 200 Serbian dinars (a little less than two €) for 2 GB and a little communication such valid 7 days.
- Kosovo : IPKO SIM card at 5€ valid for several weeks with 4 GB of data. I didn’t have wifi in the apartment in Prishtina so I was able to connect with good quality.
- Albania : for an additional €5, the IPKO card purchased in Kosovo could be connected in Albania, Montenegro and Bosnia for one week and 1GB of data. Insufficient connection in the Albanian mountain in stormy weather, just a little bit in small towns, but OK in Shkodër. It also served me in Pogdorica, but it was better to have wifi !
- Bosnia and Herzegovina : it was very frustrating because the hotel where I was staying had limited wifi and my IKPO card had expired... I didn’t need it...
- Communication to France : especially to be able to call my mother I had to buy Skype Credit. 5€ for a lot of calls and I still have some left !
So in total about 22€ for the whole stay.
It took me a long time to get familiar with the device.... But in the end it works well. I use the same functions almost all the time :
- mainly Landscape,
- I tried to vary with mode A, but didn’t study the differences between the takes enough to really improve,
* a little auto,
- the function that allows you to pan,
- its wide angle also makes it possible to make selfies ^^
Provides excellent services and allows images to be better centered.
On the other hand for the use for which I originally wanted to take the birds in the marshes or in flight... too difficult with this device not to lose the object you want to take.
At the end I tried to use the viewfinder and I managed to take a few flights... but a lot of pictures went to the trash. I have to see in the next tests if I can put on "permanent focus" and if it’s better....
I had made many choices to have a maximum autonomy... finally between the weather and my fear of mosquitoes... I was in the room most of the time, and even in the campsites there is electricity...
The USB charger on the bike : a little disappointing when my phone is plugged directly on it I have the impression that the phone consumes more ! As if when he was in charge he could consume more... and the "economic" or "ultra" consumption patterns are not really attractive when you read the description.... And anyway it stopped working again soon after this test. I couldn’t test the battery charge...
In Italy I was able to test the autonomy of my PC in two campsites. The first one in Cremone I had no electricity, and the second one I could have had some but I did not need as much. Result : by being careful my PC must be able to hold three days by sticking to the update of the articles and a little surfing to prepare the next day : itinerary, hotel reservations... So quite satisfactory ! On condition therefore :
- not to charge the devices connected to the PC at the same time
- so phone is preloaded beforehand
- tracker, too, but it may just have to be removed as soon as the track is imported
Autonomous battery :
I had spent some time looking for the right model and I must admit that I am very satisfied with the result.
While my battery was not fully charged, in the two campsites mentioned above I was able to complete the charge of my tel two days in a row, charge my tracker and complete the charge of my camera.
Updating the site every day was a constraint but also a pleasure : a way to keep in touch with my friends and share my photos.
I describe in detail the work to customize and adapt the sitehere
Otherwise, to do an article, every day :
- retrieve the track on the USB key
- export to GPX
correct the date in notepad++
- Copy the photos to a folder on SD
- Make a first selection
- reduce them with Irfanview
- import them into the article
- put a legend at all (multilingual : translated into English)
- choose a logo photo
- make an English version of the article
- Publish :)
By reactivating the GPS on my camera I was able to eliminate two operations above :). The camera may have a little less autonomy... it would take 300 pictures instead of 400 : still more than enough. However, sometimes geolocation does not work... randomly. Too bad all the photos don’t appear on the map, but they are in chronological order in the article so you can find your way around.
I will use the remaining months before my next trip to improve the equipment, replace what has been damaged...
Next direction south ! The dream-project here https://velovacances.jack31.org/Para-o-Sul