#7Countries7Passes - Planning Stage 2

"The best laid plans of Mice and Men often go awry". Planning provides you with reassurance though; purpose, and some element of comfort, when a challenge lies ahead.

My plans for the #7Countries7Passes Tour are progressing well, so I though I would fill you in on the route, the schedule and the finer details.

The Route

The route has remained largely unchanged since my first plans were laid in this blog post: 'Introducing the 7Countries7Passes Tour'.

The only development is that I have added another day going down through Germany, to make the mileage a bit more manageable, and to take in a more scenic route through the Black Forest.

Start location - Copenhagen, Denmark
I love travel. I don't really like planes, trains and automobiles. With that in mind, I always try to combine my trips abroad, to make the most of the airport/travel time.

This August, I'm racing the Hansen's Cykellob with the GripGrab team, so starting my tour from the beautiful Danish city of Copenhagen, shortly after the race, seemed like a great bet.

Checkpoints - Villengen (Germany) - Merano (Italy) - Corbieres (France)
Travel is always better when you can share experiences with friends and family. There aren't many of my riding buddies that would want to do 10 or 12 hour consecutive days in the saddle, but it is always nice to visit friends in far-off places.

On this tour, I begin with GripGrab in Denmark; then travel down through Germany to visit my sister in Villengen. From there, it is into the mountains to visit relatives in Merano (South Tyrol), and stay for a rest day at the beautiful Hotel Terme Meran. Then finally, I head across the South of France to the Corbieres, where my good friends Gus and Sarah Farmer are based.

Finish - Andorra
Andorra has always been a mysterious country to me... an island in the mountains.

I have been keen to visit the country for some time, and the Salvador Dali Sculpture in Andorra la Vella seemed like a fitting place to finish this tour. The sculpture symbolises the 'Nobility of Time'; suggesting how time rules everything, and you should make the most of every minute you have.

On my penultimate day of the tour, I will ride into Andorra on a mammoth 5k+ metre ascent day. Then, after a good nights sleep in a hotel (one of very few non-wild camping nights), I plan to offload my kit, and ride the final day back into France down the GR7 gravel path; hopefully accompanied by Augustus Farmer. It should be a great finish to an incredible journey.

The Countries
  1. Denmark
  2. Germany
  3. Switzerland
  4. Austria
  5. Italy
  6. France
  7. Andorra

The Passes/Highlights
  • Start: Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen (Denmark)
  • Checkpoint 1: Villingen (Germany)
  • Pass 1: Hochtannbergpass (1675m) (Austria)
  • Pass 2: Timmelsjoch (2474m) (Austria/Italy)
  • Checkpoint 2: Merano (Italy)
  • Pass 3: Stelvio Pass and Umbrailpass (2757m) (Italy/Switzerland)
  • Pass 4: Col de Montgenèvre (1854m) (France)
  • Pass 5: Mont Ventoux (1911m) (France)
  • Checkpoint 3: The Farmers' (France)
  • Pass 6: Col de Pailhères (2001m) (France)
  • Pass 7: Port d'Envalira (2408m) (Andorra)
  • Finish: Salvador Dali Sculpture (Andorra) 

The Schedule

Below is an outline of my day-to-day route plans. There are some big days in terms of distance, and some mammoth days in terms of climbing. 

Strava calculates the totals to be 3,000 kilometres of riding, with 50,000 metres of elevation gain. 

The Details

I will leave the finer details on kit choice and bike set-up to a later blog piece, but here is a taster…

The tour will be completed on my Kona Rove Ti. I decided that for this ride, I would fit a rear pannier rack, accommodating two Arkel panniers. The thinking behind this is that most of the ride will be on surfaced roads, so a rack seems worth the added stability, despite the small weight penalty. I will also be using a frame-bag and handlebar pack from Restrap.

Kit choices, both apparel and camping gear, will be made on the basis of weight versus performance. There is little point in taking a lightweight sleeping bag, if it won't keep you warm on the top of a mountain; or of taking a minimalist waterproof jacket, if you need to ride for days in the rain.

There is some superb kit in the line-up so far, from brands like Gore Bike Wear, GripGrab, Sportful, Nordisk, POC and Vaude. My kit choices have developed significantly from those for the 'Coasts and Cols' tour, so I look forward to sharing more about them soon…

The Kona ROVE Ti, ready to rove

My previous kit selection on the 'Coasts and Cols' Tour. Some interesting developments since then

The Anticipation

The #7Countries7Passes tour is set to be an incredible journey, challenge and experience.

15 days of riding. 21 categorised climbs. 7 different cultures. 4 different mountain ranges.

It is set to be a great bicycle touring adventure...


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