Paris Dakhla Tour – a failure!
Got an idea: To ride my new used trike all the way to Morocco.
Got prepared: Made 1 trial day trip of 90 km and packed a few things.
And off I went….
It ended in failure.
This being said, I guess it is an interesting case study and some learnings for people who want to start a long tour with a tadpole or delta tricycle.
The planned routes: Germany>France>Spain>Morocco
In terms of routes and timing, I wanted to keep an open mind. In the end, it might be possible to ride through rain, storm and hail, but definitely not enjoyable. And it is actually beautiful to be so connected to nature.
So I decided to go in dashes and listen to my body and exhaustion or stay longer where I enjoy a good time with old or new friends and to shelter from adverse weather conditions.
Therefore, I didn’t buy any ferry ticket and only had rough plans for three different routes. All with their own advantages and disadvantages:
The cheat route: Taking a ferry from Toulon to Morocco
In order to have a better overview, I have broken this down into different stages.
This route would lead me through Germany for a day or two alongside the Rhine river, mainly in Rhineland-Palatinate, the laid-back, wine growing region of Germany.
Some say that Ludwighafen is candidate for Germany’s ugliest city, but besides that this stage is along some of the most beautiful and warm areas of Germany including the famous towns of Mainz, Worms and Speyer that each are home to two thousand years of history.
Next stop: France
My further plan was to stick to the Eurovelo route 15 towards south, along the Rhine. Along that route, there are supposed to be plenty of restaurants and places to have a rest. Strasbourg was then my goal and I wanted to stay for a day or two to regain strength, visit my cousins and head further south.
From Strasbourg, I wanted to go through the villages and vineyards along Eurovelo 5 to Colmar, and further to leave Elsass towards the Rhone valley. On that way, you have to cross the Voges mountain range, but alongside the canal that connects Rhine and Rhone, it shouldn’t be too big of a problem.
and then along the Rhine or traversing little villages in Elsass on my way south.
Then taking a sharp turn west alongside the Rhine Rhone channel to reach the Saone and Rhone and follow these rivers southwards all the way.
Potentially staying some days in Lyon and then continue to the south of France where again, I planned to stay some days.
At Toulon, there are ferries that go all the way to Africa. Tickets can be booked online and cost roughly 100-150 Euros.
The plan was to buy supplies outside of Toulon and head straight to the port to set sail towards Africa.
The island-hopping route
In Toulon, there is another chance: Take a ferry to Mallorca and stay some days on that island. In October, the weather should still be pretty good and there should be still some tourism and restaurants open before most infrastructure and restaurants close down sometimes in November.
After some days in the countryside of Mallorca, the next trip would be to take a ferry to mainland Spain and thus getting around the Pyrenees and head straight to Valencia. From there, part of the Eurovelo 8. From Alicante to Almeria, much of the Eurovelo is already build, but sometimes there would be normal roads shared with cars, busses and trucks still.
Anyways, this route clearly adds days and miles compared to taking the boat from Toulon to Nador, but it is still shorter than the third option.
When the going gets tough, the tough keep cycling route
This alternative is the longest route in Europe. From Avignon, turning west and heading towards the Eurovelo 8 which is supposed to be a well documented and build road in France. Then heading towards the border and climbing the Pyrenees and heading downhill towards Spain. After two days, you will reach the huge city of Barcelona – the capital of pickpockets. And still another 300 km until you reach Valencia where you meet up with the island-hoppers.
I didn’t really fancy this as the Eurovelo 8 in northern Spain is often using the same roads as cars and Barcelona is known for its thieves and pickpockets which would make it tough to traverse by trike.
Plus: Trikes can climb mountains but are much weaker doing so.
Ok, How was the trip?
Overall: a disaster.
Some nice memories in Speyer, Strasbourg and beautiful rides alongside the Rhine and especially in the villages of southern Elsass, but also a lot of issues.
- Maps didn’t work
- Restaurants closed that were supposed to be open
- Not enough food prepared
- Cockpit lacked some gear
- Clothes: I missed a kidney belt
- Training: not enough back strengthening before the trip