Sunday, June 25, 2000
by Deloris Tarzan Ament
|"Cycling England's Cotswolds" and
by Rick and Sandy Sullivan, Eurocycle.com, P.O. Box 25816, Seattle, WA 98125-1316. 78 minutes and 87 minutes. $29.95 each.
Their videos just keep getting better. And longer. At 87 minutes, the Denmark tape pushes the outer-length limit for a travel video. Frankly, this one's worth it. Each tape shows a series of nine rides that average 35 miles a day, with a day off every third or fourth day to catch up on laundry and see local sites.
The Sullivans are super strategists, convinced that planning makes for a smooth, safe trip.
Begin a cycling trip on the Internet six months ahead, they advise. Find Web sites for the country you want to visit, with links to key cities. Find out what restaurants, exhibits, and plays are scheduled that you may want to see. Get city maps. Check book stores for relevant travel guides.
Like generals laying out a siege plan, they tack a map to the wall and plot out each day's route. Their advice is specific and precise.
Book airline tickets 90 days in advance, making certain you can check your bike as baggage.
Once your route and dates are certain, book hotels and guest houses by fax or e-mail, so you can make the message as detailed as you wish without worrying about language or time differences.
To avoid wrestling maps in wind and rain while you're on the road, make photo copies of the map for each day, highlighting the route in yellow. Laminate each section in plastic, then stack them in order inside a plastic carrier on the handlebars, so each day the pertinent map is readily visible.
The Sullivans even show you what and how to pack in order to carry everything in bike panniers, and how to prepare the bike for shipping.
In Europe, they ride the recommended routes with helmet cameras, with voiceovers of detailed mile-by-mile directions, including advice on tricky turns.
The loop through the Cotswolds in central England begins in Oxford, goes north to Stow-on-the-Wold and Stratford-upon-Avon, then turns south to Broadway, Bourton-on-the-Water, Cirencester, and ultimately to Bath.
From there, the bikes are loaded onto British Rail to begin a fresh route at Moreton-in-Marsh, from which they ride to Burford, Woodstock, and finally back to Oxford.
The trip is 258 pedaled miles, winding through quaint towns, past well-preserved old cottages and eccentric little shops, with stops at museums and one-of-a-kind places such as Malmesbury Abbey, where a monk once strapped on wings and tried to fly from the roof.
The tour of Denmark begins in Copenhagen, goes north to Helsingor (also known as Elsinore, the fictional home of Hamlet, set in a castle which is open to tour), south to Hillerod (and another castle, Fredericksburg), Koskilde (home to a rock festival and a Viking Museum), on to Soro, then aboard a bicycle bus for an over-water connection to the island of Fyn to visit Nyborg, Odense (Hans Christian Anderson's home town) and other towns.
There the bikers take a day off to sightsee and eat Danish pastry. Back on the ferry, they cross the water to the island of Aero, where they do a circuit ride suggested on Rick Steves' Web site ( http://www.ricksteves.com/ ), stopping to beachcomb for ancient amber. Then it's back on Fyn, where they bike to Nyborg to board a train that takes them back to Copenhagen, having pedaled 200 miles.
Having reviewed all six in the series so far, I found Denmark, with its flat terrain, its seaside bicycle paths, and its clement summer weather, to be most tempting. Danish pastry has nothing to do with it. Well, almost nothing.
You can sample all the tapes at the Sullivan's Web site, http://www.eurocycle.com/ .
Copyright © 2000 The Seattle Times Company