Our first task was to draw up a list of items that we considered essential for the trip – a trip that started in Brussels and ended 1,000 miles later in Strasbourg. Topping the list was riding gear consisting of spandex shorts and tights, light weight socks, long and short sleeved T-shirts, light weight sweaters, bike helmets, bike shoes, rain pants and waterproof shoe covers, and all weather, water proof jackets. Other essential items included a half dozen extra tubes, a bicycle repair kit and tire pumps that attached to the bike’s cross bar.
Not every day would be spent on our bikes. There would be days when we would not ride at all but spend the time seeing the sites in some of the major cities included in our itinerary: Brussels, Reims, Fontainebleau, Paris, Versailles, Dijon, and Strasbourg. For this we would need conventional clothing. My wife decided on a wrinkle-free, broomstick skirt, one turtleneck, a pair of walking shoes, and a wool sweater. I settled on a pair of khaki slacks, several polo shirts, a heavy wool sweater, and a pair of lightweight walking shoes. Many of these items we wore on the flight from our home in Portland Oregon to Brussels.
The decision to take our own bikes presented a most unique packing challenge. The solution was found at our local Amtrak station, where for $20 each, we purchased two sturdy, heavy-duty cardboard bike boxes. The boxes would be no match for the airline’s baggage handlers. Upon arrival at Brussels airport the boxes where crushed as though they had been trampled on by a herd of elephants. Fortunately, after a close inspection, our bikes came through the trans-Atlantic trip unscathed, albeit my helmet was impaled on several spokes of my rear wheel.