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Getting to events

It has for some time, been that the assumed way to travel with a bike over long distances is to fly with it. Touring groups fly to their destination, downhill MTB riders, race training camps etc, all fly, and then come back with sad tales of bikes damaged by baggage handling, or even bikes refused by difficult check-in staff. On low-cost flights the bikes often cost more than the seats (Ryanair policy is to dispense with hold baggage, so that planes can be back in the air faster with no baggage handling costs, thus it costs £50 each way to deter you from taking your surfboard between Stansted and Newquay!). This year apparently the airline refused to carry bikes to Klagenfurt, and the bikes had to be pre-booked and sent earlier by road (anyone take this option?)

There is at present legislation before the European Parliament which could require the provision for cycle carriage on all EU rail services, which should unlock access to the high speed international services like IC-E and Thalys. (you can already use Eurostar, but they don't exactly make it widely known or easy to use, and most TGV's have a bikes compartment). CTC has set up a lobby your MEP facility at, http://www.ctc.org.uk/DesktopDefault.aspx?TabID=4677 (combined with the campaign against daylight running lights) and the European Cyclists (ECF) are getting organisations throughout Europe to keep up their lobbying efforts. MEP's are supporting this, but the Commission (Civil Servants) and Council of Ministers are siding with the rail operators who claim it would be 'impossible' to deliver (this on international services which are reputed to be running at less than 50% of capacity on several routes).

City Centre to City Centre trains are now delivering as fast or faster than planes, and the interchange with connecting services makes onward connection relatively simple. Avoid booking through British Rail International - best off the peg is Die Bahn office in Surbiton, and for real bargains use helpful sites like The man in seat 61 http://www.seat61.com to assemble your itinerary. With an evening departure from London you can be in Northern Italy the following morning for 09.00 and sleep overnight.

Who knows - if Eurostar find it economically viable to run trains to Disneyworld in Paris, and for skiing in the Alps, plus one-off specials to the Cannes Film Festival why not to a major Triathalon event? Who should be talking to who?

Drop an e-mail to [[email protected]][email protected][/email] on this one if you have any feedback/ideas

PS you can also take bikes packed down in bags on National Express coach services - handy to get somewhere overnight on a saturday/sunday when UK rail services vanish (clause 7.1 of their conditions of carriage). Bikes packed down into bags also get around the bike restrictions for most train operators in the UK, and generally get on to Eurostar as luggage (limit 1.2m for biggest dimension)
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