Some tips on bike and equipment for Merselo-Verona
Countryside and weather
Merselo-Verona takes place on weekdays over a varying sort of terrains. It starts through rolling agricultural lands, then descends into ancient river valleys. From the river valleys you cross medium ranges mountains and finally, before entering Italy, the main European mountain range of the Alpes. The last day leads you along a touristy lakeside. That means that the level of services on the road is very varying as can be the weather conditions. With some though and preparation you can equip yourself for it. The event is held in the end of august meaning longer nights and possible bad weather.
While riding 3 overnight stops in hotels and hostels are planned. This means you can have a decent sleep which will increase your speed. During daytime controls will be commercial, but at weekdays during most of the day you’ll find plenty of shops and other amenities open. Except for the higher ranges of the Alpes there’ll be many villages. Most shops will be open during 10am and 6pm. Supermarkets and bakeries tend to open earlier and close later. Roads and cycle tracks will mostly be of well maintained asfalt. The piece of dirt in the track in 2014 is out in 2018. At each overnight stop you’ll be reunited with your dropbag.
Comparison with PBP
Compared to PBP Merselo-Verona will give you less sleepless nights. You’re not forced to ride through the first night (although you may if you desire), there’ll be a bed for you at the first sleepstop. So it’s easier to ride fast and sleep somewhat longer, meaning you’re less sleep-deprived in the later stages. You don’t have to carry clothes for 3-4 days. But on the other hand the weather in the Alpes might be colder so you need to carry a set of warm clothes and some light gloves for the middle stages.
In preparing your bike you need to concentrate on good lights and good gears. You’ll encounter nearly all sorts of gradients so a wide range of gears is advisable. Even if you sleep long during each night you’ll still ride several hours in the dark. Encounter a few problems during the day and you’ll end up riding a long stretch in the dark. You need lights which offer you a good vision. An output of at least 40 lux for your primary light and 25 lux for your backups system is a minimal advise, 60 lux for the primary and 40 for the backup is easy to reach with the current range of lights on the market. Please consider that in Germany flashing lights are prohibitid for bikes. Outside of Germany especially flashing taillights are a nuisance to other cyclists so please switch your lights to steady mode. On long descents you might reach higher speeds as usual. Make sure that your brakes are in good order and all equipment (luggage and lights) is fastened securely to your bike.
Consider clothes for anything between 0 and 25 degrees centigrade. Stash a pair of light long gloves and a light cap in your dropbag for use during day 2 and 3. Since it’s almost autumn and there’s a fair chance of rain. Don’t forget your serious raingear. On the other hand, clothing for extremely hot weather won’t be needed.
On the road
The route is not signposted. You’ll be provided with a good routesheet and a GPS track. If you’re new to GPS use, it’s good to familiarise yourself with your GPS well before the start. Larger scale maps might not have all the small roads of the Merselo-Verona route. 1:200.000 is a good scale for most of the countries we pass. German Aral service stations usually sell exellent 1:200.000 maps at a fair price, often selling a full Germany pack. You can buy them somewhere during the first day or while you’re travelling to Germany.
Wear a helmet while cycling.