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Ride Rating System

The BAC has a Ride Rating system that can tell you what to expect while on one of our rides. Learn more...

Headwaters of the Rhine to the North Sea and Amsterdam

  • Arrival
  • 6/20/2023
  • Departure
  • 7/12/2023
  • Ride Director
  • Warner Griswold
  • Ride Co-Director
  • Wayne Lumsden
  • Driver
  • Garry Clifton
  • Starting Location
  • Zurich, Switzerland
  • Finishing Location
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Estimated Cost †
  • $3675
  • Deposit
  • $1800
  • Number of Riders
  • 22 (min. 20 /max. 24)
  • Space Available
  • 2
  • No. of Pending Riders
  • 0

Ride Rating

2C  Warning - Read the Description Carefully

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† Explanation of BAC Ride Fee – This fee is not included in the Estimated Cost and is non-refundable once submitted. The Ride Fee for US and Canada is $85 and $100 for all other countries, both are per participant.

Ride Description

Flowing through six countries, the Rhine River has served as a link between southern and northern Europe since Roman times. Originating from glaciers in the Swiss Alps, the Rhine travels north into Switzerland’s Lake Bodensee (Europe’s third largest), over the thundering Rhine Falls (among Europe’s largest), and on to Basel, where it becomes a major waterway used to transport goods and raw materials 540 miles to the sea. The Rhine serves as a border between Germany and France, narrows through deep gorges and meanders through steep-sided valleys renowned for vineyards and castles. At the Netherlands border, the Rhine splits into tributaries that cross an extensive delta and empty into the North Sea.  Along the way the river passes 11 UNESCO world heritage sites, through fine quality wine regions such as Alsace, Rheingau and Baden, and through the Ruhr Valley, industrial powerhouse of modern Germany, en route to the wide open and flat North Sea beaches of the Netherlands.

The Rhine valley is full of historical sites such as Roman fortifications, medieval riverfront towns, majestic Romanesque and Gothic cathedrals, picturesque castles strategically located to collect tolls from river traffic, and more recent WWII reminders such as the bridge site at Remagen. 

Our route will largely follow the Rhine Cycle route Eurovelo 15, arguably the most modern cycle route in the world. It's the first fully certified (by the European Cycling Association) long distance cycle route with fully standardized signage along the full length and consistent cycling surfaces suitable for all skill levels. Most of the route is separated from traffic on well signed cycle paths and riverside dikes or on quiet country roads with dedicated cycle lanes. From time to time we will cross the Rhine on small ferries.  

We’ll take a dramatic train ride up to Andermatt Switzerland near the Swiss Alps height of land and the start of our 940 mile ride all the way downhill to our final two nights in Amsterdam.

Many of our overnights will be in towns with well-preserved medieval "Altstadt" old towns, charming half-timbered riverfront promenades, and deep historical roots with fine museums and restaurants. We’ll have a half day in Friedrichshafen for the Zeppelin Museum and waterfront promenade and a half day in Cologne to see it's great gothic cathedral, visit a chocolate museum or try the town specialty “Kolsch” beer.  Perhaps a free tour of the world’s largest chemical factory might be unusual and interesting?  

We will be riding in a gastronomic heaven where many varieties of wines, beers, cheeses, chocolate, charcuterie, fresh vegetables, meats, and seafood are all are widely available in abundance… and we will have time to enjoy them as we travel. From muesli, potato rosti, fondue and alpine cheeses in Switzerland, cheesy Spaetzle noodles in Liechtenstein, apple tarts, wurst sausages, hearty stews and potato dishes and regional vegetables such as fresh asparagus in June along the German Rhine,  coffee, strudel and schnitzel in Austria, to pickled herring, pancakes, cheeses , little fried donuts and fresh juices in the Netherlands. We should eat well with many restaurants, fresh markets and well stocked grocery stores. Vegetarians also should find satisfying meals quite easy to find.

RIDE RATING: This ride is rated 2C with an average daily mileage of 50 miles and an average daily elevation gain of 1500’. Please note that riding days vary greatly in difficulty and the average may not fully depict the challenge. Day #3 Andermatt to Chur exceeds the Level 2 climbing rating for those riders starting from  Andermatt as they will first have a 2,040’ climb to Oberalppass (6,700')  for a total 4770' elevation gain to Chur. Day #16 Emmerich to Vainen at 70 miles exceeds the C distance rating and, while flat, there is also a  likelihood of strong headwinds as we near the coast.  Riders are expected to be comfortable riding on a multitude of surfaces (including cobblestone, slate, and compacted dirt) along with riding in city traffic.  

ROUTING EXPECTATIONS: Daily RWGPS route maps will be provided online shortly before the tour.  All participants must have the RWGPS app, and should know how to download RWPGS route maps and /or Garmin GPX files to their smart phones and/or Garmin devices.  Downloaded RWGPS maps will include turn by turn voice cues (voice navigation) and printable cue sheets and route maps.  Participants will require only the free RWGPS’ app to access the routes. Printed route sheet will not be provided

Many of the 2018, 2019 & 2021 Europe riders enjoyed using their smartphones to navigate.  The smart phone screen provides a better view of where you are on the route, and can also give a visual display of points of interest, cafes & bakeries, rest stops, bike shops and hotel addresses & phone numbers along the way.  Participants should have good map reading and directional skills.  

This route is the most modern, well documented, and well signed widely used cycle route probably in the world. This tour follows the Cicerone Guide Book Rhine Cycle Route, the recommended “best of best” route by an experienced cycle tour guide writer who has ridden the entire route four times, and is available through Amazon for ~$31.  Scouting will be limited.

WEATHER: Riders should plan for cooler morning and evening temperatures along with rain days. Temperatures can range from lows of 37F-50F in Andermatt in mid-June to highs of 60’s to 70’s in Rotterdam near the Atlantic in July. Bring suitable clothing for all temperatures and precipitation! You should be prepared of the possibility of days of rain.

LOGISTICS: Fly into Zurich airport (ZRH) Tuesday June 20, 2023. Our starting hotel is Novotel Zurich Airport which has a shuttle service.  We will meet at the hotel bar at 5:30p.m. for happy hour and our first meeting. The tour completion and departure day is Wednesday July 12, 2023.  This is a 22-day tour with one night in Zurich, 19 nights en route and two nights in Amsterdam at the Holiday Inn Express hotel near Schiphol airport with excellent shuttle and train connections to Amsterdam and to the airport. Your bike boxes and large luggage will be available at the end of the tour in Amsterdam.  

ACCOMMODATIONS:  Please note that due to the advanced planning for this ride, all hotel reservations have not been confirmed.     

 VAN SUPPORT: The luggage van will transport the luggage and any bike boxes to the final hotel destination. Participants are expected to cycle the entire route and will be transported only in the case of injury or illness. Participants should be able to handle their own bike repairs and at a minimum know how to change a tire.  If you have a major equipment failure, we will assist transporting you to the nearest town with a bike shop. 

LUGGAGE LIMITATIONS:  Luggage is restricted to TWO AIRPLANE CARRY ON PIECES OF LUGGAGE with a maximum weight of 25 lbs each!  If you opt to bring your bike and one large piece of luggage, plan on bringing TWO LIGHT-WEIGHT DUFFLE BAGS - CARRY-ON SIZE so you won’t need to use your large overweight piece of luggage during the ride. Since this ride is not a loop route, all luggage and bike boxes will be transported to the final destination of the route.  The cargo van (think of an Amazon delivery van) has limited space; therefore, riders are asked to transport their bikes in cardboard bike boxes in order to save space. If you bring a large piece of luggage, it will be secured in the van along with your bike boxes and available when we reach our final hotel in Amsterdam, Netherland.

 BICYCLES:  You should definitely have tires that are 28mm or wider in size.  Smaller size tires are not acceptable due to the varied surfaces.  You will be cycling on everything from smooth paved bike paths to cobblestone, compact dirt paths, and farm roads to busy city streets. Tandems and e-bikes are welcome, but e-bike cyclists should have experience riding their e-bikes prior to the trip and know the rules of the road.  Please let the ride leader know if you plan to use a tandem. The ride leader is not aware of any locations in Zurich which rent appropriate high-quality bicycles.  If you do want to rent a bike and find a rental shop, be sure they can pick your bike up at the end of the trip.

MEALS: Lodging will vary from family-owned hotels to 3 and 4-star hotels. Most breakfasts are included in the cost of the tour. Happy hours will be at the hotel bar, which will include a glass of house wine or a local beer before each nightly dinner.  

COST & ADMINISTRATION: The cost estimate is $3,925, which includes 22 days lodging, most breakfasts, two dinners, happy hour drinks, GPX files and RWGPS daily route maps (which come with voice navigation features to download to your GPS devices or phones). This estimated cost is based on an exchange rate of €1 = $1.25 USD. The initial deposit will be due upon acceptance to the ride. The second payment of $1,200 is due January 15, 2023, and the third payment of $675 is due April 30, 2023.  Once rooms are reserved; and other costs are tied down, and whether the ride is full, the third payment will be adjusted accordingly. The ride cost does not include transportation to and from any airports, and attractions such as museums, trains, trams or gondola rides. 

SINGLE RIDERS:  Singles are a great addition to a ride, and they are most welcome to join.   However, it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that singles find their own roommate prior to signing up and the Ride Leader will assist in matching them up with other singles who apply for the ride.  If a single rider applies for the ride and there is space available and the rider is accepted by the Ride Leader, they will be moved from the Waitlist to the Pending list and instructed to disregard BAC’s automated payment requests.  The Ride Leader will then reserve a spot for the single rider for 30 days or until February 1, 2023, whichever comes first.  If a single roommate is not found in this time frame, the single rider will be moved from the Pending list back to the Waitlist.   

Please Note:  If a single roommate is not found in the time and the single rider has mistakenly paid the ride deposit, the single rider will be moved from the participant list to the waitlist and will receive a full refund less the BAC fee and credit card fees.  If a roommate is found, both single riders will then be put on the Pending list and their deposits will be required at that time. 

SINGLE LODGING:  Due to limited hotel capacities, this ride is not accepting solo riders who wish to room alone.

CANCELLATION POLICY: The BAC ride registration fee and payment processing fee is not refundable unless the entire tour is cancelled due to registration falling below stated minimum requirements. Refunds of tour payments will depend upon whether a replacement rider signs up, and on costs that can be recouped. The amount refunded will be based on the principle that the tour’s remaining participants will not incur any additional cost as a result of cancellations. If the cancelling participant is replaced, a refund will be made at that time. However, if the cancelling participant can't be replaced, any refund will be determined after the ride and final expense report is completed, and the cancelling rider will be liable for the costs incurred as a result of their cancellation. BAC encourages members to purchase trip interruption and cancellation insurance

MEDICAL COVERAGE: Before participating in any BAC tour, members should review their medical coverage and assess whether what you have is sufficient. If it isn’t, you should purchase additional travel medical coverage. The 2020 version of the BAC insurance policy  provided coverage for expenses related to medical emergencies and returning home when members are on tours outside the US and their home country. The policy ceases to be applicable if a member makes a personal deviation (e.g., makes a side trip not related to the planned BAC tour).  It also has limits on expenses covered for family members and only applies for 45 days following their initial departure from home. That policy maintained by BAC did not cover costs associated with self-quarantines that may be government mandated. If their any changes to an updated policy, you will be informed.  Members should also ensure that vaccinations are up to date (e.g., COVID, annual influenza, tetanus, etc.). If travelling outside their home country members may wish to consult with a travel physician or nurse to ensure that the appropriate vaccinations are up to date.

COVID STATEMENT:  All participants must be fully vaccinated including booster shots if applicable and be prepared to present vaccination documentation to the Ride Leader if requested. 

If we still have a Covid 19 risk or Covid variant risk, we will follow all the necessary rules, and change activities as needed to remain Covid compliant, and can keep the tour as safe as possible.  You may be asked to wear PPE in public, maintain social distance in public and limit social gatherings in public according to the country, province or city's mandate.

RIDE PARTICIPANT RESPONSIBILITY: Please be aware that BAC Ride Leaders are volunteers, and that successful tours depend on participants being responsible for much of their own support. Participants are expected to come to the ride in good health and in physical shape to accomplish the required daily cycles on well-maintained bicycles. All participants should accept responsibility for a safe and enjoyable tour. You are encouraged to read the ride description carefully and respond to requests from the Ride Leader. While on the ride, please support the Ride Leader by offering to help with various tasks and respect the Ride Leader’s decisions.  Do not invite non-participants onto any portion of the ride or tour, and please keep the Ride Leader informed of any special request you might have.  

SIGN-UP: To register for this ride, use the sign-up links above the Ride Description. When your registration is accepted, the Ride Leader will move you from the Waitlist to the Pending List. At this time, you will receive an email notification to login to the BAC website to sign the release of liability form and pay the non-refundable BAC ride registration fee and the initial tour deposit of $1,800. As soon as your deposit has been processed, your name(s) will be added to the Participant List. If you have additional questions, you can contact the Ride Leader by "clicking" the name at the top of this Ride Description.

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Telephone (858) 715-9510

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