My Best-Laid Plans

For the third time, now, I've planned a tour that isn't going to happen. My tour planning process is quite... involved. I use Waymarked Trails to select appropriate (safe) routes.  Then, I plot out a detailed spreadsheet that includes the number of kilometers to ride to the next "point of interest", the elevation gain and loss, and what, exactly, is of interest at that point - usually a campground, but also things to do/see.  I also put in what date (approximately) we should reach that place to know we're somewhat on schedule.
Best-Laid Plan for 2023

The first time I planned a tour that didn't happen, it didn't happen because of the pandemic, and the tour was supposed to happen in June of 2020.  

The second time I planned a tour that didn't happen, it didn't happen because I couldn't reconcile the cycle tour plan with the plan to visit my long-lost cousins, and the long-lost cousins won.  

At long last we're going to do a cycle tour this year.  I do have faith that that is going to happen, but not according to my best-laid plan.  

In my best-laid plan, I researched climate/weather normals and selected a time to go that would keep me out of the blistering heat of the current European summers.  I found out that WestJet flies in to Montpellier, which provides convenient access to a couple of EuroVelo routes.  We would fly in to Montpellier, cycle north through France to Schengen (Luxembourg... the approximate start of the Mosel River), then west along the Mosel to Germany, south through Germany, a quick swoop through Switzerland (at the warmest time of our tour), and then finish back in France to fly home at the end of June.  

I booked the tickets to Montpellier in November 2022.  Laura booked flights to come join us for the last part of the tour, flying in and out of Frankfurt.  

In the first week of January, I got a notification that WestJet had canceled our flights to Montpellier.  At the time I didn't realize how catastrophic this would be for my best-laid plan.  I tried to find alternate flights - with WestJet, and with other airlines - flying in and out of Montpellier, or even Lyon as another option.  

Part of the trip costing includes how much airlines charge for bicycle transport.  At this time (it changes regularly), the Canadian airlines are the most affordable for bikes (significantly different).  I found flights with Air Canada (AC) that would do the job, but some of the flights were "operated by" Lufthansa.  I called AC to find out how it worked with bike fees when there was an operating partner involved.  I was assured that we would pay the bike fee only to AC.  I went ahead and booked the best option I could find with AC, which was to Lyon.  I then called AC back to register our bikes, when I was told by another staffer that we had to deal with (and pay) Lufthansa for the bikes on the return flight because "more than one" of the flights on return were operated by then.   

SIIIIIIIGGGGHHHHH.  I canceled those flights - AC gives you 24 hours to do so with no penalty - and went back to the drawing board.  

Ultimately, I ended up booking flights through AC... but nowhere near the south of France.  No... we're flying in and out of Frankfurt.  There are a few advantages to doing it this way:  We are very familiar with the Frankfurt area and airport, we can align the end of the trip with Laura, it is a common, heavily-covered route (unlike the south of France, which is more of a specialty route).  But it now means that I have to completely re-plan the whole trip.  

Landing in Frankfurt and then trying to get to the south of France to commence the tour is time-consuming and expensive.  The tour as-planned has a less-than-ideal ending for both Laura and us, since we'd likely run out of time at Lyon and then have to make our ways to our respective airports.  So, I'll be trying to find other routes that are viable, and where camping is open in mid-April, which are more easily (and affordably) accessible from Frankfurt.  

It's a good thing I enjoy the planning!


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