Outbike :: Australia & EUROPE


From Allan (retired Sgt Major, Aus Army) on our 2016 ride:


G'day Carl and Ralph,
I wish to thank you both for a most memorable cycling tour of the WW1 "Western Front " Oostende to Basel.
With my military background and having visited Gallipoli, I needed to see the Western Front to get a "feel" of this "War to end all wars".
War in all its forms from the dark ages to the present are totally wasteful in terms of human suffering but my view is that this war was perhaps the most wasteful and horrific with so many paying the ultimate price with their lives due to a large extent bad leadership.
Our journey was for 23 days covering 1500km. There was just so much to see and absorb. To absorb is a factor I am still and will continue to do for some time.
As with my trip to Gallipoli, being shown around the various cardinal points of that, by comparison, small theatre of war, was most informative. Unfortunately, no tour operator can allow sufficient time to a visitor to sit and analyse or get the feel of what actually happened at a particular battle site. The entire Western Front in 23 days is a large chunk of real estate to cover plus 4 years in largely stalemate and attrition situations in the progress of that war makes it even more difficult to fully comprehend.
I am absolutely in awe of the scale of it, the conditions, the battles, the deprivation, the massive loss of military life and civilian sacrifice as well.
I extend a most hearty thank you to you both for a tour which was for me unlike any other and one I would never to have been able to do by myself. I will never forget the informative dialogue and assistance you provided to me.
PAX
LEST WE FORGET.
Kind Regards,

Allan

For 2017 we're holding over our epic Tour de Front (to 2018) and recommending riders to our Flanders mate Carl Ooghe who runs his own battlefields rides. Carl is the #1 battlefields cycle guide and author of a popular cycling guidebook on the subject.

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2017 RIDES WITH CARL OOGHE

16-26 Jun 2017  YPRES TO VERDUN 
Operated and guided by local expert Carl Ooghe. 
Bikes available. BnB from 1100 Euros.

7-13 Aug 2017  BRUGES TO PARIS
Operated and guided by local expert Carl Ooghe. 
Bikes available. BnB from 950 Euros.

See Carl's website: cyclingthewesternfront.co.uk 
Email: carl.ooghe@gmail.com 
Emma Thomson from the UK Independent goes riding with Carl. http://www.independent.co.uk/incoming/flanders-fields-pedal-into-the-past-9608055.html 
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Jun 2018  TOUR DE FRONT
Ride a zig-zag of WW1's Western Front from the Belgian coast to the Swiss border, Nieuport to Basel over 4 weeks via Ypres, key battlefields, memorials, Reims, Verdun and The Vosges. Operated by Outbike and guided by Carl Ooghe as far as Verdun and Ralph for the remainder. Compared to 2016, we'll add a few days to soften the pace, include Compiegne, site of the Armistice - and stay more nights in traditional gites. 
Dates and more details to come in early 2017. 

2016 Ride photos

From Outbike's Ralph Jackson:  

I dedicate our Tour de Front rides to 3 of my forebears, 2 of whom fought and were wounded on the Western Front: my English Grandfather Henry Jackson and my Aussie Gt Uncle Ernest McKinnon of the 31st Battalion. 

The other is my Gt Grandfather Major Henry Krone, officer in charge of Emerald Hill (South Melbourne) Artillery volunteers through the 1860s. 


Born to an émigré Jewish family living in London's East End, Henry sailed to Port Phillip on the news of the gold rush, along with his two brothers. Henry did well in colonial Melbourne, rising to Registrar-General. 

Major Krone and General Monash had some common ground. Both were among the first Jewish-born officers of Australian forces, and both became majors in Melbourne's volunteer artillery garrisons. But Henry Krone was a generation before John Monash and never fought (apart from a mess room brawl that was big news in 1870 Melbourne).

Former Lieutenant, Deputy PM and Monash-researcher Tim Fischer is also a descendant of Major Krone - Tim is a Gt-Gt-Grandson, or next generation albeit senior in age to me! I salute Tim's extensive WW1 work, his book on Monash - and his campaign to have General Monash posthumously promoted to Field-Marshall.


I wore the slouch hat too - as an army reservist for 4 years - with 4th Field Engineering Regiment and 3rd Royal NSW Regiment in the early 1980s.


Soon after in 1983, I cycle-toured across Northern France and Belgium, my first encounters with WW1 Western Front sites.


I am proud to present the Tour de Front - however WW1 was all up a horrific and largely senseless carnage played out like a game between the imperial powers.

So many things about warfare were changing: new machine-guns, new heavy artillery, new aircraft, new tanks, new gases, new subs, new ships and new mines.

New tinned food made feeding troops possible all year.

New reinforced concrete made stronger fortifications.

New motorised trucks, train transport and ocean liners made it possible to move tens and even hundreds of thousands of troops like never before.

New communications made co-ordination easier.

Many diseases that previously ravaged armies were understood and measures applied to prevent them.

However in September and October 1918 the Spanish flu wiped out so many troops in a few weeks to become one of the biggest killers. 50% of US Army deaths were from disease, 43% were through fighting.

All armies on the Western Front lost tens of thousands to the pandemic. Morale hit rock-bottom and in retreat, 

Germany declared they'd had enough and it was all over.


But without the world-changing WW1, history would have followed another course.


For a final thought, without WW1 it's fair to say we'd all not be here today - the world would be populated by a different set of people!

TOUR DE FRONT

ITINERARY IN BRIEF 2016

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A more detailed itinerary is available on request.

Day prior - NIEUPORT
Join in Nieuport on the Belgian coast, arriving from Oostende, Brugge, Dunkirk (from London), Ypres, Brussels or Paris. 

Day 1 - NIEUPORT TO YPRES 38km direct (we ride 55km)
BATTLE OF THE YSER
Yser River Mouth, Nieuport, Westfront Memorial to the Missing, Dixmuide, VVK Memorial Tower, Yorkshire Trench, Essex Farm, Flanders Museum, Last Post at Menin Gate, 3 nights in Poperinge close to Ypres.

Days 2,3 - YPRES REGION (we ride 50-60km circuits)
BACK TO THE WALL 1918
Ride a 60km circuit to Merris and Nieppe Forest.
BATTLES OF YPRES
Explore the countryside around Ypres visiting battle sites and cemeteries immortalised in Australian and NZ history: Passendale, Tyne Cot, Messines Ridge, Menin Road, Buttes, Polygon Wood. Visit the Flanders Museum in Ypres. ​

Day 4 - POPERINGE TO ARMENTIERES 30km direct (we ride 50km)
BATTLES OF YPRES
Our trail southward takes in several key sites. The Pool of Peace was created by one of the largest mine explosions of WW1 when British engineers placed 91,000 lbs of explosives under the German lines. 
Crossing the French-Belgian border 3 km NE of Armentieres, we enter the battlefield of the first actions involving ANZAC forces, in May, June and July 1916 around Bois Grenier.

Day 5 - ARMENTIERES TO ARRAS 55km direct (75km)
BATTLE OF FROMELLES
Fromelles, Musee de la Bataille, Pheasant Wood, VC Corner Cemetery and Australian Memorial Park.

BATTLES OF THE ARTOIS
 Vimy Ridge, Arras.

Day 6 - ARRAS TO ALBERT (3 NTS) 40km direct (70km)
BATTLES OF THE SOMME
Monchy-le-Preux Newfoundland Memorial, Bullecourt Australian Memorial Park, Bapaume, Grevillers British Cemetery and NZ memorial, Longueval NZ Memorial to the Missing, Caterpillar Wood Cemetery, Delville Wood South African National Memorial, Pozieres, Thiepval. With 3 nights at Albert, we can well explore the Somme battlefields.

Days 7 & 8 - SOMME REGION (choices of 20-80km)
BATTLES OF THE SOMME
Day 7. Lochnager Crater, Pozieres, Thiepval’s Tower of Ulster, Franco-British Memorial to the Missing and Beaumont-Hamel, Pozieres Australian Memorial (The Windmill) and Gordon Dump Cemetery.
Day 8.  Hamel,  Villers Bretonneux Australian National Memorial, Amiens, Sailly-Laurette, Cerisy, Lihons, Proyart, Chuignes – return to Albert via Bray-sur-Somme.

Day 9 - ALBERT TO ST QUENTIN 53km direct (85km)
BATTLES OF MONT ST QUENTIN & ST QUENTIN CANAL
Mont St Quintin, Bony American Cemetery and Memorial,  4th Australian Division Memorial, St Quentin.

Day 10 - ST QUENTIN TO COUCY-LE-CHATEAU-AUFFRIQUE  43km direct (55km)
OISE RIVER
To the historic castle town of Coucy-le-Chateau-Auffrique.

Day 11 - COUCY TO REIMS 75km direct (we ride 80km)
BATTLES OF THE AISNE
Chemin des Dames, Craonne, Corbeny. La Caverne du Dragon.

Day 12 - REIMS TO VIENNE LE CHATEAU 78km direct (105km)
BATTLES OF CHAMPAGNE
Fort de la Pompelle, Auberive, Blanc Mont USA Monument, Massiges.

Day 13 - VIENNE LE CHATEAU TO VERDUN (2 NTS) 44km direct (100km)
BATTLE OF MORT HOMME & COTE 304
Lachalade Kaiser Tunnel, Haute-Chevauchee Ossuaire Tranchees, Le ravin du Genie, Pennsylvania Monument at Varennes-en-Argonne., Butte de Vauquois, Cote 304, Monfaucon d’Argonne American Monument, Romagne sous Montfaucon American Cemetery.

Day 14 - VERDUN REGION (ride a choice of loops, 25 to 60km)
BATTLE OF VERDUN
Ossuaire du Douaumont, Memorial de Verdun, Fort de Douaumont, Ornes, Bezonvaux and Fleury.

Day 15 - VERDUN TO LACROIX SUR MEUSE 25km direct (we ride 37/57km)
BATTLE OF VERDUN
Meuse River, Fort de Genicourt, Les Eparges Point X Ridge.

Day 16 - LACROIX SUR MEUSE TO PONT-A-MOUSSON 47km direct (we ride 70km)
BATTLE OF ST MIHIEL
St Mihiel, Butte de Monsec US memorial. Flirey, Thiaucourt-Regnieville, Fey-en-Haye destroyed village, Montauville.

Day 17 - PONT-A-MOUSSON TO LUNEVILLE 61km direct (75km)
BATTLE OF GRAND COURONNE
Moselle River, Nomeny, Champenoux, Einville-au-Jard, Colline-du-Leomont monument, Necropole Nationale Friscati-Mouton Noir, Luneville.

Day 18 - LUNEVILLE TO RAON L’ETAPE 37km direct (70km)
COL DE CHAPELOTTE
Domjevin  underground hospital, Col de Chapelotte, Pierre Percee, Herbeviller, Badonviller, Raon l’Etape.

Day 19 - RAON L’ETAPE TO ST DIE 17km direct  (50km)
BATTLE OF THE MEURTH
Col de Chipotte, Etival, Clairefontaine, Ruisseau de Ravine, La Roche Mere Henry, La Fontenelle Memorial, St Die WW1 Necropolis.

Day 20 - ST DIE TO ORBEY 40km direct (we ride 50km)
INTO THE VOSGES
Riding along the ridge of the Vosges Mountains.

Day 21 - ORBEY TO CERNAY 50km direct (we ride 74km)
BATTLES OF LINGE AND HARTMANNSWILLERKOPF
Grand Ballon summit 1410m, Monument des Diables Bleus, Monument Nationale du Hartmannswiller Kopf.

Day 22 - CERNAY TO CHATEAU DU MORIMONT (65km)
BATTLE OF THE ALSACE PLAINS
Burnhaupt-le-Bas, Pfetterhouse, Kilometre Zero, Chateau du Morimont close to the Swiss border.

Depart (Day 23) - CHATEAU DU MORIMONT TO BASEL 30km direct (we ride 45km)
Lucelle, Ferrette and on to Basel Switzerland.               

TOUR DE FRONT

BELGIUM & FRANCE 

ride the line

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INAUGURAL RIDE COMPLETED, NEXT 2018

SHORTER 2017 RIDES WITH CARL OOGHE

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2016 we ran for 23 days

1500+ KM, SMALL GROUPS, GUIDED, VAN SUPPORT

2017: see Carl's rides in next column

June 2018: next Tour de Front, 27 days (approx for now)

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When Austria's 29 year old Archduke Ferdinand sailed into Sydney in 1893, principally to shoot our koalas, platypus and any other innocent wildlife he could line up, no-one could have imagined the apocalypse his own shooting would trigger.

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A tribute and a challenge:

A Ride the length of the Front Line we thought could be both a personal challenge and a way to give tribute to the tragic slaughter and sacrifice of our grandfathers' generation. 

We couldn't see any organised rides on the theme, and asked ourselves "Why not?".

We have named it simply the 'Tour de Front' and pay our respects to the Great Ride as well as the horribly Great War.

Our first ride in 2016 marks the centenary of ANZAC troops on the Western Front.

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The Western Front As a bike ride:

The Tour de Front traces the Western Front from the Belgium coast to the Swiss border. For most of the Great War, the Line didn't shift much. It is around 800km but we will cover a fair bit more, 1400+km! 

Along the way, we're biased towards: sites significant to the ANZAC and Commonwealth forces; minor roads; towns of historical and scenic interest; nice places to overnight; and character accommodations.

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Route and key points:

Nieuwport, Dijksmuide, Ypres and surrounds (incl Passendale), Armentieres, Fromelles, Vimy Ridge, Arras, Bullecourt, Bapaume, Pozieres, Albert, River Somme, Villers-Brettoneux, Peronne, St Quentin, River Aisne, Route des Dames, Reims, Verdun, Meuse, Pont a Mousson, St Die, Vosges Mountains, Grand Ballon, Haute-Alsace and on to Basel (Switzerland).

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Rest days: 
Our multiple nights in Ypres, Albert and Verdun allow for some rest - or exploring further these major battlegrounds.

-------------------------------------------------------------Small groups:

Maximum 12 riders (minimum 6).

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Participation costs per rider for 2018:

Guided, 2-3 star hotels and gîtes x 26 nights, vehicle support for bags, breakfasts.

3500 Euro if sharing a room (approx 5000AUD)

+1000 Euro for single rooms (add approx 1500AUD)

Gîtes are BnBs, farmstays and self-contained rental properties.

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Crew of rider-guide and van support driver:

Carl Ooghe accompanied the June 2016 event for 11 days from the Belgian coast to Reims - Carl is a cycle tour guide and battlefields expert, living near Ypres. Carl's daughter and son alternated driving his van.

Outbike's Ralph drove support from Reims to Basel.

Carl has now researched the Verdun battlefields and we hope for 2018 to have Carl as far as the Moselle River.

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Extras:

Lunches, dinners, bike hire, admissions

Travel to Nieuwport and from Basel.

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More rides:
Shorter rides in 2018 will be available from Carl.


Photos by Outbike

For 2016 Ride photos scroll down the page