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Europe by Tandem

From Castellon (Spain) to Northern Cape (Norway) by Tandem supporting the fight against cancer.

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Day 38. Sant Carles de la Rápita – Castellón

Posted by admin On Agosto - 27 - 2010

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109 kilometers. 4 hours.
JL: I’m writing this belated blog post about the Sant Carles de la Rápita- Castellón final stage. I can’t say much about the road since we cycled along the national road N-340.   Not many kilometers but at warp speed. We had to get to Castellón on time, at 1 p.m. No further [...]

Day 37. El Vendrell- Sant Carles de la Rápita

Posted by admin On Agosto - 16 - 2010

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129 kilometers. 5 hours and 54 minutes.
IVAN: The kilometers we covered today along the hellish national road N-340 weren’t as hard as we thought they would be. An ugly day; it was cloudy for a change but there were blasts of fair wind. We went past the Ebro Delta; that’s worth mentioning. Take a close-up [...]

Day 36. Vic- El Vendrell

Posted by admin On Agosto - 16 - 2010

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142 kilometers. 8 hours and 34 minutes.
IVAN: 6:45 a.m. The alarm clock goes off at the same time it does every single day. It doesn’t wake me up, though. I’ve been awake for 15 minutes. I look through the window next to my bed. It’s open. I can see a blanket of thick black clouds [...]

Day 2010

Posted by admin On Septiembre - 2 - 2010ADD COMMENTS

IVAN: Just by taking a quick look at this blog post title, the reader may think that it’s been ages since we arrived, and the truth is that it’s been only two weeks since our adventure came to an end; however, enough time has passed for me to think that it’s been ages.

This adventure has had a lot of given names: sports, solidarity, European, cycling, traveling, etc. The feeling you get out of not being able to give this adventure only one name is aroused by the bizarre sight our blind unfleshed bodies, marked for life and undeniably stuck to the living flesh, catch. And this “without rhyme or reason” feeling creates an endless and rewarding sensation.

If I had to put this in scientific or, rather, mathematical terms, I would say that  suffering represented 70 percent and enjoyment accounted for 20 percent of the adventure (the remaining 10 percent corresponds to quotidianess). For my ailing body,  the larger percentage is not an issue. My body, still in pain, only recalls pleasant, curious, different things which it almost unconsciously misses. At the same time, it treats the considerable and copious amount of suffering with disdain because it is, strangely enough, vital for my body to repeat the enjoyment derived from this feat. You just bear in mind the gorgeous scenery, the tasty food, the wild and addictive smell that the genuine sense of freedom emanates and this smell hits you. For those who have been keeping track of our blog posts, it is as though a dormant bear has been roused by early spring warmth.         

This body, which looks rather dumb but, in fact, it isn’t, wants you to give it, to put it simply, a hard time. Yes, that’s right, this body wants to be treated harshly and roughly. I wish I could find the exact words to describe this weird sensation! I could only compare it with the feeling you get when you hear bells tolling for a funeral. These experiences, though distant, remind you that you’re alive.   

I can only express a deep sense of gratitude towards all the people who have followed us through our blog entries and supported us. In fact, their support gave us the strength to fulfil our unwavering commitment; they have encouraged us to make our dream come true. We used to say: “we might do it”; now, we can say: “we were able to do it in the end”.

When the “Europe by Tandem” project was still in its infancy, I remember telling J.L.: “be careful what you wish for, because your wishes may come true.” Good grief!

So, for the sake of giving gratitude a name: thank you to all of you have made a donation to our cause; thanks for your selfless generosity. Special thanks to RECORD GO and to its staff and, above all, I’d like to express my warmest thanks to José Luis Esquer.

YouTube Updated Channel

Posted by admin On Agosto - 30 - 2010ADD COMMENTS

Hi, everybody!

After watching, tagging and editing videos, we have, at last, our own YouTube Channel, totally updated!

You just have to click here and you’ll be able to watch all the videos we have. There is a link in the top right-hand corner of the blog.

We have just posted two videos we couldn’t post before. They capture the moment we cross the finish line after traveling 4700 kilometers across Europe for our fight against cancer. The first video shows how a group of supporters caught us by surprise by pedaling in a gesture of solidarity with our cause from the Jaume I University to the Plaza Mayor (Main Square) in the city of Castellón. The second video shows speeches full of words of hope which make anyone perk up. Hope you enjoy them!

The moment we finish posting the rest of the pics, we’ll let you know!

Day 38. Sant Carles de la Rápita – Castellón

Posted by admin On Agosto - 27 - 2010ADD COMMENTS

109 kilometers. 4 hours.

JL: I’m writing this belated blog post about the Sant Carles de la Rápita- Castellón final stage. I can’t say much about the road since we cycled along the national road N-340.   Not many kilometers but at warp speed. We had to get to Castellón on time, at 1 p.m. No further explanation. We were in for a big surprise.

It was a real red-letter day for us: our city received us with open arms. Our company, Record Go, and the city hall of Castellón rolled out the red carpet for us. There was an inflatable finish line arch in the Plaza Mayor (Main Square) and all our co-workers, friends, relatives and blog readers were there as well.  Loads of means of communication were also there: Nou Radio, Nou TV, Mediterraneo newspaper, Onda Cero Radio, Cadena Ser Radio, Las Provincias newspaper, Levante newspaper, etc. The ceremony was hosted by Record Go C.E.O., Victor Carratalá, the Sports City Councilor, Vicent Sales and the Autonomous Government President of the Spanish Association against Cancer, Antonio Folch.  

Reunion with our loved ones, photos, bestowal of a commemorative plaque, bunches of flowers, champion cycling jerseys, bottles of champagne, etc. In short, a sudden rush of emotion that made our hearts, already pounding, hammer faster.  The people gathered in the square hugged us and treated us as though we were heroes; something that seemed way over the top for Iván and I. We don’t really get the feeling of having done something out of this world. In spite of that, we thanked heartily all those words of appreciation and those words of congratulations we received. It was a shining moment for us: it is so nice to see how people’s hopes are flared up by something that you have done. My heartlfelt thanks to you all.

Crossing the finish line was kind of weird. On the one hand, we felt happy because we overcame the challenge and we were relieved because we would be able to rest. On the other hand, we had the feeling we were catching the end of a movie we were truly enjoying and didn’t want it to end. This shows that although the goal is to achieve your aim, the nice thing is to enjoy the process. You can move the goalposts along the way in order to reach your goals; making your way is what really motivates and educates you.    

Our friend, Paco, is parked, for the time being, at the Record Go garage until we decide on his destination. His mechanics were the picture of good health. He didn’t cause any serious problems for us, just some tire replacements (something fairly common) and a bicycle saddle replacement. We made a good decision by choosing him; he didn’t let us down. I don’t know what he would say if he had the faculty of language. He might be thankful for having had the opportunity of visiting so many places and meeting so many people; he might say that he did his best, that he is proud of having participated in this project, that he is haggard and that he lost some weight…but I’m certain sure that he is happy of having met the Wind, the Sun and the Road and of having been part of their same team. 

It seems like only yesterday when we set off. Although the task was tough, it went at a fast clip.

And the day after? Well, you feel relief that you don’t have to be on the go. At the same time, you try hard to get back to normal. You have to return to your day-to-day routines and resume your duties and you have to do it as soon as possible. The planet goes on spinning around, which sets your rhythm.

We have already returned to normal regarding our professional and everyday life so, does this mean that everything is like it was before? Well, I don’t think so. Things will never be the same after such an experience. We have grown, we have learned and, above all, we hope we have made an impact on the culture that surrounds us.  Sometimes, the rhythm that the planet sets is not perfect and we must change it. This project had nothing to do with cycling; it had nothing to do with traveling either. It had to do with the human capacity for imagination and inner strength at the disposal of a wish; it had to do with the willingness to become a better person day after day, by putting talent to good use; it had to do with perserverance and with the pursuit of a vision.    

That was the true spirit of our project. I hope everybody who has heard of it or who has participated in it can capture its essence.

This is the posthumous DIARY post; it isn’t the last BLOG entry, though. There is still a lot to write home about. We won’t call it a day yet. We are considering the possibility of publishing a book; we have loads of audiovisual material to post and TV2 is airing a documentary on this. By the way, you can still make donations and T-shirts are still up for sale.

Thanks to all of you who have helped us, supported us and understood us; to those who have grown excited, as we have, about this project; to those who have followed us through our blog posts and to all our Facebook friends. We’ll keep in touch through this blog and, who knows? In a near future, we may set out on another wonderful venture.

Day 37. El Vendrell- Sant Carles de la Rápita

Posted by admin On Agosto - 16 - 2010ADD COMMENTS

129 kilometers. 5 hours and 54 minutes.

IVAN: The kilometers we covered today along the hellish national road N-340 weren’t as hard as we thought they would be. An ugly day; it was cloudy for a change but there were blasts of fair wind. We went past the Ebro Delta; that’s worth mentioning. Take a close-up look at the pics below.

Tomorrow, the last kilometers to go. Tomorrow, we are writing the end of this adventure story, at least the part of the story that describes how to keep the tandem bicycle saddle warm and how to bring the pedals to life. Today: a time for thoughtful reflection. I don’t dare offer any of them; they have no value today. Tomorrow is the big day. Tomorrow evening, I reckon, we will start to clear our ideas and to fill the gaps. Today our thoughts just popped into our minds in a disorderly way and they left some gaps that have to be filled.

We are getting to Castellón tomorrow.

P.S. A descent down the Pyrenees we couldn’t show you because we didn’t have enough time to post the video before.

Day 36. Vic- El Vendrell

Posted by admin On Agosto - 16 - 2010ADD COMMENTS

142 kilometers. 8 hours and 34 minutes.

IVAN: 6:45 a.m. The alarm clock goes off at the same time it does every single day. It doesn’t wake me up, though. I’ve been awake for 15 minutes. I look through the window next to my bed. It’s open. I can see a blanket of thick black clouds that envelops the sky. I don’t bat an eyelid. I don’t wonder. It’s been a while since my eyes last bugged because we have such weather in the very midst of August. I try to get up and I realize that there’s something inside me that is still inhabiting the Land of Nod. My inner bear, that bear that looks forward to being in rocky mountains and to going up and down unknown paths, hasn’t woken up yet; I look at him, I elbow him and yet he doesn’t wake up. I decide to get up and I watch him slip under the sheets.

I wash my face. I talk with J.L. and we make our way to the dining room to have breakfast. We go near the breakfast buffet table. The truth is that I’m not really hungry but my body is consciously aware of its need for food and, as a result, sends a message to my brain: “Hey, don’t take one fruit; take two, or three!”, “only two toasts? Take that loaf of bread, some tomato and Serrano ham as well”, “a croissant for the coffee and a doughnut too!”

We leave the hotel. We start pedaling; we start getting familiar with our body sensations…Crossing the Pyrenees hasn’t been for free and, now, we are paying the price for it. We leave Vic. The first raindrops start to trickle. We take the road Garmin shows us. This road leads to Manresa, then, to Montblanc. We don’t want to go down the coastal road; it’s not that nice for the tandem bicycle and it’s usually rather busy. We’ll go inland to Castellón. After doing 15 kilometers, we realize that we had to take the road that runs parallel to the one we are traveling along and we also realize that the road access was 4 kilometers behind. We try to find an alternative road. There’s no way so we decide to turn around and go the other way. Surprise, surprise! We chance on a secondary road access that goes to a gas station; we’ll be able to join the road from there.

We take it, that’s right, we get to the gas station and we do have access to the road Garmin has showed us. There’s a gas station air compressor. We blow the rear tire up. 5th tire replacement during our trip, and extremely close to home. Fortunately, we only have to remove the inner tube.

Changed tire. Perfect wheels. Right path. We start cycling upward to Manresa. On our way, a bolt from the blue: a white car coming in the opposite direction suddenly turns on roof-mounted blue beacons, it approaches us from the opposing lane and pulls out in front of us. They are Mossos d’Esquadra (the police force of Catalonia)! What do they want? Fairly simple. Well, they get out of the car, pissed off. One of them starts touching his head with his pointer finger while going around in circles. He begins to talk. He tells us that cycling is prohibited on this road. To put it simply, we can’t ride our tandem bicycle there. During the course of the conversation, rather heated on certain occasions, we tell them that there is no clear signage that warns that cycling is not allowed. One of the officers makes his way to the police car and writes out, as thought he were a G.P, the following prescription: a mere 500-euro fine or a 250-euro fine if we take advantage of a prompt-pay discount. The truth is that they are right. The fact that we haven’t seen the prohibition signs doesn’t exempt us from being fined. Two wrongs don’t make a right. The lovely thing is that the fastest way to get to Manresa by bicycle is from Vic and along a 917-meter mountain pass, something we weren’t expecting. The two polite police officers escort us from that point to the first exit that leads us to the opposite way we are going. Well, it’s 11 o’clock in the morning and we are in the same place we were at 8 o’clock a.m. When in pain, we feel intense sensations.

As to the rest of the day, everything goes swimmingly. We have lunch in between Vic and Manresa. Once we get there, we go along the beach, we take the road we’ve been intentionally avoiding. It’s not a mountain road. We’re tired and disheartened. Tonight, we are sleeping in a coastal town. Tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, we are cycling along the hellish national road N-340.

Day 35. Amelie les Bains- Vic

Posted by admin On Agosto - 14 - 2010ADD COMMENTS

127 kilometers. 8 hours and 9 minutes.

JL: The Road just stood aside but overheard the tandem bicycle’s conversation with the Wind and the Sun. In the end, the road broke its silence and said: “My dear friends, you have overestimated, the entire time, the effect you exert on the tandem bicycle’s trip; you must not forget that it was I who brought the tandem bicycle back home.” The Wind and the Sun simultaneously burst into a fit of laughter after the annoyed road made its comment. However, they immediately muffled their laughter and looked at each other, somehow puzzled. The Wind snorted and said hastily: “With my power, I shook objects as I please; I can help them build up speed or I can slow them down; had I not brought good fortune, the tandem bicycle would not have made it”. The Sun furiously retorted: “It is my energy that endows good causes with courage and will and it was my generosity that gave the tandem bicycle the strength to get back home.” At that very moment, the Road gave a self-satisfied smirk and said: “what good is knowing all those things if you do not what the correct path is? It is I who guides men towards their destination.” Seeing the Sun, the Wind and the Road were on the brink of having an argument, the tandem bicycle asked for permission to join the conversation and said: “it is no use being the center of attention if others do not feel at ease with you. Receiving acknowledgement and tasting victory are better enjoyed when shared. That is the essence of teamwork and that was the reason why I made this trip in the first place.  It is good to keep this in mind and to say it to those who decide to travel to make their dreams come true.” And they all remained silent. 

Yesterday we didn’t succeed in splitting the ascent to the Col des Ares mountain pass in two days because of a summer storm that forced us to seek shelter ahead of time. We didn’t know whether to continue the trip in the rain or to stop until the rain ceased. We were starting to get cold; that was what made us decide to continue our trip later. We were soaked to the skin when we got to the hotel, once again. This morning, our sneakers were still wet. How unpleasant it was to wear drenched clothes!

So, today we had to meet a big challenge: to cycle upward from Amelie les Bains at 250 meters to the Col des Ares  at 1513 meters. We had to cycle uphill 35 kilometers in 3 hours and 54 minutes, shrouded in a thick blanket of fog, to cross the French-Spanish border. 10-degree slopes and a paved road in poor condition characterized this mountain pass. On the one hand, this mountain pass posed the greatest difficulty; on the other hand, it held the greatest appeal: the scenery and the mountain towns are worth it. The ascent was extremely tough (watch the video). We made it; not by using our legs; rather, by using our heads.   

For lunch, we had a ham and tomato sandwich, as large as the aircraft carrier Prince of Asturias, in Prats de Mollo. Later on, we bought some fruit in a street market before resuming our trip.

A swift and cold descent. Lunch in Campodron. We went by Ripoll and San Joan de les Abadesses; then we arrived in Vic. All these towns are worth visiting.

By the way, I can tell you, after cycling across six countries, that the roads in Spain are among the best in Europe. The road surface condition, the width of the hard shoulders and the number and clarity of the signposts far exceed everything we saw abroad. Unfortunately, motorist behavior in Spain is not on a par with what I mentioned above. Therefore, there’s still much room for improvement.

More kilometers added to the solidarity count. We’re getting even closer to home!

Day 34. Nissan lez Enserune- Amelie Les Bains

Posted by admin On Agosto - 13 - 2010ADD COMMENTS

129 kilometers. 6 hours and 27 minutes.

IVAN: The Mediterranean Sea. The photograph on the left, beautiless, means nothing special for those who aren’t aware of our feelings. That picture depicts our first contact with the “Mare Nostrum”, the name the Romans gave to “Our Sea”, a term I have consciously taken hold of. Yes, that’s the Sea which has been keeping company with me throughout my life: I was born next to it, I grew up near to it, I played closed to it…I’ve spent my life in its proximity. When I saw it, again, after covering so many kilometers, I got goose bumps.     

The truth is that there is no rose without a thorn. Joy and sorrow attended the reunion as well. The Mediterranean Sea is usually accompanied by breezes and winds; today, the Sea’s companions were a bit flakey. They came from different directions: detrimental  head winds early in the morning, dizzying side winds later on, beneficial tail winds at noon. Well, we knew that this could happen. I’d like to thank my uncle for reminding me through facebook what Joan Manuel Serrat (Spanish singer-songwriter) would say in a situation like this:

“What am I gonna do if I was born in the Mediterranean?”

On the one hand, we got goose bumps; on the other hand, we felt awe when seeing the Pyrenees, that natural border which separates France from our land. In fact, we cycled along a road that connects Narbonne and Perpignan; 100 kilometers on a flat road. Once we covered those 100 kilometers and after steering clear from La Jonquera, we made our way to the lion’s den; banks of clouds and rain showers were looming over the Pyrenees; we could clearly make them out in a 10-kilometer distance. It was the chronicle of a death foretold. We were going to get wet, well, thoroughly wet.

After we rolled upward for 5 kilometers, it did start raining. And before you could say Jack Robinson, our arms, legs and faces were soaked to the skin; at once our clothes, sneakers and socks got wet as well. Since today’s blog post is about feelings, you can’t imagine how we felt: we cycled 100 kilometers; it began to rain; we were going up a mountain pass while hammering hard, raindrops pounding on our faces; our feet, wet; our arms and legs, dripping wet. You experience an awesome feeling; almost  unbeatable. J.L. and I have had several talks about the feelings you get out of sports. He once told me about a conversation he had with a sports medicine doctor. He said: “the sensations that an avid sportsperson feels are a cut above the sensations that an ordinary person feels; even the sensations that a person who is on drugs or other illegal substances feels”. These pleasurable sensations, as I mentioned before in a blog post, are for those “silly” ones who decide to stop painting the town red (even for a while), stop going to all-night parties, stop drinking alcohol, stop hanging out and drinking on the street and who decide to become an early bird and work hard.

I’ll finish by telling you we are sleeping in a Pre-Pyrenees town tonight. Tomorrow, first thing in the morning, the MOUNTAIN, with a capital M, awaits us. We are going up an elevation of 1600 meters  (we are already at 250 meters); Paco and the bags are coming with us so we are going to take a rest today. Hope our muscles work tomorrow as well as they worked today. Ah, I nearly forgot: let’s hope Paco dries out! This is what he looked like when he got to the hostel.

118 kilometers. 6 hours and 45 minutes.

JL: Why the heck does the waiter ask me to choose only one hunk of bread among the many types he is carrying on the tray when in fact I want one of each? The other day, I finally got enough nerve up to put him the question during dinner time. Do you know what the stuck-up waiter replied? No, you can’t have more than one at a time. If I wanted another chunk of bread, he would come over and over again but he would serve me only one at a time.  Iván and I are always desperately hungry and these guys restrict food to limited allotments. Why are they bent on fully describing each dish they serve us even though we tell them we don’t speak French? Sometimes they need more time to describe what is on the menu than the time we need to wolf everything down. After the entreé, why do we have to choose between cheese board and dessert when in fact we want to have both cheese board AND dessert? Why don’t they wind down and let us have supper undisturbed?  And, why do they take such an uncompromising stance when it comes to mealtimes? They don’t serve lunch after 2 o’clock p.m. even if you are starving! Apparently, it was the Germans who had a strictness issue. However, we had lunch and supper more or less at the time we wanted to in Germany.

Anyway, we started the day off late, around 9:00 a.m. The alarm clock went off at 7:00 a.m. but there was no way of getting out of the bed because we ended up, the day before, feeling really tired. We then regretted having setting off late because of the heat. I can illustrate this by telling you that we drank four liters of water, two cans of isotonic beverage and we ate eleven fruit a head; plus a quarter of watermelon we got from a road fruit stand. Cycling along the road was like being on a see-saw ride; that’s why it took us a while.   

We ate the first fruit in a little town called Saint Martin de Londres. It was 11:00 a.m. and the locals were gathered in the main square around a fountain. Why were they there? It was simply the place itself. It wasn’t a square which was devised by a renowned designer who sought to justify his/her budget on the grounds of concrete and metal. It was merely a place with three mighty matchless trees and stone benches.

We want to wake up at 6:00 a.m. tomorrow so that we can start the day off early. We are in the Pyrenees and we have to cross them somehow. We have decided to do so by taking the D115 road which links up to the C38 road that leads to Camprodon in the province of Girona. We have to cross a 1620-meter mountain pass. We are going to climb it in two days: tomorrow are going to go up until we reach an elevation of 500/600 meters, we are going to climb the rest on Friday and we are going to make the long descent and cross the French-Spanish border as well. Camprodon brings some memories back. I suffered a scaphoid fracture of the right wrist caused by a fall while taking the Trans Pyrenees road on mountain bike. I wasn’t back since then. Things will be much better this time. That’s a sure bet.

Day 32. Privas- Saint Hippolyte du Fort

Posted by admin On Agosto - 11 - 2010ADD COMMENTS

142 kilometers. 7 hours and 26 minutes.

IVAN: Right off the bat. Beads of sweat on my forehead trickled down in between my eyebrows, ran down my nose and jumped into the void from the tip of my nose again and again. Right off the bat. Today my swollen blood vessels stood out on my arms and legs; they pumped, by means of a pressurized fluid, gasoline into my muscles right off the bat. Today my heart and my lungs worked hard. I exercised aerobically, and on some ocassions, anaerobically as well right off the bat. I had to roll up the sleeve of my right arm, bend my elbow with my arm at my side and check my pulse right off the bat. Today I got into a one-on-one conversation with the mountain right off the bat. Today, the mountain did not want to experience delays.

The profile of today’s mountain:

The following video shows the final part of the descent over the mountain ridge (see graph above). Please, pay rapt attention to the way the van driver recklessly maneuvered. I make a direct appeal to the readers’ sympathy: cyclists deserved to be a little bit respected. As the wise saying goes, “It’s better to lose one minute of your life than your life in one minute,” which takes on its true meaning here; however, in this case, it’s not the van driver’s life we are talking about but other people’s lives.

Today’s stage was extremely hard and long. The searing heat and the continuous ascents and descents along mountain trails burnt us out. (note: the profile sells itself short because of the first mountain; but, if you take a close look, you’ll see that, in fact, it’s saw-like, full of ups and downs; 50 meters up, 50 meters down again and again). That first steep mountain made us think, in the very beginning, that the beginning of the ascent, (if you will forgive the repetition) was the hardest part, we were wrong though. What’s more, it was not difficult at all and, if we compare it with crossing the Pyrenees, well, it was a piece of cake. The Pyrenees, that’s tough. Once, somebody said: “No pain, no gain”; well, Spain is our gain.

Today’s stage started off in a town near the Rhode river. The vegetation was very green and thick. Once we crossed “the wall”, the surroundings had a Mediterranean blend; their vegetation constantly reminded me of the vegetation you see in the place where I live. If there had been orange trees instead of vineyards, I would have thought I were at home. 

Last but not least, we got a flat tire, again. I think it’s the 4th tire we have replaced since we departed from North Cape. Well, it’s not that bad. One flat tire every 1000 kilometers. 

Day 31. Vienne- Privas

Posted by admin On Agosto - 10 - 2010ADD COMMENTS

127 kilometers. 6 hours and 26 minutes.

 JL:

“You’ve joined us at long last!” the tandem bicycle said to the Sun. “I did not join you before because you sparked no interest in me,” replied the Sun. “Do we stir it up now?”  the tandem bicycle retorted angrily. “You piqued my curiosity not long ago. Now, I have a keen interest in knowing who those men that strive mightily to build hopes are,” the Sun explained. “Now that you do know us, will you accompany us on our adventure?” the tandem bicycle asked wholeheartedly. “It is not up to me. Building a fire is easy; however, stoking a fire is difficult,” and the tandem bicicle remained silent; deep in thought.

Cycling 100 kilometers along a flat monotonous road by the right bank of the Rhone makes all kinds of thoughts race through your mind. Now and then, something interrupts your train of thought. We traveled for 4 hours in the sun; our senses were continuously sharpened and dulled in between periods of concentration and contemplation. Your “outer” sight shows you places you probably won’t see again, and therefore, you commit as much as you can to your memory.  When putting in a great deal of physical effort, the “inner” sight reveals new things about yourself day after day. Moreover, the proprioceptive system provides feedback, at all times, on your muscle tension and on your heart rhythm. It is impossible not to feel fully alive.  

Today we left Vienne, a city founded in the 3rd century BC. Due to its early founding, it embraces a rich historical heritage. It grew along the Rhone river; therefore, broad green belts surround the new nearby neighborhoods. At noon, we had lunch in Tournon, which is located on what more or less represents the equator of our trip. On other occasions, we had a quick snack for lunch on a park bench, but we felt like having a decent lunch today. The menu was rather expensive and scarce; however, they served us a cheese board which made up for the rest. Don’t miss the pic below.    

In the afternoon, we came upon another tandem bicycle which was traveling upriver. We would have loved to get off the tandem, get to know them, shoot some photos…but, at that moment, we were cycling at 40 kilometers per hour, and the encounter was more than brief.

When finishing today’s stage in Privas, we had to move away from the river and cycle westward so that we could cover 27 kilometers in the mountains. The town is located halfway upward a long mountain pass. Tomorrow, first thing in the morning, we are crossing this mountain pass at a height of 850 meters. We struck it lucky with the weather; a lovely summer storm broke some minutes after we arrived. In the next four days, until we finally cross the Pyrenees, we’ll have to cycle along lots of mountain passes; which increases the odds of  being in for more storms. Hope we can wait out the storms inside.

Well, I think today’s front-page news is that my partner, Iván, decided, in the end, to have a shave after one month without doing so. See the evidence below.

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