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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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Archive for Febrero, 2010

Hi everybody!
Last Thursday we went back to our old training days in Andalusia. Fortunately, we didn’t bring the torrential rain from the south, yet it’s still cold here, specially if you think about making a long training that forces you go at high altitudes, like last Saturday’s session in Vistabella; a place as beautiful as it gets.
Regarding the training in Andalusia, we came to the following conclusions:
-Ivan’s knee bore overexertion quite well. Maybe this bandage, put by the FIOCAS physiotherapist team, did some good, hahaha!.

-We need better cycling equipment for rain. Ivan came up with an oral herpes caused by the hypothermia suffered these past days. Apparently, his body temperature is high, and the waterproof equipment, despite being of good quality, didn’t prevent water to leak.
As a result, his immune system has been affected, hence the oral herpes.
Norway and North Cape will be, without a doubt, way worse climate-wise.
The bobjack was great, yes!. It sure brings more stability than the saddlebags we had during our training in Aragon, although we were pulling, with it, 360 centimeters of vehicle.
A tandem is not a regular bike; it has a flexible frame and it twists with the strength. That, along with the saddlebags, makes the tandem sway. It just gets harder and harder with saddlebags to coordinate.
The bobjack, however, brings stability and safety, as an exchange for two or three kms/hour average less. You’d rather gain safety than speed on the road.
We would now like to try a leaning tandem; we will soon keep you posted about that as this is pretty important of an issue.
-This training has been far more spiritual than physical; due to the adverse weather conditions we’ve faced, namely: 7-hour showers, strong headwind, low visibility and cold in car-infested roads.
We came to the conclusion that having a positive mindset and good humor are a must. It might not seem that important but it really is vital and a matter of survival. At the end of the day, turning negative into positive is crucial. Regardless of the obstacles we’ve faced, we never stopped cheering each other up.
Last but not least, we would like to thank each and everyone of you for your support during these days, both through the website and on the road. It sure feels good when someone spends a minute sending a support message, specially these days, when everybody’s on the go. This indeed was the best start.
Like our friends said: “it’s time to ride a tandem”.
Check out our gratitude video after the jump, hahaha!:

The Levante’s Camino de Santiago’s trip

Posted by admin On Febrero - 17 - 2010

JL: Hi everybody!. After a few days riding in the rain through the south, we are preparing our next trip. In two months, from April 18th through April 19th, we will depart from Castellon to the Levante’s Camino de Santiago.
We don’t want to do it by ourselves; we would like you to come with us. These will be the stages and approximate distance (kilometers):

1.    Castellon -  Xativa  ——————153
2.    Xativa – Albacete———————146
3.    Albacete – Quintanar—————131
4.    Quintanar – Toledo——————-100
5.    Toledo – Avila—————————136
6.    Avila – Toro——————————-150
7.    Toro – Puebla Sanabria————-140
8.    Puebla Sanabria – Orense——–153
9.    Orense – Santiago——————–111
10.    Santiago – La Coruña—————-80

We would like to encourage you to contact us with a comment or via e-mail at Warning: although this is not a race, the important thing here is to enjoy the journey and its anecdotes. We would  like for you to take into account that the training condition must be medium-high, as well as being able to ride a bike for long period of time.
All of the adventures, pictures, stories, etc…will be included in the blog, where our friends and family members will be able to follow you.
Come on, we’re awaiting you!.

From Carmona to Osuna. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Posted by admin On Febrero - 15 - 2010

JL: I spent all night listening to the rain and praying that the rain will stop. Finally we had to leave Carmona at 10:00. It made no sense to wait for the rain to stop. Two kilometer after starting our trip we were soaked and we still had 70 km ahead to ride. Luckily temperature was not too cold (9º – 12ºC).

More rain. More than Seville, Cadiz and Malaga have seen in many years. The countryside was a river. There was even water running through the sown fields. Every downhill was a torrent.

The road did not drain the water. Every time we were overtaken by a big tonnage lorry, it was like if someone had thrown us a bucket of water.  Our hands were so frozen that we could hardly trigger the speed shifter. Our muscles couldn’t get warm, and they hurt with every effort we make. The rain run down our faces our necks. We hardly felt our feet. In addition to this, a mild wind was blowing from the East.

We were getting our destination under these conditions, when, suddenly, 4 km from Osuna, the rear tire blew up. We couldn’t fix it since we were run out of spare tires. Anyway we had been unable to repair the tire as our fingers were too weak at that time. So we had to walk under the rain 4 km pushing the tandem while eating an apple.

Lessons to be learnt:

  • You should have good equipment.
  • You should take a lot of spare parts.
  • We need better tires.
  • If you travel by bicycle, you cannot commit to arrive on time.
  • It is very important not to be scared and not to lose your sense of humor. It is vital for survival.

So we can say we have trained “adversity” more than our physical state. Today our route is over and tomorrow we will back home. Our tandem needs to be repaired and it seems the weather is not getting better.

We have seen a beautiful countryside; however it could be more beautiful; each three meters beside the road belongs to the Spanish State. These millions of square meters are the biggest uncontrolled rubbish dump in Spain and nobody seems to be ashamed of it. These dumps are illegal and they are forbidden, but, as always, no one controls or fines the Spanish Civil Service.

If we took and recycled those tones of aluminum, plastic and rubble that you can find at the side of the road along the country, there would be raw material enough to build a whole new city. However, the ideal would be to be less dirty. I wonder if these kinds of things are taught to the children in the school subject “Education for the Citizenship”.

A responsible and respectful driving should be also taught in this subject. Drivers would rather arrive 5 minutes earlier even having to run over a cyclist to get it. First things first.
The rout has been…

Iván: third day of training through Andalusia. Today, finally…, the weather has been better. I don´t mean that it was a sunny day with temperatures around 23 degrees…no, it was a cold and very cloudy day, one of those days that we call an ugly day, but it has not rained, we have not had very low temperatures or intense wind against us, but only a breeze that I think that the “man with the fan” uses to remind us that we don´t only fight against kilometers, or time, but we also fight against weather; however what he doesn´t know is that what we really want to do is FIGHT AGAINST THE CANCER.

In fact the day has dawned like this, and with only 6 degrees:

So, with our “cycling clothing” we have ridden our machine ready to arrive to Carmona. And people from Carmona have welcomed us with open arms.

As today is St. Valentine´s Day, I would like to comment the strange love story that we have on the tandem (please don´t think what it is not). If love is comprehension and understanding, believe us when we tell you that on the tandem everything is love. Hehehe. In fact, we have developed a language of couple that we only use on the tandem, with the following expressions:

“Cata is coming!!!”: let´s change to small star, aka Catalina.

“On my count of three: one, two, …!!”: the partner gets ready straight away and gets up to go on pedaling.

“Iron”: we change pinions and speed.

“Philosophy”: specially during slopes, we ride calmly, in order to save energy.

And other non-spoken expressions (the non-verbal language is fundamental in love, hehe):
“To raise the opposite foot when a curve comes”: the partner prepares to lie down.

“The meter is up 35km/h”: we try to stop pedaling in order to save efforts.

And here finishes our today’s story.  Greetings from the pair of the tandem!!

See you tomorrow at Osuna!

Today’s route:

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JL: Yesterday, in our route from Malaga to Tarifa, it was raining cats and dogs (you can take a look to the video we uploaded). We were riding during more than three hours under a heavy rain. When we arrived to the hotel I had to get my hands dried before checking in. Still shivering with cold we took off our clothes, we dripped-dry them in the bath and tried to get them dry with the heating.

I don’t know how we haven’t got a cold yet. I guess our body warmth generated by the physical effort kept us warm but were struggling to make it to the end.

Today it’s Saturday, we wake up at 07:00. It keeps raining heavily. We cannot leave under these weather conditions, so we decide to stay for a while. We go to have breakfast, to buy some fruit and to get some money at the bank. The BBVA ATM swallows up my partner’s credit card. The rain is getting worse with lots of thunders and lightning. What a day!

It’s 09:30 and the weather is easing up. We get ready quickly. Our cycling clothing is still wet, what an unpleasant feeling! At 10:00 it stops raining, so we are ready to leave. But… Wait a minute! What’s this? There is a slash in the front tire. It’s a miracle it did not blow up yesterday. We have to change it. Could anything else get worse? At 10:15 we are ready again. We leave and, two kilometer afterwards, it starts raining again. It is a short rain, only 10 minutes, enough to get a little wet. Finally it stops raining.

Today the countryside is wonderful. I didn’t know this region. I couldn’t imagine there were so much woods and green countryside on the South of Spain, especially so close to Tarifa. The rain during this time of the year floods every country; it runs through the ditches and floods the fields which look like rice fields. (What a huge amount of water!) Bulls, cows, horses, goats, birds of prey, wild ducks, rabbits and hundreds of partridge running away from us, two ferrets crossing along the road, 4 green lizards  in low-level flight (or maybe this was an hallucination due to our exhaustion).

However, the direct wind has spoiled our trip once again. We had to pedal every kilometer. Finally we made 130 km in 7 hours and 50 minutes. We got Arcos de la Frontera at 19:15, with the very last daylight.

Moral: there are so many incidents that we can experience that a very straight schedule is too risky. Maybe we will have to modify the number of days or our scheduled route for our final challenge. Of course, we will have to be aware that we will only know for sure the starting date.

Route Map:

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Downpour at Malaga

Posted by admin On Febrero - 12 - 2010

Iván: today our training day to get prepared to cross Europe by tandem passes by Andalusia, from Fuengirola to Tarifa. When we finished, our odometers (I speak in plural because we have 2) counted 142 kilometers, although our perfect quantity for a good training day would be around 160. But rain and the continuous traffic of the A-7 have made this day much harder than usual.

Regarding what we can recommend about the area, it would be the people, kind and helpful, their beaches, with fine sand and good temperatures, and the “pescaíto frito” (fried fish). Nowadays, unfortunately for cyclists, it is a denied terrain, a “bad place” to ride on a two-wheel engine-free device, specially for tandems. Please don´t misunderstand this: I mean to cross MALAGA – TARIFA, because I´m sure that the rise to RONDA or the interior area is pleasant and perfect to go by bike. In fact, after asking a policeman about the possibilities we had to go to Tarifa, he answered us about the difficulties that we would have to suffer to arrive there: double-lane road and almost without shoulder, and unfortunately very little respect for cyclists. In fact, there are several cyclist clubs in the area that claim about the need of more suitable roads and the possibility of cycle lanes, instead of the quantity of kilometers that the politicians of this country have allowed to build near the beach and without any remorse, literally eating the marvelous coasts of this area.

Greetings and, as you know: tomorrow from Tarifa to Arcos de la Frontera. Let´s see if instead of tandem we finish pedaling on a scooter…

Preparing everything for tomorrow, from Malaga to Tarifa.

Posted by admin On Febrero - 11 - 2010

Hello Tandemners!

As you know, we start tomorrow the 5-days route of training through Malaga, Cadiz and Seville, and again Malaga. We had to prepare lots of things: tandem, luggage, photo and video cameras, laptop, station wagon that Record Go has lent us with the deposit full of petrol and ready to drive us to Malaga, and also a visit to the physiotherapist for a control of Iván´s knee and the collocation of protective bandages. In the end, everything must run smooth ;)

Last Monday we left our tandem in the shop of Tito and Esther to adjust it, so today we have gone to collect it with the station wagon. We checked…

Mechanics, ready:

Trolley with pennant prepared and checked:

Technical explanations and advices, memorized:

Brakes, changed (Marcos, you told us):

Raincoats ready (it´s going to rain a lot…):

And this is the result: 360 cm of machine to drag!

The typical photo:

And finally the tandem on the station wagon:

Last visit to the office to settle everything, some sandwiches from Maxi Prim in the car (Cati cooks so good…), water for the travel, and heading to Malaga.

After listening to each other until becoming bored, we arrived two hours ago. So, good night everyone from the pair of the tandem, because tomorrow we have to get up early and this is what is waiting for us:

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Spectators supporting Europe by tandem

Posted by admin On Febrero - 10 - 2010

Hi tandemners!
This Saturday, two friends fond of photography and bikes, decided to join us, take a few pictures and tape some videos. This has been the very first time we’ve ever seen ourselves riding a tandem as viewers (we had never been photographed in action).
The truth is that it was a pretty interesting experience. Their support on the road and the soup they brought in a flask were very restorative—they actually wanted to write this post. Our followers also have a voice in Europe by tandem.
Here is their experience, don’t miss it!:
7am. Ring ring!, just 5 more minutes… This can’t be true! Come on, R!, don’t be like that and get up!.
You promised a soup and promises are to be kept!. After breakfast and preparing the soup, I is picking me up. Backpack, camera, two batteries, empty memory card, gloves, hat, raincoat and the soup flask. JL and Ivan were awaiting us in a 15-kilometer distance preparing the tandem. They say the most important thing is to be certain that everything’s in check: tires well inflated, saddle in its place, food and water storage, clear route and the milometer set to 0.

Ivan told us that, after his knee injury, he had to progressively pull the saddle up to 5 centimeters.

We then made an inspection of the tandem, focusing on the saddles. Both JL and Ivan explained to us that the saddles are ergonomically different due to the postures they adopt, depending if they go in the front or in the rear.
These saddles bear so many kilometers with them on top that they even got names; please, take note:

The front saddle’s name is “Avatar”

and the rear one is “Rest area”.

It’s 8am and after charging the batteries and setting our watches, we start our trip! Never until we take a picture… “Cheeeese”.

We are mesmerized with the way they coordinate and the keys they use: “1, 2, 3, go!” to get the tandem started and “1, 2, 3, up!, to get up while they pedal to climb a mountain. Even mesmerized with the way the one in the rear leans after the one in the front warns him with a leg that a curve is right ahead.

Where are you taking us? It seems like the guys from Europe by tandem decide to take again the Sitjar route, yet with a slight difference. We are so thankful to be taken to such beautiful places.
We are going from ground level up to 788 meters above sea level; it’s about 140 rough kilometers with beautiful landscapes, though. We exit Benicassim (Castellon) to head to the Sitjar Reservoir and then get lost in the Alto Mijares region. This is the profile they have ready for us. Fortunately, we are riding a motorbike.

There we go!, fans are always present:

…in every kilometer of the road…

…enjoy sight-seeing through the Sitjar Reservoir…

…in every road’s ditch…

…hidden beneath the traffic signs…

…and also when we ask for a snack at this glamorous terrace, filled with trees, that we find halfway through our trip. The terrace was very integrated into the landscape, since it was decorated with the pine branches next to it. As you can see in the picture, we had a whole lot of beer, but that was just set aside ;-)

You’re always gobbling!.

Come on, JL!, give Ivan a little bit, you greedy!.

….good boy!

You go boys!

Yeahhh, great team!

…we could also see them pedaling from the car…

…but, of course, we could not help but pull over to take a picture altogether. Again: “Cheeese”.

It was 10:30am and we had to let them go with their 140-kilometer trip (they had barely completed 40 kilometers (no wonder, with all the paparazzi around). Training is training, and now the hard part has just started, therefore, we’d rather upload the pictures in a future post.
See you later and enjoy the a happy tandem!.

February 4th, 2010. World Cancer Day.

Posted by admin On Febrero - 5 - 2010

In words of the AECC (Spanish Association Against Cancer – as per its abbreviation in Spanish): “40% of cancer cases could be avoided”.

We are not only talking about a piece of information, a statistic, a simple percentage, we are also talking about 40% of people and families affected by cancer, neighbors, friends, parents, siblings, colleagues, whose suffering could have been avoided.
And this bothers us, and it bothers us very much, even more so when we talk about one of the main causes of death in the world. Like we said in our first post: Cancer is an illness that makes no distinction between rich and poor. It gets less attention in the media and news pages than other more recent illnesses, despite the fact that cancer takes more lives than any of them […]. Its universal nature seems to have made us resign to it.

But, why don’t we turn this around and look at it with positivity? The statistics speak for themselves: of the 26 million new cancer cases and 17 million deaths calculated for the year 2030, 40% can be avoided.

But how can we achieve this? According to the UICC (International Union Against Cancer as per its abbreviation in Spanish), illnesses such as lung, skin, cervix and colorectal cancers, are potentially avoidable simply by taking into practice a series of pieces of advice such as not smoking, avoiding second hand smoke, limiting alcohol consumption, avoiding an excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays and keeping the right weight through a balanced diet and the practice of physical exercise on a regular basis.

Therefore, CANCER PREVENTION was the slogan everyone shouted with energy yesterday February 4th, 2010, and of course, all of us at Europe by  Tandem raise our voices as one more. CANCER PREVENTION is a message aimed at raising awareness and  “educating” mainly young people, who are our future, so that they adopt a healthy lifestyle and can avoid having more possibilities of suffering from this illness.

We strongly recommend a visit to the 2010 World Cancer Day Website. And, of course, follow their advice!

For parents

1. Teach children starting from a very early age to eat a varied diet
2. Include in their diet fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, cereal, legumes, pasta, rice, dairy and, why not? Every once in a while, pastry or a sweet treat!
3. Get them out of the house so they can play in the park or on the street and sign them up to sports activities.
5. Present the food in an attractive manner.

For children:

1. If you get hungry… a piece of fruit or a bit of dairy will be your allies.

2. Participate in the preparation of food, even if you don’t believe it…it’s a lot of fun!

3. Play, run, jump, get up from the sofa!

4. Go out to play at the park or out to the street with your friends.
5. Ask your parents to take you camping. Everyone to the countryside!
The fight is yielding results and there are more and more people every time who manage to face this illness and defeat it. Prevention and early diagnosis are fundamental, for that reason, because of this day we encourage you to spread this information so this message can reach at least as many people as those affected by the illness.
On February 4th, World Cancer Day, is an event coordinated by the UICC (International Union Against Cancer), in cooperation with the WHO (World Health Organization) and with different cancer associations in many countries.

Suppliers and Maintanance.

Posted by admin On Febrero - 4 - 2010

JL: All of those who practice cycling often (more than three times a week)              know the importance of purchasing their bicycle and the main equipment at a  specialty store. It is not only about buying the bicycle. After getting the equipment, you either have a lot of free time or you are a gifted mechanic, or, on the contrary, there are hundreds of things you will need from your supplier; in such case, you will be happy to have chosen a friendly store where you can go when you have doubts, breakdowns, problems, or need new materials, spare parts or simply advice or a tune up.
In our case, it’s twice as important, as a tandem bicycle has many more parts. In this adventure, from the beginning I trusted my friends Tito and Ester from Cyclestore, in Castellon. This couple has 20 years of experience in the world of bicycles. They are my cycling experts, have done uncountable outings and bicycle trips and provide help to a great deal of cycling fans in Castellon. While my intention is not to belittle any other store, I recommend that, if you appreciate quality material and service, go to Cyclestore, especially if you are interested in the Specialty world. My regards go out to both Tito and Ester, thank you very much for your cooperation in this Project!

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