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

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Archive for Mayo, 2010

Ninth day, Ourense – Santiago de Compostela, 104 km, 6hrs 14min.

IVAN: Day 29th of May, the last, 9 days ago we were leaving Benicassim, Castellón, with the intention of arriving at Santiago de Compostela following the Camino de Levante with an average 50km per day, as a training for our singular European solidarity challenge. Although this journey had the intention of empowering the physical aspect of the challenge, the main characteristic was gaining experience as tandem bike riders and be fully prepared when we begin the real journey in Norway.

Nothing out of the ordinary happened today, a leg-breaking difficult stage. Galicia’s profile in this area is completely uneven; you continually go uphill and downhill and uphill again, a tough stage all the way to the end.  We should have expected this. Bu the reward was worth the effort, the arrival at Santiago de Compostela.

We entered Santiago de Compostela at 4 p.m on a fresh and humid afternoon. We approximated the ancient hull with the strength given by the adrenaline caused by your enthusiasm. We go down the slopes as if they were flat and go uphill with the advantageous speed of the descents. In few minutes we are in front of the ancient hull accessed by the Rua do Franco, leading us to the desired ending. We saw people, many people, the attraction the tandem bike exerts on the passer-by is evident. A woman stopped us and greeted us with a smile, an old French man asked us where we came from, a boy pointed us out with his forefinger and with the other hand he covered up his mouth and released an alaaaa!!!, a group of young people smiled, and little by little and dodging signs of admiration and complicity, we arrived to a huge extension opened in front of us, the Plaza do Obradoiro. We arrived and turning around we end up directing the tandem bike towards the Cathedral of the apostle James. Last pedalling, brake and foot on the ground, glance towards the sky and feeling.  A complete success.

Before changing we find a group of Castellón who come to see the tandem bike. They recognized the company that sponsor us, RECORD GO, and after telling them the commitment we have acquired with the Cancer Association (AECC and UICC), they commit to make a donation.

Once we changed clothes at the pilgrim’s hostel, we went to get our Compostelana, the diploma received by every pilgrim, upon delivering the card with the appropriate stamps. Of course this night we deserve the victory beer. The night atmosphere breathed in Snatiago is very interesting,  there are no slicked hairdos nor  makeup with rouge, what you see are sharp faces , long beards, and fine sculpted arms, all typical characteristics acquired by the pilgrims. All of them with a smile which help you achieve the goal. I invite everyone to experience this, you feel in community with all the neighbours, and the conversations come up effortlessly, going in the same direction: How about you, from where?

8th stage Camino Santiago de Levante. The hole of Verín

Posted by admin On Mayo - 28 - 2010

Eighth day: Town of Sanabria – Ourense. 156 kms. 9 hours and 43 minutes.

JL: We  departed from Puebla de Sanabria at 8:00. The day is fresh, clear and sunny allowing us to see the snowed peaks. We are tired but the landscape and the sun are comforting, and it makes us smile. Better, go on! Today we have to reach three superior heights at 1000 meters, one of 895, another of 868, and for the dessert, a high point of 590 meters. The two most difficult climbs are in the first 50 kilometres: 1380 meters, descent and 1170 meters more. We take it easy, we put the “catalina” (name given to the small plate) and “up we go”. At the beginning of the climb, we met the first pilgrims who were leaving Sanabria. It were Raquel and Aníbal of Madrid with whom we spoke for a few minutes. Go on guys, and good travel! Here is a photo of the group.

The most difficult part of the day arrived in Verín, a locality situated in low ground: vertiginous descent to arrive and an incredible climb to get out (and this appears on km. 100, when we have 56 km. more before finishing the stage). We ate in a park before going ahead. Shortly after we restarted, blue palette of “slow – moving car”, which means that we are near an important climb: we have to gather strength, grind our teeth and begin to climb.   We are starting to dislike this traffic sign.

After this climbing remaining path to Ourense was a complete “leg breaker”/ I no longer know how much food, water and fruit we had that day.

Finally we arrived at Ourense at 21:30, had diner and went to bed.

Seventh day: Toro-Puebla Sanabria: 135, 8 hrs. 8min.

JL: Since we arrived so late, we couldn’t walk through the streets of Toro, so this morning at 8:00 am, we went to least see the outside of the Colegiata de Santa María la Mayor. I have seen it many times in books, and it is not disappointing in reality. The city of Toro´s past is associated to relevant historical facts. Among other things, it was the place where the battle of “el Toro” occurred, which determined Spain’s since here, the troops of  Isabel la Católica beat the troops of Juana la Beltraneja  thus becoming the new queen de Castilla.

Wandering about the streets, we searched the exit and found Toro´s charms including the street bars. There is very good wine in Toro. Yet another place we had to say goodbye to without having enough time to get to know.

At midday, we had lunch in a bar at Castronuevo. While I finished eating, my friend Iván went to the bathroom. I was quietly watching the TV, and right away my phone rang. Astonished I saw in the viewfinder that the person who was calling me was Iván. My first thought was that he had finished and was calling me to go out; I glanced towards the bathroom door and when I picked up the phone, I hear him asking me, in a low voice, to get him some toilet paper.  Today I have the conviction that the mobile phone is, without any doubt, the best invention in History.

Today’s route has the best views of our entire journey. We passed through beautiful natural spots, with green areas al around, creaks and the river Esla and Sanabria Reservoir.

We have been riding for 7 days, with an average of 150 km/day, with almost 1050 kilometres accumulated. It has been 168 hours of life of which 52 were passed 52 seating on top of the bike seat, 31% of the time.  And if we add up the time used for the stops in order to eat, reparations, physiologic needs, take some photos and find the route, we have spent 77 hours on the road, in other words, 46% of the time.

All of this explains why we feel so tired and as if our legs were missing”. We have lost weight.

With all of this, it’s not serious if what have been lost are fats. As long as we are well hydrated, eat carbohydrates and proteins in a balanced way and in proportion to the effort made, our health will not be threatened.

For that reason it is very important to know about these questions. Luckily we can count on the help of expert Pilar Esquer, nutritionist of Castellón, collaborator and member of the team of Class of Gastronomy and Nutrition of the University Jaume I of Castellón. Thanks for your advices.

Sixth day: Ávila-Toro: 156 km. 7hrs 56 min

JL: Yesterday we left the bank of the Tajo river trying to arrive today at Duero We left the Puerta Alcazar hostel first thing in the morning regretting not having more time to admire some of Avila´s gems. We suddenly discovered an important mechanic failure which obliged us to delay the departure. We had to find a workshop in order to dismantle the entire spool and the back wheel’s axle.  An amateur cyclist, a brave 71 year old man part of the Santa Teresa cyclist group, explained us how to arrive to Ubeda bike shop, where they gave us priority so that we could leave as soon as possible.

We leave Ávila at 12:00.

Then we arrived at Mingarría. Here we looked for a fountain to fill water, but two locals told us it was not drinkable water since they believed it contained arsenic (too much chemistry in agriculture?). People in small towns always seem more willing to help than city people.  They took the empty cans downhill to their houses and returned them filled with water.  We talked with them for a few minutes while we ate sandwiches at a speed never before seen. When we left, the children encouraged us from the school patio. Why does the tandem bike make everyone laugh, especially young children?

Then to Olmedo and later to Medina del Campo, where we had the pleasure to contemplate the splendid La Mota castle. But we couldn’t visit the inside, we had no time. We continued the route crossing towns like Alaejos, which from a distance, already shows its two beautiful church towers.

The wind crushed us. Finally we arrived at Toro at 22:10, with the last ray of light; luckily the days are long. We were tired and had just enough time to eat and sleep.

Fifth day: Toledo – Avila, 142km, 8:38” hours.

IVAN: Day of contrasts, we experienced intense temperatures without any wind, and now it’s very cold because of the Gredos Mountain’s air which still has some snowy peaks.  From the most difficult and “slow” climb to the fastest descend at 70km/h, which considering we are carrying a trailer, is a lot to say. From the most difficult moment, knowing at midday what was still ahead of us, since we were not even halfway (and we woke up at 7 a.m), to the most pleasant moment of the trip, with the semi bath in the reservoir near Barraco, birthplace of cyclists : Ángel Arroyo, “Chava” Jimenez, Ángel Mancebo and Carlos Sastre were born here.  In fact, the day had this profile… ( 2245 m of accumulated climbs)

and it went almost like this…

At 8:10 a.m. we were in front of the Puerta Bisagra de Toledo, in 1 hour and a half we had progressed a lot in our route and seen off the Tajo without stopping to appreciate its beauty. 15 minutes later we experienced the first blow-out, the bottom wheel exploded, as if it was a sniper. We discovered the perfect explosion; we checked the tire but didn’t find anything. We then changed it and continued.

After 30 minutes we checked the wheel’s pressure and discovered why the other one exploded, a fissure in the tire. So we have to make a second change, this time of the tire in the same petrol station. We have only one tire and one chamber so we implored the apostle to help us.

We continued and we began our first climb of the day. The best were the views, this area is a zone of castles which are particularly cared, bearing in mind the origin of the Toledo route and Ávila. I don’t think it is necessary to add anything more. In any case, I’m posting photos of these beautiful places

Finally, and after the lunch, we began the second climbing of 1,000 meters of altitude which began in the 98km of the day. This climb passed through Barraco, hometown of famous athletes and cycling joys. This doesn’t surprise me because of the beautiful and difficult landscapes for its practise, but the best has been the break in the swamp situated at its base. Believe me, it is one of the most special areas of Spain according to my modest point of view.

There is nothing else, tomorrow Toro awaits use. Let’s see if we are capable of carrying out a good stage  and are able to arrive to the first dig. Greetings!

Fourth day: El Toboso – Toledo: 131 km. 6 hours.

JL: A lot of things to tell

For example, that Israel wrote us in order to encourage us and give us a BTT route that goes from the commercial centre of Alfafar to the surroundings of Enguera, published in “Wikiloc”, by “mulet” (http://es.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do?id=577821) in response to our routes petition to pass along to another friend of ours, Gabi  from Enguera.

With regards to our route, every day we go through many villages. All of them, included which name we ignore, have some evocative corner;  we just have to stop and take an instant to change our usual conventional and hurried look for another perspective, more able to appreciate the significance of things.

Today we suffered from our first mechanical failure and also anatomical. Approximately on kilometre 70, the back wheel pinched. It was a “nip” because the wheel was not inflated enough. A rooky mistake which made us loose 15 to 20 minutes.

The other breakdown was more dangerous. Iván’s right shoe was breaking. The pedal was perforating the sole of the shoe and in order to prevent the perforation he changed the pedal’s position and inclination. Guys, be careful with changing the position of the pedal once your legs have become accustomed to a specific pedalling position. In fact: in only two days it caused him an incipient tendonitis on the Achilles’ heel.

We searched for a physiotherapist since the pain was important and threatened to make us quit the route. Here is where the day’s beautiful anecdote comes up. Manuel García of the KYNES clinic of Toledo, knowing our story and our project, didn’t want us to pay anything. But under a condition, we have to keep him posted of our activities.

The treatment applied changed Ivan’s condition. And with the purchase of new shoes we hope that we are able to continue.  Another thing we think can help is bettering our hydration and diet. But I don’t know how Iván can improve his diet considering I have to eat at full speed, otherwise he attacks my plate too. I don’t know if you have seen the cyclone caused by the Tasmanian Devil in the cartoons when it eats……., in short, don’t forget to try the “carcamuso“.

In regard to Toledo, I don’t want to forward anything, only that you have to see it.

3RD stage Camino Santiago Levante. Following Don Quijote

Posted by admin On Mayo - 23 - 2010

Third day: Albacete- El Toboso: 141 km. 5:50´ hours.

Ivan: This stage is suitable for running, grinding your teeth and training courageously. We had a slight breeze coming from the south-west that accompanied us and made the ride easier. Moreover, the road was favourable, with not too many ascends or descends. In fact, apart from the final stretch, the road was pretty flat.  On the other hand, the angst, the will, the precipitation or the anger (I think because we were carrying an all-red equipment) ;) gave us a rough time. In four hours we had covered more than 100 km of the whole road, and if we consider that the first hour is usually for warm-up, it meant that during three hours we had carried on an average of 28km/hour, which on a tandem bike is already something, but if you further add a load of about 30 kilos, it is more than enough for amateurs like us.  The last hour became almost two, ruining our whole average, along with our legs. And a journey that a priori seemed easy and didn’t seem to hide any problems, ended up exhausting us.

Other than that, we met, as usual, many curious people that encourage you with support and questions, like for example the guys from the DIEGO bar at Minaya, with whom we held a cheerful chat about our trip and of course, of the curiosities rose by our special vehicle: our tandem bike.

As a last curiosity, our night at El Toboso was spent in the convent of Trinitarias, a fantastic architectonic complex with wonderful surroundings. Upon entering, I experienced the first anecdote. Imagine the entrance like the entrance of a church (evidently). To talk to the nuns you must call a bell. After this, they greet you with the usual ´hail purest Mary´, to which I, being a complete ignorant of the matter and due to lack of practice, almost answered by saying “hello, good afternoon”. Thank god my colleague J.L., attentive and alert, came forward and answered with the corresponding ‘conceived without sin’.

JL: We continued without running into other pilgrims going towards Santiago de Compostela. I guess this route of is not as transited as the north road, and also the date does not correspond to high season. However, on these dates, the fields are beautifully died with a reddish colour due to the poppy flowers. Everything is in abundance. If you throw the guy from the TV show Survivors with just a machete, you will pick him up seven days later weighing 4 more kilos.

We have arrived to El Toboso. This town has some interesting things. The church dedicated to San Antonio Abad dated from the 17th Century, from the late gothic and renaissance period. You can also visit Dulcinea´s house and the Cervantino Museum. But its true gem is without a doubt the Trinitarias Convent where we stayed the night. It has an explanatory plate on the outside where it further states that it is usually called the “Escorial de la Mancha”. This confused me because as far as I knew, that title belonged to the Ucles Monastery. In any case, both are worth visiting.

What surprised me the most is that they charged us 50 Euros per night including breakfast (the price of a 2 or 3 star hotel) and the room was a humble chamber with a bathroom with no hot water or soap bar (and no receipt). Anyway, anything for a good cause.

Worth tasting are the local wine, the lamb and the “duelos y lamentos”, a typical dish of the area.

We leave you with a video showing the pretty field of Castilla de la Mancha thanks to the poppy flowers. Greetings from El Toboso!

Second day: Xativa – Albacete: 149 kms. 8 hours and 19 minutes

Each day we bump into an interesting person. Today we met Gabi in Enguera. He and his brother have a country house called Cañado del Flaco, located in a mountainous zone of Enguera. He wants to use for rural tourism and offer it to hikers and bikers. If any of you know a nice mountain bike route from Valencia to Enguera, let us know since we would be doing Gabi a favour.

In our route, we still haven’t met any other pilgrim going towards Santiago de Compostela. Today we faced mountainous stretch with a mountain port of 1073 meters (The Pelegrín) and a second climb of 980 meters between Enguera and Ayora. It was a long and harsh ride. If it weren’t for the redbull, we wouldn’t have arrived before 8 pm, and keep in mind that we had been pedalling since 7:45 am. However it was a road with very few traffic and beautiful landscapes. The route’s profile is as follows:

The day has been hot, we have drank 7 litres of water and Aquarius, and I don’t even want to think what’s it going to be like in August. Greetings from Albacete!


First stage: Camino Santiago de Levante: Benicasim – Xativa. 158 kms, in 7 hours and a half.

The fist day of the pilgrimage has been long and tough. We covered the distance through not very beautiful spots, since the Castellón and Valencia flats is an area infested by industrial parks and a lot of traffic.

On the other hand, people never stop surprising you. Near Sagunto, we met some employees of CEPSA in a gas station who at first were surprised to see our special vehicle, but on seeing the shell hung on our luggage, a complicity emerged right away: pilgrims?? we began on 6th June!!! We could see that the trip was organised by the company for which they work, BRAVO FOR CEPSA!!

After the compulsory photos, which they promised they would put on the company web site, we carried out our trip with renewed energies.

We crossed the centre of Valencia, that’s how we enjoyed the warmth of the Valencian people, or that’s what I thought, because some excited comments can have different interpretations:

yeeeeep!!

che, que collons!!

vale, vale!

ahí, ahí, ahí!

ssssi señor!

tira-li valent!

con dos cojones!!

uarghh,yeahhh!!

ahí parits!!

And other comments I wouldn’t know how to write. And this without the World Cup having started yet!

As we told you in a previous post, we had the intension to carry out the Camino de Santiago de Levante as part of our training. Do to work reasons, we had to postpone and almost cancel this trip, which we had announced amid a lot of hype in case someone wanted to come with us.

The thing is, thanks to certain flukes of destiny, the Camino de Santiago is feasible , and we are going to start it tomorrow Friday!!!,  on 21/05/2010. Said and done. On 29th May, 2010, we expect to walk over the stones I imagine the Obradoiro plaza has.

The route that we are going to follow is the same that we had announced, in other words, the Camino de Levante. You can see this route more precisely in many web sites on the internet, but we recommend, to those who want to carry it out, to visit the link http://www.vieiragrino.com/camino/camino.html. These, specifically, are our different stages:

1.- Castellon – Xativa

2.- Xativa – Albacete

3.- Albacete – El Toboso

4.- El Toboso – Toledo

5.- Toledo – Avila

6.- Avila – Toro

7.- Toro – Puebla Sanabria

8.- Puebla Sanabria – Orense

9.- Orense – Santiago

I tell you in advance that this route and the organisation of the trip have been made in RECORD time, since we knew that we would leave yesterday Wednesday after lunch. We calculated an average of 150 km per stage.

See you tomorrow in Xativa!!!

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