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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

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

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

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 [...]

Invisible Heroes

Posted by admin On Enero - 11 - 2010ADD COMMENTS

JL: Preparing a sports challenge of these characteristics demands a very big personal sacrifice:

  • A considerable physical effortand the injuries can appear at any time.
  • It requires moral strength and commitment to maintain perseverance and discipline in fulfilling the training plan.
  • You must have capacity of self-motivationwith a long-term objective.
  • And many hours of training that will force you to give up other activities, rest and family time…

And when I get to this point, I realise that I am not the only one making a sacrifice. I am not the only one renouncing things I like, needs, habits and commodities.

Our couples have exemplarily accepted the fact that we can’t give them so much attention, company and help in assuming the daily obligations. This has an inestimable cost for them, even more because it will probably go unknown. I applaud that and appreciate it impressed. I don’t know if I would be capable.

Year 2010: Our year cero

Posted by admin On Diciembre - 31 - 2009ADD COMMENTS

Our year cero: Day 31st December. This night will be a milestone for many people. A day to reflect, of nice wishes and good purposes, a night of celebrations, grapes and cava. You know what they say: New year, new life.
But we atTandemhave embarked a few months ago on an ambitiousproject with an exciting purpose. So today, 31stDecember, the day the year ends to receive the next one, we see it as an interim stop, a leap that helps us overcome new landmarks for the solidarity challenge that we are preparing.
And what better landmark than our training plan. Sonia, our physical trainer has given us the New Year with a new timing in our training. You heard right: an e-mail with a merry Christmas accompanied with a document that we must follow meticulously! (day by day)Anything to support thefight against cancer!
If we covered more than 600 km last month in tandem and more than 600 km on a free bicycle, several swimming hours, trekking and many stretching exercises, the next months of January and February hold 3,000 and 2,000 km consecutively. We will soon upload a post with the detailed training.
Tonight we will eat the12 grapes to welcome the New Yearof course! We are not about to forget the rituals, and precisely on our year cero!
Our biggest wish? We will probably ask for luck against injuries.
A purpose, a challenge without discussion: Europa en Tandemfrom North Capeto Spain driving a tandem bicycle.Probably the most ambitious aspect is the time goal: 30 days. The cause is what surely makes it into something important: collecting funds to support the fight against cancer.

Happy 2010!

Greetings to the Tandem!

JL: This month of December is colder than usual. Although it’s not a good weather to go out, our training cannot be interrupted.Generally in Castellón, medium-type winter clothes are enough. But when you are going to be on top of a bicycle for more than 6 hours with maximum temperatures ranging from 2 to 3 degrees, it is convenient to remember some practical advises.

There are several body parts that must be protected in a special way.

1. The feet. Under normal conditions, the feet receive little blood flow when you are riding a bicycle. Additionally, there is the peripheral vasoconstriction phenomenon. This is one of the ways to minimise heat loss when the body is exposed to a cold weather. With low temperatures, the body reduces blood flow in peripheral areas and the extremities thus avoiding the blood to cool down when circulating through the more exposed zones. The peripheral vasoconstriction redistributes the flow towards the nucleus, significantly reducing heat loss in the most vital bodyparts. In short, your feet freeze and become numb. That is why it is important to wear double socks (a normal pair and a pair of windbreak socks). Additionally, the most sensitive to cold can wear knitted socks over the shoes.

2. The head and neck. The head and neck add up a considerable amount of exposed corporal surface. These parts, due to a scarce subcutaneous fatty tissue and very limited vasoconstriction (they can not afford it), are zones through which a high percentage of body heat is lost if they are not protected from the cold.

3. The hands, due to the need to direct the handlebar, the gears and other operations, the hands receive more blood than the feet. In spite of this, it is convenient to protect them well.

There is no point inspending a lot of money in a great jacket if your feet, head, neck and hands are cold. The phase would be torture.

Another useful advise for cold days is taking candyto lessen the cold air going through the throat. It will prevent sores in the following days.

Apart from that, always look on the bright side, there is nothing like having clear ideas and an exciting objective!

Merry Christmas Supporters!

Posted by admin On Diciembre - 24 - 2009ADD COMMENTS

Merry Christmas to all.

Like every year, with the holidays come the family reunions, the nougat candy, the friendly visits, and all those moments that are only possible in Christmas. And to avoid staying behind, your friends at Europa en tandem want to wish you happy holidays and a fantastic New Year filled with presents (for those of you fans of Santa Claus)and laughter (for everyone!).
Of course, a day like today, we remember all those persons and family members that live with cancer, and who we hope to give a special solidarity support with this project. Our effort is for you.


What is cancer?

Posted by admin On Diciembre - 23 - 2009ADD COMMENTS

Hello everyone!
We would like to share with you this video the Spanish Association Against Cancer (AECC)uploaded to its YouTube channel, which, very graphically and instructively, explains what is this disease we are all fighting against; us, on top of a tandem bicycle ;)

Conquering ports

Posted by admin On Diciembre - 6 - 2009ADD COMMENTS

JL: Moroyo-Castellón-Benicasim (136 Kms), going up to the ports of Torremiró and Querol through the north side. With this tough stage we end our first long training outing. It has been five days of physical preparation to accustom the muscles to the prolonged efforts during several continuous days. Also to improve the coordination of movements on top of the tandem; maybe one of the less evident things but one of the most important. We also had to test the tandem´s and the equipment’s resistance. We need to test many things, specially if we carry a case with bags or a luggage carrier (both options have its pros and cons). And of course, to get to know my partner better, with whom I’ve shared very good times.

I would like to thank all the drivers who have gone ahead of us with precaution and remind those who have not done so, due to hurries or unawareness, that they surely also have a love one that drives a bicycle on the road.

Our next long outing will be in February and will be a little bit more demanding. Until then, we have more than two months of a strict daily routine of swimming, gym workout and bicycling. I hope the flu doesn’t prevent us too much from training. We need to push up our aerobic threshold as much as possible in order to confront with guarantees this tough challenge.
We would appreciate any experiences shared regarding tandem trips.

Iván: Since an image is more valuable than a thousand words, we uploaded a video of our descent from the Querol port on a tandembicycle so all the cycling enthusiasts can enjoy it. A long descent that tests the brakes and cold-blood, because I am sure this has been one of the few times somebody has dared to descend it on a tandem.

Gems of Bajo Aragón

Posted by admin On Diciembre - 5 - 2009ADD COMMENTS

Iván: Second to last day of our intense training through the lands of Matarraña. The route we finished defining last night ended up being Caspe – Alcañiz – Valdealgorfa – Valderobles – Monroyo, 90 kilometres that surely cyclist enthusiasts will enjoy as much as us. The route is filled with steep roads, mountain ports, healthy cold temperatures and beautiful views worth seeing since the effort deserves them.

In regard to my personal illnesses, it seems my back is starting to get used to the position, but what was a shy pain in the patellar tendonof my right knee on the second day of travelling, has become a constant and deep pain, mainly during the mornings with the cold and the steeps. I am starting to feel like one of those old machines that need to oil their heavy gears in order toreach full potential.

I say goodbye inviting you all to check out these places.

JL: The route allows contemplating the renaissance wonders of Aragón, although we barely have time for sightseeing when riding by in our bicycles. Since it is a trip planned as training, we try to cover as much distance as possible.Wespent the night at the Posada de Guadalupe de Monroyo. The food is very good and the owner, César, was very nice with us.

The tandem creaks when going uphill due to the weight and the tension. However, the materials have resisted just fine until now. If you are going on a route, it is very important to choose the right bicycle and equipment.  Saving a few Euros can end up making you spend more money and ruin your trip.

Trapped in Caspe

Posted by admin On Diciembre - 4 - 2009ADD COMMENTS

JL/Iván: Early outing from Caspe towards Cariñena. The weather forecast comes true. Eolo has taken over the Ebro channel. After riding 26 km struggling against a strong wind hitting our faces, we have to turn back. Not only is it dangerous, but the wind blowing at 45 km/h literally stops the bicycle, even going downhill. We have to return to Caspe. We make the return distance at 52 km/h in flat and up to 66 km/h downhill.We decide to train in Caspe´s surroundings. We end the day with 75 km that seemed twice that. This setback has forced us to completely change the route and the general plan of the trip.  Tomorrow we change directions. We head towards Monroyo (near Morella), supposedly the wind will not blow frontally. I hope the “guy with the ventilator”doesn’tfind out.

The video shows a small sample of our struggle with the wind, with the attentive glance of the Aragon Sea in the background.

The radios whistled with the wind

Posted by admin On Diciembre - 3 - 2009ADD COMMENTS

JL: Tortosa-Caspe 100 kms that felt like 180. Parallel to the Ebro and then towards the interior facing a strong frontal wind coming from the northeastsince the very beginning. On days like this, it is better not taking your bicycle out. We were completely worn out. The wind gusts forced us to invest almost 8 hours and the thermal sensation was very cold. The worst part was the pain in our butts. I’mhaving a hard time adapting to the new bike seat…

Iván: Continuing my partner’s story in our special journal, I confirm the thing about the air, there was a lot, a biting cold, a huge exhaustion and the rain he forgets to mention, because we got wet.  However, he doesn’t say anything about the views which we had the luck of seeing today thanks to a bicycle enthusiast waitress, the green route of bajo ebro” and the “tierras altas, with more than 40 tunnels which, by the way, we had to cross some on foot and using the poor light of our mobile phones to lead the way, because if it is already difficult riding a tandem bike, imagine doing it in the dark, hahaha. Anyway, an unbeatable landscape (am I starting to sound like Labordeta from Un país en la mochila?)

Anyway, the tunnels are not the nicest part of the route, but all the viewsthe Ebro route has and the landscapes between vegetation walls, stone and sand. To sample, a button.

Greetings to everyone and see you tomorrow at Cariñena!!!

First outing

Posted by admin On Diciembre - 2 - 2009ADD COMMENTS

Iván: 2nd December, day of our first try on the vehicle that must transport us through Europe. This training route is formed by 5 days and covers about 650 kilometres, an easy task compared with what awaits us. It will help us measure the capacity of our tandem bike, our legs capacity and our suffering resistance. Impressions, from cold to hot, position pains and the feeling that my teammate doesn’t know how to stay still, hahaha, he is a spinning washing machine! Hahah. Anyway… Castellón – Tortosa, not bad as a start, tomorrow to Caspe, surely we will have to overcome steeps and the cold, I will let you know. Greetings to everyone, I leave you with my partner!

JL: Truth is that the tandem bike is not a vehicle tohave a lot of fun. It requires a lot of coordination and doesn’t allow a lot of entertainment when riding it. Ivan says I move too much, but riding the back seat of a road tandem bike with a case and a knapsack sometimes feels like riding the fair attraction “the whip”. Each rough movement made by the pilotis like a lurch thatmakes you lose balance. The other day, he did a sudden manoeuvre to dodge astreetlamp and I was with only one hand on the wheel and I literally fell over. Anyway, I recommend all of you to try itsometime.

Here is the first route (with the possibility of seeing the profile):

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