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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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Via verde Ojos Negros

Posted by admin On Marzo - 1 - 2010

Iván: In the summer of 2009 we decided to start with our training on the “Vía Verde de Ojos Negros”. Our intention was to take the train and go the “easy way”, from Castellón to Sagunto and from Sagunto to Barracas, to take the route going down (I recommend this to all of you, especially those who aren’t necessarily the fittest). But, at the end, we weren’t so jolly as we found out that the train we intended to board (a Mid Distance) didn’t allow bicycles!!!! I don’t even want to imagine what would have happened with our tandem bicycle…

After this incident, we gathered extensive information about travelling by train throughout Spain with our bicycle. There are specific rules, depending on the train and journey, and on the RENFE website you can look them up. About this particular case, the MD trains (Mid distance) do allow to travel with bicycles, but only 2 per coach. If there are more, a express authorization from RENFE is needed and it has to be issued 48 hours before the trip at any train station (too much bureaucracy, isn’t it?). Maybe that day there was a squad of cyclists heading to Teruel and Zaragoza…who knows?!

The issue of the trip organization is basic, so, if you travel by train and take your bike, don’t forget to get the appropriate information.

Here is the website where RENFE publishes their regulations to travel by train with a bike. There is a link on the right hand side that reads “travel by bicycle”

But, in addition, here’s more information learned from our experience:

- Not very precise: it doesn’t specify how to file for an authorization, also, there’s open margin for the transport to be denied using the argument of “too many passengers”, no matter whether you are carrying the permit or not.

- Incomplete: we’ve never been able to obtain information on “short distance” trains as we always get an error on the website, and, on the other hand, it gives no information on the TRDs, on which, bicycles are not allowed on the train. (as per the information provided on the RENFE helpline).

This fact makes us wonder about how environmentally conscious these people are, as, only two bicycles per coach is an extremely low number for a means of transportation as important as the train. This forces the citizen to make the journey using another motorized vehicle…and then we get so alarmed when we hear about global warming!

Anyway…in this calling that leads me to share information, we promise to write a post where we will give more detailed information about travelling by train with a bicycle (and we will compare this with other European countries).

Going back to that journey last summer: after the trials and tribulations with the RENFE employees, and once we realized the impossibility of our intention, without further delay and leaving aside our anger, we decided to enjoy the road from top to bottom, which, as expected was a long way and relatively hard. However, it was very very gratifying: it is always a pleasure to ride along a Via Verde.

Let’s talk a bit about this green path…

A Little bit of history: The “Vía Verde de Ojos Negros” was in the past a railroad linking point between the provinces of Castellón, Valencia and Teruel for the mining trains of Sierra Menera. It started to work on July 27th, 1907, carrying iron from the rich deposit located in the mines of  “Ojos Negros (Teruel)” going towards the “Puerto de Sagunto”.

It was a Project that started as a “disagreement” between the people managing the exploitation of the Ojos Negros mine and the company “Ferrocarril Central de Aragón”. In order to save a few cents on transportation, the mining company decided to build their own way to Sagunto and that way avoid payment to the compañía ferroviaria aragonesa: nothing less than a 200 km road with several bridges, viaducts and tunnels. A great work of engineering.

In 1972 this rail was closed down, and, it wasn’t until 2002 when its rehabilitation began as a green way, having finished the last part in the spring of 2008. The projects, already in place, promised to broaden the road all the way to Sagunto and their connection with the city of Valencia.

General map of Via verde Ojos Negros:

Profile of Via verde Ojos Negros:

We also loaded a video of back when we didn’t have a tandem bicycle yet. The butt we follow in the video is J.L’s, and, as you can see, that far into the road, we were really working hard : ) We hope you like it!


Regards and until the next post!

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