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We are testing out a new look for this website, some things like this page includes several pages, which may change.  First we had a background video which was set to run automatically and also loops – which is not a good thing. It still needs modification to Start and Pause by user preference and have not been able to implement it yet.

Decided to leave the video off here but it is on the Video Page, the one titled Amazing.

About

Hello. We have varied interests with the main joint one being tandem cycling. Having become tandem partners this expanded our individual range of interests.
Our tandem was a Dawes Galaxy of 1992 vintage, being one of the last of that model. Our first tandem trip was only a few miles on a 1950 Sun to see if we liked the idea. Benjamin had previous cycling experience, some with tandems. It should be mentioned that this was the first cycling done by Valerie. Soon other short trips followed and we were hooked.
Our first UK Tandem Club activity was an Easter Rally. After this, why not a holiday by tandem, neither of us having been on holiday for several years. This was when we decided to replace the Sun with a new tandem. Every main holiday since has been by tandem, now over 20 years. After 22 years we have now replaced our Dawes with a Thorn Adventurer.
We are probably an average sort of tandem couple, tending to take our time, enjoying meeting people and learning of the cultures of others, although so far have not ventured out of Europe. The initial site is about how we reached our tour areas and what we found there. Now being enlarged on.
We joined International Friends of Nature, an organisation set up to provide accommodation and social activities for its members. They are keen on environmental matters and support projects like Blue Rivers of Europe. We are members of the Tandem Club UK. In the UK, we now have a National Cycle Network, initiated by Sustrans, which we also are members of.

The New web site.

This is very much in the early stages and will contain much more that the former site. It was initially for our travels with the tandem, which is still here and will be added gradually to the menus here. That part is now transferred to the Travels section or to the Previous section.

The other sections and pages are much more recent additions. The blog page is still in the design stage. Photographs of the places we cycled in are just one addition we have started to include in the galleries.

This site was designed to comply with W3C and some browsers may have strange effects. Firefox or similar browsers are recommended.

Spain

Introduction

Our decision to go to Spain was the desire of Benjamin to follow The Pilgrim’s Road to Santiago de Compostelo. There are several routes across France but we were interested only in the Spanish part due to time constraints, deciding that three weeks were required for this trip. A guide and information was obtained from The Confraternity of Saint James. For more about the Camino see our Camino page. Photographs are in Gallery1-Spain.

Getting there

The choice was between sailing from the south coast to Santander in Spain, or going by air. Taking into consideration the need of travel to the south coast, the best option was flying from Manchester. We used the Spanish airline, Iberian, to San Sebastian, via Madrid with the return Santiago de Compostelo to Manchester via Barcelona, as there were no direct flights. You can get direct flights from London. No problem with taking a tandem, the only necessity being to remove pedals and reduce air pressure in the tyres, and something to cover the chains to protect other luggage. Most times the tandem was wheeled out to the plane. We did have this authorised with the customer services at the London office of Iberian prior to booking, because locally they were not sure.

The Weather

We had been warned that Spain was very hot and to take plenty of protection for the sun, but this was in June and also in the north of Spain, so we had more English type weather, cold and wet. However we did have some hot days and of course the best day was on the day we flew home.

The Terrain

We knew it was going to be hilly but we found them not too troublesome, only long. The gradients were rarely steeper than 1 in 16. Roads were part main road with smooth tarmac, elsewhere quiet country or mountain roads with a rougher metalled surface, with in Leon province a specially built cyclists and walkers path, over one stretch. See more on our Camino page.

Maps

We used Michelin 1/400000 (1cm-4km). Seven cover the country, show most of the roads, with scenic ones marked, and spot heights shown. Firestone do a series at 1/200000 (1cm-2km)

Food and Lodgings

The Camino has refuges all along it, for the pilgrims to stay in. Some of these were very basic, with only cold water available, others were quite comfortable with all mod cons. In one or two places they had disappeared but there were rooms available, in fondas or hostals. These varied from basic and comfortable, to very good. Being a pilgrim route, it is very popular so there are cafes in every town village or hamlet. In the country, shops are hard to find, as they have no shop frontage, and are simply a private home. If you watch you will see where the locals are going, or you can ask. See Camino page.

Costs

Generally it was cheaper than the UK for food and accommodation, especially in the rural areas, but in the cities, like Burgos and Leon, prices were almost on a par. A coffee in Leon was twice that of one in the rural areas. The flight was the same price as a self catering 14 day package to Crete, per person.

Other

Basically we had a contrast. The cities were busy places, very modern, and much as one would expect. The country was quiet, predominantly labour intensive, with horses and oxen much in evidence. Many villages had communal wash tubs, sometimes quite a way from the village to which the women carried or wheeled their wash. We had to learn some Spanish for very few people speak English, we found only four during our entire trip. The Spanish people were friendly and helpful. The tandem was always found a secure place, if not in a cellar or outbuilding, then it was in the room with you, even upstairs carried there by the staff.

 

Later Tours

Since the initial travels we have made repeat visits to France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Scotland as well as to Luxembourg and Jersey. Several of these were for the Semaine Federale or  the International Tandem Rallies. More about these later.

Here we are on one of the Tandem Rally day tours.

Our recent trip to the The Netherlands, to give it it’s proper name, was to attend the 2016 International Tandem Rally, but we went there early to visit other areas as well. The first area we visited was south east of Nijmegen near Groesbeek which turned out to be a very interesting place in that it was one of the main areas used for the “Operation Market Garden” airborne landings. There are many display boards all over about this and they have an annual four day walk in celebration of the liberation. Also known as Little Switzerland due to the hilly terrain. The border with Germany was very close so we visited parts of it as well. Good area for cycling.

Second week we moved further south,  just north of Roermond, again great cycling area and enabled us to visit friends. Later on we found a cycling video highlighting that area and the maps shown in the video we the ones we used. We even took the ferry that appears mid-video and at the end is the campsite that we stayed at. The link to the video is on our Video page.

The third week we moved across to Chaam near Breda for the International Tandem Rally, yet again a good cycling area but some of the forest routes were a bit rough.

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

Photographs-Spain

This is some pictures from our very first tandem cycling trip abroad, to Spain, click on an image to start slideshow. There are options for Maximise which widens the display and is good for the descriptions, or Full screen.

The Camino

Additional notes to Spain page.

The Terrain

The route involved crossing four mountain ranges. First the Pyrenees (as we started on the French side) with a sixteen mile climb. Then undulating for a bit, to climb the Montes de Oca. Later a long stretch of plains, which were over 2000 feet, but flat. Next over the Montes de Leon the highest point in our trip at 4930 feet, then more up and downs to the final mountain range with a 29 mile climb, to 4345 feet into Galacia. The downhills passed very quick. Most of the climbs were fairly steady without being too steep.The mountain areas were the most scenic with Galacia being outstanding. Being so high, for us anyway, was quite revealing, as in the UK there are not many roads over 1500 feet, and anything above 1000 feet is generally moorland. In Spain we found them farming at 4000 feet.

Food and Lodgings

Commercial accommodation generally you only get the room, as one is expected to go out for breakfast. At the refuges we self catered as most refuges had kitchens, and sometimes we used them during the day for our lunch breaks. At a cafe the menu usually shows only the main item, you have to ask for the various vegetables or extras that you require, separately. An exception is the Menu of the Day, which is complete, fixed, and usually three courses.

Other

El Camino de Santiago. The way to Santiago has existed since the tenth century and there are four traditional routes across France which join in Spain. In recent years the Camino has become more popular and Pilgrims arriving at the famous cathedral in Santiago de Compostela are awarded a certificate if they have travelled on foot, on horseback or by bicycle.

We met many other like minded people of various nationalities and one highlight was that having arrived at our destination, a few minutes later we were welcomed by a couple from the Netherlands, who had arrived the previous day, having walked the whole way from their home in northern Holland, a distance of around 1500 miles.

We joined the Confraternity of Saint James, a UK charity, which provided us with much information prior to our departure and we highly recommend them.

Links

Some Web sites with a cycling interest.

Just click to open in a new tab.

The York Rally
Charlotte’s Tandems
Tandem Club
Bygone Bykes (Yorkshire) Club
Cycling in Wales
The Cycle Network.UK
Cyclist’s Touring Club.UK
Audax United Kingdom
Cycling England
Trento Bike Pages
European Maps
Sheldon Brown
The York Rally re-established in 2015
Charity who lend tandems to people with disabilities or special needs.
The Tandem Club of the United Kingdom.
Veteran, Vintage and Classic Bikes enthusiasts.
Cycletouring in Wales and the Borders
Sustrans, cycle paths and safe routes.
Cycling for all, and campaigning.
The long distance cycling association.
Department of Transport official policy.
A central resource for Europe and more.
A survey of the best maps for each country.
Another on touring in Europe, and much more.
General interest.
Cinedownloads
All about cats.
Friends of Nature UK
Britain from Above
Sandra Brennand
A film makers site based in Plymouth, England.
UK Cats Protection League.
Friends of Nature UK.
A great collection of early aerial photography.
A fantastic photographic collection. (Dutch)

 

Links last checked January 2021.     Click on the Logo designBethan below to go to my genealogy site.