Day 7 of Spain-to-France (49km)

May20

49km / 2 hours 25 min / 482m gain

(For my reference: Komoot estimated 1 hour 41 min and 410m gained (assuming road bike, I guess))

I took an easy road route today. I didn’t trust the gravel/path route as it seemed too muddy (and there was no rail route today). It was overcast and cold. The sun pipped through occasionally, but otherwise, it was pretty cloudy. I left a little early to make it before some storms hit.

There were some really cool defensive fortifications from where the Muslim/Christian lines were at one point. There were bike trails to get to them, but I skipped it today due to mud and incoming thunderstorms.

I might try to get back on the trail tomorrow…

posted under 2024 - Spain to France bike tour | Comments Off on Day 7 of Spain-to-France (49km)

Day 6 of Spain-to-France (61km)

May19

61km / 3 hours 3 min / 287m gain

(For my reference: Komoot had no estimate as I had to make up some new routes “live”.))

Today was one of the most beautiful gravel rides I’ve ever done. I wish it had been 100+ km.

It was cold but mostly sunny, and there was no rain (luckily). I wore my rain jacket most of the day for warmth. It is still very wet on the trails, but since this is a rail trail conversion, I knew it would likely be dry (which it was).

It started in beautiful pine forests and just opened up into incredible scenery. I hope to come back and ride more trails in this region. This is part of a route that goes to Sagunto (next door to Valencia).

Notes:

  • I surprised a deer… they are so fast.
  • I saw a fox, I think. It was huge, though. I don’t know if they have Coyotes around here. It ran like a fox.
  • I should have brought a hat.
  • I had hoped that the town would have some open shops, but they are all closed on Saturday (I need some waterproof gloves).

Soria is a really cool town. I can’t imagine having this as your daily ride (plus all the others). I hope to bring Lindsey here eventually.

posted under 2024 - Spain to France bike tour | Comments Off on Day 6 of Spain-to-France (61km)

Day 5 of Spain-to-France (59km)

May18

59km / 2 hours 50 min / 742m gain

(For my reference: Komoot had no estimate as I had to make up some new routes “live”.))

Today was cold and overcast but pretty. I stuck with my road route today as it is still wet, and I didn’t head into the muddy trails. Lots of pine forests and really pretty.

I ran into a big group of ~20 Americans riding the El Cid route (which I did part of today). I talked to them for a bit next to an old church. They are ending their ride in Valencia, so I gave them many recommendations. They were on road bikes, and I guess a big van carried all their gear.

I did a fair bit of climbing today, but nothing too crazy. I went to an amazing canyon, but unfortunately, that is when it started raining. It poured icy rain for the next 1.5 hours just as I descended the mountain pass. I just pedaled as hard as I could to stay warm. I should have brought my waterproof socks/gloves. I got soaked apart from my rain jacket. It was getting close to having to pull over and find shelter while I put socks on my hands along with bags, but luckily, the rain let up for the last 8km, and it got warmer as I descended. Bad packing choices, Past-Ben!

Even with the rain, it is so great to be outside for big chunks of time. Love it!

Notes

  • The tape/wrap on my handlebars is a big plus for vibration reduction. I need to get a professional wrap, as I suck at it, though.
  • If I ever think I am doing road routes, I need to pack my lights with the strobe light effect to ensure cars see me on both sides (check if my Garmin lights do that). I saw this on some bikes today, and it was super effective.
  • I should have packed waterproof gloves and socks like I did for Italy. I also need my warm pants for after the ride as many of these hotels/houses have already turned off the boilers. Plus it is cold in the mountains.
  • I heard the weirdest bobcat / mountain lion like cry coming from the mountain where I stopped. It was freaky.
posted under 2024 - Spain to France bike tour | Comments Off on Day 5 of Spain-to-France (59km)

Day 4 of Spain-to-France (51km)

May16

51km / 2 hours 23 min / 507m gain

(For my reference: Komoot estimated 1 hour 44 min and 400m gain (assuming road bike speeds, I guess))

It was a very easy ride today.

It rained last night, so I decided to stay on the road today (which is a much faster ride). I don’t want to deal with the mud, and I don’t have a spare belt in case this one breaks. There were few cars since I was in the middle of nowhere and on back country roads. I kept my jacket on all day because of the icy wind with this cold front.

I am staying in a small village, so I biked another 5k to find a gas station grocery store to stock up on food. I managed to find a car wash and cleaned up my bike.

I am taking Thursday off, so hopefully, things will dry up. However, the weather doesn’t make that look likely, and Friday is currently forecast for rain. We shall see.

What else?

posted under 2024 - Spain to France bike tour | Comments Off on Day 4 of Spain-to-France (51km)

Day 3 of Spain-to-France (63km)

May15

63km / 4 hours 13 min / 461m gain

(For my reference: Komoot estimated 4 hours 59 min and 420m gain (without mud))

Today was intense!

Last night, I slept like a baby. I was overlooking the Douro River, and the hotel was comfy. It drizzled for the entire evening. I had super intense dreams.

Unfortunately, the rain created some mud, which was like super glue due to this region and made for some very intense moments today.

I had to stop and scrape mud from the bike several times, and my back wheel slid out a few times (luckily, I caught myself). My belt came off 3 or 4 times, which has never happened. I think the mud and small stones were putting pressure on it.

Then my belt broke just 4km from my end stop.

I think the mud and pebbles got between the belt and gear, which had too much pressure and snapped. It has been on my bike for around 4 years and lasted far longer than it was supposed to (I think they are rated for 10,000km, and I’ve done more than 2.5x that).

I carry a spare belt with me, just in case. I need to clear the mud better for future mud sessions and walk the bike if the stones are getting between the gears and belt.

I tried to put on the belt out in a field, but I’d never done it before and couldn’t figure it out. I decided it was better to walk and roll to the endpoint and do it there. About 2km from that point, it started raining on me, lol!

I reached the little rural apartment and found a faint 4g signal for some YouTube tutorials. I didn’t realize the frame came apart to get the belt in the right area. Seven screws later, it is fixed!

I am worried that I stripped one of the little screws, though (a problem for future Ben). I also no longer have a spare belt, which might be a problem for future Ben. Why can’t we make better screws that don’t strip so easily?

What else?

  • I surprised a pretty big deer.
  • Some little quail birds ran along the path.
  • I had so much mud flinging up by the wheels that it went in my nose, mouth, ear, and eye.
  • So many beautiful views and wine fields today.
  • So quiet out here… my mind feels relaxed.
  • My energy levels were finally at 100% today, even if my butt is sore.

I stopped in Guzman, Spain, tonight!

It is so tiny that there are no grocery stores or food options. I only have carrots and nuts, so I wandered in case I missed something. I stumbled upon an artisan store that told me to ring the doorbell, and I did!

A lovely man and his wife came out to open it up for me. He is Portuguese and from Porto (close to where I live). He runs a restaurant in the next village and is a Sommelier. Next thing I know, he is having me try some delicious vermouth he brews and a glass of local port-style wine he makes (and his wife gave me two amazing cookies).

He told me that the town is famous because of a book and showed me the book. I kept thinking Guzman sounded familiar, and I realized I had seen the book in several Shepherd articles and maybe the NYT a while back about this famous cheese from here. The book is called The Telling Room (bought on my Kindle).

I walked out of the beautiful artisan store with a bottle of local wine,  two packages of the famous cheese, local sheep pate, and local jam. Plus his wife was kind enough to offer to drop me off some bread later today after she gets back from the store, so kind!

Great stop! The cheese and wine are so good!!!

posted under 2024 - Spain to France bike tour | Comments Off on Day 3 of Spain-to-France (63km)

Day 2 of Spain-to-France (46km)

May14

46km / 2 hours 35 min / 101m gain

(For my reference: Komoot estimated 3 hours 11 min and 100m gain)

It was an easy ride today; I got an early start, so it was much cooler. The route was as fantastic as yesterday. I did have one spot where the path disappeared, but I found a detour a few blocks away.

posted under 2024 - Spain to France bike tour | Comments Off on Day 2 of Spain-to-France (46km)

Tordesillas, Spain (cool city)

May13

I stayed in Tordesillas, Spain, last night! I wandered around a bit, ran into a few history signs, and realized that the Treaty of Tordesillas was signed here. I remember learning about this in high school, where Spain and Portugal divided the rest of the world between them.

posted under 2024 - Spain to France bike tour | Comments Off on Tordesillas, Spain (cool city)

Day 1 of Spain-to-France (70km)

May13

70km / 3 hours 45 min / 408m gain

(For my reference: Komoot estimated 4 hours 33 min and 330m gain)

Lindsey and Calico drove me to the start of my route this morning. It was weird to have an audience, as I usually start my rides solo!

We got a late start with breakfast and checkout, so I didn’t get going until 1130am. It was a beautiful sunny day, although a bit hot (UV of 7).

The route was 90% gravel and FANTASTIC!

The perfect trail for adventure. There were tons of fast, smooth gravel, random sand pits, double track with overgrown bushes blocking the way, large chunky routes where I had to go very slow, and everything in between. A lot of very careful lines so that I didn’t fishtail out of control as parts of the path went from gravel to sand.

Spain is such a beautiful country… I wish we could live here!!! I have to come back to more of Spain for gravel routes, as the roads are amazing (just look at the pictures below).

I went past plenty of wine today, fields of different veggies and wheat, and lots of scrubland. I didn’t see any snakes today, but I did see 3 huge fish in the river that were probably 2.5 to 3 feet long.

My route today ended near Valladolid.

I am staying above a bar in a small town (only 25 euros a night).

For my end-of-ride lunch at said bar, I had Havana Club 7 (thanks to Laura for introducing me to my favorite rum!), a coke, morcilla (I love blood sausage), tortilla, and some bread (picture below). Life is good!

 

posted under 2024 - Spain to France bike tour | Comments Off on Day 1 of Spain-to-France (70km)

Amazing stay in a 12th century castle!

May12

For Mother’s Day (and a weekend adventure), we stayed in an amazing 12th-century castle near Salamanca (here is more info on the castle on Wikipedia).

It was quiet, peaceful, and just a really lovely weekend. Calico stayed in a room with me, so Lindsey got some alone time. And Calico and I got some together time. He showed me how he styles his hair and helped me with mine. I also learned he is terrified of lightning, so I tried to explain how that works (not sure if that helped).

I randomly found it as Lindsey had offered to drive me closer to my Spain-to-France bike route to help make it possible in the limited time I had for the ride. I am always looking for unique places to stay!

posted under My Thoughts | Comments Off on Amazing stay in a 12th century castle!

Spain-to-France training and packing.

May12

Before I left, I had to fix a few things on my bike…

  • My rear hub was broken, so I replaced that before I left (huge thank you to the local store for that work). The new hub feels so much better and there is a very long story there. Hopefully the spokes are all good, he checked the tension on Friday and fixed a few.
  • My rear tire was worn out, so I replaced it. I also swapped the front tire just to have some extra grip, given the high amount of gravel I am doing. I will swap the front tire back when I get home until it wears out.

How did I train for the ride?

Because I decided to do this last minute, I didn’t get as much training time as I would like. Even worse, I got sick twice in this period (which didn’t help).

  • Week 1 – 9 hours and 40 minutes of riding.
  • Week 2 – 5 hours and 8 minutes.
  • Week 3 – 2 hours and 27 minutes. Only one ride in Bordeaux over Spring Break as things got crazy.
  • Week 4 – Then zero rides… I got a cold the last week in Bordeaux.
  • Week 5 – 6 hours 39 minutes.
  • Week 6 – 9 hours 21 minutes (2x 3+ hour rides)
  • Week 7 – 10 hours 48 minutes (3x 3+ hour rides)
  • Week 8 – 5 hours 36 minutes. I got sick after a 4.5-hour ride on Monday. I think Calico gave me his chest infection, but luckily, we are both well now.
  • Week 9 – Around 6 hours of training. I kept it light as I was exhausted. I started my bike tour on Sunday.

What did I pack? 

Read the rest of this entry »

posted under 2024 - Spain to France bike tour | Comments Off on Spain-to-France training and packing.

I finally did the full Ecopista do Dão!

April29

This was on my list to do before we moved, and I finally finished the full thing today! Woohoo!

What is it? It is a 49km long rail-to-trail conversion between Viseu and Santa Comba Dão. This trail is my daily ride, and I am pretty spoiled.

I did 101km in 4 hours and 36 minutes with 619m of elevation gain (there and back). I took it nice and slow as I have been training and just trying to get a lot of hours in my bike seat.

posted under Fitness & Sports | Comments Off on I finally did the full Ecopista do Dão!

My 2024 bike tour! Salamanca to Ille sur Têt (Spain to France)

April29

I realized that if I want to do a bike tour, I need to do it now, so I will take a trip across Spain in mid-May (we are moving this summer, plus we are visiting family in the USA).

I will start in Salamanca and bike across Spain, through Zaragoza, up around the corner of the Pyrenees to a small town called Ille sur Têt (in France). The weather should be cooler, which will help, given Spain’s intense summer heat.

What are the stats?

  • ~1,050km
  • ~8,500 meters up and 9,310 down.
  • The route I’ve mapped should be 70% gravel and 30% pavement. Hopefully, the gravel is a little more defined than in France, as I found myself hiking through random forests with no path a few times in France (not to mention the field routes that didn’t always work out). But that is also part of the adventure!
  • I will do it over ~17 days of riding. I will try something new this year where every 5th day is a rest day and see if that balances me out. I get so excited that I overdo it in the first 7 to 10 days.

Training?

Because of the late start and dates I was confined within, I didn’t get as much training as I would like. It would have been better if I had not gotten a cold over our Bordeaux spring break. It won’t be as bad as my Portugal Camino tour in 2021. And I’ve got two more weeks to train, so hopefully, I can get to a good spot.

Why Ille sur Têt?

There is a fantastic French bike company that is based there. I will do a bike fitting with them for a custom frame for a new bike (gravel)! Then I will take the train with my bike to Bordeaux, finish signing on our new house, park my bike there, and fly back to Porto to organize the move. Huzzah!

posted under 2024 - Spain to France bike tour, Fitness & Sports, Travel | Comments Off on My 2024 bike tour! Salamanca to Ille sur Têt (Spain to France)

Father/son bike weekend in Northern Portugal :)

April28

Almost one year ago, we did our first father/son bike adventure weekend! We decided to do that same ride as it was so beautiful (and I hoped to do more).

Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t as good this year, and we had more cold, rain, and trail flooding. The river was high compared to last year. And since Calico has been sick and has a nasty cough, we kept it easy with a lot of rest. I was also pretty exhausted as I was training for a bike tour and physically exhausted.

We had fun and spent a good chunk of time just relaxing/exploring.

What did we get up to?

Thursday

We woke up early and drove 2 hours later to our little Airbnb.

We hopped on our bikes and did a 20km ride over 1 hour and 35 minutes.

This was our warm/sunny day, so we didn’t want to lose it. We went to my favorite ice cream place in Portugal and then crashed. We were both pretty exhausted.

Friday

It was supposed to rain all day, so we drove North and explored the Minho River and coast. We stopped at Jeni’s dinner for some onion rings, a milkshake for Calico, and delicious burgers. Randomly, we ran into some visitors from Arkansas at the dinner :)

Saturday

We waited for the rain to clear and did a 26km ride over 2 hours and 26 minutes. We had fun even if the trails were somewhat flooded! The sun came out by the end :)

Sunday

We thought about biking as it was sunny, but Calico’s cough didn’t improve, and we were both tired. So we played a bit of soccer and drove home.

Good times! I am looking forward to some new trails this summer :)

posted under Family & Marriage | Comments Off on Father/son bike weekend in Northern Portugal :)

Bordeaux Spring Break Trip… and we are buying a house?!??

April11

We are moving to Bordeaux after Calico’s school term ends… so we drove there to check out neighborhoods and have some fun. We toured the school he is going to be at next year, ate a lot of delicious food, and walked around a lot of neighborhoods! It is a really cool city!

The only bummer is I got a head cold the day after taking Calico to the beach (we dug a fun hole in the ground). So, I only got one bike ride in for the entire two weeks. Oh well, I am looking forward to more rides once we get settled.

We went to an illusion museum, which Calico loved!

And somewhat crazily, we are buying a house…

I had arranged for us to see some houses and apartments to get a feel for the market. We knew that in a year, we were likely going to be looking to buy but had planned on renting (a really tough rental market, though). We walked into the 3rd house we were looking at and just loved it. It is close to Calico’s school, a giant park, and the perfect distance from the city center. We made an offer on Easter Saturday weekend, and now we are doing the paperwork. Hopefully, we can pick up the keys in early June! Fun!!

It is HUGE compared to the very small apartment we are renting right now. It has a wonderful outdoor area (although small), and the kitchen is well done. And we are excited as it has a huge 3rd floor bedroom for guests when they visit. I can’t wait to move in, especially as I am going to buy a record player we’ve been saving for!!!

posted under Family & Marriage, My Thoughts | Comments Off on Bordeaux Spring Break Trip… and we are buying a house?!??

Fun bike ride with Calico

April10

As it warms up, I am trying to do more weekend adventures with Calico (and I am trying to do a better job in Winter to get us both excited about suiting up and going outside). We went on a nearby trail ride I found on All Trails, did some climbing, saw a snake, and talked. It was fantastic!

posted under Family & Marriage | Comments Off on Fun bike ride with Calico
« Older Entries

This is bwb’s personal blog, so he can share his thoughts with the world, however scary or silly they might be. Plus family and friends can track what I am up to, and where I am in the world.

I am pretty simple. I love Mangos. I love the ocean (although mostly at sunset, as I’m a ginger). I love to travel, eat exotic food, do long bike rides, read, and use my imagination. At some point, I decided it was better to be a pirate captain than an admiral. I am a globalist and see the entire world as my responsibility and playground. And I am married to an amazing woman who makes life even more fun :)! And we are now the proud parents of Calico Jack :).


Archives