Grandad Merlin and Grandma Betty

September23

My Grandma died recently (on my mom’s ), she was 98 years old. She had been in a memory care unit for many years, had escaped covid once when it killed her roommate, survived covid when she got it later, and had a stroke a few weeks before she died which robbed her of her speech. It was a peaceful death and it was time. I was happy that my mom and sister got to be by her side. They even were able to give her a few bites of ice cream (which she loved).

My Grandad died when I was in high school… I was set to take the SAT or ACT and remember my mom trying to pretend everything was ok as I left to take the test very early in the morning (I knew). They were amazing people and I love them very much. I was very close with both of them.

Some thoughts and memories…

Lindsey and I visited my grandma in Florida in 2016 (after a trip to Key West for work). My mom was there for some reason and we had a good time going to grandma’s favorite beach, playing scrabble, getting orange ice cream, etc. My grandma’s memory issues were always fun as she loved sweets and she would say “ooh we should get some ice cream” or “hey look there is a fudge shop”, and that would happen again a few minutes later :) (in many ways like my wife minus the memory issues!). Grandma would also ask me who the woman was in the back seat every so often (Lindsey). And, then she would congratulate me once she found out it was my wife :). She was very sweet and I loved it when she called me her “sweet patoey”.

We drove an hour to get an orange/vanilla ice cream swirl from a specific shop on that trip (the closer shop had closed years ago). The orange ice cream was made with real Florida oranges and the best thing in the world. I have fond memories of my grandad driving my brother and me to get orange ice cream after a day at the beach. We would get in the VW camper van seats, sit on these scratchy rough blankets that covered the seats, or these big wooden beads they had on the seats in the front to help his backs. The van smelled like sand and sun lotion (and occasionally like dead crabs that my brother and I had hidden in a pale). My grandad smelled like home with a mix of safety, love, and dependability. If I close my eyes I swear I can still remember that smell and the feelings it creates. It makes me tear up.

  • I remember my grandad getting out a big tin when I was little. It rattled and was heavy… and I was sure it was treasure! When he opened it it was full of coins. My brother and I helped him put all the coins in the coin sleeves and we used the money to go to Bush Gardens. I remember a baby chimpanzee in diapers that I wanted to take home. I also remember my grandad and mom running after the little train that dropped us off at the parking lot as Nick and I were still on it and the driver had decided to leave (also this was the moment when I cognitively realized as a kid that my mom was similar to a female gorilla in that she had the strength to rip someone’s arms off if they messed with her babies).
  • I remember being in the VW van on the way to getting ice cream and grandad telling me it was about to rain and to watch the cloud in front of me on the highway. Sure enough, I could see a wall of rain coming, it hit the car, and then minutes later was gone as we exited that little rain cloud. It was magical.
  • I swear I saw my grandad in Valencia in 2020. I was biking on this one stretch and off in the distance I saw him. There is a neighborhood on the beach that has these houses with white walls like their house in Florida and he was dressed like my grandad, white hair like my grandad, and similar mannerisms. I still think it was him. I look every time I bike past on that route, wondering if he will be there.
  • I lived in Florida for a bit and would visit my grandma. We would play scrabble (her early memory issues didn’t seem to impact her ability to kick my ass at scrabble). Grandma would pull out chocolates she hid in the lining closet for me, and a little Ouzo as we played. We often would challenge each other’s words and had the dictionary on hand. We would watch TV as it got late and I remember watching the Sound of Music with her (one of my favorites).
  • As a kid my grandma’s gold bracelets were magical. They would rattle and she would shake them. They were thin gold bracelets that grandad had bought her from around the world. One of my favorite things was to ask my grandma where they were all from and she would tell me this one is from an island on Greece or Egypt etc… I think it made me want to travel and see all these magical places my grandparents had been.
  • I remember traveling with my grandad and grandma in that VW camper when I was little. I remember sitting in the front seat with my grandma while grandad took a nap in the back. I remember her face looking very intense and she swerved that van all the way into the other lane and then back and then made the van wiggle a little bit. My grandad yelled with alarm from the back and apparently, my grandma had seen a snake sunning itself in the other lane and she took it out (she didn’t like snakes). She was also worried it might be on the wheel when she got it out so she made the car shake a little bit. My grandad didn’t seem to think it was funny as I did but his eyes seemed to be laughing (I don’t know how old I was, maybe 7?). I remember on that trip he lovingly grumbled and called her “speedy gonzola” a lot. I remember eating with them at a park and not finishing my sandwich and being full, and they told me kids didn’t have enough to eat somewhere else so I told them they should mail it to them. They thought that was funny and they both had amazing laughs. I remember traveling with them and staying on military bases (since my grandad was a vet). I got to see amazing airplane museums, soldiers, and PXes (or whatever they are called). I remember my grandad getting cranky sometimes after a long day in the car. But never for long. He always wanted to stop and find a place for the VW camper that had a pool. After a while, he would always play with us once he got in the water for a bit. He loved the ocean and even as a kid I would think about why he loved it so much.
  • I loved my grandparent’s house. My brother and I would play in the bushes with lizards all around. We had this amazing tree in the front that was perfect for climbing. We would buy plastic bows and arrows and chase each other around the bushes shooting at each other. Or with ninja turtles or these mech figures in the front yard having battles. My grandad had fruit growing in the back that smelled amazing. The grass was different too than in Fayetteville, it felt sharper but also like a carpet, and nothing bite me in the grass (unlike Arkansas). In the evenings we would all walk along the sidewalks around the neighborhood.
  • I remember taking the bus from Arkansas to Florida one time. I had just had my birthday but I am not sure which one, maybe 7, 8, or 9? My mom took us the entire way and since I was the oldest I had to sit with the stranger. I remember playing ninja turtles with a kid on the floor for a long time. I fell asleep on a nice black man’s shoulder somewhere around Memphis. I remember seeing TVs that took quarters in the bus stop (like you put in a quarter and then could watch something on a super small screen). I remember seeing people on TV like striped prison uniforms, although I am not sure why at the bus station. I wonder why we went by bus.
  • I remember all the seagulls at the beach. Sometimes grandad would give us bread and let us fed them, throwing in the air for them to catch in a mid-air glide.
  • I remember Tarpon Springs and eating greek food. The waitress would give Nick and I a special drink with a small plastic pirate sword with red cherries impaled on it. Nick and I would eat greek bread and butter and tomatoes/cucumber/feta salads (so good). I would order shrimp as it was the one time I ever got to eat them. I remember getting a toy in Tarpon springs when we visited, often the bow and arrow sets, sometimes a plastic head of a dinosaur or bird on a pole that bit people, etc… cheap plastic fun :).
  • I remember every restaurant was a bit of a nice fight between my mom and grandad about who was going to pay.
  • When we visited them in Florida I remember playing a lot of Uno. Good memories as a kid :)
  • I loved making my grandma laugh, she had a great laugh. We got along well.
  • My grandparents would often visit us at Christmas. I remember the last time before my Grandad got pancreatic cancer as there was a snow storm coming and they decided they better leave before it hit. My grandad gave great hugs, strong hugs, and I miss him. My grandma was a great hugger too.
  • When I lived in Florida I visited my grandma. I remember how nice it was to sit and play scrabble and just be in a state of contentment. We didn’t really talk about anything, sometimes she would ask me about work or other things. But mostly we just sat and enjoyed each other’s company. It was a good feeling.
  • My grandparent’s relationship with each other is a model I treasure. They seemed to love each other so much. They were always smiling at each other, they joked with each other, they would hold hands when they walked, and I loved their grandparent kisses. As a kid, it felt like they were Mr. and Mrs. Santa Clause. After my parents got divorced I swore I would never involve myself in a romantic relationship as a kid. It didn’t seem worth it and everyone seemed so miserable. I didn’t lift that vow until I had a serious medical issue early in college that made me reflect on life/death a bit more. I decided then I should try fun stuff like drinking, drugs, adulting, women, etc… And, I don’t think I would have ever entered into a relationship/marriage without the optimism and faith my grandparent’s relationship inspired.

I miss them both :)

 

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2021 Camino Route Summary

September23

That was a fun ride :)

So how did it all end up?

  • 18 days total with 15 riding and 3 resting. One rest day was unplanned. (compared to 16 days riding on my Burgundy France tour).
  • 836km ridden on this trip (compared to 1,062km on the Burgundy trip).
  • 56 hours of biking over the trip (compared to 52 hours in Burgundy). And, I probably pushed the bike another 4 hours on top of that (especially in the early days of the tour as I was trying to do a hiking track).
  • 10,584 meters climbed… (compared to 2,789 in Burgundy).
  • The average speed was around 15km an hour when riding… (so 9.3 miles an hour).
  • And, I set an all-time record for most altitude in one day, followed by 2nd and 3rd spots as well… (this trip had more altitude than I’ve ever done!)

This ride was fantastic although some of the gradients got on my nerves.

On the Burgundy tour, I was using a rental bike and it was a pleasure to be on my own bike this time. My bike is amazing and I am so happy with it. I didn’t have any flats (lucky) or issues and only had to pump up the back tire a little once (which is good as I don’t like the mini-pump I brought). I am glad I put new tires on it as they are flat resistant and I’ve been super happy with them.

On the Burgundy tour, my seat bruised the shit out of my butt which made riding extra hard, and I was glad to avoid that this time. I had brought my own seat from home that I had worn in, but I didn’t realize that it was not a good seat for the shape of my butt. The only issue I had this time was some lite chaffing around the end of the tour and some petroleum jelly fixed that right up. Always good to finish a tour without pain or issue.

What would I do differently on packing?

  • I should have left the spare battery, headlamp, and paper notebook. I also had too much food in the early days (canned tuna is heavy).
  • Two pairs of socks worked pretty well but I need to bring newer socks (the ones I brought look like a 90-year-old sheep on it’s last days).
  • I could probably get away with one pair of cycling shorts, as they dried overnight every day except one. But, it was nice to have two pairs. And, I like the bibs as they were super comfy. I need to get in the habit of riding without shorts too.
  • Flip-flops would have been nice so I didn’t have to wear my cycling shoes around town at the end of the day. Or some super-light compactable shoes.
  • I need a new rain jacket, I love the one I have but it is 20 years old and the Goretex is gone.
  • I only used the warm pants twice after riding. That said they don’t take up much room and it was nice to have them in case of emergency. I used the 3/4th zip a few times and def needed it.
  • I think the Escape-lite bivy was worth it… I didn’t use it, but if I had wiped out and broken a leg it was nice to know I could climb in there for a night if I got in trouble. Plus it is super small compared to the
  • I hope on a future tour I can leave my laptop at home. It is heavy.
  • I could have dumped one of the athletic shirts if I wanted.
  • I brought a nice pair of shorts and a nice t-shirt. Those were nice to have.
  • Next time bring nail clippers and a razor hippie.

What would I do differently or think about doing differently?

  • I would dump the two front bags, and switch those to water mounts so that I have two water mounts on the outside and one on the inside.
  • I’d like to try to do a tour while staying within Paleo AIP 80% of the time. I think I can maintain my energy with a little planning.
  • I am going to rethink mapping. Komoot was ok but not great. I want to plan my own routes that are more around beautiful rides and history. And, leave me enough energy after the ride to go check out things locally. I’d like to plan out some rides along beautiful routes that also roughly follow some of Napolean’s campaigns, the band of brothers into Europe in WW2, Roman history, Caesar’s campaign in Gaul, or castles on the border of France, or other historic events. I also might plan routes along specific routes like eco via or converted train path that goes xxx km.
  • I really needed a break and it took me about 5 or 6 days to get to that point. That is pretty normal and it is nice to downshift my brain to whatever state that is. I think in the future another option would be to plan a 5 to 7-day ride, then a 5-day rest, and then a 5 to 7-day ride. That works better.

I am not sure how many books I read, but this was a way more intense ride with the altitude so less.

 

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Day 15, 16, 17, and 18 (home) – Camino

September23

These were goregous rides next to the ocean and then on an eco via path up to Viseu along a river. I am really glad I did this route. Much better than tackling the mountains from the other side, as this way I was able to follow an old railroad track which is built with gradual gradients. 

Day 15

This was a long ride, about 96km over 5 hours and 33 minutes (489m in elvation). Total time was 7 hours 30 minutes as I stopped for a long lunch on the seaside.

Day 16

I spent this day in Ovar resting, I seemed to be alergic to chocalate as it always screws up my stomach. I had a late lunch on Day 15 and I had a slice of dessert that has only a little chocolate but enough to mess me up. So my stomach was not happy that night and fine the next day but glad I didn’t push through it as the next ride was pretty hard too.

Day 17

Another long ride, 75km over 4 hours and 54 minutes (646m elevation gain). That said, this was fairly easy as it follows the Ecovia Sever do Vouga and it never hits crazy gradients. I was tired after this one and crashed early. The last 20km was a pretty steady climb.

 

Day 18 (Home)

The rest of the Ecovia Sever do Vouga and about 55km over 3 hours and 41 mintues. Along with 600m of elevation gain. Some rough terrain on the path at some parts, but always fun. It was a little rainy today but luckily nothing more than getting spit on.

 

Pictures…

Notes…

  • I saw a fox! That is the first real wildlife I’ve seen in Portugal (which is weird as I ride a lot but I guess a lot of people around). It was a big fox and popped out of a cornfield as I was riding by.
  • Several downed trees on path I had to carry my bike over. One had even crushed the fence and looked recent.
  • One bridge that was blocked but looked ok to me, but i couldn’t get around it so went down to another road to bypass…
  • Portugal is a beautiful country, just amazing :)
  • The ecovia path to the beach is going to be amazing once they finish it. Some parts of it were super chunky with huge rocks right now though. I look forward to when they actually pave it (they say by next year but we shall see).

Glad to be home and I’ll post a summary one of these days :)

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Day 14 – Camino

September19

I had an amazing ride today. First on the bike path along the Minho, and then the Atlantic Ocean. Komoot didn’t work well today as it tried to put me a little more inland… and I largely ignored it. Luckily I’ve biked some of this when I lived in Viana do Castelo and knew there was a path. Beautiful day and I had a really good time.

Stats…

74km in 4 hours and 11 minutes. Total time around 4 hours 37 minutes. Elevation gain of 495m. I love it when it is flat :). A lot of cobblestones today too. (It was supposed to be a 68.8km ride, but I am guessing since I took my path it was a little longer. )

Pictures…

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Day 12 and 13 – Camino

September18

I had a nice rest on the beach and it was a nice chill town to hang out at.

Day 12…

Easy day, 40km over 2 hours and 46 minutes with 649m of elevation gain. I think I only stopped for a 15-minute break. I had been thinking about going around the Spanish coastline but I decided to cut that and instead head for the border… I am going to do the coastline around Portugal, and then do an eco via line that goes from Aveiro to Viseu. Should be fun :)

Day 13…

Bit longer, 55km over 3 hours and 26 minutes with 705m of elevation gain. Again only a 15-minute break as felt good apart from some steep gradients.

I crossed back over to Portugal late in the day!!! Over the beautiful Minho and very happy to be riding a beautiful bike path along the river and coast today and tomorrow.

Pictures

Note, I don’t stop to take pictures of state highway I am on :). Both rides were quite nice without a ton of highway.

Now that a lot of the elevation is dropping I am going to tackle some longer distances and not many rides left:

  • Day 14 ~68km
  • Day 15 ~95km
  • Day 16 ~75km
  • Day 17 ~55km (and should get home here!
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Day 9, 10, and 11 – Camino

September16

Day 9

I spent day 9 working in Santiago de Compostela. I had to finish two specs and some other stuff that needed to get done before the next part of my trip back home. Weirdly I am not a huge fan of the city, I’ve been there 3 times and just haven’t dug it. I am not sure why… maybe too much of a tourist trap given the pilgrimage focus of the city.

Day 10

Day 10 was a good ride, but a frustrating start. I think it took me 1.5 hours to get out of Santiago. First, one bridge was out, then a second bridge, and finally I had to go all the way back to where I started and go a different way. The first few hours were along busy highway but then I got on backroads and it was quite beautiful.

Funny story, I was trying to figure out a new route and a nice Spanish man came up to help me. We started talking and it turns out he went to school with the owner of University Bicycles in Boulder. Not only is that only a few blocks away from where we lived in Boulder but that is also where I bought one of my bikes and usually go to get them fixed/checked. Small mundo :)

I am now at a beautiful seaside town and it has been great so far.

Stats…

~50km ride, the detours added an extra 5km I think (maybe another 5km didn’t make it to the map). Total ascent of 403m. And, I think it took around 3 hours and 54 minutes but not totally sure as with all the map switching I missed my GPS sometimes.

Pictures…

Day 11

Is a chill day spent on the beach here, I needed a day for just reading.

 

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Day 8 – Camino

September14

Day 8 was a hard one. It was my hardest day since Day 1. That said I made it to Santiago de Compostela :)

The first 1.5 hours of the ride were on state road and asphalt which I don’t love. And, since it was Monday trucks were going by fast. And, then it started raining :). My character was def improved that morning.

Why so hard?

Food. I always forget that things will be closed on Sunday and I underestimated my food needs. I ended up hitting a pretty hard wall on energy as I didn’t get enough to eat the night before and the day of. I also found out the bar had Havana Club and I had two of those with a coke which was quite nice :). I haven’t had rum in a year I think… and props to Laura for introducing me to that rum in Peru many years ago.

Maps, Komoot, and altitude. Komoot routed me up a HUGE mountain that was super steep… I get to the top and it looks suspect as a route… I try it and I hit this, which Komoot swears is a road I can go through.

Yes, that is a 9-foot high fence that is locked with barb wire. No way to climb this. So I had to go down to the bottom, around a bit more, and then climb back to the top and past this barrier to the route (it was pretty).

Then I was at the almost top of the next mountain and it looked like it had a cool Church on top. So I said “screw it” and started going up that because the day was already hard. And, once you start that you can’t turn around.

It turns out I was very far from the top and had a long way to go… I get there, eat a carrot and apple, and just sit as every article of clothing is just drenched in sweat. Then, I walk another 100+ steps to the top, it was a beautiful view, but the little pilgrimage site is full of tends of thousands of bugs mating in a huge bug dance/column so then I ran away. Oh and also it is the tallest point in Galacia…

Stats…

56km in 3 hours and 42 minutes of moving time. 1,014m of elevation gain which is my 2nd highest. My total time was a little over 5 hours, I had to stop quite a few times to take a break.

Pictures…

 

Notes

  • Komoot is my mapping app and I really wish they would offer choices. Like, bike 10km more but you are on Gravel roads for 75% of the time. As well as altitude choices to avoid gradients of 12% or more as much as possible.
  • Next tour I want to mount two water bottle holders on the front instead of bags, and stick with 2 bags on the back. I like that better and don’t need all these bags. I also need a super light throw bag.
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Day 7 – Camino

September12

A good day… it was mostly on asphalt and mostly going up for a long time and then down very fast. Spain has so many back roads and great shoulder space. Drivers are very safe and it is rare to see cars.

I set a new personal record today!!! I climbed 1,153m on my bike in one session. My previous record was on July 11th, 2020 on my long ride in Mazemet (a beautiful ride I highly recommend).

Ourense is in the bottom of a collapsed Volcano so getting out of that was HARD. I left around 9 am and didn’t really escape that “hill” until almost 11 am… I had to walk about half of it as the gradients were just too much and I was soaked with sweat by the time I got to the top. I took a little breather and had breakfast while my clothes dried a bit in the sun.

Stats…

53km over 3 hours and 48 minutes of moving time. Elevation gain of 1,153m. Total time was four hours and 47 minutes as I took some breaks, plus I walked a good chunk in that early stage to escape Ourense.

Pictures…

 

Tomorrow…

I should arrive in Santiago tomorrow. I am going to stay there a few days as I need to do some work and want some chill time. I am especially looking forward to having a kitchen. I grow tired of road food and looking forward to eating a bag of broccoli and other delicious things.

Thoughts…

Biking is always nice as the first 5 or 6 days your mind is still going, but around day 6 or 7 it just clears and you are left with a bit of a void. You are hit with a different kind of mental and emotional energy, it is hard to describe. It can also be just “zapped” if you over-extend your rides but I feel pretty good there.

Random notes…

  • For this ride and the 82km one, I did a really good job hydrating. Glad to see that as I haven’t done so well with that in the past :)
  • Spain and Portugal don’t really have near the number of picnic tables like France did. Everywhere in France has picnic tables and I really miss that. Every church seemed to have them as well as small city parks. Spain has a weird workout area, but usually no picnic tables. Often hard stone benches though.
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Day 6 – Camino

September11

I had an easy ride today, it started off foggy and like I was biking through a  wet cloud and then opened up into a beautiful sunny day. I was a bit zapped after yesterday and it was nice to have a chill day.

I made it to Ourense which we visited 3 years ago or so on a road trip around this area. I wish the hot springs were open but they are closed due to Covid (hopefully open soon). Ourense is in a Volcanic crater, so riding out tomorrow will be some work :). 

I also met up with Lisa Wright, her husband, and her mom for lunch which was great! Lisa did an awesome list for Shepherd on the magic of Galacia (check it out as her 3rd comes out in October!)

Stats…

A little over 38km in 2 hours and 13 minutes. Only 419m of elevation.

Pictures…

Not many today, just did some riding that was 95% old road. Very peaceful with not many cars. I am curious on how the next 2 days go as it didn’t look like much gravel. I will be doing around 52km both days to Santiago. Then taking a few days there.

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Day 5 – Camino Interior

September10

Today was one of the most amazing rides I’ve ever done. It was beautiful and it was hard to watch the path while taking it all in. And… now I am in Spain :)

The first 55km were stunning and the eco via route was amazing (with some of that still on a converted rail track). Then I hit the mountain, it wasn’t too bad and I was able to ride it pretty easily. It had good grades.

One fun moment, I was going along a fantastic gravel road as the map said… and suddenly a fence… I hop it… then another fence to keep in the goats… I hop it and suddenly the path disappears and I hit this fun. I had to pull the bags off the bike, put them up on the wooden path and then pull the bike up and over. Portugal needs to work on their maps (the map told me to keep going).

Stats…

82km ride with 942m of elevation gain in 5 hours and 11 minutes. 6 hours and 30 minutes total time, I stopped a few times to eat breakfast and lunch.

Pictures…

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Day 4 – Camino Interior

September9

Today was one of the most beautiful rides I’ve ever done. As good as the one in Mazamet France. I hope to come back here to do more of it.

Once I got out of Villa Real the new mapping method put me on a packet dirt road nestled in the mountains that went through pine forests and smelled amazing. The weather was cloudy with a slight chill, perfect riding weather. I think the route was an old rail line as I saw small abandoned train stations along the way. Eventually, it turned into a dedicated bike path with asphalt which really increased my speed.

Stats…

48km ride in 2 hours and 45 minutes. Total time was 3 hours and 22 minutes as I had to walk a few very steep parts, and down one rocky segment. Plus I stopped for breakfast. Only around 500m elevation gain… I love old train lines as the gradient is so slow you never notice.

Highlights of the day?

  • I saw a rabbit (I haven’t ever seen much wildlife in Portugal).
  • On the bike path, I went by someone hauling two huge cows with big horns. And, then a Shepherd with a flock of sheep. The geography has changed.
  • I ate some delicious lasagne, the chef was impressed I ordered two and came out to give me a fist bump lol.
  • I can’t remember if I mentioned it, but sometimes I am riding or walking on what were Roman roads from 200/300bce. Although also a lot of medieval roads they built over the top with less quality.

Pictures…

 

Tomorrow…

Is a hard ride, I wanted to push myself a little. Komoot says it will be 81km with 960m of elevation gain. It estimates it will take me 6 hours and 15 minutes… I am excited as it looks like a ton of gravel riding which I love. But this mountain scares me… that might be a long walk…

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Day 3 – Camino Interior

September8

Well, I lost another sock, at least now I am back to evens. It flew off a bridge and landed in a stream… it is a long story.

It was a beautiful day. I did around 36km over 3 hours and 15 min. I left at 8.30 am and got in around 1 pm (so 4.5 hours total time). I think it isn’t counting the time I am walking the bike maybe. The total ascent was 1150m. 

The challenge isn’t the altitude gain it is the gradient. Some of the back roads are crazy gradients and I just run out of steam pretty quick (esp with the weight of the bags). If the gradient isn’t too bag I can go pretty much forever.

The path today got kinda crazy in two parts and I had a fair bit of walking up steep slopes and down steep slopes. I road some which had a pretty decent drop off on the left which was fun.

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Day 2 – Camino Interior

September7

Another first… that was the most intense rain I’ve ever experienced on my bike :)

Today was 10x easier than day 1 though.

When I woke up at around 7.30 am it wasn’t raining and was nice and cool. I needed that. After the intense heat of the day before as I might have had mild heat exhaustion. I took a while to get going and treated myself to a shower and a hot breakfast of 4 eggs and salt. Five minutes before I was set to leave it started pouring. I got my rain jacket and booties on and off I went…

It was great until the map wanted me to turn left on a 20%+ gradient that it called a “road” but was asphalt for 4 feet and then turned into a rocky stream bed and what looked like a waterfall. It is a bad sign when you loop back twice and still don’t see a “road”. So… I tried to get out of the rain to replan as the current path is not working for bikes. I was next to one of those alter shack things they have everywhere, but Mary or whoever was inside wouldn’t let me in the room. She was nice and dry with her candles and crosses and I was outside. Maybe instead of building little shacks for religious alters we should build shacks for people :)?

Anyway… it was pouring rain… and very hard to use the touchscreen on the GPS (thank Jebus the name of my destination was 7 letters and not the normal 15 to 25 the Portuguese like for their town names!). In the process, I broke a little hook on one of my bike panniers but it will be fine. Anyway… I got rerouted and had a good time.

After about 1.5 hours in heavy to light rain the sun came out (once I was over the next mountain). That was really nice and it was a beautiful day. Some really cute towns and I love Lamego (tons of festivals going on).

Other updates…

  • Sad news… I lost a single sock to the wind when I was changing and drying clothing. It jumped right off the stone cliff and fell 15 feet to a new future in the bushes. It has served me well and I believe it was from a sock batch that was over 10 years old. I wish it luck.
  • I found out that the Goretex jacket I got from Joel’s dad in my 2nd year in college has no Goretex left. At least it is water repellent and kept me a little warmer. I love this jacket and I’ve taken it everywhere (not a scratch on it). Maybe once I get to Santiago I can look for a new one for the ride back. I remember Joel got one at the same time and he hilariously wore it into the shower to show off the Goretex.
  • Today the route took me on stairs which was silly. Amazing views but humping my bike up even 15 stairs that were uneven and rocks was rough.
  • Wow! There are some amazing mountain people here in Portugal. The Romans were so insane, who else would try to conquer people living up here? It made me remember a story from a tour I was on in the Serbian/Croatia region. One of the town names was called (in Croatian) “Where-Wolves-Fuck”, which brings me to TWO important rules, #1 never fuck with Serbians/Croatians/etc and
    #2… don’t fuck with any mountain people.
  • I had a glass of green wine, Portuguese sausage starter, garlic bread and break, then lamb chops with potatoes and cabbage, and then homemade Gelato (cream). All for only 21 euros.
  • I ate all 3 cans of pate I found at the last house, all the cheese I bought, 5 bread rolls, ~200g of homemade mac and cheese, and a nectarine by midnight last night. Pate is a food of legend and I felt great today. I could have biked far longer.

Stats?

I rode somewhere between 36km to 39km over 3.5 hours. I changed some settings on my bike GPS and forgot to set it to log when I kept switching maps from the Camino walking path to a path along roads. I also switched from the Camino path to road and then back for a bit. Maybe 700m in ascent but it could have been more since my GPS was off for a good chunk of that.

Tomorrow I’ll do ~40km with 1,170m in ascent. I redid the map so we shall how this version goes as it should stick more to roads and no more path. If that goes well I’ll probably start pushing to some longer distances.

Not as many pictures today with rain:

 

posted under 2021 Camino Portugal Bike Tour | Comments Off on Day 2 – Camino Interior

Day 1 – Camino Interior

September6

Well, that was the hardest bike ride of my life so far. What a fun day!

I left Viseu around 9.15 am and I arrived a little after 3 pm to wherever I am. So about 5 hours and 45 minutes (which matches my bike GPS for total time). I stopped for a total of ~30 minutes to eat snacks and drink water (went through 4200 ml and pee was way too dark). And, then I had a fair bit of mini stops to talk to God about the mountains and the swarms of bugs around my face.

Why was this ride so hard?

#1 – Crazy intense altitude gains while pushing a bike. The map says ~1,450m of gain (~5000 feet) which isn’t too bad until you see how intense they are. I had to walk up most of these while pushing a heavy bike/bag setup… which leads me to reason number 2…

And, here is what it looks like just when I was riding. The huge sharp leaps are because I walked up those parts while pushing the bike and then the bike gps came back on when I started moving fast enough.

#2 – Insane trails that were harder than anything I did in Colorado on my mountain bike. Many of them just looked like stream beds with 18in drops in the middle of the path, loose rubble, huge rocks, some sandy, etc… And, some were fairly overgrown. Many times I had to walk down the steep parts to ensure no tragedy (pictures below).

Stats?

Note, my bike GPS auto stops when I am not going fast enough, aka biking very slowly or walking (something I will turn off shortly).

So it says I biked for 3 hours and 14 minutes. During which I covered 39.25km and ~700m of altitude gain. The map says I biked ~51km and did ~1450m altitude gain. So that means I walked or I was riding very slowly for ~10km, 750m, and 2 hours on top of that. That seems likely. It might have been a little less distance as at the end I jumped on a road instead of more of the insane path.

Pictures in order of my day… 

Tomorrow?

I scaled back the distance as a lot of altitude tomorrow too. But, I am going to keep trying this path :)

We shall see how it goes…

 

Fuck you Strava :)

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Leaving on Portugal/Spain bike tour tomorrow…

September5

I dropped Lindsey and Calico off at the airport Wednesday and then worked an insane number of hours over the next 5 days as I try to get things ready for me to leave. I was hoping to leave Saturday but it had to change to Monday. It is hard to leave a small operation like Shepherd but I think we are in a good place. I still need to draft-publish a ton of pages for authors today…

I didn’t really plan much, I am going to see how it goes and adjust. I just booked my first night at a hotel and I am going ride around 50km tomorrow (with about 1450m of gain and 1200m of drop). I’ll figure out things after that :)

On my last bike tour in France, I only had 2 bags on the back of my bike plus a water bag on my back. This time I am going with 2 on the front, 2 on the back, and no water backpack. Plus I am packing less stuff as I brought a bit too much in France and didn’t use a few pairs of clothes.

What did I pack this time?

Electronics

  • Bike GPS
  • Kindle
  • Small laptop + charger
  • Small external battery
  • Small USB charger
  • iPhone + wired headphones
  • All the cords for the above
  • Headlamp.

Food & Water

  • Swiss army knife
  • Spoon
  • 3 x 1400ml water bottles
  • Food… still figuring this out but I’ll probably start with tuna, apples, carrots, etc.

Bathroom Bag

  • Toilet paper roll (at public bathrooms often MIA)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Face wash/moisturizer
  • Sunblock
  • Deodorant
  • 2nd skin in case of a blister
  • Duct tape strands in case of injury

Bike gear

  • 2 extra tubs + patch kit
  • Airpump
  • Visor + helmet
  • Lock + key
  • Bike tools + wheel change kit
  • Spare belt for Pinion (if my kevlar belt breaks hard to find a new one)
  • Emergency bivy in case I get stuck overnight
  • Cycling shoes

Clothing

  • 2 pairs of cycling underwear
  • 2 pairs of athletic shorts
  • 2 fast-drying shirts (1 long 1 short)
  • 1 scarf thing that doubles as a towel, hat, etc
  • 1 warm athletic shirt
  • 1 warm athletic pants (semi-waterproof)
  • 3 pairs of socks
  • Rain jacket
  • 2 pairs of underwear
  • 1 pair of cotton shorts
  • 2 cotton shirts

Other junk…

  • Wallet, passport, pilgrim passport, keys, masks, waterproof sleeve for laptop and one for the phone.
  • Notepad + pen.

I will probably bring:

  • Waterproof booties to cover my shoes.
  • My old tennis shoes. As my cycling shoes suck to walk around in.

I had considered bringing my sleeping bag, tent, and pad. But, decided against it as that was a ton more weight and wild camping is “illegal” in both Spain and Portugal. I need to do a few shorter trips with this config before I do a long one like this.

posted under 2021 Camino Portugal Bike Tour, Travel | Comments Off on Leaving on Portugal/Spain bike tour tomorrow…
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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 too, 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, read, and use my imagination. I love creating and developing ideas into businesses, understanding how all businesses work, and building cool stuff. 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 :).


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