We Media: Cycle UK’s Crab and Winkle Trail

Hi, I has been a while since I have been back here. Haven’t taken a long bike trip since last year’s Vienna to Prague trip. However, I was just in a London for a conference and did a side trip to on the Crab and Winkle bicyling trail from Canterbury to Whitstable. It’s just a couple of hour ride, but since it is only two hours by train from London it is a great day trip. Excellent meals with locally grown produce can be found at the Goods Shed in Canterbury and the Sportsman pub outside of Whitstable. They are a bit pricey.

Bikes can be rented right at the West Canterbury train station, but alas the shop is closed on Sunday.

Here is a map and video. The video is combined with the We Media conference which I attended at the same time.

Now of course I want to go back and ride the Camino, or maybe Vienna to Budapest or now on the National Cycling trail in the United Kingdom. More later as I make up mind.


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Biking from Vienna to Prague

Didn’t get to Spain this year. Instead, followed my wife’s lead to ride our bikes on the Greenway from Vienna to Prague. It is a fantastic ride. Not advertised as spiritual, but it could be depending on your frame of mind. Wonderful backroads, beautiful countryside, and UNESCO cities.

This is a ride worth taking, and when we did it in late May and early June there were hardly any other riders. Most often we had the roads to ourselves. I guess you could rate it as intermediate in difficulty. There were a few tough climbs. We got lost a couple of times. Of course, you could avoid that by taking an organized tour.

You can find out the basics at the Friends of the Greenway site. And you can look at the short travelogue I put together.

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Camino de Santiago Toronto Conference 2005

COMING IN MAY –The 8th Annual Gathering of Pilgrims will be held at St. Michael’s College at The University of Toronto.

May 10 – 17, 2005.

For more information go here.

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An Update and My Last Post Here

The plan had been for me to ride the Camino again this year 2004 from Seville to Astorga. But then just before I was set to go I got this odd shoulder problem that never really got better. So when I arrived in Spain I had to give up the idea of riding this summer. Instead I turned into a bit of a tourist and just hung out in southern Spain, and actually had a nice time, but not what I had planned. Later I studied Spanish in Toledo for three weeks.

I did drop by BICICLETAS ASTOLFI, the bike shop in Seville, and the owner was quite nice and I would recommend the shop if you are starting out from the Seville.

Also if you want to treat yourself to one great, albeit high priced, meal before you start I would recommend the restaurant Baco, which specializes in cod. It might have been the best meal I had in my six weeks in Spain.

Sorry I could not provide more information, but I hope what information that is here helps. Who knows maybe I’ll give it a try again next year. Buen Camino.

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My Article in the Des Moines Register

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RAGBRAI photo from RAGBRAI website

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My photo on the Camino

I have a travel story in this past Sunday’s Des Moines Register about my ride on the Camino de Santiago last year. Take a look.

The RAGBRAI, for those who do not know, is the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. It is a lark with some 10,000 people riding it each year.

Somehow the online copy produced some odd typos in letters where I had accents. So it should be Manjarín, Logorño, León.

Finally, the heaven reference in the end comes from Field of Dreams, when Kevin Costner, is asked, “Is this Heaven?” and he replies, “It’s Iowa.” A line that every Iowan and RAGBRAI rider treasures.

Here is the whole exchange captured at the Movie Quotes website:

Dwier Brown (John Kinsella): Is this heaven?
Kevin Costner (Ray): It’s Iowa.
Dwier Brown (John): Iowa? I could have sworn this was heaven.
(John starts to walk away)
Kevin Costner (Ray): Is there a heaven?
Dwier Brown (John): Oh yeah. It’s the place where dreams come true.
(Ray looks around, seeing his wife playing with their daughter on the porch.)
Kevin Costner (Ray): Maybe this is heaven.

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English Speaking Bike Shop in Seville

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Finally, I have made contact with a bike shop in Seville where the owner speaks and writes English. I probably will be buying my bike from him. He is Daniel Astolfi.

If you send him 30 percent down in advance he will set up a bike for you. I probably am going to buy a Spanish made CONOR WRC3 ALIVIO. The price with a odometer, mudflap and rack is about 500 Euros.

That’s not cheap, but last year I decided if I was going to ride the single track footpath, I wanted a decent bike. The gears on the hills and rocks take a beating. Nothing is a worse than riding on a bike that constantly needs adjustments. Except for a flat, a broken spoke and one minor tune-up. the bike did well for all 17 days and 800 Km.

Here is the website for BICICLETAS ASTOLFI in Seville, which includes contact information for the shop.

Of course, on this weblog I am only collecting information. I have no way of verifying it. You are responsible for any negotiations you make.

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Advice: Start out in the Right Frame of Mind

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Me in the plaza in Astorga

Last year when I rode the French Way, I arrived in Astorga and fell in love with the plaza and, judging from my journal notes, with the dish of olives, the marinated anchovies, the bread, which I described as dense in texture and hard of crust. Of course, there was the wine of which I was into my second glass when expatriates Mike y Renée McNulty arrived on the plaza on their mountain bikes. Turns out they had just completed the same route I plan this year from Seville to Astorga. Of course, as happens on the Camino, through just brief encounters, we still feel like old friends. So when I emailed them a few days ago about their trip last year, they responded. Here, in part, is what they said:

We didn’t use a guidebook on either of the Caminos (they did the French Way earlier). Be careful on the Via de la Plata. There is a new road that was being built as we did it last year, and it seems to cut right through a good section of the route. Expect to get lost more than once. Some of it is well marked and will remind you of the French route, but most of it is not. We could count the number of pilgrims that we met practically on one hand. Peaceful it is, but almost to the point of lonely!

Having said that, there are some areas that you will go through that are absolutely stunning! In Extremadura you will go through cortijos (ranches) where you will meet up with only animals. Opening and closing gates is required. Take a good map for those times that you get off the marked path. That way you can find your way to your day’s destination without getting on that national highway that parallels the route. We mostly stayed in hostels (not Pilgrim refugios), but if you ask in the towns, most of them have some sort of provision for pilgrims to stay. Don’t miss Palencia, Zamora and Salamanca. Mérida and Caceres are nice too, but we had been there before so didn’t linger last year.

That lonely part got to me, so asked am I nutty for doing this solo? Here is Renée’s response:

No, you are not completely nutty, but just be prepared mentally. You might consider a camelbak, or similar device, as Extremadura can be hot and fountains are not as prevalent as on the French route. Plenty of snack foods in your pack are also a good idea, as you won’t be passing through as many towns. The route is really beautiful, and you won’t be sorry you did it, so long as you start out in the right frame of mind. You will be doing something different, so you won’t have the camaraderie of the other route.

We would say that the biggest problem is the lack of markers, especially in the area where the new sections of N630 are/were going in. That highway is NOT fun to ride on, so keep your map handy to find alternate routes if you find yourself on it.

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