Sunday, December 14, 2014


By a twist of fate, winter gear has appeared on the road as a work of Divine Providence. First, Gabi´s wool gloves, which were found lying next to a bench on the Danube, and which now complete the accessory kit that started with an abandoned hat in Madrid and an orphaned neck buff which first appeared in Conques. For the feet, nothing better than some wellies of a poor recently deceased squatter at the abandoned mill that has been our home for a cold week. Meanwhile, Gabi is happy with some neoprene boots he was given in Slovenia, although I can´t complain either about the gloves that Clea (a Valencian who has been travelling with her family in a horse drawn cart for eleven years and has set up winter camp in Hungary)gave me. But what has really allowed us to enjoy cycling in colder conditions has been the idea of ​​Peter to take a couple of second hand anoraks and cut them and then sew them in a way to make mittens that are installed on the handlebars and with which we could travel to the North Pole. But let us take up where we left off to understand how we have linked up this set of circumstances that has made life easier.


Saturday, October 04, 2014


    There's no better break to work on a goat farm with only one goat. Four months after we left home, with over 5,000 miles on their backs, it does not hurt to park the bike for a while. If the bike can also relax in Katrien's stables, much better. We find this Slovak Paradise through an Internet page called Workaway, which brings together volunteers with people who need help with different kinds of work, (which may be teaching English to the family, making beds in a hotel on the beach, taking care of the dogs on holiday or even building a house). The volunteer does not receive any financial compensation, but in exchange usually receives food and shelter. Therefore, it is a great opportunity to learn things along the way and feel useful for the first time in a long time.

The Family.

Monday, September 08, 2014


Lately, wherever we go, everyone tells us that this weather is not normal, whether it´s the sweltering heat (southern France), torrential rains (Switzerland) or the summer cold (Germany). Our days are dominated by the wettest summer in recent times, it may be something due to climate change. During phases of optimism we feel fortunate to live this sudden European monsoon, which does not allow the surrounding nature to yellow even it wants to. The sight of green hills is everywhere in Central Europe, even now that it is time to gather the wheat. However, optimism has its limits: hail, soaked sleeping bags, windstorms, slugs smashed inside our shoes and overflowing rivers are not so much fun when you suffer them in person.

Thursday, August 14, 2014


At last we go back to the mountains after a few days that seem eternal in Germany following the course of the Isar River (I don't wish my enemies any harm, but hopefully one day they'll waste their holidays touring the Isarradweg). The Czech Republic has a lot to offer, so over the next few weeks we'll make several silly detours like the ones that have characterized our trip just to enjoy the scenery and villages with epic-sounding names. We enter the Czech Republic through the Šumava National Park in the region of Bohemia. Two benches on the road and a small sign mark one of the many invisible boundaries which divide Europe. In the map case in the bag hanging from the handlebar there are a few basic words and phrases in Czech.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


We spend a couple of days in Austria and after thinking about cycling round the whole country, we end up changing your mind. We are attracted by its mountains, its villages and its history, but we do not feel comfortable with the people. It's been very little time to generalize, but the faces we see in the squares, streets and roads are of sad people, and rarely do they greet us. At one point we crossed the Rhine on a Sunday looking for an open supermarket in Switzerland and we did not go back into Austria, dazzled again with the Swiss unexpected sympathy.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


We joked about a bee sting a week ago. What we did not know then (but soon discovered) is that I'm allergic to the toxin injected with its sting, and Switzerland is not a bad place to get the news. Fortunately, we are in good hands. Geraldine takes me to the hospital when my hand begins to swell more than normal and something starts to go wrong in my throat. When the doctor asks me if my voice has changed after the sting, I did not imagine that an affirmative answer would mean a night in the Intensive Care Unit. The nurse, from Cadiz, explains that it is normal that the first bee sting is annoying but not dangerous, but this was already the second, and anaphylaxis occurs in a biphasic manner; that is, I could have an allergic reaction once I started feeling better, so it would be better to spend the night in the hospital, plugged into several machines to control oxygen, heart rate, stress and temperature. Around midnight he asks me if I have had dinner, and returns with a huge dinner while causing envy in the room.

Sunday, July 06, 2014


We didn´t even have to go through Grenoble, but a friend of Sylvain's is a bike mechanic and he can help out with some questions, so we finally decided to spend the night here. But what was to be just one night turns into a week. I´ve been having problems with my knees for kilometers and with the climb to the Vercors, they eventually give up.The pain is intense and I can hardly walk.. We rest a couple of days with the hope that things will magically improve but the miracle does not happen this time. So  we have to resort to that which is paid in the hope of not having to use it: we took out medical insurance before leaving. After a bit of running around, it eventually works fast and the next day. first thing in the morning we have an appointment with the doctor. After a brief exploration I am diagnosed with what he tells me half of the skiers who go to his surgery in winter: condromalacy or  rotulian syndrome. In medical terms it means an inflammation of the cartilage beneath the kneecap. In layman's terms, it's a knee pain of unknown origin and of uncertain cure. The x-rays that are taken the same afternoon confirm that it is nothing serious, but the doctor recommends that I begin physical therapy immediately. The problem is to decide who pays for it. It's Friday and until Monday Mapfre doctors will not issue the verdict. Meanwhile, a lot of Voltaren (which, of course, does nothing). In the house where we are staying they say and repeat that we can stay there as long as needed, but the doctor has said that I´ll need at least 20 sessions of physical therapy so things don´t look good. Days pass and the pain Increases. When we are told how the insurance works, Gabriel's (our host) girlfriend, recommends that we leave aside conventional medicine and  visit a friend of hers, an osteopath, who lives in her village. With nothing to lose, we take the bus and within an hour the miracle man is relocating both joints. After a comprehensive inspection of body posture, he realizes that the problem Is that I have deviated the meniscus, so he twists both knees until relocated. Sounds painful. It is. But as the pain ceases after the aggressive treatment, the left knee is completely healed and the right will take a few days to be in perfect condition. Also, being friends Salome does not charge me for the appointment. One more angel to add to the list of wonderful people we meet along the way.

We let my knees rest one more day and on Sunday, we start off in a good storm. I feel so strong that we decide to cross into Switzerland through the Alps, through Chamonix.. We want to dedicate the route to our companions from “Slow Ciclando” who had to change their route to protect Alessandra´s knees.. In addition, choosing this direction we can go to visit Maki, Sylvain´s wife,  who is spending a few days in Mègeve to help open a new Japanese restaurant.

When we were in Grenoble we spent a long time checking out routes, maps and information to plan the best option, trying to pamper my knees and at the same time enjoy the climb. But these days, two French words are burned into our memories: Route Barrée, which means road closed. Oh, friends! It's summer and that means reasphalting. Finally, we do nothing more than 5% of what we had planned, climbing impossible mountain passes, disastrous roads, excessive slopes. What I still do not understand is how we like to suffer so much.

On the way, we stop at mountain shops (around here there are a few) seeking a liquid for waterproofing the tent, that lately even though it doesn´t leak, puddles form  on the ground. Poor us, we didn´t know what was awaiting us. After Chamonix, we find a fantastic place for camping in a forest with a green path a view of Mont Blanc, showing all its beauty shamelessly on a completely clear day. We take advantage of the good afternoon to waterproof everything we can from the store. The label on the product says it's organic, but that does not mean it's not toxic. At night, the first symptoms begin. Gabi has a tummy ache and slight nausea. But I get straight to the point and start to vomit, which will continue throughout  the morning of  the next day. My body does not even admit water, and we still have two mountain passes ahead,1,500 meters each, to cross into Switzerland.

At noon I drag the bike as best I can to the next town and try to hitchhike. Half an hour later without anybody having taken pity on us, we decide to go a little more and try our luck at the edge of town, but just move a few meters when the occupants of a van shout at us from a gas station. They're half crazy Poles who have seen us down below asking for help, and now they offer to take us to Poland itself. For a moment we think about accepting the offer, but we agree to let them leave us in Switzerland. They tell us that they are going to stop in Lausanne, which is since we are expected in Vevey, a few kilometers from the city. We pass it, but we think the Poles are looking for a motorway exit. They find it, but continue on, so we start to see  signs to Freiburg, where they would supposedly stop also, we tell them to leave us off anywhere, we are already 40 kilometers from where we should be.

At last we agree and retrace our steps by bike what we had done by van. But it´s worth it as Luc and Val´s family await us, having just returned just three weeks ago from their own world tour and they are still “landing”. I dare to have some food for dinner for the first time all day, and the liquers that they take out for dessert kill any foreign body that was left on my  insides.

The next day we top the foolishness of the week and return almost to the same point where we left the Poles to meet some other friends of Sylvain´s (yes, again Sylvain) in Romont. We decide not to take the same road where we have been and follow the cycle route number 9, which crosses Switzerland through the lake area from west to east. We fear the worst when Luke tells us, very seriously: "I have followed cycling routes in more than thirty countries and I can assure you that in Switzerland it is impossible to get lost." 10 miles from his house, again a sign that says: "Route barrée". We take a detour, where we get excited with a long descent and then we to realize we we've lost sight of Route 9. guess it has merit. Anyway, we continue along the road, which in this country is a delight: the people are extremely polite and drivers are extremely respectful. And the happier I am, when most I'm enjoying the health of my knees, the beauty of the landscape and my recovered stomach...  a bee stings me on a finger of my right hand, so I write this post with nine fingers and a sausage. I hope our luck gets better!

Friday, June 27, 2014


We've come a whopping two miles since we left  Avignon until we make our first stop. It has finally happened: the valve chamber Gabi broke the day after buying the bike, can finally last no more and breaks. And it does so at noon, in a place without shade and with considerable wind. We are delighted with the tires we have, Schwalbe Marathon Mondial, but we do not like it so much when we have to replace the inner tubes. So, we spent some time wrestling with them until they allow us to fix them. This Is the foreshadowing of an exciting day that awaits us. We  have also made a new friend; called Mistral, a distant relative of our Cierzo which we hadn´t missed at all. We need to focus our best to balance on the bike. No wonder the wind drives people crazy it doesn´t leave you alone with your own thoughts, let alone talk to your partner. On one occasion, the wind throws us into the middle of the road and a car beeps at us. What do they think, we've done it by choice? The Mistral will still blow for four days more on the purple lavender fields all around.

Overall, in southeastern France education and respect from the drivers leave much to be desired. For some time we have got used to the fact that the safety distance is narrower and the cars don´t usually slow down much. But In this region several vehicles have passed us, practically hitting us, a couple of them even intentionally, and until we reach the La Drôme  region no car will slow down  and wait for the best time to pass us To get there we have to climb two mountain passes on the same day, the highest of 186 meters. As we move away from the Rhone and get back into the mountains, everything changes: the people, the landscape, the mood and intensity of the wind. We visit Grignan and its medieval castle and ride along the Ouile and Eygues rivers, through the beautiful gorges de St. May. When we reach the village of Remuzat kilometers vertically line the valley: it is the pre-Alpine region. When designing the route from the couch at home, we did it thinking of great rivers and avoid the steeper areas. And now we ask the reader to google search what we're talking about going towards Mont Blanc. Precisely in one of these rivers we stop for lunch and have a swim in our birthday suits. While we are enjoying some delicious macaroni with sautéed onions and peppers a huge stray dog ​​approaches  us and keeps us company throughout the afternoon. When we are thinking of adoptng Austin, the animal decides to help finish the bread and find some more interesting non-vegetarian company.

We climb a real hill, one of 1,000 meters but is so easy that in many of the sections we use the medium chainring. On the other side of the mountain we stay in a town called Recoubeau-Jansac, in a region with a funny name: Pays Diois. It´s  impossible not to name a place with a more divine name. English speakers have it worse, as the capital city of the region is Die, which results in macabre puns. The country reminds us of the Baztán valley. It is an area in the middle of the mountains, where the inhabitants have developed a tendency to personal consumption. The produce is locally grown, mostly organic, and they have developed many projects in sustainable agriculture and permaculture. Funny how the bike world is often linked to the "bio-world"; along the way we have found many long distance cyclists part of this movement, vegans or vegetarians who practice yoga and who use natural medicine. One is Sylvain, who welcomes us to Recoubeau for a few days. He will be our host and our guru in God's country. He came here a few years ago, after a worldwide tour by bike with a friend from 2006 to 2009, visiting more than 40 countries along the way. He earned languages, medicine, carpentry, masonry, mechanics (which added to his knowledge as an engineer) and that has permitted him to build to build his own house. With him rest is not synonymous with wasting time. We will visit some friends of his, also worldwide cyclists,that decided that they could no longer live in the house they  had rented, but neither move far from their farm, so they came up with a solution that was supposed to be temporary: build a yurt (traditional Mongolian nomadic housing) next to an ecological cabin for his goats. And what was going to be a tempory solution until they found something better,  turned out to be something that has been running for  three years with no sign of change anytime soon. At night he takes us to an underground location where his friend is showing a documentary filmed  last summer, a comparison between organic farms in France and Romania. At one point in the documentary a Romanian  farmer regrets that agriculture has become a business, he cannot understand how a food industry can work like a plastic factory; it also bothers him that families spend such a small percentage of their budget on food, when there can be nothing more important. We can spend 300 euros on an iphone, but then buy cheap food (I'm not even talking about junk food or precooked) without worrying about pesticides and GMOs that are killing us slowly, and with a good conscience about the exploitation of people and animals, with the consequent collapse of the home economy. In Lidl, chocolate is cheaper.

At night, Sylvain has two surprises for us: first, he´s contacted some friends, a family living in Switzerland, travelling cyclists who await us in their house; on the other hand, he´s made plans with another traveler friend to spend the next two days in the mountains. Not much to think about, we put the bikes and panniers in the van and go up the pass on four wheels that we were  we were going to do on two.

In Chichiliane we switch bikes for a backpack and climb to Plateau de Vercors, up to 2,000 meters. From there we enjoy the beautiful views of the Alps, we see chamois and marmots, and  our wish to see the Mont Blanc grows even more. We sleep in the shelter next to the passage of L'Aiguille, where a score of heroes of the Resistance tried in vain to stop the advance of the Germans during World War II.

When we are in Grenoble, in a house thanks to Sylvain´s contacts, we lear bit more about this war, but the memory of the Great War, known as the World War I, impresses us even more. Not only Because of the absurdity of the conflict, but also in every town  we have passed through we have been seeing signs of the missing and deceased, lists of names: sometimes that exceed the actual number of houses in the village, and they give an idea of the dimension of the conflict. The trenches of the Somme and Verdun mercilessly engulfed the poor wretches who were sent to defend the front. The carnage ended in a million and a half dead (the number of injuries, amputees and mental problems is even higher) on the French side. Chilling to think that the Great War did not skew as many lives as the religious wars between 1562 and 1598 which killed a tenth of France´s population, with two million dead. Too much blood for such a beautiful place.

Friday, June 13, 2014


When you're near Millau you have the option of going to visit the world's largest viaduct. But we are confident that when we get to China, they will have built an even larger one, so we left such valuable tourist attraction aside, a milestone in the history of man's struggle against nature, and instead of the bridge we visit Olivier and Hélène´s house in Prailhac. And it's a good choice: we spend two days with them during which we learn about gardening and natural medicine, house building, cooking and humanity. Not bad. Olivier advises us not to miss the opportunity to climb the Causse Mejean (the highest and Most extensive plateau of France) to see the animals are in danger of extinction. The ecosystem of the Causse, 1,000 meters above sea level and covered meadows with no trees, is like Mongolia. Here biologists have found a place to try to save the Przewalski horses (the only species of wild horses in the world) from extinction. Although this breed is the horse that is represented in the caves of Lascaux, experts say, the the wild horses were forced to migrate eastward as caused by climate change. Their rediscovery in Mongolia in 1879 did not help them, as they began to be victims of massive hunting, flayed or sent to European zoos. The massive domestication almost wiped out the horses in the wild, while the number of breeding stock in the mid-twentieth century was scarcely a dozen. Indeed, the last sighting of a Przewalski horse in the wild was in 1966  in the Gobi desert. In 1990 the TAKH association was formed  to reintroduce horses in Mongolia the horses that wereliving in zoos in Europe. After so many years in captivity, the animals need a period of acclimatization, which takes place in the town of Le Villaret, in the Cévennes National Park. Here they learn to fend for themselves, form herds and natural selection works again. Currently, about 30 horses are living in semi freedom in Le Villaret. The world population of these horses has grown to 1,872,  including more than 300 that have been reintroduced thanks to programs likeTAKH.

Maybe seeing two horses instead of the world's largest viaduct is not a big deal to some people, but for us it is exciting.  The occupants of the cars stopped at the same place as us along the road up to the Causse must have thought the same thing.They all got out, asked us four questions and had us ride up the slope while they video taped us. At least they could have given us some peanuts.

I feel identified with the plateau: it is a difficult beauty to explain and understand. There are barely any trees, no mountains or valleys, there is simply shrubby vegetation, but it has something special. The fact that no slugs fill our tent with drool also helps us to love it. The second day we have engaged in a love-hate relationship because of a headwind forcing us to enjoy the plateau longer than we expected. The descent to Florac takes us along a road on which a warning reads: "difficult and dangerous path", and it´s certainly so for motor vehicles. They have to avoid being carried away by the force of gravity on the slopes of 15%. In the morning we descend vertically half a kilometer that we have to go back up again in the afternoon if we want to stay and live in the national park, and we do it through Eaves Road to the Pompidou. Once here, we go down the Gard Valley, without being fully aware that we are leaving behind a beautiful part of France.

We have just realized that it's summer. Suddenly the heat is stifling, mosquitoes everywhere and there is a strong necessity of water. We are in Nîmes, Mediterranean climate: in a couple of days we have changed from the French Mongolia to the Roma gala. The Nimes festival offers exotic shows: bulls, churros, paella and flamenco. What it doesn´t offer with such joy is a fountain that works, so we have to search for a cemetery to find water (and take the chance to have a furtive shower, those who are resting there don´t really mind) or take it directly from a ditch. Tamagotchi tells us that it is 46.5ºC so we cannot even pedal, we have to stop a  long couple of hours  at in the afternoon so we don´t melt in the attempt. We even rethink today's stage, fifteen kilometers to the beach in the Camargue seem. Howe insuperable however, we have not come here to smell the sea from afar, and in less than an hour or so we are in Saint-Marie de la Mer, where all the gypsies of Europe meet once a year. We leave behind the touristy beaches and we are back in a natural park, this time similar to the marshlands of Doñana. We enjoy a swim in the sea in our birthday suits (I will never tire of enumerating the remarkable benefits of this activity) and camp near the shore, after dragging the bike half a kilometer down the beach.

At night the problems begin. The stove stops working while a horde of tiger mosquitoes choose us to be their dinner. Gabi tries to thoroughly clean all the ducts, but it doesn´t work. We leave the rice with lentils in a tupper. Tomorrow will be another day. Today we eat fruit. But the next day it does not work either. Gabi spends a couple of hours cleaning it completely, cross checking all the parts, taking it apart and puttint it together several times ... nothing. We read the instructions over and over. The first thing is they say is that if there are problems, check that the fuel injector  is right for the type of fuel used. And indeed, almost two months later, we realize that we have been using kerosene instead of gasoline. Problem solved: fifteen hours later, we eat rice with lentils.

 Camping is not easy in this region (equivalent to the autonomous communities in Spain). There is little forest and we have to settle for pitching the tent in untilled fields. Even in a field located a few meters from a military tower. The place is packed with All kinds of animals, two, four, six and eight legged. At night, someone´s stomach rumbles. At first we laugh until we realize that it´s no one´s stomach. The sound comes from below the floor of the tent and it takes a while to find out what it is ... there's a mole among us. Like two idiots, we try to redirect the mole hitting the ground and placing our arms and legs in the right direction. We spend much of the night doing this. The next morning we make sure we have not caused  any damage to the molehill, while spiders and earwigs make us miss the slugs. We chose another privileged untilled field near Avignon. A  place so special that at three in the morning we are woken up by a disgusting smell, like that of a  dead animal, which leads us to think about starting the day directly under the stars. We manage to fall asleep again and the next day defy the heat to reach the papal city, where Gabi will be reunited with an old friend.

Finally, we arrived early and while waiting for our meeting with David, we meet a special family: Monika and Heiner have come from Germany by bike with their three children (the youngest of 9 months) ... all in the same machine . It is a kind of five-seater trike, powered by two adults and a children's bike in the back. Anything is possible in the world of travelling cyclists.  Very soon they become more popular than the Palais des Papes and attract the attention of everyone in the square. We exchange our addresses and go to meet David, who has prepared three days of rest, during which we enjoy 5-1 score that the Dutch give to the Spanish and the French joke about, all of which we'll talk about later.