I´ve put this short video together for those Mums and Dads with children transitioning from 12″ or 14″ bikes (balance bikes or bikes with training wheels) to bigger 20″ wheels.
A Tag-Along (or sometimes referred as a “Tag-a-long”) bike has some PROS and some CONS, but I think the PROS outweigh the CONS.
Parents can safely ride with their kids at higher speeds than they would be able to if the kids were on their own bikes (mind you higher, not “high”).
Allows older children to be towed on longer journeys.
Aids child fitness levels (assuming they pedal! Keep motivating them)
Child can pedal as much or as little as they like. Depending on age they can tire pretty quickly.
Harder workout for the parent. Fit parents are an example for their children.
Child cannot ride independently.
May take longer to develop balance and they may get dependent on the parent (may not want to learn how to ride on their own)
Generally only available with a 20″ diameter rear wheel.
Cannot be used at the same time as a rear mounted baby seat, so may be a 1 child solution only, but depending on the age of the 2nd child a Kangaroo seat can be an option if you have children with significant age differences.
Parents need to be careful as movement by the children may cause a wobble that can throw the parent off-balance.
Click here for my earlier post (review) about the Adventure Echo Six Tag-Along bike
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If you are the type of person who doesn´t like reading, I made it easy for you. The video below is an almost exact transcript of this post, with a few minor differences, so feel free to watch the video and skip the post if you want.
So… you like to read then? Good for you, because I lied 🙂
I provide more information on text than I do on video and to complement the text I added some links to interesting pages I found while doing some research as well.
We´ve done this on the 26th of May 2015 and according to my Garmin it took us just under 8 and a 1/2 h to complete the 80 Km that separates Roncesvalles from Puenta la Reina where we decided to stay for the night. Together with me was Fernando, my Pilgrimage partner.
Having done only 30 Km the day before we wanted to push ourselves a little to bring us closer to the average 60 Km per day we planned to do all the way to Santiago. This proved to be unnecessary later, but when you have a scheduled return date you have to account for some spare time in case you run into any problems during the journey. We also had the intention of riding further to Cape Finistere if we got to Santiago with time to spare.
We left Roncesvalles just before 8:00am and didn´t know exactly where we were going to stop. Puenta la Reina was one of the options. For any visually impaired person listening to this account, the day started wet and rainy. According to Garmin as we started the temperature was 12C falling to 5C 1h later and peaking at 19C around 2:30pm. Although it wasn´t necessarily cold it called for something warm to be worn.
Roncesvalles is still situated mid-ways up in the mountain (Pyrenees). The ride starts with an initial descent of about 200m in total with a few ups and downs in the 1st 17 Km until the town of Erro where you start a 3 Km climb to the “Alto de Erro” which is at 801m at its highest point. We stopped for a few minutes there to take some pictures.
I had eaten only a banana and a cereal bar as I left Roncesvalles. This became more or less the norm for me during the ride with a proper Breakfast stop later along the way 1 or 2h later. After our short stop in the Alto de Erro, we rode for another 7 Km and decided to stop for Breakfast in Zubiri which is a little village 28 Km from Roncesvalles. It had taken us 2.5h to get there and by that point I was really hungry.
Zubiri is lovely small village. It’s the point where we first met the River Arga which flows parallel to the road almost for about 20 Km thereafter, all the way to Pamplona. The village appears to live entirely of the tourism generated by the Pilgrims as there seem to be too many hostels and hotels for such a small place. My breakfast included 2 pieces of a delicious Potato Omelette or “Tortillas de Patatas” as it’s known in Spanish as well as some pastries like a
Croissant and a chocolate roll served with coffee and a freshly squeezed orange juice. There are many things I miss from my time in Spain but the sweet and freshly squeezed orange juice is one of the things in the top of the list. This simply does not exist in Britain and even in places where natural orange juice is served the taste is nowhere near that of the sweet and non-acidic Spanish oranges. After Breakfast we walked to the very old looking stone bridge of the village, took some pictures, stamped our pilgrims´ credentials and continued to Pamplona.
Moving on, we continued on the N-135 road or “Carretera”, as it´s called in Spanish, all the way to the outskirts of Pamplona where we took a cycle path along the river Arga. The Arga also crosses a portion of Pamplona. As we got to the outskirts of Pamplona we stopped for a minute contemplate and take a few pictures of the serene scenes the river Arga was providing.
Our passage through Pamplona was very quick. Pamplona is where the famous running of the bulls happen, known in Spanish as the “Encierro“. We only stopped for a few minutes at the bull run monument in the city centre and at the pilgrim´s office to stamp our credentials. At that point in the journey we thought we were pressed for time and we didn´t want to arrive too late in our destination that day. We also knew we were coming back to Pamplona anyway since it was there that we were going to return the rental car we reserved to drive back from Santiago.
We crossed the city and got a bit lost in the park where the Citadel is located, but that allowed us to stop for a minute and take a few pictures. Really impressive example of an old military complex. As we left the city and started to get into more rural areas we met a local cyclist who advised us to avoid the walker´s path up to the “Alto del Perdón” (Mount of Forgiveness), which is one of the
many landmarks along the Camino. The company that runs the wind turbines on that mountain has created a number of bronze sculptures to celebrate the Pilgrims who climb it. The road route is about 4 Km longer than the walker´s path. Even though I perfectly understand Fernando´s reluctance to take the walkers´ path, I confess I was a bit disappointed. I only realised how big the challenge was going to be when I got up there and saw all the bikers pushing their bikes up. We took the NA-6004, then a left turn on the NA-1110, which runs parallel to the A-12 motorway, in the direction of Astrain. The climb is long but perfectly rideable even when you leave the NA-1110 to climb the NA-6056 in the direction to the mountain alongside the wind turbines.
I believe getting to the top of the “Perdón” provides the Pilgrim with the first real feeling of achievement in the Pilgrimage. The altitude recorded by my Garmin was 682m, which is by far not the highest mountain along the way, but perhaps because it’s so well known, or perhaps it’s because of the long challenging climb, I think there is something about that view on both sides that made an impression on me.
On one side you see Pamplona in the background and on the other you have the view of the entire valley where Puenta la Reina is situated. It´s a really magnificent view, but I guess the pictures are worth more than a thousand words. Oh by the way, if you ever wondered why there are so many wind turbines in Spain, the noise you´ll hear in a moment should provide a clue. As the saying goes, everything that goes up must come down, so no surprise that after the Perdón you´re in for a long descent. The NA-6056 which is the minor road alongside the Wind Turbines requires attention because it´s littered with pot holes, but once you are back to the NA-1110, an excellent main road, the pavement is smooth and allows for much higher speeds. In fact, it was on this descent that I achieved the highest speed in the entire journey and probably the highest speed of my life on a bicycle so far: 74.8 Km/h (or 48 mph) according to my Garmin Edge. A great rush of adrenaline.
The distance between the Alto del Perdón and Puente la Reina is about 10 Km and it´s mostly descent, so after the Perdón you get to Puente la Reina pretty quickly. What a lovely town Puente la Reina is and its impressive main landmark: The romanic bridge over the river Arga (yes the same that crosses Pamplona). It was built by Queen Mayor (hence the name Puente la Reina or “Bridge of the Queen”) to allow pilgrim´s to easily cross the Arga.
We stayed at the “Albergue de peregrinos de los padres reparadores” (Pilgrims´ Hostel of the Fathers´ repairers?) which cost just €5 a night. The Albergue is very simple and if you are too fussy you will have issues with the shower rooms and the fact that there are almost no power outlets in the bedrooms, so people that want to charge their phones or gadgets fight for the few there are. One pilgrim actually left his phone in the bathroom to charge and stayed there for almost an hour while the phone was charging, something I would never do.
In the next day as we were leaving the Albergue we met Paula for the 1st time. Paula was from Brazil and was doing the pilgrimage by bike, with the main difference that she was on the road much longer than we were, since she started from the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. Well, that´s it. I will try to produce one post every week. Even though I am benefiting from this writing exercise (especially in German), it hasn´t been easy to find the time to do this in 3 languages. I will complete this Pilgrimage series in all languages, but I may decide concentrate everything only in English in future “adventures”.
This is the first post of my Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage. I intend to write at least one for each day of the Pilgrimage. In this post I decided to include also something about “Day Zero” of our ride. I am calling day zero our journey from England to France by car. Other people in England might benefit from this experience (if not then I just wasted my time). Feel free to scroll down straight to Day 1 if you want. I am also trying something new for me: Doing “voice-overs”. This is definitely taking me out of my comfort zone, so please be kind.
Day 0, Sunday, 24th of May 2015
The 4 of us… – Fernando (who did the Pilgrimage with me), Mara and her daughter Luize (who I met through BlaBlaCar), and myself – … left Bracknell at around 5:30 in the morning to get the 7:30 Eurotunnel train. All the details are in the video below, if you are interested:
It took us an entire day to reach Saint Jean. We arrived in Biarritz short before 8:00pm and in Saint Jean around 9:00pm. A drive of more than 15h. Even though my friend Fernando drove most of the time, I was exhausted when we arrived. Driving is no longer the same pleasurable experience now as it used to be in the past.
Saint Jean Pied de Port is the start of what is called the French way (route) of the Camino which became the main route few hundred years ago because of conflicts and unrest in the northern most part of Spain at the time. The ancient route is known today as “Camino Primitivo“. The French way is about 820 Km long, depending on the route you take and not accounting any distance if you get lost.
We stayed at the Gite Ultreia. The hostel was simple, but friendly. Bernard, our host, made us feel quite at home. The beds were comfortable, had clean sheets on them and the hostel offered a blanket (not all do, hence the reason you must take a sleeping bag with you, even if you are not camping). The overnight price of the hostel, booked from the UK, was 22€ incl. Breakfast. Except for the hostel we stayed for 1 night when we arrived in Santiago, this was the most expensive we paid in the entire Camino. The hostel closed at 10pm (as most do), so we left our bikes and luggage there and went to find a place to have a quick bite. Thankfully there was a bar right in front which was still open, but their kitchen was already closed. All we got was a Bayonne Ham sandwich and beer and, honestly, the Sandwich wasn´t very good and the ham had a lot of hard bone in it, but it was enough to calm down the hunger. Our bedroom had 4 beds and we shared it with a Brazilian lady from Rio and a gentleman from Australia.
Day 1, Monday, 25th of May 2015
If you saw any of my previous posts you will know that I usually leave the camera rolling, taking pictures at 5 second intervals and then compile them all into a short movie of the ride. This was my intention with the Camino also and I´ve managed to successfully capture every day, except the first day. Well, I did actually capture the pictures, but due to an oversight on my part end up losing all for this day 🙁
The video below is a compilation of the few pictures I took with another camera (and my phone) as well as some clips Fernando recorded with his GoPRO.
On this day, breakfast included coffee, various types of bread, Jam and a few pastries (no ham, cheese, eggs, bacon or anything like that, but you can cook them yourself if you buy them the previous day). Whether you are walking or cycling the Camino I would strongly recommend not to really just on breakfast and take food with you, especially if you are going to take the walkers route/track.
As we were going to leave the car parked in Saint Jean for 3 weeks, we were advised by our host not to leave the car parked in the town centre. He told us, however, about a quiet residential street nearby where, he said, we could leave the car and that it was quite safe and problem free, so the first thing we did after breakfast was to move the car to that place. He was right! As we
returned 3 weeks later the car was exactly as we had left it (with the exception of the huge amount of leaves accumulated on the bonnet as I parked it under a tree – Probably good to avoid, but I was thinking about shading it from the sun).
With Breakfast, parking and packing done our early start ended up turning into a 10am start, but we had to go to the pilgrim´s office first to get our official Pilgrimage credentials. There was a small queue in the office, so 10am became 11am including a quick stop for a prayer in the church.
Finding our way out of Saint Jean was easy.
The town is small and the streets are well sign-posted. We had a few hills to climb straight away, but mostly was relatively flat for the initial 5 Km or so and then you start to climb. Having seen the accounts of people who cycled the walkers path we knew this wasn´t a route we wanted to take. The path up is riddled with rocks,
sand and obstacles which, even if you are strong enough and had no load on the bike, would still be very challenging to ride. Even harder for amateur cyclists like me (perhaps “pros”
would manage it). The video below is something I found in YouTube of someone who has walked the walker´s path (used with permission).
So we took the road, which I presume was easier from that point of view, but that doesn´t mean it was easy.
After the initial 7 Km from Saint Jean, as I mentioned before, the route is essentially a continuous climb of about 20 Km with gradients that very from 5% to about 15% in some places. I´d estimate 80% was “rideable” and in 20% we decided to push our bikes up.
We did not meet a lot of bicycle pilgrim´s that day. Turned out the Monday the 25th of May was a bank holiday in France, so there was little traffic of all sorts on the roads, which was probably better. It was also a grey and wet day with some light rain throughout. There was a large group of cyclists on road bikes and no luggage (they were probably dispatching the luggage to the next location by taxi). In one of those climbs we met Michael that was already more than a month on the road, cycling from his home in Germany to Santiago and further. We all had dinner together that night and also met Michael on many other occasions afterwards, during the journey.
According to GPS data it took us just under 5 h to do 30 Km. That appears to be very typical for crossing the Pyrenees. I must confess, I was expecting to be able to ride a greater distance on the 1st day, but the climb is very demanding and by the time you get to Roncesvalles you will be already pretty tired.
The hostel in Roncesvalles (or Albergue as it’s called in Spanish), is an experience you should not miss. It’s essentially a 12th century building, which was recently renovated. It contains large halls with a capacity of 120 beds in each hall, or 60 bunk beds divided into “alcoves” with 2 bunk beds in each alcove where 4 people (or pilgrims)
sleep. Each pilgrim has a small locker (requires a 1€ coin), but there are only 2
power sockets in each alcove. Challenging when 4 people want to charge their phones at the same time. It was likely the biggest hostel I stayed in the entire Camino. The staff on duty that day was composed mainly of Dutch volunteers. The groups of
volunteers who run the hostel change from time to time, so you may get different groups at different periods of the year. At the end of the hall there are male and female toilets/bathrooms. In the male section I could only see 3 toilets to the left with a set of 4 sinks in the middle and 3 shower rooms on the right. I have not had to wait long to use any of these facilities that day.
Although I have not used them, I am aware the Albergue also has a fully fitted kitchen and a large dining area.
One thing that was a bit annoying, was that every hour or so, one of the carer takers of the hostel would walk the full length of the hall. Probably to see if everyone was behaving appropriately. The noise of his steps have woken Fernando up a few times that night and a good night sleep is an important factor for those that will be walking or cycling all day next day. If you easily wake up with noise during sleep I would strongly advise that you bring ear plugs with you as with so many people sleeping in the same place, Albergues are not really a silent place during the night (think of snorers and other types of noises people make when they are asleep).
We had dinner at the Pilgrim´s restaurant and the pilgrim´s menu was 10€. I had pasta as a starter and fish as main meal with some yogurt as a desert. All served with plenty of water and wine. It was delicious. You have usually 3 choices on pilgrim´s menus. Roncesvalles is a tiny place and there are not many options, but there are a few more places you can get a meal.
After dinner we walked to the chapel to attend the catholic mass, which is celebrated in several different languages.
The hostel also closes at 10pm and around 11pm everybody is already asleep. Well,I was anyway.