EyeCycled went PRO! (well, sort of...)

Still far from being a PRO, but I now have a GoPRO… a GoPRO 4 Silver, to be exact.

So far I’ve been using essentially 2 action cams, which I have written about earlier: A Sony HDR-AS30V and a SJCam M10. Both had “goods” and “bads”, but after having done this for a while I thought I needed something better.

After some research I went for the GoPRO 4 Silver edition. I did consider the most expensive model, the Black Edition, for a while, but what won me over to the silver was the ability to see what the camera is filming without having to use a mobile phone over Wi-Fi or something else. The Silver has a touch sensitive LCD display on the back which makes configuring it a lot easier, in addition to actually showing the picture on display and being able to playback straight away.

The Black edition is more powerful, but I didn’t think I was going to start uploading 4K videos to YouTube any time soon.

I also wanted the ability to produce better time-lapse videos. On a long distance bike ride it usually takes many hours to get to the destination. No one, not even die-hard cycling fans, have the patience to watch it for that long (real cycling aficionados use to time to do the real thing, rather than watch it on a screen).

One of my biggest problems with the Sony and the SJCam was the minimum picture interval of 5 seconds. When going downhill, at higher speeds, 5 seconds covers a lot of distance. It becomes especially difficult to keep the notion of continuity if there are many curves or turns, so I was looking for a camera that could do it at intervals of at least 1 second. The newer GoPRO models not only can do it with a minimum interval of 0.5 second (in addition to intervals of 1, 2, 5, 10, 30 and 60 seconds), but it can actually create the video directly in the camera, with no editing needed. You get the real thing straight out of the camera… Great!  … and it does work!

One thing I’ve learned in life is that there are always “buts”…

So, it does work, BUT…

Thumbs-Up IconTime-Lapse Videos

I’ve learned that the desired 1 sec interval produces video which is way too fast for my taste. What I mean is, the camera takes take 1 frame (picture) each second, but when it produces the video it packs way too many frames per second (not sure how many really, haven’t checked, but must be between 15 and 24). With the 5 sec intervals of the Sony, I was producing time-lapse videos with 3 frames per second, which after many tests, seemed to produce the best results fir my “taste”. I couldn’t find a setting in the GoPRO to define how many frames per second you want the time-lapse video to contain. If anyone knows how to do that, please message me.

On the bright side, it eliminates the “continuity” issue I described above and produces a very “time compressed” 4K video in a small file size, for example a 13 minutes ride was compressed in a 22 seconds video. Some of my Camino de Santiago bike rides had something like a 6 hours duration or more. I can perhaps extrapolate that a 6 hours bike ride would be compressed to just over 7.5 minutes.

I have not tested this, but I believe if I increase the interval to 2 or 5 seconds I will end up with the same issue as described with the Sony camera and still unable to change the rate of frames per second the camera uses when creating the video.

The video below was produced by the camera (I only added the logo and titles in editing) at 1 second intervals on a 4K resolution. Note that YouTube reduces the quality of the original video.

There is also the option to actually configure the camera just to take and store the pictures and not to produce the video. I could then take the many thousands of pictures and produce the time-lapse video myself in a video editing software, as I have been doing, but that is one of the most boring things and that take the most time.

There are only 2 options in resolution. The massive 4K picture size, which means it produces a video of 3840 pixels width and 2160 pixels height. Although things are evolving fast, still most TVs and monitors cannot truly display that type of resolution and only recently YouTube added the 4K option to video uploads. The other option is a 2.7K video (2704 pixels width and 2032 pixels height) which is created in the 4:3 (square) ratio. I could definitively use this resolution, if it was on a wide 16:9 ratio, but not on the old 4:3 one.

thumbs-down-36-000000Video Recording

There are plenty of GoPRO videos in YouTube and it is not my intention to compete with the professionals in the area (either a professional YouTuber of camera man), but I had, obviously to do my own tests. I am massively disappointed by the fact the new top range GoPRO models do NOT have image stabilization. The Sony I use does and it is excellent. Even the old GoPROs (the HEROs) have image stabilization, so why did GoPRO remove this feature from their most expensive cameras is beyond me. They are supposed to be action cameras, right? And action usually means shaking. Yes, they say you can stabilize the video in editing later, but why do we have to go that extra work if this was already there on their previous models? This was a major let down! I am not returning the camera because of the lack of image stabilization, as I will be keeping my Sony Action Cam and will likely use it to record full HD videos and use the GoPRO mostly for the Time-Lapse option (even though there is no image stabilization in time-lapse either), but (let me say it again) this is a massive disappointment for something considered the best in the market these days.

The video below is a direct upload to YouTube of the video recorded by the camera. When I tried to edit the video to add the logo and title my video editing software produced only a green screen (perhaps some codec issue).

I found this video in YouTube while researching if there was anyway to get the camera do stabilize the image and I think the benefits are very clear here…

Well, that’s it! If this post was useful, please share, comment and let me know if you liked it or not by clicking on the rating stars below.

Thank you!

Please rate this post by clicking on the desired star (1 = Awful, 5 = Excellent)
[Total: 5 Average: 4.8]

Camino de Santiago, Days 9 and 10: From Astorga to El Acebo de San Miguel

Episcopal Palace of Astorga
Episcopal Palace of Astorga

Welcome to another post about our Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage by bike. This one is special as it covers 2 days of our pilgrimage (well, essentially the was no pilgrimage on the 10th day). On the 2nd of June 2015 we rode 39.5 Km or 24.5 miles from Astorga to the village of El Acebo de San Miguel in 4h and 30m, of which 3h 21m were of actual moving time. On the 3rd of June we gave ourselves some time-off from the Pilgrimage. We woke up late and spent most of the day in the Hostel with a little walk around the village for lunch.

Day 9: From Astorga to El Acebo de San Miguel

Ermita del Ecce Homo Astorga just outside of Astorga
Ermita del Ecce Homo Astorga just outside of Astorga

I was the last to leave the hostel in Astorga that day, not a big surprise. Fernando had left an hour before and I left about 15 min after Marcelo and Alice did. It just took longer to pack the stuff in the bike that day, but then who cares? I wasn’t under any time pressure.

I believe this route from Astorga to El Acebo was one of the nicest in the Camino. It was also somewhat challenging as after Rabanal del Camino you are in for a long 8 Km climb of almost 500 m (from about 1,000m in Rabanal to about 1,500m just before the Iron Cross), but I am going ahead of myself again.

One of the most interesting pilgrims we encountered, at least from a dressing code point of view.
One of the most interesting pilgrims we encountered, at least from a dressing code point of view.

Just outside of Astorga on the LE-142 I came across the “Ermita del Ecce Homo” (Chapel of Ecce Homo or Jesus Christ) a house from the 17th Century where pilgrims can rest and refill their water bottles.

After Murias de Rechivaldo I left the LE-142 and took the same dirt track used by the walking pilgrims. The pilgrim traffic was quite intense which forced me to go slow, but I rode that dirt track for only about 3 Km until I reached the LE-6304 from where I rode on tarmac again to the village of Santa Catalina de Somoza.

Marcelo made a new friend.
Marcelo made a new friend.

This was likely the longest portion of dirt tracks I rode that day (plus a few minor ones not even worth mentioning). After Santa Catalina de Somoza I crossed through the village of “El Ganso” and continued on the LE-6304 towards Rabanal del Camino, where I met Fernando and stopped for something to eat and drink.

His rucksack was behind the cape.
His rucksack was behind the cape.

Few minutes later Marcelo and Alice arrived also and we all spent some time talking. It was then that a “figure” of the camino walked passed by us. I don’t know who this pilgrim was and I suspect he didn’t walk the way to Santiago as we met him a few more times until we reached Santiago, but the portions he walked he did dressed as a Templar and carrying a flag, so I guess you can understand why I called him a “figure” before.

Long climb to the Cruz de Ferro.
Long climb to the Cruz de Ferro.

After Rabanal the long climb, as mentioned before, is rewarded by the views and the wild flowers and vegetation of various colours that grow alongside the road. The climb is long, but not very steep, making it perfectible manageable at least until some 500m past Foncebadón where it becomes steeper, perhaps about 15%, but is not very long. Both Fernando and I had to push the bike on that stretch.

EyeCycled to the Cruz de Ferro.
EyeCycled to the Cruz de Ferro.

After Foncebadón we arrived at another landmark of the Camino: The “Cruz de Ferro” or Iron Cross, consisting of a wooden pole about 10m high surmounted by an iron cross. At its base there is a mound of stones that was formed over the years by Pilgrims that bring stones and leave them there. A legend says that when the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela was being built, pilgrims were asked to contribute by bringing a stone.

Proud of myself.
Proud of myself.

The tradition is now to throw a stone there, brought from the place of origin of the pilgrim, symbolizing what the pilgrim wants to leave behind and get ready for rebirth on the last part of the Camino.

Proud of my friend.
Proud of my friend.

I didn’t bring any stone with me, but I think I left something behind and kept the satisfaction of having achieved it. Fernando and I arrived at the Cruz de Ferro together and Marcelo and Alice a few minutes later.

I hounor to me children, who will always be with me, no matter where I am.
In honour to my children, who will always be with me, no matter where I am.

We spent quite some time there resting, talking and watching the other pilgrims arrive.

After the Cruz de Ferro there is a long and pleasant ride down all the way to El Acebo with some magnificent views of the mountains.

Manjarin
Manjarin

Fernando and I got separated from Marcelo and Alice who stopped at Manjarín, possibly attracted by the Brazilian flag and the many signs there.

As we arrived in El Acebo, I saw an ad about a recently opened Hostel and the pictures looked very good, especially the Olympic size swimming pool of t

he hostel. Fernando and I decided to check it out and almost could not believe our eyes. If there is such a thing as a 5 star pilgrims’ hostel, that must be it, but I´ll let the explanations for day 10.

The video below is a compilation of the climb towards the Cruz de Ferro.

The next video is of a view from the Cruz de Ferro and Fernando’s testimony.

Day 10: No cycling, just lazing up at the “La casa del peregrino“, a newly built “5-star” hostel in the camino.

Entrance to the El Acebo Pilgrim's Hostel.
Entrance to the El Acebo Pilgrim’s Hostel.

Well, given the excellent facilities of this hostel and the price we decided to reward ourselves with a free day after the 520 Km of cycling since we had left Saint Jean Pied de Port 10 days earlier.

If there is such a thing as a "5-Star" Pilgrim's hostel, this must be it.
If there is such a thing as a “5-Star” Pilgrim’s hostel, this must be it.

We could afford if both financially and in time as we still had 11 days left and only about 300 Km to go until Santiago.

Up to that point we had stayed in pilgrims’ hostels that were normally very simple in nature, with overnight costs varying from 5 € to 22 € (the first one in Saint Jean), but mostly around the 8 € to 10 € mark.

Good life.
Good life.

This hostel is also 10 €, but the value you get for your money is unbelievable. Mind you, it is still a hostel, in the sense that you sleep in rooms with several bunkbeds and share them with other pilgrims, but even that was amazing in this hostel.

Dinning Room
Dinning Room

For 10 € you get a bed with your own individual light and 2 individual power sockets just for you (a luxury compared to other much older hostels) and your very own locker (reception provides a key).

Hostel Bedroom.
Hostel Bedroom.

Also Wi-Fi is available everywhere in the hostel (or at least it worked everywhere I tried, from our room to the common areas, but not in the pool).

One individual light and 2 power sockets for each Pilgrim... a luxury.
One individual light and 2 power sockets for each Pilgrim… a luxury.

You also get amazing views, laundry service (at a cost of 4 € per wash – there is also and outside washing area with clothes dryer if you, like me, want to hand wash your clothes) a little supermarket on the basement, a huge BBQ area, children’s playground, many outside sitting areas to enjoy the view, a bar, an always manned reception and believe it or not an “Olympic” size swimming pool with a crystal clear, but very cold, water that comes from the mountain.

View from the swimming pool.
View from the swimming pool.

The toilets, bathrooms, shower rooms are impeccably clean, modern and with an amazing hot water pressure. Everything is electronically controlled from the flow of water to the touch sensitive light dimmers (yeah, my geek side is taking over, sorry).

Crystal clear, but very cold water.
Crystal clear, but very cold water.

The room we stayed had 4 bunkbeds (8 beds), but on our 1st night we had the room just for us. On the 2nd night we were joined by 4 more pilgrims.

Pilgrim's Menu
Pilgrim’s Menu

Not trying to diminish the old guest houses and hostels we stayed along the Camino, but it was refreshing to stay in a newly built place with all the benefits of the 21st century at our disposal.

Now, to the food… The pilgrims menu offers, as usual, 3 choices of a 3 course meal, accompanied by bread, water and wine. I think I will just let the pictures talk for me and say it was delicious. For 10 €, this is very hard to beat anywhere in the world, I think.

On that day we woke up late and walked to the village, as the hostel is about 200 m down the road.

Starter, Main Course and Desert.
Starter, Main Course and Desert.
Main street of El Acebo
Main street of El Acebo

The village of El Acebo de San Miguel is tiny, with just a few houses along the main street, but there is an indescribable charm to it.

El Acebo
El Acebo

The houses are very old and a few appear to be in really bad shape (nothing more than a pile of stones, really). We walked to the top of the village where the water fountain is and had lunch at a place called “La Tienda”, which also offers rooms to Pilgrims. Like many other Spanish Villages along the Camino, El Acebo must be extremely dependant of the pilgrim tourism and it is likely that in high season a lot more pilgrims stay there than there are inhabitants.

View from the Hostel's Balcony
View from the Hostel’s Balcony

Well, that’s it for days 9 and 10 of the pilgrimage. I´ll add a few more pictures below. Please feel free to leave comments, questions or at least indicate if you liked it or not by clicking on the stars in the bottom of the post.

<< Previous day                                                                                         Next day >>

Please rate this post by clicking on the desired star (1 = Awful, 5 = Excellent)
[Total: 10 Average: 4.3]

Camino de Santiago, Day 8: León to Astorga

León's impressive Cathedral
León’s impressive Cathedral

Welcome to the DAY 8 post of my Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage by bike which happened on the 1st of June 2015. I did his stage of 50 Km or 31 miles from León to Astorga in 4h and 35m, of which 3h 22m were of actual moving time.

I left the hostel at 8:01am that morning and first rode to the Cathedral. I didn´t really need to go there, but I felt compelled to take one last look at the Cathedral. As I arrived I saw a cyclist’s couple looking at a map and when I approached them I recognised they were also from Brazil.

Leon Cathedral at 10 past 8 in the morning.
Leon Cathedral at 10 past 8 in the morning.

Marcelo and Alice are from a city in Brazil called Recife, the capital of the state of Pernambuco, and were also doing the Camino de Santiago. We talked for a few minutes and left together to try to find our way out of town.

5 Star Hotel Parador in León, for Pilgrims with a lot of cash.
5 Star Hotel Parador in León, for Pilgrims with a lot of cash.

Little did I know at that time that we would later arrive in Santiago de Compostela together. Our friendship started at that point and continues to this day thanks to social media and the internet.

León is a reasonably large city and it took us about 1h and 20 min to reach La Virgen del Camino, which still belongs to León’s metropolitan area and is very close to León’s airport. We stopped at a place called Cafeteria Miravalles for Breakfast and 50 min later jumped back onto our bikes again and continued to ride on the already familiar N-120. We rode on the N-120 all the way to Astorga this day.

This Pilgrim slept with the birds.
This Pilgrim slept with the birds.

As we arrived in the village of Valverde de la Virgen we saw something interesting. Spain is filled with old bell towers (for the lack of a better name). In many of them you will find White Stork’s nests. In this particular one a pilgrim decided to stay overnight and slept with the birds.

Stork's Nest in Hospital de Órbigo.
Stork’s Nest in Hospital de Órbigo.

Some pilgrims actually camp throughout the entire pilgrimage, especially those with animals, and don´t stay at hostels, like most do. I don’t know if this was the case for that pilgrim, but I thought he had chosen a very interesting place to sleep, if he managed to get any sleep at all, that is.

The bridge of the honoured step (La Puente del Passo Honroso), Hospital de Órbigo
The honourable step bridge (La Puente del Passo Honroso), Hospital de Órbigo

After Valverde de la Virgen we crossed through the villages of San Miguel del Camino, Villadangos del Paramo and San Martín del Camino until we arrived at yet another landmark of the Camino:

Medieval Bridge over the River Órbigo.
Medieval Bridge over the River Órbigo.

The 13th century medieval stone bridge over the river

Órbigo in the small town of Hospital de Órbigo, which owes its name to the old pilgrim’s hospital that once stud in that place. The bridge appears to be way too big for the river, but before the construction of the reservoir Barrios de Luna, the river had a great flow.

It has 19 arches and is fairly well preserved.

Bridge over the River Órbigo (the Honourable Step Bridge)
Bridge over the River Órbigo (the Honourable Step Bridge)

We did a small pit-stop right after the bridge for some rest and water and moved on back on the N-120. The rest of the way to Astorga was relatively uneventful.

Astorga's Municipal Hostel
Astorga’s Municipal Hostel

As we arrived in Astorga Marcelo and Alice decided to stay in the Municipal Hostel straight away and I went to the town centre to find Fernando, as we had agreed to meet there and ride together the next day. Once I found Fernando we went back the municipal hostel and stayed in the same floor Marcelo and Alice were staying.

I do recommend this hostel. The overnight is 5€ and it’s clean and well organized. Most rooms have only 2 bunk beds (or 4 beds) and we shared the room with 2 pilgrims from Germany.

Town hall of Astorga
Town hall of Astorga

Be prepared for walking up quite a few stairs if you, like us, stay on the upper floor (the bikes stay in the basement). The view from our room was great though. The hostel had a fully fitted kitchen and a laundry with a drying area outside on the rear garden.

Astorga's Cathedral
Astorga’s Cathedral

After a shower we left the hostel to explore the town. Astorga is great place, with an especially interesting architecture. I know I wrote this before, but although the town is small it feels big and welcoming and has a very long history as it pre-dates León by 875 years. According to Wikipedia, artefacts dated 2750 BC were found in the area of Astorga. The local Celtic people, known as the Astures and the Cantabri, inhabited the area around 275 BC, which later in 146 BC became one of the Roman strongholds in the region called Asturica.

Episcopal Palace of Astorga
Episcopal Palace of Astorga

As in many Spanish towns Astorga has a great Cathedral, but it also has the Episcopal Palace of Astorga, which was a building designed and partially built by Gaudi, the same architect who design the famous Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona. The building now houses a museum of religious art called “Museo de los Caminos”, dedicated to the Camino de Santiago.

Cathedral and Epicopal Palace of Astorga
Cathedral and Episcopal Palace of Astorga

As we were exploring the town, the 4 of us, Fernando, Marcelo, Alice and me, decided not to eat in a restaurant that night, but to buy food in the local market and cook it in the hostel’s kitchen. Marcelo is the chef and owner of several well-known restaurants in his home city and, obviously an excellent cook. We had a great time preparing and enjoying the food that evening, together with the other Pilgrims there, all accompanied by good Galician wine.

Well, that’s it for day 8. Please feel free to leave comments, questions or at least indicate if you liked it or not by clicking on the stars in the bottom of the post.

Thank you!

<< Previous day                                                                                        Next day >>

Please rate this post by clicking on the desired star (1 = Awful, 5 = Excellent)
[Total: 9 Average: 4.3]