Category Archives: Bike Rides

Account of some of my bike rides and cycle-touring experiences.

We are born with nothing but faith

Faith“… when you hear (or read) this word, what is the 1st thing that comes to mind for you? Religion?

I can’t blame you. I would argue there is no religion without faith. Thankfully, though, the scope of the word is broader. If you write “faith meaning” in Google Search, the religious meaning actually comes 2nd. We are born is this world with nothing but faith.

Unlike many other animals who are up on their feet a few hours after being born, it takes humans many years to become self-sufficient. Even without knowing, we are born with the faith that either our parents or society will care for us. There are perhaps more meanings to this word that I could possibly write about here, but I want to focus on this one particular meaning: Faith in mankind.

I confess that in the last 2 years, especially this last month (Feb/Mar 2022), I have lost some of my faith. Wars and an increasing number of corruptible and power angry human beings lead to this innevitably, I think.

Although I am not a member of any church, I consider myself a religious person. Unlike other people, for my religion to survive I feel I cannot rely on faith alone… it must involve some level of science and evidence for me. I am not the kind of person who can base my beliefs in wild profecies, Biblical or otherwise, although I do believe that “…there are more things on heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy”. I do believe there are forces in motion in the Universe that our science may take dozens of centuries, perhaps tens of thousands of years to explain, if we don’t annihilate ourselves first. Our science is just starting to produce a huge network of things in this planet and beyond, so perhaps our universe being, … well, a lot older than us, is in essence a huge network of beings, covering a wide range of planets, realities and dimensions in which living (andnon-living“) humans are just a small part. Where our individual place is in this network is impossible to say, but perhaps many of the things we call “random” or “coincidences” are in fact the works of this network. If we knew ALL the laws that govern the Universe and had a computer powerful enough, we could perhaps even predict it.

Caro (Carolina) on the left and Meli (Melissa) on the right.

Last weekend I received the visit of two Warmshowers guests (if you don’t know what Warmshowers is, visit this page). They were Meli (Melissa) and Caro (Carolina) from Costa Rica. Meli and Caro are on a 2 years journey that started when they flew from Costa Rica to Madrid 3 months ago and presently found themselves at my house last Friday. Among the many obstacles they already had to overcome was the loss of their passports in Spain (according to them a 5 seconds distraction… thieves were likely after money only, but took the passports instead) and a number of other smaller problems, all to fulfill the dream of learning a bit more of this world and explore it with as little impact to nature as possible, by the power of their legs.

Their bikes were really heavy and Caro, had a serious problem in her bike: Only the front disc brake was operational. So I took them to Trek Bicycles here in Bracknell, a new shop I didn’t even know existed as they opened their doors less than a month ago. I must say that, having a general knowledge of prices and values here in the UK, I thought it would cost Caro an harm and a leg to have the problem resolved, especially from a brand such as Trek. Indeed, Trek wanted to charge her as much as £120 for the repair, but upon learning about their story they waived ALL labour fees out, sold the parts at cost and not only fixed the rear brake by replacing the entire braking system with a brand new Shimano one (except disc), but also replaced the pads on the front brake and topped up the braking fluid. They also did an overal inspection on the bike to make sure it was as safe as it could be in the couple of hours the bike was with them.

In my opinion, when you see this kind of attitude, you must bring it to public knowledge because there is too much business and not enough kindness going on in the world these days. To me, personally, it restored a bit of my faith in mankind, that was so damaged lately. My kudos to all in Trek Bicycles Bracknell for understanding that business without kindness is very likely not the most meaningful part of this network I mentioned above. We cannot eat money nor take it to the grave with us, but who knows… perhaps the relationships we add to our individual network in our life-times is something we can indeed take to the grave and beyond (I guess, for Christians is akin to going to heaven).

After all the most urgent issues had been resolved we had a wonderful evening in which my children cooked a delicious dinner for us and the next day (Sunday) I rode together with Meli and Caro to their next Warmshowers host, in Aldermaston by the river Kennet, some 33 km away (67 km in total for me). It was my 1st long distance ride in the year (yes, I should feel ashamed) and the day was beautiful as you can see in the pictures below. Meli and Caro don’t have a fixed plan. They are now riding to meet a friend in Bristol and then they don’t know yet if they are going to Devon or Wales (most likely north). I wish them a safe and pleasant journey in the UK and then back to the continent for their 2 years adventure.

Camino Ingles to Santiago, as part of the NCR 4.

Before I close this post, one interesting thing I learned on this ride was about the signs for the Camino Ingles (English Way) to Santiago on National Cycle Route 4 (NCN 4), which in Spain typically starts in Ferrol (or A Coruna). I rode from Bracknell to Bath a few years ago and these signs weren’t there. It makes sense though… I think pilgrims (on a bike or on foot) would go from London to Bristol on NCN 4, then south to Plymouth on routes like NCN 3, 33, 2 and so on. There is a ferry from Plymouth to Santander, which is part of the “Camino del Norte” (Northern Way to Santiago). Maybe centuries ago it was possible to sail from somewhere in the south of England to Ferrol or A Coruna. The website on the link above suggests English templars used to do this route to Santiago from England to ask Saint James for protection on their way to Jerusalem. Anyway, it was very nice to see these stickers as they reminded me of my own “Camino” journeys in 2015 and 2019.

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Portuguese Way: Introduction (Camino de Santiago)

This post is "natively" only available in English.

Between the 25th of August and the 4th of September 2019 I cycled nearly 660 Km on the Portuguese Way of the Camino de Santiago, from Lisbon to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

Map of Paulo's Camino Portuguese
Map of Paulo’s Camino Portuguese

I recorded a short vlog about this trip a week before I left. In this video I explained my motivation to do this pilgrimage, so I will not repeat myself and go straight to the point with this introduction.

Upon my return, I’ve asked a few friends that have, and have not, done pilgrimages before, what would they find useful in this introduction and they asked me 7 questions in return.

I have answered all 7 questions in the video below, together with a photo show of the 210 pictures I liked most out of the thousands I took during the journey. I’ve added them to a photo gallery on the bottom of this post, in case you want to see them in a higher resolution.

If you don’t like to read, I essentially talk through these questions in the video, but in the text below I added a little more detail.

The 7 questions I got were: (Click to jump to the answer)

  1. How long did the pilgrimage take? (Time)
  2. How much did you spend? (Expenses, Cost)
  3. Was finding the way easy? (Navigation)
  4. What were the worst experiences you had on the Camino?
  5. What were the best experiences you had on the Camino?
  6. How Safe is the Camino?
  7. Where did you sleep? (accommodation)

Click here to jump to the picture gallery.

    1. How long did the pilgrimage take?
      For me it took 11 days! Started from the Sé Cathedral in Lisbon on Sunday, the 25th of August, around 12 noon and arrived in Santiago on Wednesday, the 4th of September, around 4:00pm.
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    2. How much did you spend?
      I spent €685.42 in the entire journey. That includes all expenses from the moment I arrived at London Heathrow Airport, on my way to Lisbon, to the moment I left Santiago de Compostela. It also includes the fees I had to pay to the airlines (TAP and Iberia) for transporting my bike. As you may not live in London, or in the UK, your journey to Portugal and from Spain may be quite different than mine, so if you only count the pilgrimage days, the total expense was €451.14 and as it took me 11 days to reach Santiago, the average per day was €41.01.
      I’ve created a Google Sheets page containing all my expenses, as well as the telemetry from my Garmin Devices, such as distances travelled, altimetry, average heart rate and so an.

      I believe it is entirely possible to do the Camino spending much less than I did, but perhaps you’ll have to limit yourself to eating only 2 meals a day, cook your own food and just walk and sleep. If you plan to do the Camino with as little as possible, I would recommend that you reserve a minimum of €30 a day for your journey.
      If you are looking to stay at “Donativos” (hostels where you pay just as much as you can) or accommodation under €12 a night you will find it somewhat challenging, especially in Portugal, as the number of beds in such places is small and fills up quite quickly. The cheapest albergue I stayed in these 11 days charged €6 a night. It was in Briallos (ES) and it was a publicly owned “Xunta de Galicia” albergue. Keep in mind there is a price rise expected for all “Xunta” albergues in 2020 (I think they’ll go up to €9 a night). I am not aware of any accommodation under €12 a night in Portugal. The “Casa do Sardão” hostel, was one of the most typical and attractive albergues I stayed in Portugal and it charges pilgrims €12 for a bed (well worth it though).

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    3. Navigation: Was finding the way easy?
      The answer to this question is not a yes or no. In Lisbon there are very few signs pointing the way. I found only 3 and 2 were very faint. Signage improves after Coimbra, but you’ll still find stages where signage is excellent and others where signage is poor. After Porto, signage tends to be very good, however, if you are cycling you have to keep in mind the original Camino is meant for walking, not cycling, so there are signs pointing to ways you cannot (or should not) ride on your bike.
      I am also almost certain there were arrows pointing to disused paths of the way as the Camino appears to have changed over the years. I frequently stopped to ask for directions and some locals said a few times, pointing with their fingers, “it used to go that way, but now it goes this way”. Remember that, generally, walkers go against traffic and cyclists move with traffic. That means if you are cycling, most signs will be on the opposite side to you and they are typically small and not always easy to see. Taking into consideration you have to be aware of the traffic around you, finding a little sign, sometimes 20 – 30 m away, takes a lot of attention and good eyesight. It becomes a game of “find the yellow arrow”. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Considering the number of times I got lost and had to rely on Google Maps or the Map loaded on my Garmin Edge 820, my route was actually pretty close to the “official” route of the Camino, if there is such a thing.
      My recommendation is that you search for the GPX file of the Portuguese Way (I found this one wich became my reference route), download it, open it with Google Earth (or other such software) and study the way. That helped me find the way out of Lisbon with relative ease. I will also post copies of my own route in the blog, but they will contain the mistakes I’ve made. There is a gap of about 10 Km in my GPX route, as having the navigation feature always on in the Garmin caused the device to consume a lot more battery and that caught me by surprise as I was about 10 Km from Azinhaga on the 2nd day of the Camino and the Garmin Edge suddenly “died” (my Garmin Forerunner watch had already died earlier that day). In my usual bike touring rides the battery of the Garmin Edge 820 I use lasts for at least a couple of days, but without the use of the navigation feature.

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    4. What were the worst experiences you had on the Camino?
      There were moments of frustration, no doubt, but I honestly cannot complain. I have not suffered any injury, nor had a mechanical fault that prevented me from continuing, nor was a victim of any “bad intentions” like theft, aggression, etc. I think if any of these things had happened, I would have a good reason to highlight them here.
      With that in mind, some of the lighter frustrations came from…

      – The airlines that damaged my bike in transportation and charged me extra to transport them on top of what I had already paid for luggage;
      – My own mistakes;
      – The amount of urban traffic in some places and
      – The poor signage in others. 

      I also found it difficult to find pilgrim accommodation in some places after 4:00pm and had to resort to staying in more expensive places, but that would only have been a real problem if I could not afford them. Since I gave myself a comfortable budget to do this pilgrimage, this was not an issue for me. I was, however, committed to try to do the Camino as much as possible in a “pilgrim’s honoured” way.
      Some frustration also came from the challenging type of terrain I had to face with a heavy bike and the fact I was somewhat unprepared for that level of difficulty. Again, this is no one’s fault, but my own. The Camino, following the yellow arrows, is very challenging for cyclists. It’s absolutely not meant for touring bikes, so I would recommend you evaluate this well before you leave. If you plan to follow the yellow arrows on a bike, a sturdy mountain bike is highly desirable. Also, from Lisbon to about Coimbra, the Camino is very urban in most parts. Done on busy roads and going through industrial areas. Not exactly the notion of nature’s paradise one would expect.
      This was also one cycling trip in which I got very frustrated with my tech, much of it due to my own fault as well. These include video recording hiccups, which meant I have no footage for a portion of the Camino or when both my Garmin devices ran out of battery as I explained before (“Strava cyclists” will understand the frustration).
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    5. What were the best experiences you had on the Camino?
      Honestly, just doing it! It’s not the destination, it’s the journey. I loved the views of the many places I’ve been through and the people I met with whom I had a chance to have a conversation with, in the hostels I stayed and even if just cycling very slowly alongside them for a few minutes. If any of them is reading this, I am so grateful for the opportunity to get to know you, hear your stories, your reasons for doing the Camino and other experiences you had as pilgrims.
      Some of the best experiences also came from the most challenging ones. The times I looked up a hill and thought I would not be able to climb it up, but then I did. Obviously hills are supposed to be hard to climb, but the reward when you get up there is not just the feeling of accomplishment, but the visual delights of the views. Other worthwhile experiences include things like the sounds and smells of the forests I cycled through or the coastal paths I cycled by.
      And then, there was also the simple culinary delights of a 3 course pilgrims menu, typically for less than €10 in some places, which often included excellent local wines. In Carreço, Portugal, the pilgrim’s menu at Sergio’s included a starter, a main course, desert and a full bottle of white all for €8.50. A pilgrimage is certainly not a dream holiday for many, but then a pilgrimage is often only a holiday in the sense that those who, like me, live busy professional lives, can only do them during their holidays, hence the reason young people on a gap year and retired people seem to be dominant on the Camino.
      People go on pilgrimage for a multitude of reasons, but certainly not to lay down and relax. It is quite demanding physically, even if you are fit and in a good state of health. The paths are more often than not full of sand, gravel, stones, mud and boulders which becomes especially difficult if you are climbing up or even going down steep hills.

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    6. How Safe is the Camino?
      All I can tell you is that I had no issues whatsoever in my Camino. There were moments I left my bike completely unattended with almost everything on it (with the exception of my documents, money and the more expensive electronic equipment). In some of these moments I locked the bike, like when I entered the Sé Cathedral in Lisbon and then at the Paroquia Dos Martires church as I was looking to buy a pilgrim’s credential which I had forgotten back home. In these moments the bike was outside on a very busy central location for at least 30 min and nothing was missing when I came back.
      I also felt safe cycling on the roads, despite the heavy traffic in places. There were a few exceptions in which I thought some drivers drove a bit too close for comfort, but in the vast majority of times the Portuguese and Spanish drivers respected a safe distance. I cannot stress enough though that some roads are really busy and you should always be careful, regardless if walking or cycling the Camino. Walkers will have to walk on roads and hard shoulders in several occasions too.
      Despite all of this, I can’t think of one moment in which I felt like I was in serious risk.

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    7. Where did you sleep? (Accommodation)
      The network of pilgrims’ hostels, or Albergues as they are known, is not as extensive in the Portuguese Way as it is on the French Way (from Saint Jean Pied de Port), yet that doesn’t mean it is not sufficient.
      I used 2 resources to find accommodation:

      1) Probably one of the best online resources for all Caminos to Santiago. One catch is that the site is only available in Spanish, but you can use Google Translate to automatically (machine) translate the site. The site gives you all stages for all Caminos and a list of accommodations for each stage, which include not only pilgrims’ hostels, but hotels and other types of accommodation as well (camping areas, etc).

      2) A Google Sheet list of (currently) 536 places along the Portuguese Way of the Camino (all variants: Lisbon-Porto, Coastal, Central and Spiritual), created by a user named “Anonymous Goose”.This is a great resource, maintained by volunteers and frequently updated based on information received by pilgrims. The list gives you the phone numbers for all the places, in addition to estimated cost, number of beds, type of accommodation, website (when available) and physical address as well as recommendations. The list is extensive, but I printed it and used it together with the printed Gronze stages (only carried in my handlebar bag the sheets for the stages I was planning to do for that day).

      As far as my own experience goes, the places I stayed are all listed in the Google Sheets page I mentioned in question #2. I can only say that they were all clean, comfortable and functional, some even luxurious for pilgrimage standards. I am not going to say more than that as what you expect for your Camino might be very different from mine, but if you choose to stay in the same places I did, I can recommend all of them to you. Few important things to mention for cyclists, although this wasn’t an issue for me, not all places I stayed had a space to store the bike. I think I was lucky that in the places where that could have been a problem, I was the only cyclist that night, so it was always possible to find a little corner to leave the bike. For example in Coimbra I left the bike at the reception by the exit door of the hotel I stayed. If there were more bikes that night, that would have been a problem as the space was quite tight.Back to Top

So these are the 7 questions I received, but if I missed something you want to know, or if you have other questions or want more detail about my experiences on the Portuguese Way of the Camino de Santiago (while you wait for the Blog posts to be written and the videos to be published), just get in touch by leaving a comment here or message me through the contact form in the Blog.

Bom Caminho!  Buen Camino!

Picture Gallery.

Click on any picture for full detail

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Via Francigena Day 8/29: From Brienne-le-Château to Arc-en-Barrois, France

"The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities", Stephen Covey.

In this post…

  1. Introduction
  2. The statistics and metrics of the day
  3. The most memorable occurrences, moments and thoughts
  4. Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 29, from Brienne le Château to Dolancourt
  5. Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 30, from Dolancourt to Bar-sur-Aube.
  6. Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 31, from Bar-sur-Aube to Clairvaux
  7. Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 32, from Clairvaux to Châteauvillain
  8. Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 33 (1/2), from Châteauvillain to Arc-en-Barrois (Mormant)
  9. Pictures of the day.
  10. Pictures of the Guest Book pages in the pilgrims hostel of Brienne le Château.


Blog post about the 6th and 7th day published during the journey on the 23rd August 2016
Blog post about the 8th and 9th day published during the journey on the 22 of September 2016

This post complements the post I published on the 22nd of September 2016 in which I described the experiences I had on the 4th of August 2016 while riding between Brienne-le-Château and Arc-en-Barrois, in France. I am not going to repeat the content of that post in this one again, but I will try to add a few highlights for each one of the stages below. I encourage you to read the previous post before continuing on this one.

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Statistics and metrics of the day

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Most memorable occurrences, moments and thoughts:

This was another long day in the pilgrimage, despite leaving Brienne-le-Château a bit later than I wanted to. I had opened the house in the morning to let some fresh air in and prepared my breakfast, so prior to leaving I had to make sure everything was the way I found it and then ride back to the tourism information office in town to return the key.

This day was a bit atypical in relation to the entire journey as I did not complete (or finished) a stage of the Lightfoot guide. That stage was stage 33, that according to the guide is between Châteauvillain and Mormant. Reason being when I arrived in Châteauvillain, around 4:30pm, I had to take the decision to stop there or continue to the next village in the guide (Mormant). I knew Mormant was a tiny village and looking at the list of accommodations, I also knew there would not be a lot of options of places to sleep. If I couldn’t find a place to sleep in Mormant, I would either have to wild-camp (not really my cup of tea) or ride another 30 Km to Langres, which would mean I would get there quite late in the evening. So I decided to take the safe route of riding to Arc-en-Barrois and, if upon getting there I couldn’t find or didn’t like any of the places to sleep I would then decide if I wanted to continue or not. I believe it was the right decision.

As I already wrote about the experiences of this day in the post I published on the 22nd of September 2016, I don’t think it would be productive to write the same thing here again. Some of the highlights of that post were the theme park in Dolancourt, the beautiful Clairvaux Abbey, the fact that the stamp for Châteauvillain in my pilgrim’s credentials was obtained from a news agent in town (the only business I could find open), the ride to  Arc-en-Barrois through a beautiful forest and the arrival there (getting lost and riding 6 Km more than needed again) as well as setting up my tent, which is all captured in the videos below too.

So, before continuing on this post, I invite you to take a look at the post mentioned above  (opens in a new tab) and come back to this post when done.

Oh, before I end this section of the post, when I arrived in Arc-en-Barrois, thankfully the Tourism Information Office was still open (which is quite unusual in France, considering it was a Saturday) and I was able to get my pilgrim’s credential stamped there. Right across the road from the office there is a very cosy hotel called Hotel du Parc, which I decided not to stay, as the rate there was above €60 for the night (against the €3 I was told I would have to pay in the camping site), but I end up going back for dinner that night as I could not find anything else open and I was starving. The meal and the beer were fantastic and the price was reasonable (€23).

Just as an unrelated footnote on this section, I have already published all the photos of this day’s ride in a Flickr album (link in the post mentioned above), but the pictures in that album are in a lower resolution because the computer I had with me during the pilgrimage struggled to process the watermark and get them uploaded. At the time I thought I would just upload them again when I came back in full resolution, but Flickr is no longer free now, so I have created an album in the EyeCycled Facebook page with the pictures (Facebook pictures and not high res either, but it is still free)  and that is the picture gallery you will find down below.

You will also find below the pictures for every page in the Visitors’ book of the Pilgrims Hostel in Brienne-le-Château. I enjoyed reading the messages previous pilgrims left in the books and I thought so would you.

I hope you enjoy the videos and the photos.

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Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 29, from Brienne le Château to Dolancourt

Video Length: 3 min 50 sec

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Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 30, from Dolancourt to Bar-sur-Aube.

Video Length: 3 min 59 sec

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Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 31, from Bar-sur-Aube to Clairvaux

Video Length: 3 min 20 sec

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Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 32, from Clairvaux to Châteauvillain

Video Length: 4 min 20 sec

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Video of Lightfoot Guide Stage 33 (1/2), from Châteauvillain to Arc-en-Barrois (Mormant)

Video Length: 5 min 49 sec

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Pictures of the day.

Click on any picture for full detail

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Pictures of the Guest Book pages in the pilgrims hostel of Brienne le Château

If you did the Via Francigena and been to this hostel, will you find your note in them? (August 2016)

Click on any picture for full detail

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If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to comment or send me a message through the contact form.
Please subscribe to my Blog and/or to my YouTube channel if you don’t want to miss the next one and help me spread the word by liking and sharing my Facebook Page and Tweeter feed also.
Thank you for your time!

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Faith's Way (Caminho da Fé), Day 4: From Casa Branca to Vargem Grande do Sul (D. Cidinha)

In this post…

    1. Introduction
    2. Measures and expenses for this day (Garmin Telemetry)
    3. Stage 07: From  Casa Branca to Itobi + Video
    4. Stage 08 (+ 1/2 of 9): From Itobi to Vargem Grande do Sul (Dona Cidinha’s Hostel) + Video
    5. Pictures taken on this day.


If this is the first post you read on this series, I recommend you take a look at the introduction post published on the 28th of February 2018. That post explains what the Faith’s Way is, my reasons for doing it and provides information that might be useful to you, if you decide you want to do it too.

In this post I will cover the 4th day of this 12 day / 600 Km journey between the town of Casa Branca and the rural hostel of Dona Cidinha (Dona translates to Mrs. in Portuguese, hence Mrs. Cidinha) via the town of Vargem Grande do Sul, all in the federal state of São Paulo.

As explained in the introduction post, based on the experience I had when creating videos for the Camino de Santiago in 2015, when I started this series my intention was to divide the distance between the major towns or urban centres as separate stages, otherwise the videos would become too long to watch. It turns out, however, that many pilgrims prefer to overnight away from urban areas in one of the many rural hostels along the caminho.

So, if I was to follow this rule, stage 7 would be between Casa Branca and Itobi, stage 8 between Itobi and Vargem Grande do Sul and stage 9 between Vargem Grande do Sul and the village of São Roque da Fartura, however as I stopped in Dona Cidinha’s hostel that night, half of stage 9 is covered here and the other half will be covered in the next post.

You can download the official map of the Caminho from the website of the Friends of the Caminho Association. From there you can also download a list of credentialed accommodations for your journey. Most places in that list are simple family owned pilgrims’ hostels. Some in very rural locations (farms) others in more urban areas. Some establishments are hotels. Family owned Pilgrims’ hostels along the way have usually a set value that includes the meals as well, typically dinner and breakfast, but all hotels listed there will also offer a reduced pilgrim’s rate provided you present them your pilgrim’s credentials.

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Measures and expenses for this day (Garmin Telemetry)

    • Distance traveled from Casa Branca to Dona Cidinha’s Rural Hostel : 59.73 Km
    • Total duration of this journey: 7h 6min
    • Total moving time: 4h 39m
    • Overnight location at the end of the journey:
      • Dona Cidinha’s Rural Hostel (they do not speak English), +55 19 9 81700069
    • Total expenses on this day: R$ 99.00
      • Food: R$ 29.00 (Burger in Itobi)
      • Accommodation: R$ 70.00 (Includes Dinner and Breakfast)
  • Total Elevation Gain on this track: 880m
  • Average Speed: 8.0 Km/h
  • Average Moving Speed: 12.2 Km/h
  • Max Speed achieved: 61.6 Km/h
  • Average Heart Rate: 124 bpm
  • Max. Heart Rate: 160 bpm
  • Calories burned: 2,556 CAL
  • Click here to see the Garmin Connect page for this activity
CF04, Garmin Stats
Elevation, Speed and Heart Rate between Casa Branca and Dona Cidinha’s Rural Hostel on the day 4 of my Pilgrimage.

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Stage 07: From  Casa Branca to Itobi + Video.

Pilgrims who want to experience the “true” pilgrimage experience (if there is such a thing) have to accept that pilgrims’ hostel are often a difficult place to sleep. Some people have trouble sharing a room with just one person more, imagine several. As described in the previous post, The pilgrim’s hostel  of the Catholic Church of our lady of the exile in Casa Branca has 2 large bedrooms. The one I stayed in has a little common area with a sofa, a TV and a dinning table and the room itself with 3 beds and a bathroom / toilet, which is a bit of a luxury. I don’t mind sharing, but there is nothing like having a room just for oneself. No worries about noises from people snoring (one’s one or others) and those that have to go the the toilet in the middle of the night. As I was fortunate to be the only one in the room that night, I slept very well. Bed was comfy and the temperature was perfect.

The next morning breakfast was served in the hall and was very simple. Consisted of bread, butter, different types of jam and some fruit. Coffee and milk were also available. This was the moment I stamped my pilgrim’s credentials and also signed the guest book (they leave the stamp and the book on the breakfast table). I did not meet the pilgrim ladies from the day before, but I met Andrea, who was setting up the breakfast table.

After breakfast I packed the bike and left, making the mistake of taking the room key with me. I had put the key in the back pocket of my shirt to return it to Andrea in the breakfast room, but in the hurry to leave (as it was already a bit late by that time), I forgot to do it.

I rode to the town centre of Casa Branca and visited the cathedral. The cathedral is quite impressive for the size of the town. I spend quite some time there taking pictures and appreciating the paintings in the walls and ceiling. It was at that moment I realised I still had the room key with me, so I phoned Andrea at the hostel who told me to leave it at the cathedral and someone would pick it up later. It was a relief not having to cycle back the distance from the cathedral to the hostel.

The GPS data tracked by my Garmin shows that I rode 15.61 Km between Casa Branca and Itobi, which is consistent with the distance shown in the official map of the Caminho. I did this in 1h 59m by bike, but this includes the stop at the cathedral.

I’m not going to describe the journey to Itobi as you can watch it on the video above, but as highlights I can mentioned the small forest fire that the town’s public service was putting off on the outskirts of Casa Branca and the fact that when I arrived in Itobi, I followed the yellow arrows that led me away from town. Although the same thing happened in Cravinhos on the 1st day of the pilgrimage I was still under the impression that the arrows would always take you first to the town centre or to the nearest pilgrim accommodation, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. I rode about 3.5 Km and then turned back to the town centre, a 7 Km waste of time and effort, but that is part of a pilgrimage. At least I had the opportunity to have a really nice burger in Itobi after stamping my pilgrim’s credentials at the Ypê Hotel, the only credentialed pilgrims’ accommodation in the accommodation list of the friends of the caminho association.

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Stage 08 (+ 1/2 of 9): From Itobi to Vargem Grande do Sul (Dona Cidinha’s Hostel) + Video

OK, as explained in the above introduction, the next stage should cover only the distance between the towns of Itobi and Vargem Grande do Sul, however, as I arrived at the Prince Hotel (Hotel Principe) in Vargem Grande do Sul, it was still early in the day for me, so I decided to cycle the further 15 Km to Mrs Cidinha’s hostel, which I had heard good things about before leaving to do the caminho. This is the reason why this video is a little longer than usual and why stage 9 will be broken in two. So let’s call this the stage 8 plus 1/2 of stage 9, shall we? The next half of stage 9 between the rural hostel of Dona Cidinha and the village of São Roque da Fartura, will be covered in the next post.

If you are just covering the distance between Itobi and Vargem Grande do Sul (stage 8), the Prince Hotel is one of the credentialed places for pilgrim accommodation in town. The hotel is practically inside the grounds of a petrol station, so it might be a little difficult to find. They will also stamp your pilgrim credentials and offer you a pilgrim rate if you decide to stay there.

The GPS data tracked by my Garmin shows that I rode 18 Km between Itobi and Vargem Grande do Sul, which for some reason is 3 Km more than indicated in the official map of the Caminho. After Vargem Grande do Sul I also rode a further 15.37 Km to the rural hostel I slept that night. It took me 1h 31m to cover this distance and a further 2h 36m to cover the distance between Vargem Grande do Sul and Mrs Cidinha’s rural hostel.

The journey between Itobi and Vargem Grande do Sul was largely uneventful, with exception to the fact that as I arrived in Vargem Grande the battery of my GoPRO ran out, hence the reason why there is a tiny portion of urban cycling missing from the footage, but nothing that matters. For walking pilgrims, please beware that about 13 Km of this route is along side the Father Gino Righetti road, which is paved and has moderate traffic. I did follow the yellow arrows, but unless I missed one, the distance tracked by my Garmin was 18 Km, which for some reason is 3 Km more than the distance shown in the official map of the caminho.

After stamping my pilgrim’s credential at the hotel, I rode into the town centre and did a quick stop for a picture at the town’s main church and continued the journey. As in any activity, distraction comes at a price. I somehow missed a pair of yellow signs painted at the lamp post indicating a right turn at the next crossing and that has also costed me an extra 2 Km of cycling. Thankfully I realised I was wrong early enough. After I watched the footage I came to the conclusion that the signs where indeed a little hard to see, so I have pointed them up at the video to avoid any other pilgrims making the same mistake.

In the outskirts of town there is a crossing over a dangerous highway. The arrows appear to invite the pilgrim to jump over the concrete barrier in the middle of the road, but please do NOT do that. Turn left towards the round-about at the bottom of the road (just about 250 m away) and use the round-about to cross to the other side. As I write this post a few years after being there, I am reliably informed that the route has changed slightly and that the yellow arrows now guide the pilgrims directly to the round about, but decided to leave this warning just in case.

The journey to Dona Cidinha’s hostel was the toughest part of the day. The small sand and dust filled dirt roads (at times), had hills that forced me to push my bike several times. That should explain the reason why I covered the 18 Km between Itobi and Vargem Grande do Sul in 1h 31m, but the 15.37 Km from Vargem Grande do Sul to Dona Cidinha’s rural hostel in 2h 36m.

I arrived at the rural hostel as the sun was setting on the horizon, which was a really nice way to end the day. The hostel is in a hill and the views from there are great. Dona Cidinha and Mr Francisco were already expecting me as I had phoned ahead. Again I was fortunate (?) to be the only pilgrim in the hostel that night, so I had the entire house for me (the hostel is a in separate building from the house of the hosts). Mr Francisco brought the home made dinner for me that night and it was delicious. They are a very nice and gentle couple and I truly recommend that you stayed with them if you don’t mind the fact the the hostel is pretty much in the middle of nowhere and that there is no WiFi there (4G signal was OK though). The hostel is large and in its 4 bedrooms and living room it can accommodate about 20 pilgrims at once. They have a large bathroom / toilet inside the house and a small toilet in the outside barbecue place, where there are also several tables and chairs. The bedroom I stayed had a double and a single bed. The other rooms have a mix of bunk beds and single beds. The living room has a sofa and a TV and also contains a single bed and a bunk bed. The hostel has also a large and fully equipped kitchen with a long table, a fridge, a freezer and a microwave oven.

The guest book contains a few notes in Spanish and English indicating that, despite its remoteness, people from several nationalities visited there. The walls of the hostel are covered with pictures and post cards sent by previous visitors and you can really spend hours looking at all of them if you want.

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Pictures taken on this day.

Click on any picture for full detail

The following pictures are photos taken from the Guest Book pages of the pilgrims’ hostel at the Catholic Church of our lady of the exile in Casa Branca, São Paulo, Brazil.

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If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to comment or send me a message through the contact form. Please subscribe to my Blog and/or to my YouTube channel if you don’t want to miss the next one and help me spread the word by liking and sharing my Facebook Page and Tweeter feed also. Thank you all for your time and “Bom Caminho!”.

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EyeCycled to work on a cold December morning

Bicycles Christmas TreeAs this post comes just two weeks from Christmas, I think it is appropriate to start by wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy 2019! I wish you a happy, prosperous, healthy and very happy new year with a lot of cycling activities, be them for pleasure, commute, travel or sport.

Since about September I’ve been cycling regularly to work. September and October I’ve managed to cycle to work and back in average 3 times a week, but as this is the UK and the weather is not one of the best points here, that has gone down to mostly 1 time in the week, occasionally two.

The distance from my door step to the office is of just under 17 Km (just over 10 miles) and it usually takes me just under an hour to get there. I then, obviously, have to cycle back in the evening, so each time I do it, it adds about 33 Km to my Garmin / Strava mileage and, best of all, lets me eat about 5 equivalent Big Mac burgers that day (not that I eat that much or that I eat McDonalds at all, but it should give you an idea – about 1,600 C calories against 300 C for a Big Mac apparently).

Some friends and colleagues have asked me about the ride, so in the cold, but beautiful morning of the 4th of December I decided to mount my Sony Action Cam on my helmet and record the ride.

Hope you enjoyed the video and the music.

I am very grateful to everyone who I shared my life with this year and for all the love, care and learning experiences we were able to exchange. God bless you all!

Thank you!

The Little Things by Loveshadow

Now the Summer’s gone
And December’s here
And you’re looking back 
At all the things you’ve done this year
And it’s cold outside
‘Say it’s going to snow
So be thankful that you’ve somewhere warm to go

Cause when you stop to count your blessings
It’s The Little Things
Oh the simple things that money just can’t buy
There’s always someone who would be grateful for 
The Little Things 
Oh the things we take for granted in our lives

Free to feel the sun 
Warm upon your face 
Just to walk outside
Knowing you’re still safe
Food enough to eat 
Water clean and a bed
Four walls around you 
And a roof overhead

Just a warm embrace and a smiling face, just a place to be with enough to eat, to be free from pain sheltered from the rain , just The little things.
To be given care, with enough to share, just hear you say you’re not far away.
Free to walk or run watch the rising sun, It’s The little things.

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EyeCycled not gone! Sunny Sunday ride...

IMG_20181118_121220I can’t blame you if you think EyeCycled is gone for good. I have not posted anything in ages 🙁

This is NOT an excuse… I don’t need to find excuses, I admit I have neglected EyeCycled. My justification is simply that I can’t find it in myself right now to spend the time EyeCycled demands to keep it going .

Relive ‘Twickenham, Teddington, Bushy Park, Hampton Court, Kingston’

I continue to cycle and the bicycle is still one of the most important things in my life. At least 3 times a week I cycle to work and back (that is 20 miles / 33 Km each day) and once a week I drive 90% of the way and cycle the remaining 10% with my newly acquired Dahon folding bike. The problem is when I get home, especially on the days I ride 10 miles back, it is so late and I am so full of having spent all day in front of a computer screen that I simply cannot find in myself to spend and entire evening editing videos and writing blog posts. As I said, this is not an excuse, but I am just living this moment of my life right now.

I still have plans for EyeCycled and I do work occasionally on EyeCycled stuff. I am still working on videos from my Faith’s Way IMG_20181118_140330(Caminho da Fé) pilgrimage in Brazil last years and started a post on a bike ride I did in Little London (Londrina, Brazil) last year also. It is not that I completely stopped doing something. I am just doing it very slowly (very!).

IMG_20181118_143036Today was a special day and I want to share it with you, so you know I am not lying.  I rode with my youngest son and his Godfather from Twickenham to Teddington, where we met the rest of the family for brunch at a Polish Café and after that we rode to Bushy Park to see the deer and to Hampton Court Palace for a few pictures of this landmark and from the Thames. From there we rode to Kingston Upon Thames, did a little coffee / hot choc stop at the YMCA Hawker by the river and then back to where we started through the Teddington Locks. Those familiar with London will know or have heard of these places.

IMG_20181118_144220At almost 18 Km, it was my youngest son biggest bike and despite the fact he took a tumble at the Thames path (nothing serious, just distraction) he said he really enjoyed the ride. I am so proud of him…

IMG_20181118_161139Anyway, this is where this short post stops. I’ll leave you with the pictures and a few videos I recorded along the way and please, be patient with me. EyeCycled is not dead! 🙂

Thank you for your support!

Do you like these posts? Why, then, don’t you pay me a coffee to help with the blog hosting cost and as a caffeine incentive to keep me going through the long hours of the night? (Suggested amount: £2.00 or USD $3.00 or 2.50€ or whatever you want to give).
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Royal Wedding Ride to Windsor Castle

This article is not available in Portuguese and German animated GIF

In two days (19th May) the UK is going to celebrate the Royal Wedding of Prince Henry of Wales (or Harry, as he is more popularly known); Princess Diana’s second Son. He is marrying actress Rachel Meghan Markle at the St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle where the Queen and Prince Philip live for most of the year. I will not get into any details about their wedding as the media has been and will be covering the event extensively and in every minute detail. On the days prior to and on the wedding day, I expect the town of Windsor will be completely taken by government officials, security personal, diplomats, rich people, not so rich, but curious people and tourists, so for me in particular Windsor is a “no go” destination in the period.

Thankfully, the 7th of May was a bank holiday in the UK and it was a gorgeous day. The sun was shining, the skies were clear and the temperature was ideal for a bike ride. So, as I mentioned the royal wedding at the end of the video, I decided to call this ride the “Royal Wedding Ride to Windsor Castle” and I took the opportunity to start it from Bracknell’s, new town centre, called “The Lexicon“, so I could show it to you all as well (the old town centre was demolished a few years ago to give way to the construction of The Lexicon, an investment estimated at approx. £750 million).

Windsor is a regular cycling destination for me. If you look through the blog you’ll see I have recorded several rides to Windsor over the last 3 years. Actually, let me do this job for you…

On the 19th of July 2015 I published a post containing a 9 min 37 sec time-lapse video starting from Bracknell’s train station, but using a different route which takes me by the entrance of the Legoland Park in Windsor and then through some private roads of a farm which I suspect belongs to the crown.

On the 20th of September 2015 I published a post containing a 1h long video in “normal mode” of my ride from my home in Bracknell to Windsor Castle. On this post I also published a 10 min video of my walking around the centre of Windsor starting from Windsor Castle where the video above stopped.

On the 18th October 2015 I again posted another post of a mid-autumn bike ride to