Tag Archives: Bike

07/29. Via Francigena, Châlons-en-Champagne to Brienne-le-Château [GPX File]

This GPS file represents the route I took between these two locations during my Via Francigena pilgrimage by bike from Canterbury, in the UK, to Rome, in Italy.

The route contains mistakes and tracks I may not recommend you to take, so it is important to read the respective posts for more context.

Use of this resource at your own risk.

 

Look for details here:

Faith's Way (Caminho da Fé), Day 03: From Santa Rosa de Viterbo to Casa Branca

In this post…

    1. Introduction
    2. Measures and expenses for this day (Garmin Telemetry)
    3. Stage 05: From  Santa Rosa de Viterbo to Tambaú + Video
    4. Stage 06: From Tambaú to Casa Branca + Video
    5. Pictures taken on this day.

Introduction

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 3rd day of this 12 day / 600 Km journey between the town of Santa Rosa de Viterbo and the town of Casa Branca via the town of Tambaú, all in the federal state of São Paulo.

As explained in the introduction post, I broke the entire journey into 21 stages, as per the official map of the Caminho. There will be 1 video for each stage of the journey, so the blog post for this day contains two videos. One covering the journey between Santa Rosa de Viterbo and Tambaú and the other covering the journey between Tambaú and Casa Branca.

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 Santa Rosa de Viterbo to Casa Branca: 60.19 Km
  • Total duration of this journey: 6 h 15 min
  • Total moving time: 4h 14m
  • Overnight location at the end of the journey:
  • Total expenses on this day: R$ 70.00
    • Food: R$ 20.00 (dinner – delivery)
    • Accommodation: R$ 50.00 (Breakfast incl)
    • PS. Normally the care takers of the hostel offer dinner and breakfast together with the accommodation for R$ 70.00, but the day I was there was normal a normal day for them. Read the post below to understand why.
  • Total Elevation Gain on this track: 620m
  • Average Speed: 9.6 Km/h
  • Max Speed achieved: 57.8 Km/h
  • Average Heart Rate: 128 bpm
  • Max. Heart Rate: 163 bpm
  • Calories burned: 2,347 CAL
  • Click here to see the Garmin Connect page for this activity
Garmin Telemetry, Santa Rosa de Viterbo - Casa Branca
Elevation, Speed and Heart Rate between Santa Rosa de Viterbo and Casa Branca

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Stage 05: From  Santa Rosa de Viterbo to Tambaú + Video.

The night at the Malim Hotel was good. There was no TV in my room, but these days, who needs a TV when you have WiFi? Breakfast was good and plentiful too and I took my time enjoying it. Even spent almost 30 minutes that morning talking to the receptionist of the hotel, trying to understand if the town had any relation to the town of Viterbo in Italy, which is also along another pilgrimage route known as Via Francigena, that I completed in 2016 (it does, btw, but that was explained in the previous post).

The official map of the Caminho indicated that the distance between Santa Rosa de Viterbo and Tambaú was of 36 Km which is one of the longest stretches of the Caminho. To be honest, I wasn’t really looking forward to the same long stretches of fine sand and dust from the day before, but I decided to leave the hotel and follow the yellow arrows to see how the way was and decide later if I was going to stick on the original path or try to find an alternative route, if one was available.

Regional SP-332 Highway between Santa Rosa de Viterbo and Tambaú
Regional SP-332 Highway between Santa Rosa de Viterbo and Tambaú

So, I rode on the Caminho path for about 5.0 Km, following the yellow arrows on the dirt road. The terrain, however, was as sandy and difficult as those in the day before, and I was a tired and bored with the poor performance of the previous 2 days, so I decided to look for an alternative in Google Maps. I knew, from talking to the hotel staff in the morning, there was a paved road to Tambaú that followed in parallel to the Caminho path. At the little village of Nhumirim, 5 Km from Santa Rosa de Viterbo, instead of turning left at the yellow arrow indicating the Caminho path (see in the video), I followed on for another 2 Km to take the SP-332, a regional highway, to Tambaú. Therefore I obviously cannot show you the original caminho path from Nhumirim to Tambaú and I’ll leave it up to you to decide what to do if you find yourself in that position, but I can tell you that I do not regret having done the remaining 23 Km on the highway. I felt safe on that road due to the wide hard-shoulders and the fact that most of the drivers respected the 1.5 m distance. That route also did cut 6 Km of the distance between Santa Rosa de Viterbo and Tambaú and allowed me to cover these 23 remaining Km in 1h and 20 min, an average of 17 Km/h which was almost double the average of the day before. If you are on a bike I would recommend this route to you, but if you are walking, even though I don’t how the way is, it would be probably safer to stick to the Caminho path.

Tambaú Town Hall. It used to be Tambaú's old railway station.
Tambaú Town Hall. It used to be Tambaú’s old railway station.

Another downside of not following the original path is that you don’t have the yellow arrows to guide you anymore, so you will have to find your own method of navigation. I decided to ride the the town hall of Tambaú as typically this is one of the places you can get information about the path and also stamp your credential, but that was not the case. As I got to the town hall the staff told me that Caminho pilgrims are usually served at the town’s tourism information office / dept which was, however, not far from that location. Tambaú is not a village, but it is not a big town either, so everything is relatively close.

Tambaú's Tourism Department is where you can get your pilgrim's credential stamped.
Tambaú’s Tourism Department is where you can get your pilgrim’s credential stamped.

After having my pilgrim’s credential stamped at the tourism information office and, as I had gotten to Tambaú much quicker than I expected (had I followed the original Caminho path), I could afford a longer rest time there. The office has a cold water fountain available for the pilgrim’s at the lower level and I had a little snack I had brought with me. Even had time to do a quick chat with my children back in the UK. I had the feeling that Tambaú would have been a nice place to spend the night, but it was too early for me, so after 30 min or so, I resumed the journey following the yellow arrows towards Casa Branca, the next destination in the path. For those willing to stay in Tambaú the Eliana Hotel is right in front of the Tourism Information Office and is a credentialed hotel with special rates for pilgrims (requires the pilgrims’ credentials).

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Stage 06: From Tambaú to Casa Branca + Video

The 30 min rest I had in Tambaú helped a lot in terms of motivation for the next stage of the path. I left with the decision that I would return to the original caminho path and follow the yellow arrows all the way to Casa Branca, regardless of how bad it was. I also don’t regret that decision, but I could, again, have saved 3.87 Km of the journey and, perhaps, prevented one of the 3 tumbles I had during the pilgrimage, had I taken the paved road between Tambaú and Casa Branca. One of my goals was to be able to show the Caminho da Fé to others as it is. I did, however, highlight that point in the video where you can take the decision of staying on the shorter paved road or taking the longer dirt tracks to Casa Branca,

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Interior of the church in Tambaú

As I was making my way out of Tambaú I rode by the town’s main church, the so called Sanctuary of our Lady Aparecida (not to be confused with the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida in Aparecida do Norte) a church built by father Donizetti Tavares de Lima who was noted for his extensive work in the region and famed for his reported miracles and other wonders.

As I mentioned above, it was in this part of the journey which I took the 2nd of the 3 tumbles I had throughout my journey to Aparecida. Some of the dirt roads and tracks of the original caminho are farm tracks with a lot of fine sand and the sand banks are sometimes difficult to spot in the distance. All it takes is a moment of distraction for you to kiss the ground. In my case I was going down a little hill, picked up some speed and when the front wheel hit a sand bank it skidded to the right. Thankfully there were no injures or damage on this little accident. I also highlighted this incident in the video.

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Pilgrims on foot, about 10 Km before Casa Branca

About 10 Km before Casa Branca I met 3 female pilgrims on foot who started their journey in Tambaú earlier that day. They wanted to walk all the way to Aparecida, but were considering of doing it over several different moments i.e. walking a portion of the pilgrimage, going home, then coming back a few days later to the point they stopped, walking another portion and repeating this until they got to Aparecida. This is also a valid pilgrimage option for those who don’t have the time to do it all in one go. I met one of these 3 ladies as I arrived at the pilgrims’ hostel later that evening as she wasn’t feeling well and took the rural bus to town. Her 2 friends decided to walk the rest of the caminho to Casa Branca and only arrived late that night.

Right after arriving in Casa Branca the gimbal’s batteries died, so a small portion of the video at the end was recorded with the camera mounted on the handlebar, hence the increased shakiness of the image.

P1090326
Catholic Church of our lady of the exile in Casa Branca

As I arrived at the Catholic Church of our lady of the exile in Casa Branca, where the pilgrim’s hostel is,  I was told to go talk to Mr José or Mrs Maria, his wife. They are the care takers of the pilgrims’ hostel and for a flat rate of R$ 70.00 they usually offer dinner and breakfast to the pilgrims, in addition to the accommodation. This night in particular, Mr José told me that his wife would not be able to cook dinner as their son had been kidnapped by criminals that day, who stole his motorcycle and spanked beat him causing him to be admitted into the local hospital. Mrs Maria was understandably very nervous and stressed about that all situation. Their son later appeared and despite the beating he was OK. Because of the lack of dinner Mr José charged us with only R$ 50.00 for the accommodation and breakfast the next day.

P1090334
Night view of the Catholic Church of our lady of the exile in Casa Branca

After getting settled and having a shower, Mr José show me to the laundry area and I placed all my dirty clothes in the simple washing machine available there. Soap was also provided as well as indoor hanging lines.

The 3 pilgrim ladies and I ordered food to be delivered from a supplier recommended by Mr José, which cost exactly the R$ 20.00 we would have to paid him for dinner. Food arrived quickly, was plentiful, warm and delicious. A big plastic cup of delicious freshly squeezed orange juice came with it, as per my order. Although the room I was in had 3 beds I was the only pilgrim to sleep in it that night, The other 3 pilgrim ladies shared another room and I believe we were the only pilgrims in the hostel that night. My room had a private bathroom/toilet (suite) as well as a small separate living area with a table and a TV and although reception was not excellent it allowed me to watch the evening news while I was having dinner.

The weather that night was excellent. Not very warm, but not cold either, perfect for a little walk around the church grounds and for some night pictures.

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Pictures taken on this day.

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 all for your time and “Bom Caminho!”.


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). You may donate through my Patreon Page or through PayPal directly. Become a Patron





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 Windsor containing the video of the ride from Bracknell to Windsor and the way back from Windsor to Bracknell . The first video is only 2 min and 31 sec long as it was a 5 second interval time-lapse recording. I did use the same route and rode from home to the old Bracknell Town Centre, but on my way back to Bracknell, I used the same Legoland Park route as on the post of the 19th of July one.

On the 8th of February 2016 I published a post containing 2 videos: An 8 min and 37 sec time-lapse video from Bracknell’s South Hill Park, using pretty much the same route as the one I used in this post, and also a video of the way back to Bracknell , using the same Legoland Park route as on the way back of the above post.

These post show only the rides to Windsor that I recorded. The distance between my home to Windsor is, for me, the perfect training length and I have often also used Windsor as a destination to do “full load” test rides in advance of long touring trips such as the one I did to Rome in 2016.

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!


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). You may donate through my Patreon Page or through PayPal directly. Become a Patron


Faith's Way (Caminho da Fé), Day 02: From Cravinhos to Santa Rosa de Viterbo

In this post…

    1. Introduction
    2. Measures and expenses for this day (Garmin Telemetry)
    3. Stage 03: From  Cravinhos to São Simão + Video
    4. Stage 04: From São Simão to Santa Rosa de Viterbo + Video
    5. Pictures taken on this day.

Introduction

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 2nd day of this 12 day, 600 Km, journey between the town of Cravinhos and the town of Santa Rosa de Viterbo, both in the federal state of São Paulo.

As explained in the introduction post, I broke the entire journey into 21 stages, as per the official map of the Caminho. There will be 1 video for each stage of the journey, so the blog post for this day contains two videos. One covering the journey between Cravinhos and São Simão and the other between São Simão and Santa Rosa de Viterbo.

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 Cravinhos to Santa Rosa de Viterbo: 59.02 Km
  • Total duration of this journey: 6h 40m
  • Total moving time: 4h 57m
  • Overnight location at the end of the journey:
  • Total expenses on this day: R$ 92.50
    • Food: R$ 17.50 (dinner at a local restaurant)
    • Accommodation: R$ 75.00 (Breakfast incl)
  • Total Elevation Gain on this track: 658m
  • Average Speed: 8.9 Km/h
  • Max Speed achieved: 45.2 Km/h
  • Average Heart Rate: 132 bpm
  • Max. Heart Rate: 158 bpm
  • Calories burned: 2,815 CAL
  • Click here to see the Garmin Connect page for this activity
Elevation, Speed and Heart Rate between Cravinhos and Santa Rosa de Viterbo
Elevation, Speed and Heart Rate between Cravinhos and Santa Rosa de Viterbo (Click to open full screen).

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Stage 03: From  Cravinhos to São Simão + Video.

A good night of sleep was all it took to recover from the exposure to sun, the dust and sand and the mistakes of the previous day. The breakfast table at the hotel had plenty of the most important things to sustain me for the entire day (among others ham, cheese, scrambled eggs, variety of jam and bread, fruit and cereal).

I had washed the clothes of the day before in the bathroom and they were all dry. The hotel has a backyard where I was able to also wash the bike with a hose and add some oil to the chain. Pilgrims in a hurry to get to their destination, perhaps would have to wake up very early in the morning to accomplish all these tasks before leaving, but fortunately that was not my case. I woke up around 8:00 am and only left the hotel at around 10:30am.

After leaving the hotel the challenge was to get back on track and I did not see any yellow arrows pointing the direction from the hotel. The plan was to ride back to town and continue from the point I had made my mistake the day before, but well before the town centre I rode by the other hotel in the official list of accommodations, the Girassol Hotel, right before the petrol station I stopped to ask for directions.

I never cease to be impressed by how easy it is to make friends in Brazil. At the petrol station I met fellow pilgrim João Candosim who pointed me to the yellow arrow some 100m after the petrol station and later became a Facebook friend.

If you watch the video of the prior stage and the one for this stage, you’ll see that from a certain point the images should become familiar as I followed the same route all the way to the “Frango Assado” petrol station at the edge of the Anhangüera Motorway (SP-330).

A note of advice, especially for pilgrims on bicycles, is to be aware of the stray dogs as you leave town. They all came running to me barking a lot, but I believe none of them had the intention of attacking me. They were just letting me know that this was their territory. I dismounted the bike and looked at them without fear and they soon calmed down.

I did a quick pit-stop to get some cold water at the same petrol station I asked for direction the day before and met a couple of “bicigrinos” (bicycle pilgrims) like me who were also planning to ride to Aparecida from that point. They had left from Ribeirão Preto that morning and were riding on the motorway (which in Brazil is allowed) despite being on full suspension mountain bikes, which would be ideal for the dirt tracks of the Caminho. There is no right or wrong. Each person’s pilgrimage is their own.

After the petrol station I continued on the dirt track and few kilometres later I got the a place with a small statue of our lady. Was a nice and well preserved place, ideal for some rest, water and a little prayer. I also replaced the gimbal batteries and to my bad luck forgot the spare batteries there. They were later found by fellow pilgrims, but sending them back to me was not economically viable.

I was replacing the gimbal batteries after each 90 min of use, which was enough time for the batteries to charge inside my handlebar bag were I was carrying a big 25,000 mAh power bank. Having lost the spare batteries meant that for the rest of the journey I would have to stop using the gimbal, while the only remaining batteries were charging (charge times varied from between 45 min to 1h). I continued recording the journey with the GoPro without the gimbal while the batteries were charging, but this meant a huge increase in the shakiness of the images, which you’ll probably notice in the video.

A good portion of this dirt track was along the motorway and there were some interesting views along the way, including the view of burned fields which are unfortunately common this time of the year due to high temperatures, lack of rain and other less natural reasons.

Up to the point where I crossed under the motorway there were significant less sand and dust than the day before (firmer ground), but after that point the tracks become very sandy and dusty again, to the point that, if you are on a bike, you’ll probably have to dismount and push quite often. In this stage you’ll have to ride or walk on a state highway (SP-253) for a few kilometres before continuing on a dirt track along the paved road. I felt safe on that road as it has a nicely flat and wide hard shoulder to ride on and most drivers were opening a distance between me and their cars as they crossed.

Just before arriving in São Simão you’ll have to cross railway tracks and I waited so long taking pictures that by the time I was ready to cross them I had to with for the incoming cargo train to pass, which took several minutes as it was a very long train.

The town of São Simão is small and the yellow arrows were close to each other, practically eliminating the possibility of getting lost. Before arriving at the São Simão Hotel, the one option for accommodation on the official guide and the place where you can get your pilgrim’s credential stamped, I stopped to talk to a couple of gents that were washing some cars and asked if I could throw some water on the bike to get rid of the dust. They asked me where I was coming from and where I was going to. They had heard of the Caminho da Fé, but neither one of them knew that the yellow arrows were in their town were there to guide the pilgrims to Aparecida do Norte. Now they know 🙂

The São Simão Hotel was a welcoming place. Got my pilgrim’s credentials stamped and filled my water bottles with cold water. They also offered me some fruit, but I declined.

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Stage 04: From São Simão to Santa Rosa de Viterbo + Video

As I left the São Simão Hotel I did a small detour to visit the grandmother of a fellow pilgrim who I got to know through the Facebook group of the Friends of the Caminho Association. Once I explained who I was and why I was there, Mrs Vera Burin and her daughter Angelica welcomed me, a stranger, almost as if I was a member of the family. This is one of the most amazing aspect of the Brazilian culture. The ability to trust and welcome strangers. A bit like how the Irish view them, “a stranger is just a friend that you’ve never met before“. The difference between Brazil and Ireland, however, are the obvious dangers due to the high level of criminality, mainly in big cities. Yet, people still trust and help each other. I like to leave my sincere “thank you” not only to Mrs Ver and her daughter Angelica, but also to her grandson, André who told me about them and asked me to go say “Hi”. Unfortunately I was a bit of in a hurry at the time and had to decline their invitation for coffee, but it was wonderful to have met them.

As a pilgrim, however, I’ve been the receiver of other people’s generosity in other occasions too and every time this has happened it strengthen my belief that most people in the world are good and that the good in the world by far outweigh the bad. Perhaps it is because there is so much good that we have difficulty in eliminating the bad in our societies.

As the batteries of the gimbal were still charging in the handlebar bag I decided to place the camera in the waterproof casing and mount it on the handlebar. That increased the level of shakiness a lot, so in later recordings, when the use of the gimbal was not possible I started to mount the camera on the helmet as I believed the shaking would not bad as bad on my head as it was on the handlebar. The difference was not significant though. I also tried to use the gimbal more on rougher surfaces, so when I was riding on paved roads I’ve often stopped using the gimbal and put the batteries to charge instead.

Leaving the town of São Simão you will walk or ride for about 3 Km on the SP-253 highway. The hard shoulder on this road wasn’t as wide as before São Simão, but the drivers appeared to be respecting a healthy distance between them and my bike. Care is however advised.

After about 3 Km on the SP-253 you turn left crossing over the road to get back to dirt roads again and a considerable amount of sand and dust. By that time the gimbal batteries were fully charged and I was able to mount the camera on the chest mount again.

P1090289At some points the dirt road becomes quite narrow and some of these roads had a much higher level of traffic than the previous dirt roads I had to ride on. As cars and trucks passed me they lifted a lot of fine dust which made breathing harder than usual due to my asthma. A lot of coughing at some points on this road (some highlighted on the video). Also pushing the bike was necessary in quite a few portions of this track as the sand was simply too deep to even attempt to ride (no traction at all). In spite of this, there were also some beautiful portions of this track among pine trees and forest which offered some shade and helped protect from the sun a little.

As you approach Santa Rosa de Viterbo you’ll re-join the SP-253 again, which makes it worth noting that for those who don’t want to follow the “official” Caminho way, the journey will be a lot shorter and quicker if you stick to the road. It may be also more dangerous to cycle or walk on the road though, so that will be a decision you’ll often will have to make if you want to comfort of paved roads against the challenges of cycling off-road. As you arrive in the outskirts of Santa Rosa de Viterbo you’ll be happy to know that there is a 1.5 km segregated bike lane alongside the road right into the town which makes cycling a lot safer.

The Malim Hotel is the only place listed in the official accommodation guide. The guide indicates there are two options of accommodation in the hotel: A R$ 60.00 option and a R$ 85.00 option, but I believe the guide was a bit out-of-date, perhaps due to inflation or price rises. It is always a good option to call ahead and ask what the going rate is if you want to avoid any surprises. I paid R$ 75.00 for a small room with a private bathroom, but no air-con or TV. Fancier rooms will cost you about R$ 90.00.

Finding the hotel is easy. You just have to stick to the main street and the hotel will be on the left hand side.

The hotel has a bike rack on the back which is protected, but you need to be able to lock the bike in place as staff will not be looking out for your bike. It felt like a safe place to me, but I locked the bike and removed anything of value from it anyway. On the back there is also a hose and a place for you to wash your bike, if you need to.

After a good shower and some rest I left the hotel on foot and walked for about 10 min to a restaurant called Issagawa Neto & Cia that was recommended by the hotel’s reception. There weren’t many open places to eat at that time and the town is quite small. You’ll have to option of set 3 course meals for as little as R$ 17.50 with a soft drink and the food is tasty and plentiful. You will leave with your bellies full.

Went back to the hotel, browsed the web a little and checked email. The Hotel has free WiFi and the signal was good in the room I was in.

Although there were a few mosquitos in the room I was able to sleep very well. Always good if you can take a can of odourless repellent with you. In some places mosquitos may be an issue especially in hot nights and rural areas. That’s how my second day ended.

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Pictures taken on this day.

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 all for your time and “Bom Caminho!”.


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). You may donate through my Patreon Page or through PayPal directly. Become a Patron

Faith's Way (Caminho da Fé), Day 01: From Sertãozinho to Cravinhos

In this post…

    1. Introduction
    2. Measures and expenses for this day (Garmin Telemetry)
    3. From  Sertãozinho to Dumont + Video
    4. From Dumont to Cravinhos + Video
    5. Pictures taken on this day.

Introduction

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 1st day of this 12 day, 600 Km, journey between the town of Sertãozinho, were I started my pilgrimage, and the town of Cravinhos, both in the federal state of São Paulo.

As explained in the introduction post, I broke the entire journey into 21 stages, as per the official map of the Caminho. There will be 1 video for each stage of the journey, so the blog post for this day contains two videos. Once covering the journey between Sertãozinho and Dumont and another between Dumont and Cravinhos.

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 Sertãozinho to Cravinhos71.54 Km
    • Please read item number 4 in this post, as this includes navigation errors on my part.
  • Total duration of this journey: 8h 25m
  • Overnight location at the end of the journey:
  • Total expenses on this day: R$ 120.90
    • Food: R$ 58.90 (pizza delivered to hotel, managed to eat only 1/2)
    • Accommodation: R$ 62.00 (Breakfast incl)
  • Total Elevation Gain on this track: 1,178m
  • Average Speed: 8.5 Km/h
  • Max Speed achieved: 46.5 Km/h
  • Average Heart Rate: 146 bpm
  • Max. Heart Rate: 180 bpm
  • Calories burned: 4,286 CAL
  • Click here to see the Garmin Connect page for this activity
First day on the Faith's Way
First day on the Faith’s Way

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From  Sertãozinho to Dumont + Video.


Being interviewed by Glogo TV Network at the hotel's parking lot.As planned the night before I woke up early and went downstairs to have breakfast with the TV crew of Globo TV. They took a lot of shoots of the crew having breakfast and helped me with some pictures. Before leaving we shoot the interview outside at the hotel’s car park, which, for several reasons, such as external noise and mistakes, required many takes. For example, during the interview I mentioned that the recordings were going to be done in Time-lapse format with a GoPRO 4, and the mere mentioned of the brand invalidated the take (advertising).

From everything that was recorded during the interview in that morning, only a tiny portion was actually aired. In my 3 seconds of fame in national television I appear saying the Caminho was mostly done on dirt tracks, hence the reason it was going to be difficult. At first this sounds kind of obvious, but what was missing there was the fact that we were speaking about my previous pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela and Rome (Via Francigena) and how most of them were on paved roads, so, since the Faith’s Way is mostly on dirt tracks, I considered this pilgrimage would be a lot harder than the previous ones, even though the distance was shorter. That’s OK though. Glad to have had the exposure I did.


P1090200After the interview the drone operator followed me in their car and did some aerial shoots of me as well as instructed me to do certain things, which otherwise wouldn’t be in my nature to do, such as to raise my arms at the statue of our lady by the town’s gate. Due to these activities I actually left Sertãozinho quite late, at around 10:30am. About 1 Km after the small statue of our lady were the last aerial shot was taken by the drone operator (you’ll see it in the video), I crossed underneath the motorway and took a small road out of town which soon turned into a dirt road.

A guy on a motorbike rode parallel to me for a few meters and the biker asked me questions such as were I was going and if I was alone. I was honestly very reluctant to talk to him as many robbers use this method to steal. Thankfully that wasn’t the case and my ride to the small town of Dumont was uneventful, despite the very thin sand and dust on the roads as it hadn’t rained for over 2 months there.

Almost the entire path is done among sugar cane plantations, so the views aren’t that great, but there are places worth a few pictures along this way.

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From Dumont to Cravinhos + Video

Coffee Plantation on the left and the small town of Dumont in the background
Coffee Plantation on the left and the small town of Dumont in the background

As I arrived in Dumont I stopped for some pictures and to determine were to stamp my pilgrim’s credential. I figured out that the pilgrims’ hostel in the list of accommodations was actually outside of town and moved on.

This hostel is maintained by the Veronezi family in their property outside of town. As I arrived at the Veronezi farm, I turned left and went to the meat shop (Casa Veronezi) were the lose stones at the car park caused me to fall off my bike for the 1st time. It was a really stupid fall due to the fact the front wheel skidded on the lose stones on the ground and my right foot got stuck in the pedal straps. Unfortunately I ended up tearing my Castelli leg warmer in the process, a little piece of cycling wear I was very fond of 🙁

Met with Alvaro at the meat house who directed me to the hostel were I met his mother Ms Helena Veronezi. Alvaro runs the meat house while Mrs Helena takes care of the pilgrims and runs the hostel. Very nice people. Ms Helena stamped my credentials and offered me water and fruit. As I left the Veronezi’s I was told there would be a locked gate by their fish pond, but that I should just ask their daughter to open the gate for me at the bar near the lake, so I did.

Zé Goleiro Bar
Zé Goleiro Bar

Continuing on dirt tracks among the sugar cane plantations I got to Zé Goleiro bar (José, the Goalkeeper’s bar), an establishment that has been there in the middle of nowhere since 1937 which is now run by Zé Goleiro´s son as Zé Goleiro died in 2009. Very interesting place with a lot of stuff hanging from the ceiling.

The map of the Caminho indicates the distance between Dumont and Cravinhos is of 37 Km, but the map doesn’t indicate the point in Cravinhos where those 37 Km end. The two establishments listed in the accommodation guide for Cravinhos are somewhat on the outskirts of the town, especially the one I decided to spend the night in, the Cravinhos Park Hotel, which out of the two appeared to be the better one and did accept credits cards also (although not highlighted in the guide).

As I got to Cravinhos, I made the mistake of assuming the yellow arrows would lead me to these establishments. Unless I’ve missed an arrow somewhere, they didn’t seem to. I honestly only saw yellow arrows pointing in the direction I went.

Red line is the path I took. Blue line is the path I should have taken.
Red line is the path I took. Blue line is the path I should have taken.

Unfortunately, as stubborn as I am, I continued blindly following the arrows out of town, only stopping at a petrol station some 7 to 8 Km out of town to ask for directions. To be honest, there wasn’t anyone available to ask for directions outside of town anyway, but I should have turned back earlier.

Once the staff at the petrol station told me how far back I would have to ride to get to the hotel I was faced with the decision of going back or moving forward. I decided to go back because it was already getting dark and according to the map the nearest town was 31 Km away, perhaps a little nearer since I had already done about 7 Km out of town, so I decided to go back. This led me to ride an additional 18.69 Km, in other words, I rode 55.69 Km in total between Dumont and Cravinhos that day. So take notice of that, if you plan to start your pilgrimage from Sertãozinho as I did.

I have arrived at the hotel in the dark of night, which wasn’t cool, but it all belongs to the adventure. In a pilgrimage you should always expect the unexpected.

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Pictures taken on this day.

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 all for your time and “Bom Caminho!”.


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06/29. Via Francigena, Reims to Châlons-en-Champagne [GPX File]

This GPS file represents the route I took between these two locations during my Via Francigena pilgrimage by bike from Canterbury, in the UK, to Rome, in Italy.

The route contains mistakes and tracks I may not recommend you to take, so it is important to read the respective posts for more context.

Use of this resource at your own risk.

 

Look for details here: https://wp.me/p60ak1-1jb

Faith's Way (Caminho da Fé): Introduction and Day Zero

Introduction to the Faith’s Way (Path of Faith) and day Zero of my pilgrimage

In this post…

    1. Introduction
    2. Video Interview with Mr Almiro Grings, the creator of the Faith’s Way
    3. Statistics, Expenses and my daily log for the Faith’s Way (Download of Excel file)
    4. Day ZERO: My trip by bus from Jataí to Sertãozinho
    5. Pictures of day ZERO.

Introduction

I speak most of this introduction on the video below, so if reading is not your thing, feel free to watch the video and skip the words.

In September 2017 I completed by bicycle the 571 Km (357 miles) of the Faith’s Way, or Caminho da Fé in Portuguese, which for me turned out to be about 600 Km due to my choices and mistakes. The Caminho da Fe is sometimes also known as the Path of Faith.

My route along the Faith's Way from Sertãozinho to Aparecida do Norte.
My route along the Faith’s Way from Sertãozinho to Aparecida do Norte.

The Faith’s Way is a pilgrimage route in which the pilgrims may choose to start from different locations, depending on the distance they want to cover. I decided for the longest route starting in the small town of Sertãozinho in the State of São Paulo.

Regardless where pilgrims start, like in the pilgrimage of the Santiago de Compostela, the destination is always the same: In this case, the Catholic Basilica of the Sanctuary of our Lady in the town of Aparecida do Norte, also in the state of São Paulo.

I am posting this introduction mainly for those who have never heard of this pilgrimage route, but also for those who may already have heard of it, but have not attempted to do it yet.

The English version of this post will be rather different than the Portuguese one. Reason being is that there is already a great amount of information available in the web about the Faith’s Way, but mostly in Brazilian Portuguese.

So, while for Portuguese speakers I can just point them in the right direction and provide them with the web links, in English I think I need to provide a little more contextual information to improve understanding and be worth your time. If you can, however, read in Portuguese, a good point to start is the web site of the Friends of the Caminho Association on www.caminhodafe.com.br.  I’ve been told that the English version of their page is in the works though.

There are also numerous online groups (Facebook, WhatsApp, etc) where thousands of pilgrims and pilgrims to be can exchange information and provide virtual help and support. Again, I am unaware of the existence of such groups in English Language. Please leave a comment below if you would like me to create one.

The Faith’s Way, or the “Caminho” was the brain child of 3 Brazilian Compostela pilgrims, who, after having completed the pilgrimage in Spain a few times had the idea of creating a similar pilgrimage route in Brazil, linking their home town of Águas da Prata (which translates to Silver Waters in Portuguese) in the State of São Paulo to the Sanctuary in Aparecida.

The Sanctuary in Aparecida had been a pilgrim destination for generations already, but there wasn’t up to that point an organized pilgrims’ path with hostels and support along the route, as there is on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela.

By sharing my experiences on the “Caminho” my goal is to help spread the word of this pilgrimage route outside of Brazil and, perhaps, help those who may be interested in walking or cycling the route, by showing them what to expect along the way, at least if they chose to do the same route and in the same weather conditions I did mine.

Please help me achieve my goal by clicking the “Like” or the Thumbs-up button in YouTube, leaving your questions and comments and sharing this post with others who might be interested in these types of adventure or alternative forms of traveling. Together with this post I have also published a short interview with Mr Almiro Grings, the creator of the Caminho. I recorded the interview during my passage at the Friends of the Caminho Association, which also doubles as a pilgrims’ hostel, in the town of Águas da Prata, when I got there during my pilgrimage. The video is in Portuguese with English subtitles.

Well, those that follow this blog will know that the Caminho is not my first long distance cycling pilgrimage. It is in fact the 3rd one.

In 2015 I cycled the 820 Km of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela from the French town of Saint Jean Pied de Port (known as the French way) and in 2016 I cycled 2,048 Km from the English town of Canterbury in Kent to the Vatican City in Italy in a pilgrimage route known as Via Francigena.

It is honestly not that easy to explain in detail why, in the past 3 years, I have been doing this because everyone was different, but the most simple and concise answer would be: I like the Physical and mental challenges and also the opportunities of introspection that such long bike rides allow, which are actually quite similar to those walking the way, but obviously not as time consuming.

I chose to do the Caminho from the town of Sertãozinho mainly for two reasons:

  1. Because there was a certain logistical advantage for me personally to start the pilgrimage from there. There is a direct bus connection between the small town I was living, at that time, in Brazil and the city of Ribeirão Preto in the state of São Paulo. Ribeirão Preto is situated just 20 Km (13 miles) away from Sertãozinho and therefore I would not need to change buses (which I ended up doing anyway, but it was beneficial and not as complicated as I thought it would be). A plus if you are carrying your luggage plus a dismantled bike with you in the bus.
  2. Because the route starting from Sertãozinho was, at the time I did it, the longest path to the sanctuary of Aparecida and I was keen to spend more time on the road.
Official Map of the Faith's Way (Caminho da Fé)
Official Map of the Faith’s Way (Caminho da Fé)

If you look at the map of the Caminho, available for download from the web page of the Friends of the Caminho Association, you’ll see that you may start your pilgrimage in in many of the so called “branches” of the route or in most towns / places along the way.

The key to starting your pilgrimage and officially becoming a pilgrim is the pilgrim’s credential which you’ll find in many (but not all) places along the way.

All branches combine in Águas da Prata, which was where the Caminho was first created and from there the route to Aparecida follows the original path.

I already published all my experiences on the Camino de Santiago in 2015 in the EyeCycled blog and in the YouTube channel, but I am still working on the posts and videos of the 2016 Via Francigena pilgrimage to Rome.

With this post I am starting the pilgrimage posts and videos of the Caminho da Fé which will follow the same basic principles of previous pilgrimage posts. As my goal is to show how my pilgrimage developed, I typically turned the camera on at the start of the day’s journey and turned it off when I reached my destination for that day.

By reading or watching my experiences, future pilgrims can perhaps use them as a guide and decide to follow the same route I did, or not.

As no one in their right mind would watch several hours of cycling videos, I recorded the entire journey using a type of video recording called “Time-Lapse“. In this type of recording the camera takes a high resolution picture (4k) every 0.5 seconds and internally builds a video with them at the end of the recording.

This makes the video look very accelerated in time. In fact, each 10 minutes or so in real life represent about 10 seconds of video footage, so it is possible to watch an entire day in the journey in just a few minutes without missing a single meter of the track.

The disadvantage of these types of recordings are, obviously, the speed in which everything is shown and the vibration of the camera which in an accelerated speed is much more pronounced and notable.

This can be reduced with a device called a Gimbal, whose function I already explained in a previous blog post and videos in the channel. The Caminho was the 1st time I used this device in a consistent manner and for long distances and periods of time.

Although the gimbal helps reduce the effects of the vibration it does not eliminate them completely, due to the potholes, stones, gravel and uneven surfaces of the path, mostly on dirt roads and footpaths.

My intention is to publish posts and videos about the Caminho da Fé every two weeks, but I already know this may be just wishful thinking due to upcoming periods of intense travel and work. If you look at the map of the Caminho again, you’ll see that between Sertãozinho and Aparecida there are 21 major tracks. My intention is to publish a time lapse video for each one. I also want them to be bilingual, so current expectations are that I need to produce at least 42 videos, not counting this introduction video and other, shorter videos I recorded along the way.

This also added to the fact I will publish 1 blog post for each day of my journey in English and Portuguese as well, containing pictures, tips and highlights, so I am not making promises I won’t be able to keep. It will be done when it’s done, regardless of how long it takes.

One could say, there is a reason it is called this pilgrimage is called “The Faith’s Way”… having faith in yourself in generally a requirement. I have faith I’ll complete this work and count with your support in doing so.

I don’t do this work expecting a financial benefit in return, but I have costs to maintain the blog, such as hosting and domain reservation, and this work demands a lot of my time. In fact, it takes me a lot longer to do this as it did take me to ride the entire way, so if you are feeling generous, please go to me Patreon page through which you can contribute with a small donation to help maintain the blog running with coffee to keep me going late nights.

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Video Interview with Mr Almiro Grings, the creator of the Faith’s Way

The following video interview was recorded at the Friends of the Caminho Association in Águas da Prata in September 2017.

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Statistics, expenses and my daily log on the Faith’s Way

The Excel file below contains the statistics of the journey (as collected by my Garmin Edge 810), such as distances, Elevation, Speeds, Average Heart Beat, etc, as well as the expenses, accommodation and the notes I recorded along the way.

Elevation vs Speed along the route
Elevation vs Speed along the route

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Day ZERO: My trip by bus from Jataí to Sertãozinho

Route from Jataí to Ribeirão PretoI decided to write a little about how I got to the starting point of the pilgrimage, not because it may help you direclty, but because it may get you to understand the logistics of getting to the starting point. As previously mentioned, I had to find a way to get to starting point of the pilgrimage, which I chose to be the town of Sertãozinho in the federal state of São Paulo. I was living in a small town called Jataí, in the state of Góias at the time. If you live outside of Brazil you will probably start your journey from a much bigger city, likely a capital and will have to find your own way to get to the starting point. There are buses from the city of São Paulo directly to Sertãozinho and flights to Ribeirão Preto, which is just 20 Km away from Sertãozinho.

I tried in vain to find somewhere who had a car and wanted to share this adventure with me, but it is hard to find someone with the willingness to do it and, most importantly with the time, which is a significant length of time away from work, family, etc.

Our bus was stopped by the Federal Highway Police at the station near the city of Uberaba in the state of Minas Gerais.
Our bus was stopped by the Federal Highway Police at the station near the city of Uberaba in the state of Minas Gerais.

As I couldn’t find anyone, I started to look at the options of getting to Sertãozinho from Jataí. Jataí is a small town and doesn’t have an airport the offers regular flights. Sertãozinho is also a small town, but quite near from a bigger city called Ribeirão Preto. Ribeirão has a regional airport with flights to/from a number of destinations, including the capital of the state of Goias, Goiânia. The problem is that a trip to Goiânia is 320 Km and would have to be made by bus anyway, so as there was a directly bus connection from Jataí to Ribeirão Preto, I decided on this option. It would be a longer and less comfortable journey, but it would be direct and cheaper also. I spent R$ 135.00 on the bus ticket. The distance between Jatai and Ribeirão Preto was 715 Km, but the journey, which should have taken about 12h, was delayed for more than 2h at the station of the Federal Highway police in Uberaba, state of Minas Gerais, as they stopped and searched to bus due to an apparently anonymous tip-off they received that someone in that bus would be smuggling drugs to Sâo Paulo and the tip-off proved to be right. They found the smuggler together with 10 Kg of Cocaine Paste. Expect the unexpected!

Urban bus from Sertâozinho to Ribeirão Preto in the background
Urban bus from Sertâozinho to Ribeirão Preto in the background

In Ribeirão Preto I had to option of assembling the bike and riding the 20 Km to Sertãozinho, which I was advised against due to some areas of high incidence of crime I had to go through, or take an urban bus from Ribeirão Preto to Sertãozinho. As I arrived at Ribeirão Preto’s bus station, I asked around and found out from which platform the bus to Sertãozinho was departing. I had to take the lift downstairs, turn left, walk a few meters and take another lift upstairs to the platform where the local buses departed. The bus to Sertãozinho was already there and was about 3/4 full.

Me, in the bus from Ribeirão to Sertãozinho, seating in the seat usally reserved for disabled passengers and holding the bike upright.
Me, in the bus from Ribeirão to Sertãozinho, seating in the seat usally reserved for disabled passengers and holding the bike upright.

The problem was that that bus was a urban type and had no boot or facilities to carry bikes, so the driver told me to seat in the seat reserved for disabled people and hold the bike upright.

The journey to Sertãozinho was short, about 30 min. Upon arriving at Sertãozinho’s bus station, I assembled the bike and rode to the hotel (about 1.5 Km away). Did the check-in in the Agapito Hotel, the only hotel in the official list of  accommodation of the Friends of the Caminho Association, and got my pilgrim’s credential. In the evening I met with a TV crew from Globo TV, Brazil’s largest TV network.I knew they were coming as I was told by the hotel receptionist when I called to make my reservation a few days before. We went out for a meal that evening, talked about a lot of things, incl. my previous pilgrimages and agreed on an interview in the morning the next day.

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Pictures of day ZERO.

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 all for your time and “Bom Caminho!”. (more…)

The "Faith's Way" (Caminho da Fé).

Logo of Caminho da Fé
Logo of Caminho da Fé

Dear EyeCycled friends,

it gives me great pleasure to announce to you all that next week I will start my 3rd Christian Pilgrimage by bike. It’s called “Caminho da Fé” which literally translated to English means “The Faith’s way”, but it is also sometimes translated as “The walk of faith”.  This pilgrimage route is now considered to be the Brazilian equivalent of  the way of St. James or Camino de Santiago, which I’ve done in 2015.

There is extensive material about the “Caminho da Fé” on the Internet, but in Portuguese only.  I could not find much in English, so the English version of this post will be more detailed than it’s Portuguese one, so to give you guys more background information of what the pilgrimage is all about (most links on these page will open to English Language resources though).

Brazilians have been walking to the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida for generations. Many to fulfil religious promises (i.e. to obtain a cure for some illness or for other types of graces), others for cheer devotion. With 18,000 m2  (190,000 sq ft), the basilica is the 2nd largest catholic church in the world losing only to St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.

Map of the
Map of the “Caminho da Fé” (click to open. Source AACF)

In 2003 a group of pilgrims who had walked to Santiago de Compostela a couple of times decided to create a pilgrimage route between Aguas da Prata in the Federal State of São Paulo and the Basilica, in Aparecida do Norte, 318 Km away on the designed route (walking paths). Currently, however, the route has many, so called, “branches” all of them starting from different cities, but passing through Aguas da Prata, on the original route designed in 2003. These, in turn, have also a few options which may increase or decrease the distance between the starting point and Aparecida do Norte. The branches are as follows:

#BranchDistance in Km
Option 1: Via the town of Pindamonhangaba
Distance in Km
Option 2: Via the town of Guaratinguetá
1Aguaí to Aparecida364341
2Aguas da Prata to Aparecida318295
3Caconde to Aparecida390367
4Mococa to Aparecida408385
5São Carlos to Aparecida536513
6Sertãozinho to Aparecida571548
7Tambaú to Aparecida424401

Source: AACF (Friends of the “Caminho” Association. Site in Portuguese only)

I’ve chosen the longest path, starting from Sertãozinho, not necessarily because I want to ride more (although this was one of the reasons), but because of logistics. There is a direct bus from my current whereabouts to Ribeirão Preto, a city only 20 Km from Sertãozinho, so I only need take 1 bus journey (of 12 h though) to get to my starting point.

My entire journey will start on the early hours of Sunday, the 18th of September, with the bus to Ribeirão Preto. From Ribeirão Preto to Sertãozinho there is a short distance of just over 20 Km, perfectly doable by bicycle, but I’ve been advised to avoid this track because it goes through some high crime areas between the 2 towns (in Brazil, unfortunately, this is a constant worry).

So, as I arrive in Ribeirão Preto I may take yet another bus journey, a short one though, to Sertãozinho, or, if I am feeling adventurous, ride my bike (generally speaking armed thieves steal the entire bike with everything on it, and on the rider… it would be a shame if my pilgrimage was to end before it could even begin though).

In Sertãozinho I will overnight in the Agapito Hotel, one of the few places where you can buy the pilgrim’s credentials, which, exactly like in the Way of Saint James, you will need to stamp along the way in order to obtain the certificate of completion as you arrive in the Basilica in Aparecida do Norte.

Typical
Typical “Caminho da Fé” Pilgrim’s Credentials (extrenal link. Click to open it on source site)

From Sertãozinho I’ll let faith take me (no pun intended). I was going to purchase the excellent “Caminho da Fé” guide (link in Portuguese only) from Antonio Olinto, but I didn’t get to do it, so I will simply follow the yellow arrows (another thing copied from the the way of St. James / Camino de Santiago).

My two previous pilgrimages experiences taught me a lot and minimised a number of fears I had before I started. This one, in Brazil, is a bit different than the previous two as it introduces the fear of being victim to the social / economic situation of the country. Not that being a victim of crime isn’t a possibility during the Camino de Santiago where even murders of pilgrims are know to happen, but it is a question of the likehood of it happening, which in Brazil is much higher than in countries of the European Union.

The good thing about starting my pilgrimage on the 19th of September, though, is that I apparently will not be doing it alone, as I originally thought I would. I found out today that a crew of the Brazilian TV network “Globo” will be recording a program about the “Caminho da Fé” and that the main reporter, who I had the pleasure of talking to on the phone today, will also be riding on a bike all the way to Aparecida, supposedly followed by his TV crew. Who knows, I might even appear on the telly, which is an unexpected surprise. Life does have a way to surprise you, if you give it a chance.

As usual, I will try to post as much as I can along the way, but experience has thought me that any posts are more likely to happen on the EyeCycled Facebook page than on the blog. So, please, if you have not done so yet, and would like to follow me on this little adventure, make sure you like the page.

If you’ve seen my previous post, you’ll be aware that I recently lost a “non-human” friend, my trusted Dell XPS 15 notebook, which I used to edit the videos for the YouTube channel and create content for the blog. As with previous pilgrimages, I fully intent to cover the entire route of the “Caminho da Fé” with time-lapsed videos and bring as much info and media to you as possible. Without a proper computer that might take awhile though, but don’t give up on me. Like “Arnie”, I’ll be back!

“Buen Camino!” or in this case “Bom Caminho!”

PS. If you can read in Portuguese, the site of the AACF (Friends of the “Caminho” Association) is an excellent source of information.

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Via Francigena, 1000 Km, Emotions

Greetings EyeCycled Friends,

quick post just to let you know that I did not abandon the Blog… 🙂

I am working on writing Via Francigena content, editing the videos and sharing this experience with you, but progress has been slow due to life’s demands. Please, subscribe to be informed of new post or like our Facebook page.

On the 12th of August 2016, the 14th day of cycling between Canterbury and Rome, I completed the 1st 1000 Kms of daily bike riding of my life.

I know, compared to cyclists that cycled around the world, some of which with 100s of 1000s of Kilometers in their Odometers, just is just a drop in the ocean, but for me it was a pretty special moment in a nice location.
The pilgrimage has ended now and I am back in the UK to my “normal” life. I end up having cycled 2,043 Km when I arrived at Saint Peter’s Square in Rome. Was an experience I will cherish forever, but I somehow don’t think it was the experience of a life time. Not ready for the grave yet… 🙂

New challenges are definitely on the horizon.

Thank you your time!

Via Francigena Charity Bike Ride, in aid of Mind UK.

Greetings EyeCycled friends.

Logo Via Francigena
Logo Via Francigena

Please read the blog post below and if you feel inclined to do so, donate generously to my charity of choice through the Virgin Money Giving link below:

http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/EyeCycled

If you have been following my blog or Facebook page, you will know that I am soon going to be undertaking my biggest bike ride yet, a 2,000 Km long (approx.) bike ride from Canterbury in UK to Rome in Italy, on an ancient pilgrimage route known as Via Francigena.

Via Francigena Route
Via Francigena Route

My motivations for doing this bike ride are many, some of which are quite obvious and some are not. On the obvious side, you may have followed my series of blog posts about the Camino de Santiago last year. The Via Francigena is a natural step up from that as it is 2x as long and not as well structured as the Camino (what I mean is that there aren’t as many pilgrims’ accommodations along the way and the route is not well sign posted, especially in France).

As for the non-obvious reasons, I feel strong enough now to share at least one with you all. Since the very unfriendly break-up of my marriage, some 15 months ago, I’ve been battling on and off with depression. I took antidepressants for a few months and gone through therapies.

Depression is an odd kind of illness… Due to sheer ignorance, like many I had a very stigmatized view of it. To be honest, of any type of mental illnesses, actually.

I truly thought it was sort of a rich people’s sickness. An illness that affected only those people who had too much free time on their hands. Life has a funny way of teaching you things sometimes.

So, imagine my surprise when I started to notice very physical symptoms caused by anxiety and my general mental state. Among others where teeth-grinding (also known as Bruxism), sleeplessness, difficulty to breath and more. Life hadn’t stopped, of course, and there were still bills to be paid and things to be done, which at times, associated with loneliness gave me the real feeling I wouldn’t be able to coupe anymore.

Went to the GP several times and he confirmed the diagnosis of clinical depression. It was somewhat interesting to understand how your mental state can have such a powerful impact on your physical condition and I am not talking here about normal day to day worries most people have with their children, their financial affairs, their jobs, etc. This is not a learning experience I wish anyone to go through, but it is generally hard to choose not to be depressed when you’re affected by certain life circumstances, which can vary of importance from person to person, especially when there is so much negative going on in the world these days. Depression is usually a package.

In extreme cases, for some the easy way out appears to become the only solution (even though it is clearly not) and it may surprise you to know that suicide remains the leading cause of death for men between 20 and 34 in England and Wales, representing 24% of all deaths in 2013, and for men aged 35-49, at 13% of deaths (source: The Guardian).

Thankfully the ultimate act was never an option for me… not that I didn’t occasionally think about it, but I’ve always considered it a very unlikely outcome for me in particular. I value my life and the life of others way too much and I personally don’t think ending your physical existence ends the mental problems you might be facing (I believe in “life” after death).

Needless to say this condition had an impact not only on my personal life, but on my professional one too. I don’t subscribe to the idea that a person can fully compartmentalized his personal and professional lives. An unbalance in one, will have repercussions in the other.

The drug I was taking didn’t appear to be making much of a change, although it did help me sleep at night (helped even a bit too much at times as it made it a lot harder to jump out of bed in the morning as well), and when my GP suggested the prescription of a more powerful drug I took the decision upon myself to try to beat this thing without chemicals (or artificial ones, at least).

Cycling has been “my thing” for quite a few years now and it was only natural for me to turn to cycling as a means to combat my depression. Convincing my bosses to give me a 42 days holiday was a tough sell, but I manage to do it and here I am, just a few weeks from starting my cycling pilgrimage.

I am no expert, but I believe that for most there can be a drug-free way to find balance in life again. Some may find it through meditation, others through physical exercise, others by drastically changing their life-styles and so on. I do believe in drug-free treatments are not always possible and that the ultimate word has to remain with the medical or psychological experts treating each case, but I personally don’t think emotions are just a chemical unbalance that can be corrected through drugs. If that was true it would be possible to “correct” love and hate the same way. But even if drugs are the answer, I still believe there are ways for our bodies to produce some of these chemicals naturally such as Serotonin, a neurotransmitter, regarded by some researchers as a chemical that is responsible for maintaining mood balance, and that often link a deficit of serotonin to depression. No doubt, you can take drugs that will aid to increase Serotonin levels in the brain, but according to the Psychology Today Blog, “In numerous studies exercise has been shown to increase both serotonin production and release. In particular, aerobic exercises, like running and biking, are the most likely to boost serotonin.

So, what I am trying to prove to you, in case you don’t already know, is that, if you know someone who suffers from a mental illness (or if you experience or have experienced it yourself) a drug-free treatment through physical activity can be a powerful boost to your well-being, not to mention a big reduction of  the cost to businesses and society overall, given that antidepressant use has doubled in England over the past 10 years (source NewScientist). Most concerning is that the number of children prescribed with antidepressants have increased by 50% in 7 years (source: The Independent).

A US study has estimated that about 300 million work days are lost to sickness every year with 56% of employees reporting depression and anxiety as a cause. Not even the most cold-hearted business person can ignore these stats.

In Aid of Mind, for better mental health.That is why I converted my solo bike ride to Rome into a charity event and have partnered with Mind UK, one of the UK’s leading Mental Health charities, on this enterprise and am here asking for you to donate some of your hard earned cash to this cause. I know how hard it is to try to get out of a bad situation alone and sometimes you need someone that can provide you with an independent perspective about your situation.

Every pound (or dollar, or Euro… whatever) you donate makes a difference. For example:

  • £8.70 gives a lifeline to someone in desperate need of support
  • £30 helps Mind work with the government to promote mental health needs and improve services
  • £150 could fund a local support group
  • £250 could fund equipment for an art therapy group
  • £500 can keep Mind’s legal advice service open for a day helping people understand their rights and receive practical legal advice on mental health issues.
What Mind has achieved in 2015
What Mind has achieved in 2015. Click on the image to read MInd’s annual review document for 2014-2015 (PDF reader required).

I believe the best thing to combat depression is to try to live life to the fullest. What that means changes from person to person. To live life to it’s full potential will likely be related to finding a job or work that is fulfilling, having a loving family relation, good friends, include hobbies and physical activities and help those you can, through volunteering or other social efforts in benefit of those in need.

During a recent well-being course, I was shown how to graphically represent life as a boat. If you divide your boat only between work and family chances are that if one of them isn’t going well your boat will have more trouble to stay afloat than if you are able to divide your life’s boat in more compartments.

Which boat do you think is more likely to stay afloat?
Which one do you think is more likely to stay afloat?

Cycling has been one of these compartments for me… it’s a low impact form of exercise providing an increased cardiovascular fitness as well as a good muscle workout, as it uses all the major muscle groups as you pedal. It is excellent in reducing obesity and controlling weight and while you are on your bike your stress levels seem to fall dramatically even when you are thinking about your problems which automatically leads to a reduction in anxiety and depression. But if cycling is not your thing, just pick something else… There is plenty to choose from.

The important thing is that you don’t give up.

If you allow me to suggest a strategy, rather than choosing something cheap and easy just to “try it out first, to see how it goes”, go the full mile. Choose something you think you will like (inform yourself) and go buy the gear for it.

Do not buy the cheapest!

If you can afford to buy expensive things, buy, for example, the best running shoes you can afford, if you decide to run, or the best bicycle, if you decide to cycle, or the best tennis or water sports gear if you go for those… that way you are making not only a personal commitment, but a financial investment also and this has 2 advantages:

  1. Generally speaking people don’t like to waste money.
  2. Generally speaking, you get what you paid for. Buying good quality gear will enhance your experience and help you transition into it more easily, with less efforts and pain.

Of course, this is not for everyone, but keep in mind managing limited resources are very much a question of priorities. If you are ill, getting healthy should be one. As Mr Spock would say, it is illogical to want to remain sick!

To contribute to this cause, please click on the Virgin Money Giving page below (just in case, nothing of your contribution is given to me).

Virgin Money Giving Logohttp://www.virginmoneygiving.com/EyeCycled

If you have contributed, but still feel generous, you could also consider to pay me a coffee to help me keep up with the Blog costs and as an incentive for me to keep doing this sort of thing and blogging about it…



(suggested amount = £2.00 or USD $3.00 or 2.50€).