Tag Archives: Touring

A Warm shower and a bed

This article is not available in Portuguese and German animated GIF

Martin Zlámal from the Czech Republic
Martin Zlámal from the Czech Republic

I think I can safely say that, if you are here, reading this post, you are a cyclist or at least enjoy the sport. If I am wrong, however, don’t go away… 🙂
I value your time and attention. But have you ever done a long touring trip on a bike? One that lasted several  days and hundreds or perhaps even thousands of miles / kilometres?

That is exactly what Martin Zlámal from the Czech Republic is doing now. He is riding his bike from the village he was living near Manchester in the UK to his family home in the Czech Republic, a trip of over 1,000 miles / 1,600 Km.

Martin at the Frimley4 Business Park on his way to Guildford
Martin at the Frimley4 Business Park on his way to Guildford

I met Martin through Warmshowers.org, a free worldwide hospitality exchange for touring cyclists. I have been a member of Warmshowers.org for 3 years and 3 months and never had any touring cyclist requested to be hosted by me. I guess I am just not in any major touring route. As a guest I was only successful using it once, as well, in Pavia, Italy during my cycling pilgrimage on the Via Francigena to Rome. I sent dozens of requests over the years, but I guess, since the platform acts just as an interface between people, its practical success depends more of the willingness of their members to actually host and be hosted than the technology itself.

It is a great idea though and I wish we could learn to live and share our resources more often. Only those that have traveled long distances by bike fully understand the value of things we normally always take for granted. A nice warm shower to clean all the dirt and the sweat of a long day of cycling and a comfy bed. Of course, what each host can do for their guests vary with the resources they have available for themselves or are willing to share with them (a warm meal, laundry of the dirty clothes, etc).

This is where I said Good bye to Martin, half way between Bracknell and Guildford.
This is where I said Good bye to Martin, half way between Bracknell and Guildford.

The day we can make this idea work every single time, will be for me the day I will become completely certain that our civilization will not only survive, but strive, because that would be the day empathy will be common place and not fear, greed or selfishness.

Regardless of if you are a cyclist or not, I’d like to encourage you to become a member of Warmshowers.org and help those on the road, providing at least the basic comforts that every human being should have.

The link below opens the “Relive” video for the short ride I’ve done with Martin from Bracknell to Frimley Green which is 25 Km from Guildford, the first destination of his trip today. Martin plans to ride all the way down to the Ferry port of New Haven, take the ferry to Dieppe, in France, and then ride to Paris on the Avenue Verte, a disused railway line that was converted into a cycle way and leads right into Paris. The route he will then take to the Czech Republic is still open, so if you have suggestions or can help him further, please feel free to leave a comment, as I am sure he will be checking back on this.

Martin, be safe and enjoy your trip mate!

Relive ‘Short ride with Warmshowers guest’

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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!

Bike ride to and around the Isle of Wight

The week before Easter 2015 I´ve spent 3 days riding to and around the Isle of Wight. These are the posts of my experience:

  1. 30/Mar/2015: Ride to Ryde (from my home to the city of Ryde in the island)
  2. 01/Apr/2015: From Ryde to Ventnor over the Needles Park (Gun batteries)
  3. 02/Apr/2015: From Ventnor back to Ryde and with the Hovercraft back to Portsmouth.

Still learning how to use WordPress. I think this is the best method to collate them together. If anyone has a better solution, I am all hears.

Hope this is useful to someone. Thank you for your visit!


Camino de Santiago: Hang in there please...

(Disponivel em Português) (Auf Deustch verfügbar)

Camino de Santiago
Camino de Santiago Event Picture

Hi folks,

I know, it’s been a while since my last post. It still will be a while longer until I have gathered all the visual material, my notes and everything else, put it all together and produced the posts I intend to.

To give you an idea I have collected about 90,000 (yeah, 90 thousand) pictures during the 3 weeks of pilgrimage (I simply left the camera rolling and taking pictures every 5 seconds) and have also several hours of video taken between me and my pilgrimage partner.

Just separating the exceptional from the trivial is a daunting task. After that comes a bit of storyboarding, video editing and creation (inc. all the time-lapse videos), YouTube uploads and the writing of the posts themselves (which I´ll try to keep to a minimum).

If you don´t know this already, this blog and my cycling activities are hobbies. They don´t pay the bills (in fact they cost me quite a bit of money), so as I came back from the Pilgrimage I had to devote myself to the boring stuff that pays the bills.

If that wasn´t enough I have also a backlog of post I want to finish and put behind me before I devote myself fully to sharing the experiences on the Camino with you. Excuses, excuses, excuses… (but good ones).

I am just adding the final touches on the post of my last day in the 3 day bike trip to the Isle of Wight the week before Easter (I had started it before I left on the Pilgrimage and did not want to leave it unfinished before devoting myself to posting about the Camino). I will also post a simple video of me riding my Recumbent bike as there was one request from a family member who is interested in these types of bicycles (might be useful for other people too, don´t know). So that is what´s is coming next.

In the mean time, if you are interested, there is a series of great videos recently produced by Cacá Strina, another bike pilgrim (narration is in Portuguese only though).

Her blog can be accessed here: http://www.cacastrina.com/?cat=38 (suggest you go from bottom up i.e. 1st episode on the bottom to 6th episode on the top).

Anyway, this post is just t

o let anyone coming to this site know that I am still here and I will, as promised, be posting about the Camino de Santiago bike pilgrimage.

Hang on in there! Don´t give up on me…

Ryde to Ventnor via Needles Park

(Click on the pictures to enlarge them)

This was my 2nd time in the Isle of Wight. I have been here last year with my family and we drove to the Needles Park on the last day of our visit. We could not, however, drive to the Batteries where the big guns used to be. My younger son was already tired and I knew if we walked all the way up hill (it is a considerable walk) I would likely have to carry him.

So in this visit to the Isle of Wight one of my goals was to go the the Needles Battery and see the sea from there.

Full English Breakfast
Full English Breakfast at Kasbah

I left Ryde at about 11 in the morning after a nice full English Breakfast in the B&B I was staying, which I do recommend, by the way. It´s called Kasbah and they are very friendly and welcoming. Rather than a traditional B&B it is more like a small hotel, with nice on-suite rooms, TV and comfortable beds.

During Breakfast I phoned a number of B&Bs and Guesthouses in the Village of Freshwater, which is near the Needles Park. No rooms available. Camping was also not an option as it was too cold, windy and rainy at night and even if I wanted to, most camping grounds where not yet open for the season.

River Medina Marina in Newport, Isle of Wight
River Medina Marina in Newport.

So I decided to call B&Bs in my next destination, which was Ventnor, a village about 20 miles or 32 Km away – Success, but at a 40% higher price. With accommodation reserved for the night I started my ride letting Google guide me all the way. The first part of the ride, is the route from Ryde to Newport, the island´s biggest town.

I was already familiar with this route because last year I did a 62 Km ride in one day (1/2 way around the Island) which included this ride from Ryde to Newport. Most of the ride is done on roads, but there are stretches of shared cycle ways. The ride follows the National Cycle Route 22.

Horse riders on the B3401
Horse riders on the B3401

To my surprise I even found people riding horses on that road, which must have really pissed the drivers behind them 🙂

Had I found accommodation in Freshwater, I intended to take National Cycle Route 23 and ride to Cowes and Yarmouth and then to the Needles (if not too late in the evening) or stay in Freshwater. Given I had to ride south to Ventnor, I decided for a more direct route to the Needles.

Narrow stretch of the B3401 (Calbourne Road) with intense traffic
Narrow stretch on a climb of the B3401 (Calbourne Road) with intense traffic.

There are portions of this ride with high traffic of vehicles, mostly cars, vans, buses and small trucks. One particular point on the B3401 is a considerable climb in a very narrow part of the road.

I think that was the only moment in the 2 days of ride in the Isle of Wight that I was concerned for my safety, but that was a very small distance, of perhaps less than a kilometre. The problem is to climb with a heavy bike, slows you down too much, with cars passing inches from you at times.

The rest of the ride was reasonably uneventful with fields and farms often on both sides of the road.

ZigZag climb to the top of the cliff
ZigZag climb to the top of the cliff

When I arrived at the Needles Park was already past 3pm in the afternoon, so I went straight up the cliff in the direction of the batteries. I did have to push the bike a part of the way up as the wind, together with the climb was making it very difficult to pedal on a loaded bike.

Bus coming down from the top of the cliff
That would have been an easier way to get up there.

You can walk around the new batteries, but there isn´t much to see, apart from the wonderful sea views.

The Needles Rock formation
The Needles Rock formation.

To enter the old batteries, which is maintained by English Heritage you need to pay a fee of £6.00, which, given the time I thought wasn´t worth it. So once I had a look around I rode the way down to the park and had a cup of coffee.

The Needles Rock formation on the background
Selfie with the Needles Rock formation on the background

There I realized I was without mobile phone signal, so I had to guess the way to Ventnor for a mile until signal was restored and I realized I was going slightly off course.

I wanted to ride to Ventnor on the A3055, also known as Military Road, as this is a coastal road that offer excellent sea views along the way.

(I was told there used to be missile silos in the island during the cold war, but could not find any evidence of that... well, they would have probably hidden the silos anyway, right?)
House being transported by a truck
Mobile phones, mobile houses, mobile everything…

About half way there, Google directed me to take a detour, which I knew was to avoid the A3055 because from that point onwards the traffic increases substantially, but also, probably, to spare me from the climbs I knew I had to do, because I had already ridden this part last year (on an “empty” bike though).

Freshwater Bay Beach
Freshwater Bay Beach

Turns out, when I arrived in the B&B in Ventnor my hosts told me there had been a land slide and the road was blocked from a certain point onwards. Had I continued on the A3055 I would have had to turn back and take the detour anyway, so thank you Google.

Riding through little villages and farm houses, using small country lanes was indeed better and although there were a few climbs, they were much less difficult than those on the A3055.

Yellow flowers on both sides and the sea in front.
Particularly nice stretch on the A3055. Yellow flowers on both sides and the sea in front.

As I arrived in Ventnor, the time was 6:30pm, the sun had gone completely bringing the temperature down to a chili 5C.

Were the weather friendlier, I would have probably done a much different ride today, but when you are touring one of the things you do is to improvise.

It rained all night that night and weather was predicting heavy rain the next day (which thankfully didn´t actually happen), so I decided to cut my “Tour de Isle of Wight” short and head home the next day.

The video below is more than 8h of riding compressed in less than 8 minutes (5 seconds time-lapse).

<< Previous day                                                                                         Next day >>

Ride to Ryde

Ready to ride
Ready to ride

On the 31st of March I rode from Bracknell to Ryde… a “ride to Ryde” 🙂

I was initially planning to have someone drive me to the Hover Port in Porthsmouth, catch the Hovercraft to Ryde and then spend a few days cycling around the Island, but I felt a bit hypocritical and suddenly “Ride to Ryde” started to appeal to me.

Had a look in Google Maps and it suggested a 65 miles or just under 100 Km route. I knew I could easily do that in a day and I was right.

I planned to leave early in the morning, but these plans never seem to work. I packed the panniers the day before, but a number of small things contribute to leaving only at around 11am.

According to Garmin it was a 7h and 53 min ride to Porthsmouth, but I did stop a few times for water and food.

Nice day for a ride.
Had just left home. Nice day for a ride.

Weather conditions were not ideal. It was sunny when I left, but in the middle of the afternoon the weather changed and, in addition to the cold wind, I had to face rain and even a 20 min period of hail storm on the bike, which wasn´t much fun. If conditions were better and I was in a hurry I could probably do it under 7 hours even with a few short stops.

I did not weigh the load on the bike, but I estimate it must have been about 20 Kg all together, between contents in both panniers, camping equipment and front bag.

The first part of the ride I was already very familiar with. Down to Crowthorne, then Sandhurst in the direction of Farnborough on the Blackwater Valley Path which is a ride I do recommend for everyone. You ride alongside the Blackwater river and the many lakes and ponds often with vegetation on both sides. Very suitable to families riding together with Children, however, you have to consider it is for the most part not a paved cycled way, so it can get muddy after rain.

Picture of the bicycle, half way there
Half way there

As I approached Farnham, the Blackwater river turns north ways and as I was riding south I had to leave the cycle path to urban roads, which initially are low traffic, but after Farham Google Maps guided me to the A325 which had an intense traffic of cars and heavy load vehicles. If you are taking this route, please be careful and make sure you have good mirrors in your bike. You will need to be aware of what’s coming behind you because the A325 is not a major A road, so there isn’t much space on its sides and some vehicles approach at very high speed at times. Definitely not a place to take your children for a bike ride.

Traffic remained intense and with no cycle paths until I got close to the A3, which I rode along for just a few miles, eventually crossing it and taking some rural lanes as per Google´s guidance.

As I entered the A3 I realized that I had forgotten to start the camera, so a bit to my disappointment I wouldn´t be able to produce a time lapsed video of the entire ride as I intended.

The video below is from that point all the way to the Porthsmouth´s Hover Port and it does give an idea how the ride was. By then the worst weather conditions had already happen.

One of the issues you get when you start to rely exclusively on technology for navigation is that when there is no phone signal, there is also no access to the internet if you have not cached the map on your phone.

As I was riding on those small lanes, letting tractors and a few vehicles pass (in places there was not even enough space for a car and a bicycle side by side), I lost the signal and realized that I did not know where I was and which path to take in the next crossing. Obviously, per Murphy´s law, I took the wrong path, but thankfully it wasn´t long before I realized I was going the wrong way and the signal eventually returned as I climbed up a little hill. If you zoom up the map above you can see the little “bump” about a mile after I crossed the A3.

Muddy Path
Feet are about to become muddy

To correct the mistake Google suggested taking some bridal paths that were quite muddy, which is not fun when you are pulling about 20Kg of stuff on the bike. Lucky me, only a few meters were really bad, the rest were dry and rideable.

By then I was starting to get a bit tired and at the point I quickly appear in the video I wasn´t really looking forward to climbing the hill in front of me. I initially pushed the bike on foot, but luckly, the wind, which was strong all day, helped on that climb for a change and I was able to complete most of it riding.

Cycleways around Portsmouth
Several Cycleways around Portsmouth

Once the hill was behind there was a long descent and at the end the surroundings started to turn very urban again. I found that the urban areas on the outskirts of Porthsmouth and Porthsmouth itself have quite a good number of cycle lanes with cycling permitted bus lanes as well.