Travelling

Once more I’m off on my travels. While we are away we will be taking part in the Pedals de Clip classic road-race bike rally in Catalonia, Spain (for more information click here.) As so often Internet access will be variable so I will not be posting here for the next month. I should be back around mid-June. While I’m away I hope to get to grips with the e-book version of ‘Simply Elfje’ and, with luck, have it available on my return.

Tandem Touring

Okay, so this is not quite as the title suggests. We have just returned from almost six weeks of touring through France and Spain but I have to admit that we weren’t actually touring on the tandem – we were in our motorhome with the tandem on the back so that we could go off for rides on it at various locations along the way.

Motorhome and tandem

Motorhome with tandem, Valencia, Spain

One of the drawbacks with a motorhome is that you have no alternative transport and if you want to go anywhere you either have to drag the lumbering thing with you, use public transport or take a bike. (Some people actually tow a small car but one of the reasons we swapped our caravan for a motorhome was in order to avoid towing.) So we decided it might be fun to take the tandem.

The first tandem excursion was a couple of days after we had arrived in France on the overnight ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe. We had stopped at an Aires in the village of Montville just north of Rouen. The plan was that we would cycle into Rouen and visit the cathedral. Hubby reckoned this would be a round trip of about 12 or maybe 13 miles. In the event it was more like 25 or 26 miles, was extremely hilly, alternately cold then hot then cold and took considerably longer to get to Rouen than we had envisaged, giving us only about an hour in the town before our return trip. I have to say I wasn’t overly impressed with the cathedral but have since learned that there are two in Rouen and I think we went to ‘the wrong one’. Maybe next time!

We then spent a few days with some friends who run a B&B near Alencon before moving on south so it was about four days before we got on the bike again. This time we were at an Aires called La Petite Gare at Uzerche, an old railway station. The track has been removed to create a public amenity and cycle path. It was a lovely gentle and flat ride! It was hot and we were in shorts and t-shirts. This was to be our last ride for a while as we wended our way via a visit of several days with my cousin near Toulouse and a few other overnight stops plus two days at Carcassonne – lovely medieval city, could have done with longer here – until we arrived at our daughter’s some 45 mins drive inland from Tarragona in Catalunia, Spain.

We stayed here for about a week and as we had no intention of driving the motorhome up and down their lumpy, bumpy, rocky, narrow track on a regular basis the tandem was our transport of choice. On it we made trips into the local village and to the nearest town, Mora D’Ebre. I have to say it was colder here than I had expected and we were glad we had packed some warm cycling gear. On one ride we nearly ran over a large snake that was thrashing about in the middle of the road. I wondered if it had been knocked by a tractor that went down the road ahead of us. When we returned down the road a short while later it had gone so can’t have been badly hurt.

Husband and tandem

My husband and tandem,
Peniscola, Spain

Then we discovered that we had six broken spokes in the back wheel! Why the wheel didn’t collapse we will never know. We tried to get some replacement spokes from our daughter’s favourite bike shop but they didn’t have the correct size. It was a few days before we managed to get any and by then we had moved on to a campsite near Peniscola, north of Valencia. We bought ten spokes so we had four spare. A few days later we broke another and this was to be the pattern for the next several days. We bought another six spokes in Oliva, just south of Valencia, when we only had one spare one left. The next day another broke. My husband had not been convinced when we bought it that the tandem had its original wheels and when the chap from the bike shop in Oliva looked at the wheel he said the spokes were not of good enough quality. Now we had replaced all the ‘inside’ spokes in the back wheel with stronger ones and checked their tension. Fortunately we had no further trouble.

Snow over the Mountains

Over the Mountains

The bike next came out in San Sebastian after a horrendous drive over the mountains from Pamplona in the snow! (After two days of almost continuous heavy rain) This is not what we went to Spain for. Once the snow and rain had stopped we had a gloriously sunny day, though cold, and rode the tandem through the town and along the sea front. What a lovely place – though riding a tandem through town with all the roadside furniture and pedestrians drifting around over the cycle track does not make for easy riding. Maybe we would have been better with solo bikes! Every time the pilot slowed down without warning it jolted through my body as I tried to peddle against sudden resistance, being unable to see ahead too well to anticipate!

Your truly, San Sebastian. Where did I leave the tandem?

Your truly, San Sebastian. Where did I leave the tandem?

Our last tandem ride of the trip was around the old city at La Rochelle, France, again a very interesting place. There had been a marathon earlier in the day and although the event had finished when we got the bike out the place was still heaving and again a tandem was not really the ideal bike for the stop/go conditions. After that it was back to our friends near Alencon before returning to the UK, it was pretty cold and frosty so the bike stayed on the back of the motorhome.

It was great fun to have the tandem with us but in retrospect taking the solo mountain bikes might have been a better idea – easier to get around towns and less likely to break spokes out in the rough countryside.

Now the tandem needs a thorough overhaul – especially the back wheel! Will we use it again over the winter? I don’t know but if we do I’ll be sure to tell you all about it.

 

Reality

Home from sunny Spain,
back to reality –
and rain!

January Joy 12

Raining again,
but at my Spanish class
I dream I am in Spain
in the sun.

Off Again

No stone today, just an announcement that I will be off-line for the rest of the month. From tomorrow I will be touring down through France, visiting some friends and relations and then stopping a while with our daughter in Spain. Should be back during the first week in December. In the meantime posts will appear as usual each Monday on Simply Elfje.

Travels

Daughter off to Spain,
son returns from Germany;
coming and going.

Surprise

Surprise
family reunion;
my cousin drives
from France to visit
Spain.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Much to our surprise our daughter had arranged for a cousin of mine and her husband, who live in the south of France, and who we hadn’t seen for probably at least 5 years, to visit for a few days while we were in Spain. We knew nothing about it until they arrived!

This Elfje also appears today on Simply Elfje. You can read it here.

Bonfire

Mild
and still.
Bonfire blazes bright.
Branches pruned from olive
trees.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

In Spain my daughter has a few acres of mostly olive but also some almond trees. They have been much neglected in recent years and so they have been spending time pruning them ready for spring. We had some wonderful bonfires burning the brash – it does blaze up well, must be the oil!

This Elfje also appears today on Simply Elfje.

From Above

This Elfje is the first of the ‘stones’ written whilst I was away. It will also appear today at Simply Elfje:

Flying
to Spain,
from above clouds
look just like arctic
seascape.

Site content copyright of Elizabeth Leaper (Libby).

Supporting the Printed Word

Read the Printed Word!