The impending storm with its heavy rain fast approaching and the bike fixed I thought I would make this one long final riding day in the sun. One factor in my favour was a fair bit of the distance was downhill.
Hotel Santa Barbara provided an early breakfast at 7 am so I was on my way before half-past seven with the bike working perfectly and empty roads I made good time.
As the day became busier it became even clearer why Portugal is a nightmare country for road biking. Although most of the day there was a parallel motorway no one uses it! as its a toll road. So drivers & trucks still hurdle down the old road trying to prove to themselves its just as fast as the motorway this coupled with the dire state of the ‘hard shoulder’ made even worse by the guy with the road planer making seemingly random furrows down the sides of the road make it a very hazardous experience.
I was pleased to get off and go down into the pleasant riverside town of Alcacer do Sol to recover and get some lunch! After passing through Aguas de Moura the last part of the ride I had decided to try a part of the official Ecovia 11 (Lisboa – Badajoz) cycleway 🙁 why o why did I do that? when will I learn that official cycleways are for young fit guys on mountain bikes with plenty of time! Total nightmare the track soon deteriorated into the very fine sand of varying depths would I ever make it to the ferry! to make matters worse the Open Street Map was only partially complete (unsurprisingly) and Google Maps was even worse than usual. Eventually, after doing a loop I found tarmac and picked up speed again. Finally making the ferry at Cais do Seixalinho just as the sun was setting 🙂
I had chosen the Lost Lisbon, Cais House due to its proximity to the ferry terminal truly an impressive residence although carrying the bike up 3 floors was hard after biking 111 miles and pedalling through sand! My room is massive the only downside is that the rooms are not en-suite but everything else is truly impressive.
So that’s the end of the jaunt across the Iberian Penisula!
Friday 23 February 2018 – My eldest boys birthday!
Blimey, the Portuguese are so miserable I went down at the allotted hour for breakfast to find no sign of life except a living statue of a man in the hall, not a smile or grimace. Eventually, I worked out the restaurant was across the courtyard so as I went the door opened in silence with me followed by the guy and his 3 equally (e)motionless friends. Wow, was I glad to escape?
With only one gear (the front gear worked once or twice) of I revved the gear I had chosen gave me a top speed of~18kph thus enabling me to do a fair bit of climbing >1,600ft without having to walk. In fact, it’s oddly relaxing not having gears as you just let it roll going down but how FixieMick does it I never know.
On the way near Azinhal there were loads of Storks nesting on the top of electricity poles! How do they do it? Interestingly on the vacated nests lots of smaller birds make the undersides into there own nests!
At the final roundabout in Beja where Google said the bike shop was, I looked around and woe and behold not only a bike shop but a full-blown
Specalized Concept Store manna from heaven. It was closed for lunch but the friendly bike fitter (yes he smiled) told me where the restaurant was around the corner and yes an equally friendly English speaking guy fixed me up a veggie pizza, suddenly the world was a brighter place. I had time to check in the Hotel Santa Barbara around the next corner then took the bike to the store.
So two hours and €25 later the bike was totally fixed 🙂 I spent the afternoon sightseeing in Beja, a very pleasant small town, especially with a great bike store!
Well, the walking part was due to mechanical failure, first time in several years of cycle touring 🙁
I started off from Huelva early, stopping at the ham shop to get a quick cheese sandwich, with the firm intention of getting the rear derailleur sorted out, but the shop didn’t open till 10 am and didn’t look too good anyway, although with hindsight I should have stayed!
The first part was crossing the estuary by a lovely bike path, I’m sure the twitchers would have loved it, a quick stop for a second breakfast in Aljarque foolishly taking a ‘shortcut’ over what turned out to be a sand dune – when will I learn 🙁 Later it was interesting pedalling alongside the water channels similar to the Maderian Lavadas especially their gigantic syphons to get across the many valleys
Just after El Granado my little mechanical failure occurred as I was dropping down on the front derailleur the rear derailleur cable snapped in the brake housing (so that’s why it hadn’t been working so well) causing the chain to leap up and wedge itself in the mechanism and I mean wedged! In the end i resorted to violence by kicking the pedal backwards thus freeing the chain & twisting the changer:-( I sort of twisted it back with my pedal spanner, cut the wire and wrapped it around one of the luggage rack screws suitably tensioned for the middle gear 🙁
Of cause I ended up walking the big hills especially the huge one after crossing the border where I had met the most miserable cafe owner to date. Cheered me up no end, not.
I eventually arrived at the Beira Rio hotel in Mertola to meet more miserable faces 🙁 The lady suggested a bike repair place in Mertola so I shot off there, only to find they now fix rotavators etc 🙁
Looking on Google I could see there was a bike shop in Beja a much bigger city and only 30 miles away so I booked a hotel, for tomorrow, near to the shop and hoped it wasn’t just an agricultural or kiddies bike place.
I decided to move on from Seville after one night, I’m just enjoying the biking in the glorious sun too much to spend time mooching around cities.
It took a long time & distance before I was in open country and quietish roads again. Today I was more careful which roads I rode on so as soon as I could see unmade roads I zoomed down on the iPhone and found a longer more made up road 🙂 I also found an Aldi so I could stock up on cereal bars which the Spanish supermarkets don’t seem to do.
Later a laden up touring guy came bombing past me 🙁 I decided to catch up with him to say Hi, I eventually did just about keep up and then lost him again. However, he stopped for lunch in Niebla so I managed to sit and have a very enjoyable chat with him. His name is Martí from Tordera in Spain, he’s cycling to Lisbon as well on his first long-distance trip, and he’s quick. However, he is going via the coast whereas I will be cutting the corner and going inland so I guess we may see each other there. After lunch, we cycled together, once I decided to go to Huelva too as that was the only place with hotels!
The Costa De La Luz hotel is OK a bit basic with an awkward shower, why have it pointing it across the bath rather than along it? but the city centre is close and surprisingly attractive.