For my regular readers, all the previous posts are updated with Flickr links
Its been a reasonable 1,000-mile bike ride at an average of 56 miles (90km) a biking day (it’s the first question everyone asks me).
Things I’ve maybe learnt:
a) It’s hopelessly impractical to do long distance train journeys in Europe with a touring bike may be just about on your own but for two well I wish you both best of luck 🙁 Even two Brompton’s would be a challenge. Stick to planes or the various ferries maybe even coaches.
b) Southern Spain Andalucia is excellent for winter biking and with Mallorca getting overcrowded with bikes it’s certainly worth a go, Quiet, excellent roads, good weather and relatively inexpensive. Portugal isn’t really suitable for road biking, off-roading it’s probably OK.
c) Audaxing in Spain in winter is certainly a lot more pleasant than the UK and straightforward.
Here is my fun spreadsheet of the trip with links to all my blog posts etc: Note: This sheet will get updated automatically
I liked Lost Lisbon Hotel & Casa de Pasto restaurant in Portugal so much, even with the walk to the toilet, that I decided to stay here all week and return home on Friday for Sally’s Cambridge Half Marathon this upcoming weekend.
Monday had rain forecast in the afternoon so I planned a little route along the riverfront then up to Sintra and back before the rain started at midday.
What a nightmare! the river cycling route is a total mish-mash of paths with right-angled bends & cobbled surfaces which if you miss the bend you are in the drink or cycling on the humungous wide road with the railway in the centre, all a total nightmare, it started raining early and at Cruz Quebrada I just gave up, Portuguese road biking is not pleasant and so I made my way back more or less the way I came. Not a great ending to the bike trip but made me pleased that I didn’t hang about in Spain too long as the wind & rain would have been deeply unpleasant when touring.
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!