Day 24: Mission Accomplished!

Miles: 37.8

Elevation: 2134

The day we thought about pedello-Ing back across the Atlantic!

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Perhaps it was because are just so addicted to our bikes that we couldn’t bear the thought of a rest day or more realistically we were tempted by the thought that on Portuguese Independence Day there would be less trucks on the road…

In any case after a morning jog on the gorgeous Portimão beach and a deliciously indulgent breakfast we all agreed to push on to the finish line!

 

It was a bit of a dull cycling day in reality as we were advised to stick to the N-125 (a fairly busy dual carriageway type road) because it had a reliable hard shoulder (aside from the areas with roadworks!)

It was meant to be just over 40 miles so we had planned to stop for an ice-cream to refresh around half-way… I have become so addicted to the magnum doubles that I made us try three cafe’s and then hold our for a petrol station to get my fix 😉3975220A-BEA1-4C52-98C7-EF2E392F09B9

We then cycled the final 10 miles in record time – it felt very surreal to be cycling through familiar territory! And in true Weston style our first stop was at our favourite restaurant to book a table for dinner!6925C992-054F-4D17-A1AE-1566D1BBA7F7

Before considering throwing our bikes into the sea…

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I am now preparing myself for serious magnum withdrawal symptoms as I switch back to the green stuff!!

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Day 24: Odemira to Portimão

Miles: 54.1

Elevation: 3352 feet

The day it was so hot we had to swap food for ice-cream…

You know you’re tired when you need a double magnum for breakfast! (Admittedly after a few glasses of watermelon juice which Alice and I hoped might sooth our stomachs which seem to be rebelling a little against our new diet of chocolate, ice-cream, protein bars and liquor!)

We set off early hoping to beat the heat thinking it would be an easy glide to Portimão… in reality there were a lot of false starts… and several miles of pushing our bikes through the sand!

Alice openly admitted that she was making up the route as she went along today which did prove interesting at times…95EF747D-F5E0-4773-AE75-CC20629E32A9

But equally she clearly lives in an alternate reality – or at least on another plane of enlightenment where anything she requires just materialises in front of her – none of us could believe it when we she literally crashed into an immaculately clean toilet seconds after announcing that she needed a bathroom break – it was pretty surreal!57027BD7-B73A-4254-B277-17A02F84E104

After spending much of the morning pushing our bikes it was a relief to find a road we could actually cycle on… justifying a celebratory coffee stop…

After the fairly disastrous start, we decided to follow the N road most of the way, and it was mercifully smooth, but into the strongest wind we’ve had – I guess when you’re cycling through twirling wind turbines you shouldn’t be surprised that it’s tough going!580C0983-889B-4C60-89BD-61F0A1BA9827

We took about an hour to do 2 miles and only realised we had been climbing when we enjoyed nearly 10 miles downhill the other side of the peak!

We then pulled in for a much needed second ice-cream at Bensafrim as we were all melting in the 34 degree heat… sadly not helped by the headwind which felt like cycling into a hairdryer on full power…

Three Soleros set us up for the final 15 miles which were hot and full of roadworks, but passed mercifully quickly!

We are now in Portimão celebrating reaching the Southern coast of Portugal feeling like we are within sight of the finish line!!

Day 23: Grandola to Odemira

Miles: 65.8
Elevation: 2394 feet

We left pretty late this morning… partly because we were all shattered after yesterday’s efforts, and partly because the ‘farm’ we’d booked was so stunning none of us wanted to leave!

On reflection, waiting to get on our bikes until the heat of the day really started firing up was probably not the smartest decision ever, but at least Alice got in her skinny dipping and we got to pretend for a few minutes that we were just going to relax today rather than cycle another 6 hours in the baking heat 😜

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Our morning cycle was stunning – idyllic back roads with gorgeous views over olive groves, cork trees and the stunning Alantejo coastline… it all seemed too good to be true!

And then – we came to a motorway… Alice was adamant that it wasn’t, but the blue motorway signs were pretty clear! There was really no other way (unless we went back the 25 miles we’d just cycled) so we decided to ‘give it a go’… to be fair there was a massive hard shoulder and we barely passed 20 cars in the 10 miles we had to follow it – it was probably some of the easiest cycling we’ve had – and a lot less scary than the busy N-roads.

We had a delicious (but maybe too hearty) lunch on the coast after Sines and then continued along a beautiful, but very bumpy coastal road…

We even saw some ostriches…ED81923C-D402-418F-AA5B-B50409B43CB5

Sadly, shortly after Porto Covo – a very cute town…F4908407-22E8-4FD1-B7D5-158979CB075B

 

the coastal road rejoined the N road, for a fairly scary few miles. When mummy couldn’t take it any more we stopped for some emergency Twisters and a regroup session!

We then cycled the remaining 10 miles on quiet back roads meandering through what is clearly a very agricultural area, before finally reaching our home for the night just before sunset…

We have now been treated to a delicious home cooked meal and are all hoping that tomorrow’s hills will be much quieter than today’s roads!!

Day 22: Sintra to Grandola

Miles: Nearly 60
Elevation: About 3000 ft

Today was a LONG HOT day! We set off at dawn (without breakfast) hoping to catch the 9:20 Ferry from Lisbon…

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Not realising that Alice was expecting us to cycle on the busiest road we’ve seen along side rush hour traffic – navigating mega roundabouts… it was a bit like cycling on the A34 at 8am on a Monday… We were clearly insane. One particularly impatient car did nearly take my leg off, but mercifully we all made it to Lisbon in one piece…86BBA7AF-55E3-480D-B6E5-281A471A1533

And then enjoyed a couple of miles on a stunning seaside bike track…

We missed the early ferry and so had a quick coffee overlooking the statue of Vasco da Garma and the Tower of Belém..

while waiting for the 10:30 Ferry from Belém to Porta Barcia

(where we unfortunately missed our stop – not knowing that it barely touched land before moving on) We had to wait on the Ferry for 45 mins before it went back to our stop which was a second delay we didn’t really have time for 😜) But on the plus side we did see some pretty impressive jelly fish which made us rather glad we weren’t swimming this particular crossing!

From Porto Barcia the road went steeply up for a couple of miles before rejoining another death trap of a busy N road that rolled up and down the hilly terrain like a terrifying rollercoaster that had not passed it’s risk assessment… After about 20 miles (just before Seixal) it seemed our sanity got the better of us and we took a train the remaining few miles to Setubal.

In Setubal (after several failed attempts) we finally found a bike shop that would fix my wheel – a charming guy did it for free while Alice, of course, availed herself of the opportunity to stock up on yet another variety of power bar…3F294095-8924-4DF1-980E-96352CC1DE23.jpeg

We then rushed to catch the 4pm Ferry to Troia – only to find it was actually at 4:30 pm – giving us time to enjoy one our healthiest lunches yet 😉27CDB644-A28E-49AC-9887-6981F235EA48

This ferry crossing was much easier…

we landed in Troia feeling like we’d reached the Algarve – the terrain was suddenly completely different – unspoilt beaches, pine forests and cork trees! We followed a beautiful road for about 26 miles – it felt like a fairytale! A very HOT one…

Although after a few hours on a pretty straight road with unchanging scenery – we began to wonder if we were making any progress … we couldn’t quite work out why were slowing for the last few miles… only realising later that they were pretty much consistently uphill and into wind!EBCC48F6-509E-4129-BDDB-0E01B5CF590C

We arrived at a beautiful cork farm stay just in time to watch the sun drop down behind the trees at the end of the longest drive you’ve ever seen! (Just what you want after a 12 hour day ;))

Herdade Das Barradas da Serra is the most magically tranquil place we’ve seen so far! A farm that has been in one family for 5 generations – only opened for guests in 2009 – it feels like the Ranch from mummy’s favourite cowgirl show ‘Heartland’. We are exhausted, dehydrated and starving, but currently in heaven!

 

Day 21: A dreamy Day in Sintra

Sunshine, multi-coloured castles and cherry liquor in chocolate cups – what more could a girl ask for?!?

Carb-loading and excess sugar consumption are surely the same thing…

 

Day 20: Peniche to Sintra

Miles: 54.9
Elevation: 4264 feet

We woke up to find the fog had lifted and went to explore the beaches that had been totally indiscernible last night…

I then bought some oats from the supermarket next door and made my own simple porridge – such a nice change from cheese and ham for breakfast!! So far so good…

I had known my bike was suffering, but Not quite how badly! I was starting the day with a broken spoke and a bent rear wheel – hoping that a little shop 5 miles down the coast could give my poor injured bike a make over…5C0287D0-C76A-41FC-A47D-6D02954FE9F5

Unfortunately, the shop couldn’t help, and they kindly confirmed what we had already suspected – the next nearest bike shop was nearly 30 miles away! Not to worry – Alice had assured me today would be largely flat so ‘no biggy’ I should just cycle on with my creaking bike until lunch – it would all be easy…6B8B905D-5320-4B67-804A-B1E7A94AC1B8

It turned out to be one of our hilliest days with a very strong wind, which was glorious when it was from behind and terrifying when it became a cross-wind! So much so that we had to walk some really exposed parts for fear of getting blown over!

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We were reminded how precarious each moment is when we came across a young couple – with bikes and panniers like us, who’d just had an accident – it seemed the girl had been literally blown over by the wind. Fortunately it seemed they were both OK, but the girl was clearly in shock with nasty grazes and probably a broken arm…. we tried to help, but several locals were already doing everything that was needed so we pressed on, not wanting to over crowd them. It made us all a bit more careful!

We followed the coast most of the day and couldn’t resist stopping for lunch in a beautiful bay…

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Where we had such yummy Salmon and potatoes (probably not the most sensible cycling lunch, but it was worth it!) Apparently the Salmon was caught locally… and it tasted completely different to the stuff I usually get from Tesco!

We then pushed on along a long a ‘bumpy’ coastal road to the promised bike shop, passing some stunning scenery…25D81031-76D1-4AD0-B051-C75407BE6D1C

Sadly, they couldn’t help either! So we decided to try and get to Sintra in time to visit a bike shop there… but alas – despite Alice’s repeated ‘short-cuts’ we were too late!

So my bike will have to wait until Monday for its wheel to be treated…

But Sintra is just magical – so a day to wonder around is much appreciated!!

On a separate note… Alice has turned into an eating machine… she devours any pastry, coffee or chocolate in sight! She had 5 coffees before lunch today – and then this evening, as we cycled through a town just before Sintra, genuinely yelled – “This town smells so good – I wish I could EAT this town”! Mummy and I are a bit worried she might eat us too if she get’s too hungry!

Day 19: Fatima to Peniche

Miles: 61.8
Elevation: 3672 feet

E7866A20-8164-4108-AD07-39099D31BF2BToday was a stunning day of pine forests, castles, churches and extreme weather changes…

We set off from Fatima at dawn, feeling almost magically rejuvenated after our rest day and hoping to reach Peniche in time to Surf…

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We were rewarded by stunning views over Parque Natural das Serras de Aire e Candeeiros… we were literally above the clouds!

We then descended (quite steeply at times) through beautiful pine forests and enchanting hilltop towns…

We had decided to take a very indirect route going via Nazaré in an effort to avoid the traffic… and so we thought we would aim to stop by the coast for breakfast!

The route was mostly lovely, with just a few “un-paved roads” as google would say – which we now understand to be; dirt tracks, muddy swamps, or poisonous caterpillar infested paths…

We hadn’t even considered that the coastal weather would be anything other than balmy sunshine, but it wouldn’t be an adventure without any surprises…

As we approached Nazaré the temperature change was extreme – we all had to put on multiple extra layers, but we did still get our yummy breakfast (Alice somehow managed to resist the doughnut van and the cherry liquor)!

We then decided to take a more inland road onto Peniche… which took us via Óbidos – our favourite hill town so far – it was so well preserved and we wished we could have stayed there…

Especially as we descended to Peniche and realised the fog clearly extended the length of the coastline – we again went from baking sunshine to freezing fog in the space of less than a mile.

We are currently staying on the coast – but the sea (only 50m away) is totally invisible – and Alice has reluctantly accepted that it’s too dangerous to surf!

We’re hoping this mist will lift and we are looking forward to another coastal day tomorrow – I’m just hoping my bike holds up – as it’s sounding a little poorly!