sábado, 4 de abril de 2015

Day 2 - Porto Covo - Monchique

Dear all,


I fell asleep very quickly, despite of some family chatting very close to my camping plot. I slept around 8h straight, being awake at 7h40. I totally forgot to set the alarm clock!

I had some breakfast, chatted with some friends and girlfriend on whatsapp and I felt like being slow in the morning. Afterall, why to rush?

I packed slowly and I was ready to leave the camping around 10AM.

Getting ready
All set and ready to roll

The sun was shinning and it was an easy ride to Vila Nova de Milfontes, where I stopped at a small supermarket for some supplies of the day. I do not recall exactly the distance, but I had the feeling I could easily reach it the day before, the camping there is also quite good, and I would have less kilometers to do today. Well, what is done is done!

Downhilling towards Vila Nova de Milfontes bridge

Vila Nova de Milfontes is worth seeing, but it would mean around 5km detour, and I would have a lot to cycle today. Moreover, I was only biking for around 1 hour, so it was early for a more extended break.

River Mira. Milfontes on the right
My bike
One more picture over the river Mira

The road would take me to Odemira, where I should make a decision on which way to cycle to get to Monchique. The scenary varies from time to time, making it an enjoyable ride!

Vegetation just close to the road
Open fields close to Zambujeira do Mar

Around km 30 the hungry was starting to strike, so I found a cool spot for some meal. It was only about 15 meters from the road. The water is used for watering the fields, so it was a nice meal with my feet on the chilled water.

Me and my bike

I just stopped for about 30 minutes and, as I was still far from home, I needed to hit the road again. When I got a bit after the turn to Zambujeira do Mar, I spotted the first time the mountain where Monchique is located. Gee, that is huge!!

Monchique in distance

The highest peak is 902 meters above sea level, although the village itself it is about 600m ASL. Nevertheless it is located on the South part of the mountain and this is the north one. Well, it is better to keep cycling, as it is still far away.

Still before Odemira, the first climb of the day! Not very long (about 1km but steeeeep).

1st climb of the day
View from the top

It made me realised that would be hard to get to Monchique with no pain. No pain no gain, right?

I tried to look for some snack bar with internet connection, but I was no able to find it. i decided to try my luck at Aldi supermarket. They also did not have, so I just bought some more supplies and rested just there seizing the sun and the breeze.

Break at Aldi, Odemira

At this time, i had two possible routes:

  1. Turning East towards Saboia - Nave Redonda - Monchique
  2. Continuing South for about 38 km till Alzejur

Option two seemed more appealing, so South I went!

Peter Lamb cycling South

While on the road you have time to think, to have some breaks just to chill or take a picture and also time to switch on technology :)

I haven't prepare the route precisely, as I knew that I could go all the way down to Aljezur and then take a massive uphill till Marmelete and find my way till Monchique from there. I looked it up on the Ipad map that there was a much more narrow road between Odemira and Aljezur, but I guess that without finding a internet spot on the way, I could not find it (the ipad map, as a sort of location feature, but only works with a wifi connection).

Turns out that one of my many stops was close to a little place called S. Teotonio, that is where it starts a road much more directly towards Monchique (at least 15 km shorter). Well, a narrow road means less traffic and avoiding the uphill just out of Odeceixe seemed appealing enough!

Road M501 towards Monchique

Like mentioned above, a road like this has very little traffic, so it is possible to stop right at the middle of it for some picture!

Somewhere on road M501

The road is quite nice, although quite hilly I would say. Anyway I thought it would prefer starting the climb some kilometers before Monchique, rather than a steep climb at the end of the day.

Views from M501 after some km of climb

More or less at this point I stopped in a small snack-bar and it seems that the people there saw an Alien. I asked for an ice-cream and they were surprised I speak Portuguese. Well, I am Portuguese, ok? I would say that there are not many "new people" passing there, specially portuguese bikers... I left the snack bar after charging a bit my phone and having an ice cream. When i asked them how much kilometers were left to Monchique they said around 30. Well, 26 is around 30, but 34 is around 30 as well, but 8km mostly uphill it is quite a difference! No more precise answer, it was time to leave.

I was stopped after some meters by an old guy who asked me where I was going. After I told him my destination he said: Well, there is no way you will make a mistake: you keep always on this tarmac, after the downhill there is a bridge and you turn left... But prepare yourself for the uphill!!

Humm, why there is a downhill before? That does not sounds good. When it was starting, I could spot a bridge far in the valley. I hope it is not that one, I recall thinking! The downhill starts, the a 10% slope sign appears, well, lets just seize the descent. I accelerated the most I could, tried to get the most aerodynamic I could, realsed the breaks and let the bike flow! I looked at the speedometer (gps based, by Garmin) and it was a bit over 60km/h! The top speed with this bike was also in the Algarve, close to Lagos, where I reached 69km/h.

Well, this downhill was quite lomg and I was curious to know how fast I was, but just at the end of the day I got to know that I reached 78,36km/h!! It was a great feeling, but it is nice that there was no crush in any of the curves! :)

After that bridge, a steep uphill for some time and not much to tell about the road from that point.

Still on M501

At some time, I found some other snack bar, and few meters after it a dog, quite big and without leash starts to run from the house towards the main road. The road was uphill, so no way I would escape from it. i stopped a but, drank some water and recall what is most said. If you show fear it is the worse. I starting biking towards him, quite slow and looking into other direction. I had the water bottle in my hand so that I could throw some water on him in case things would get worse. Gosh I am afraid of this big dogs!!

I could pass this test more and then I got close to a small bridge and oh my God, started the biggest uphill I ever climbed. It starts at Ribeira Grande untill Portela da Viuva. It is about 15km uphill!!!

Just the start of the big climb

In this situations is all about lowerimg the gear and keep a comfy pace, cycle and forget you will take loads of timr going slowwww. The thing is, every turn you expect to be the last, but you see more and more road ahead and up up I went! It is a great feeling though stopping sometimes and look at the road below your level and realised you were there some minutes ago!

After that big climb I just got the road N266 towards Monchique. I was only 3 km away from my destination and a few more from home (but downhilling)!!

My bike just about to get to Monchique!!
Tired Peter Lamb!

It was a very tough day, luckly not too hot, but I made it, amd that is all that matters!!

What could be better? Pushing a bit more to Vila Nova de Milfontes on Day 1 and save the legs on Day 2!


Summary of the day:

  • Distance: 94,5 km
  • Time: 6h16m55s
  • Average Speed: 15,04km/h
  • Top Speed: 78,36km/h

Well, what is nice comes to an end pretty fast, here it is a picture of my bike close to our home in Monchique.

At the end :)

That's all for now folks!





Day 1 - Lisboa - Setubal - Troia - Porto Covo

Dear all,


Winter is finally over and I needed to go out of the city to "disconnect" from the "daily life".

As it Easter and my family decided to spend a few days in Monchique, how about taking my bike and join them? I would have two days of biking and I could spend Saturday evening and all Sunday with them.

I planned the trip the weekend before, having decided to take a morning train from Lisboa to Setubal. The company that is running this train service is called Fertagus. The first train in the morning is at 6h43, the second one at 7h43 and the third one at 8h43. The train takes 57 minutes to Setubal. From Setubal train station it is a short hop till the harbour where the ferry boat to Troia departs. The are scheduled for 8h30, 9h30 and 10h30.

I packed my bike on Sunday, and nothing more to be done rather than waiting for Friday to arrive.

I set the alarm clock for 6AM and another one for 7AM but it turns I messed up and they would only ring on Saturday!! Well, I had a terrible night of sleep so it was good to sleep a bit longer. I left my flat around 8AM and there was plenty of time to catch the 8h43 train bound to Setubal.

The train station is about 2km away from my flat so it was an easy ride through empty Lisbon roads.

The ticket office was closed, so the tickets needs to be purchased at the automatic vending devices. The ticket to Setubal costs 4,35€ and the bike is free of charge.

At the ticket vending machine

Elevators were switched off so I took the bike on the escalators to the platform. The train that would take me to Setubal was arriving.

My bike and the train
Peter Lamb prior to board the train

The train has a dedicated space for bikes, wheelchairs and baby trolleys and it was there I went to.

My bike inside the train

I was not sure about the way to the harbour, but I found it without any stress. Afterall, there is plenty of time till the boat departure.

The queue to buy the tickets wasn't long. As I have "Lisboa Viva" card, that I use in Lisbon's public transportation, there is only need to recharge it with single way ticket, which costs 3,25€.

Long queue to board the ferry boat

Our ferry was not docked yet, so I took a small walk and found out that there were other bike touring woman going south. Great, I might not go alone on the trip!

Our ferry approaching on the left, a sister on in the middle and a catamaran passenger boat on the right
Packed ferry boat on its way to Troia

The ride is smooth and rather fast, but it was a bit chill. Me and the other bikers were chatting but although we are going on the same direction it seems that our pace will be quite different, so I think we won't be travelling together.

Troia peninsula and Arrabida mountain behind
Sleepy Peter Lamb on the ferry boat

Disembarking was smooth and easy and it was time to hit the road, finally! At start there are some hundreds of meters of a bike path.

Cycling path, Troia
Peter Lamb

The road is prety much flat with some nice views to the river Sado on the left side and the Atlantic Ocean on the right hand side.

After 25km of cycling (around 1h30 on the saddle), the hunger was starting to strike. I found a mini-market close to the road and I decided to stop for some supplies and a bit of rest.

Mini-market open :)
Sausages, bread and pear juice

I didn't spend too much time in there, afterall there are plenty of kilometers ahead.

Peter Lamb ready to cycle again

The road does not have much traffic and it is quite pleasent ride. Sun's shinning, not too strong though, spring brings back the birds singing, good frangnancy from nature... All in all, much better than being at the office!

Straiiiiiiiiight ahead!!

Another short break at Pinheiro da Cruz, where it was built this prison, prety much in the middle of nowhere. Apparently they sell wine to public. Lets say I cannot carry much on my bike :)

Building of prison's compound
Peter Lamb getting more and more sleepy!

Kilometers were building up and I was getting more and more sleepy, that I needed to have a bit more extended break. I was lazy to take the sleeping bag and mattress, so I just took a nap in the woods! Oh well, I woke up waaaaay much better :)

The road sometimes passes in small villages and one of them (I really do not recall its name) has a primary school that is the standard design of primary schools in Portugal (back in those days, when we had standard designs).

Primary school

The road around Sines is quite boring, as it is similar to a highway. It is also close to the refinery, so it is totally uninteresting for about 15km, which means 50 minutes of total boredom till you find something nice again. Right at its end there is a power plant that generates electricity from Natural Gas. The system is cooled down with ocen water, which means that the beach nearby has warmer water :)

The powerplant
Peter Lamb

Close to the powerplant it starts a road just along the ocean, heading to Porto Covo, which is my destination today. The road is very very nice!

The Atlantic Ocean

I had one more break (and one more ice cream!!).

Chilling out close to the beach, Sao Torpes
Peter Lamb and his bike

Right at this spot it starts the natural park of "costa vicentina". In my humble opinion, a must see, either by bike, trekking, or even visiting by car.

Natural park

The road it is not in mint condition (actually far from it), but with such a view, who cares?

The road to Porto Covo
Beach in distance

It is not only the seaside, but also the landside that is nice, specially now in spring time!

Yellow wonderland

Porto Covo is not that far and soon I reached my final destination of the day, after cycling a bit over 80km, and with the lack of sleep, I was prety much exhausted.

Porto Covo
Peter Lamb made it to Porto Covo!

Just a small detour to check the ocen, before heading to the camping.

Atlantic Ocean
It would be nice to sleep in this spot
Peter Lamb's bike in Porto Covo

Finding the camping was easy, as I have been there before. The receptionist is the same and I checked in in a question of minutes. 1 small tent + 1 person costs 6,95€.

I took a while to find my plot, as the camping is rather full.

My palace tonight

Shower was long and warm, quite relaxing after one long day on the saddle.

A quick walk then to city center for some dinner:

Some locals chillin'
City center

Summary of the day (I will neglet the 1,7km from home to train station and the 2,5km from train station to Setubal's Harbour):

Distance : 81,97 km

Time: 4h40m15s

Average speed: 17,55 km/h

Top Speed: 51,66 km/h


That all for now folks!



Peter Lamb