Saturday, 9 May 2015

From 14th Gear to First


We cycled out of our campground at Barragem de Belver, just south of Ortiga, and within 200 metres we were walking - uphill. Quite a few minutes later we launched ourselves down the other side of the first hill of our day and immediately found ourselves braking hard. The bends were too tight to let the bike run free and when we stopped to check, the brake pads had heated the wheel rims so we could barely touch them.

The countryside was not as attractive as we have become accustomed to. A solitary windmill, but for the most part we were negotiating steep, bumpy roads through pine and cutover forest.

It turned out to be that kind of a day. Up and down, short, sharp climbs preceding short, tight descents. It was impossible to develop a rhythm. One moment we would fly down a hill in 14th (top) gear and the next moment we would be in first as the bike lost momentum and our speed fell away.
By day's end we were ready for red wine at €0.85 a tumbler and double helpings of pizza.

Give us a long steady climb any day, we decided - 5% for 10 km is easy in comparison with this.

By the time we stopped for lunch we had covered just 25 km and we knew we were not going to make Castelo Branco that day. We checked our map, turned on GPS George and settled for a campground 28 km short of our intended destination.
Drying the tent after a night of steady rain. 

It was one of those moments of good fortune. At Vila Velha de Rodão we met a group of geology students on a field trip and enjoyed a night of politics, history and wine. A rest day followed in the lovely campground and then freshly laundered and well fed we set off in the rain for Castelo Branco. 

Flora (L) and Isabelle who ran the campground at Vila Velha de Rodão and made us feel very welcome.



Barb and Chuck from Minneapolis with the Ford Transit van they have bought for an extended trip of Europe.

What happened next is best summed up by Judy on Facebook.

"We have had a wonderful lazy time after cycling to Castelo Branco and meeting up (as planned) with our two American friends we had met whilst cycling in Thailand. They have a camper van. Mike tied the tandem to the roof and in days we were whisked through hills, wind, rain and cold to Lamego, down the Douro River to Porto. Party's over - they've left to head south."


Unloading the tandem in Porto.

Judy sports a new sun hat in Porto.

Ribeira, waterfront houses in Porto.

Italian Vespa - Porto street

Port wine tasting in the home of port.

Blue tiles on the Church of Sto Ildefonso, Porto.

Firewood storage - new use for a Fiat Uno.

Barb - happy camper on the road.

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