2015 European Adventure travel blog

Going cross country

Jack taking risks

The old jail for political prisoners

Advertising for homes on theneverending golf courses

Crashing waves

I stayed way back

Our fearless leader

A late start today to enable people to have a look around Obidos meant that we rolled out at 11:30. At least the rain had cleared although there was a light overcast which looked set to stay for the day. The prediction was for 18 degrees and less than 5% chance of rain but a steady southwesterly wind which would mean a headwind most of the day. Just out of Obidos we rode through some kinds of fruit orchards. I first thought that these were vineyards due to the stunted plants but Maree realised that they were heavily pruned fruit trees. I guess that it makes it easier to pick the fruit if the trees are no higher than the fruit pickers.

The route appeared to be mostly flat on the elevation map but in fact had a large number of low steep little climbs which made it difficult to get into a riding rhythm. The constant headwind meant that the two electric bikes were switched on even during the flat sections. Maree was suffering a bit from the blow to her chest especially when she breathed in but also when she had to get on or off the bike. Even more than usual she was unhappy about the constant stopping to regroup as the other riders struggled with the undulations and the headwind. Soon after we were riding through familiar smelling forest. Eucalyptus plantations on both sides of the road made us feel that we were back home.After 16 kilometres we met Cristina with her usual table of fruit, nuts, chips and chocolates.

Jose led us off down the road and soon we saw a sign indicating 'dead end' but we assumed that there would be some access for cyclists. In fact it turned out to be a new road construction and it was indeed no road just a sandy mess. We could see where a new road was being built so it was a case of wheel the bikes across the building site (at least we did have helmets and hi-viz shirts) to the new road. A few false starts eventually got us back on to the asphalt. We found out later that a previous tour in September had been through with no problems. It turns out that these roads are all part of massive housing developments particularly related to golf clubs that are opening up in the nearby dunes. The most lavish of these seems to be the Royal Obidos Spa and Golf Resort but there appeared to be quite a number of courses along this stretch. Perhaps Winton you might like to come back to Portugal you could probably play a different course each day of the week. Apart of the resorts there seemed to be many, many houses all locked up and shuttered. The communities were dead with few cars and even fewer people in evidence. I guess it all gets livelier on weekends and during the better weather.

A couple more people had trouble with their cleats today and were unable to unclip in time when they stopped. We traced it to the fine sand getting into the cleats and then drying to an almost cement like consistency. After 40 kilometres we arrived in Peniche opposite our hotel with 10 kilometres still left to finish the ride. There was a loop around the peninsula to complete but first we had lunch. Peniche is the westernmost town on the European mainland and it was hosting a large number of surfers who were competing in an international competition in a nearby town. When we set off for our ride around the peninsula we could see why the competition was being held here as the huge Atlantic rollers were making some great waves. Most of the peninsula is high, rugged cliffs which are constantly battered by these massive waves creating spectacular rock formations. One spot in particular called the Pilot's Balcony gave fabulous views of crashing against the cliffs. Just before we arrived back at the hotel Jose pointed out an old fort which used to defend the coast but was used as a jail for political prisoners until April 1974 when Portugal underwent the so called Carnatiion Revolution which overthrew the dictatorship regime created by Salazar.

As a special treat we were driven to a seafood restaurant in the town rather than eating in the hotel. The fish was great and the vegetables a little overlooked. Dessert for me was a local chocolate cake which I enjoyed very much. Maree had fruit salad.

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