2015 European Adventure travel blog

A windmill house on the way to Sintra

A hotel growing out of a rock face in Porto Novo

The long and short of our tour. Maree with Rob.

Some of the team riding up the bike track.

An ocean view

Cristina, Jose and Ricardo at the finish

Sintra from our hotel window.

The moorish fort all lit up.

Our last day of cycling started early with a 9am departure. The day was overcast but only light rain was forecast however there was a stiff headwind blowing. Our route out of Peniche led through the market garden region for Lisbon and we saw cabbages, garlic, canola and various fruit trees as we cycled by. Initially the route was fairly flat with only gentle ascents and descents. As we approached our first stop at 30 km the route led us through a delightful gorge which terminated at the beach. The location was called Porto Novo where a number of hotels are built out of the surrounding rock. Cristina had set up her table of goodies and there were clean WCs to be used nearby.

The next stop, for lunch, was scheduled for 64km but, due to strong headwinds many riders were getting tired and it was decided to stop at 50km instead. Maree had been struggling most of the morning with her bruised and battered body not coping well with the relentless headwind. With the knowledge that the next section of road involved two stiffish climbs Maree decided to pull out and put her bike on the roof of the support vehicle. Gina and Deborah also decided to stop at this point. Another negative for Maree was that traffic on the narrow roads was getting heavier as we approached Lisbon. When I did a count back I found that, with what they had ridden today, both Maree and Gina had completed 603 kilometres. Both were quite happy with their efforts and I am immensely proud of how well Maree has ridden over the past two weeks.

Freed of the necessity of looking after our wives Bruce and I moved to the head of the line when we next set off anda the first of the dreaded hills started we kept pace with Jose leaving the other riders in our wake. Only Rob, the young 'gun' kept riding with us. We regrouped near the start of the second hill where we came across a Swiss female riding a fully loaded touring bike. She has been on the road for two months and is making her way to Gibraltar.

Jose led up the slope with Bruce, Rob and myself close behind until we reached a viewpoint over the Atlantic Ocean. A quick descent led to a flattish run and then a gradual climb. The four of us got into a groove and just kept riding for about 20 kilometres until Jose, who was in radio communication with Ricardo, decided that we should wait for the others. It took 12 minutes before the next riders turned up and 20 minutes before Ricardo brought up the rear with the stragglers. By this time the traffic was getting quite heavy and I was glad that Maree had decided not to ride although I missed her company. We continued as a group for the last 10km into Sintra with the traffic becoming progressively heavier. Our hotel is in the old town part of Sintra which makes most of the major features relatively accessible. The roads are nicely cobbled with many art works lining the sides. The vegetation here is semi tropical due to the extra rainfall caused by the hills on which the city is built.

We celebrated our completed ride in the garage of the hotel with bubbly and photos before retiring to our rooms for showers and a final clothes washing. For dinner we were driven to a local seafood restaurant which turned out to be only 300 m from the hotel but, because of a convoluted one-way system it took nearly 15 minutes to drive there. I thought that our meal, consisting of prawns for entree and a skewer of monkfish for main, was very nice but Maree was unhappy with her fish which she felt was insufficiently cooked. After the meal we walked back to the hotel which took less time than the drive. Tomorrow is a free day in Sintra before we get driven back to Lisbon on Saturday morning.

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