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Discussion in 'Europe' started by Pumpy, Oct 13, 2013.
Disgusted that the ride reports are coming to an end
Quite true! It makes you almost not wanting to ride just to read it here first hand... almost...
What the hell ! all the effort done to find suitable food for veggies where this habit is considered more a pathology ... very good ; so you lot could go back to the Alps and enjoy all the local produce that you skipped last time - a part Polenta obviously.
Apart this , this excellent report is more than worth the first page of the main forum , and kudos to your riding prowess!
Tue 8th Oct
Not long to go before the end of my inane ramblings I promise as the holiday draws to a close.
After a pleasant nights sleep Gareth's musical alarm awoke us at 0800.
Timpo had a little lie in and was the last to arise. Telmo the campsite owner had told us that there would be no breakfast so we saddle up without the weight of luggage but still carrying tools and spares and head off to Braganca for fuel and breakfast.
Ela was going to have a day walking but still met us at the supermarket and bought us breakfast which was very generous of her.
Timpo had a great circular route around our campsite to try and we headed off on muddy farmers tracks before climbing up into the very North of Portugal on some lovely trails.
WE headed of on a more minor track that I was sure I had done before. The views as ever were stunning.
Jimmy hates this good weather and great trails.
We headed down towards a stream that had thwarted us before in finding a way through.
This time Timpo has forcing the issue.
There is a bike in there somewhere.
The way had been found across a green slimy ford pushing seemed the best option for all of us.
The other side then went straight up not a tricky climb but as with a lot of these things a confident approach pays dividends.
Timpo having fun.
Jimmy by now looking very professional.
We climbed around the hillside on good trails but with enough difficulty and hazards to maintain interest.
On days like this is there anywhere better to ride.
We came to this fire observation post built in 1967. Very basic but I guess it is (or was) manned as it has a commanding view over the forest around it.
After a brief stop where I gave an oratory from the balcony, We head down off the hills coming to a little ford with a tricky climb out of it.
Jimmy was full of confidence though.
We then popped out on a lovely bit of narrow grippy tarmac heading out to the Spanish border. I took this shot no handed as we went down a hill.
The road was lovely in fantastic scenery we looked for a cafe in vain when we came into a small village. Still we carried onwards not knowing or caring which country we were in.
We headed off onto dirt again and so often happens GFJ was caught unawares and went down hard due to an innocuous ridge of dirt.
Jimmy was ok though !
I was worried Gareth had hurt himself as in these adventures help is not always close at hand. Still its the risk we chose to take. I know I am far more at risk of being attacked or injuring myself on a night out in Nottingham City Centre. (Of course there is the ever prevalent risk of a battering from Timpo )
We went onto a recently deforested mountainside. The pics don't do it justice but the track clung to the side of the mountain then we descended down to the stream at the bottom. Awesome !
A nice little ford at the bottom. Goodness knows what you would do if you killed your bike down here. As with most bad thoughts ignore them and concentrate on getting your bike through.
The track then needed a bit of intricate route finding as it actually went along the course of this dried up river bed.
The heat was now getting to all of us and we had a dead end near a lake which involved plenty of sweat turning the bikes around.
We managed to make it back to tarmac though.
We carried on to a town called Rebordelo now I come from a small village but this place with loads of men hanging around doing nothing was a bit creepy. We went into a nice cafe for drinks and pastries and to get out of the sun but it didn't feel right. Possu the teetotaller made a new friend in the local drunkard. Whilst being a nice stop I was glad to be on my bike and the wheels moving.
The heat was almost oppressive we came into a small village and it made me smile to see an old lady on a step ladder repairing something whilst the husband passed her the tool. A reminder that out here a lot of the young people have migrated to the cities or emigrated creating a vacuum of young people.
The going got rocky and a bit tricky people were feeling the heat and time was marching on. We decided to call it a day and head back to the campsite slabbing it.
We witnessed a scary overtaking manoeuvre by a lorry but all got back unscathed the riding part of our holiday was over. I was also cheered by the lady grape pickers as it was wine harvest time. Obviously there were not allowed in the cabs of the pickups and had to ride on the back but all were very cheerful.
WE got on with packing the bikes and kit away which took us an hour or so. Rick had sorted that Timpo and his bike would return with Gareth and Jimmy I must say I missed Uncle Rick on the last few nights of beer and wine drinking.
Telmo the campsite owner had brought us a meat feast and it was cooked over a BBQ. Not much more to report although my writing in the Book of Truth leaves a lot to be desired. It does say that Ela stated that sheep cheese is expensive why I wrote that I do not know.
Despite drinking our fill we made sure we didn't make the mistake of only one bottle back to the chalets.
One trip with us and look what respectable GFJ has turned into. A wine monster !
After chugging the wine we all went to bed ready for the drive home.
Not much left to tell
Now you make me feel guilty, Giorgio!
Only joking - I've been a veggie since I was 17 but as I grow older I'm getting more relaxed about it and far less dogmatic. So if adhering to my vegetarianism causes major inconvenience for my hosts and I think that the meat on the table is local and sustainably reared, I am happy to diverge from the chosen path occasionally. I still regard myself as a vegetarian but a more tolerant one now...
So you are absolutely right, we have to come back to the Alps - not just for the carnal pleasures but also for the fabulous trails and because we haven't see you in ages! Hope you are well and the old Ténéré is still going strong.
Cheers All ..
for a very enjoyable read and pics.."muddymatt" you do have a way with words..lol
one final question..do those forest tracks appear on the satnav mapping you all used? or did you just leave a breadcrumb trail in case it was a dead end..
Reminds me of the pyrenees around sort but far warmer...Roll on next spring
What a classic!!!!
Well done everyone
Giorgio, good to hear from you, when are you going to attend a meeting outside Italy:
I believe the tracks are on the GPS mapping.
Finally got around to replacing the tyres and mousses on the 690 earlier today and found the (not unexpected) cause behind the final days handling issues:
I believe that the 110 mile, mainly motorway ride to get the van to rescue the DRZ on day 7 caused the rear mousse to overheat. Inside it's hollow in places and looks like it's melted and congealed as it cooled. At least it lasted the entire trip although I did have spare HD tubes and all the necessary tools to hand if it had failed earlier.
So it was your tracks I kept coming across from time to time... ;-) I stayed in Braganca on 13th Oct and got to the Algarve on 19th, so I was a few days behind you.
If you would like to take a fluent Portuguese speaker next time then give me a shout!
The weather improved steadily during our trip and on Saturday 5th October we were woken by the sun - rising over Vila Velha de Ródão...
... over the Rio Tejo...
... and our hotel
The whole complex of the Estalagem Portas de Ródão is rather nice and, although the paper-mill brings a lot of business travel here, not overly expensive - we paid 49 for our double-room, and that included bottled water, tea and coffee-making facilities, toiletries and an abundant breakfast buffet.
The non-stop extreme trail riding, all the hills, boulders and fords were starting to take their toll on the riders...
... and their bikes
Famous's starting problems hadn't cured themselves overnight...
GFJ had lost his back brake in a fierce encounter with some barbed-wire fence the previous day (which had also ripped his tyre - but he didn't know that yet...)
... and Rick didn't hold much hope that the bike shop in Castelo Branco would be able to repair his fork
So Matt and Timpo explored alternative means of transport
Somehow the two reminded me of a certain painting in the notorious Quatre Gats in Barcelona...
Strange creatures you can see in Portugal...
Eventually we split into three parties: GFJ and Rick went to Castelo Branco and Famous returned to his van in Freixo, because he didn't want to risk another breakdown in the middle of nowhere - as this was exactly where the rest of us was heading to.
St Matthew had kindly offered to ride with me again to which I bravely replied, nah, today I'll try to keep up with the group. Yeah, right - maybe it was the already baking heat, maybe the perceived peer pressure, but the first available gully was mine. And although I somehow saved it and came out upright, I ripped my pannier straps off in the process...
The others were long gone and when Timpo returned to see what the matter was (nobody gets left behind on his rides...), I sheepishly admitted that it would probably be wiser to take Matt up on his generous offer...
With my jacket securely fastened on the luggage rack and only clad in my body armour, we enjoyed the summery temperatures and the wind in our hair - riding flat, fast and fabulous trails through the open countryside.
There was the occasionally hill climb, which involved tight hairpin bends with lots of loose gravel and a tiny bit of screaming, but the views were worth the effort
And now we ride here on the crest for a while, right, Matt?
Oh no, after 300 yards it was downhill again - and steep! Steeper even than the trail on the first day that had scared the *** out of me... But with my back brake restored to full working order it was actually a walk in the park. It's all in the mind...
We rode along irrigation canals, fields, little villages and admired the southerly flora
Mmm, wouldn't this be like nicking apples from your neighbour's garden back home?
Ok, we won't then. Off we go!
Landscape and trails reminded me a bit of South America - without the fences, obviously...
... and you know what happens if you start day-dreaming on your bike... Yep, that's right, there will be a rude awakening. Around a lovely bend I swept and there was this abyss three feet ahead. :eek1
I should have opened the throttle and jumped it, said Matt, when he investigated the scene of the accident...
Fortunately only my pride was dented and we carried on. Every little refreshment was most welcome
Pure trail riding bliss
These may be Golden Eagles...
What do you think, Matt, is it coffee o'clock soon?
In Idanha a Nova we found a very nice café with a view
My intention had been to pay for all of Matt's food and drink during the day as a little compensation for putting up with me - but with my purse inside my jacket securely fastened to the back of my bike, my plan failed at the first opportunity...
At 3.30pm our destination for the night came into view - Monsanto
Suddenly Matt remembered that the trail led to a really nasty river crossing and we turned round
On lanes like this you don't really mind riding them twice
At the Marechal Carmona Reservoir the route was cut off by a locked gate. We trial-and-error-ed around for a while but couldn't get any further
Back to the road it was, until we found another trail that let us join the track again. We were definitely in cattle country...
... where gates and fences made it tedious and sometimes difficult to stick to our route
... but we could understand that the production of meat takes priority over the entertainment of foreign trail riders...
... and nevertheless, Monsanto came closer
It was gone 4pm by now and just over 20 kilometres to our night-stop. Would there be more obstacles in our way? Rivers to cross? Dead ends? Locked gates? Would we still have time to explore the remnants of Portugal's Roman past? Would Matt get his well deserved ice cream that afternoon?
To be continued...
When we approached the town of Idanha a Velha, Matt chivalrously went first into the river...
... to gauge the depth of the water for me...
Looks like our route was not the main one into town...
Idanha a Velha (Old Idanha) is a parish in the municipality of Idanha a Nova (New Idanha), where we had been lunching earlier. Idanha a Velha is one of the oldest towns in Portugal, with Roman settlement recorded since 16 AD and, like Penamacor, allegedly the birthplace of Wamba the Great...
The masonry looked rather interesting
... and so we took the time to explore the historic settlement a bit further
The church - built on the ruins of the first Visigothic cathedral on the Iberian Peninsula from the fourth century
What are you looking at?
Well, at the Celtic, Roman, Suebic...
... Visigothic, Arabic and Medieval architecture, if you don't mind...
I personally find that sight-seeing is even better when accompanied by an ice-cream - and I also thought that Matt deserved a treat for depriving himself of the boys' company and ambling along with me all day. So we entered the next bar, I asked for two Magnums and reached for my wallet - oops, that would be the one inside my jacket securely fastened to the back of my bike... Ma-hatt, could I borrow a couple of Euros, please?
Before we continued north, we returned briefly to the Roman bridge...
... for some family album shots
Just after Idanha the route was gated again and we had to detour on tarmac to the next junction with the track
Monsanto within our grasp...
... but we were not quite there yet. The path ahead looked suspiciously like a goat trail - a classification supported by the contour lines on TopoLusitania...
(Photo courtesy of Muddymatt)
... and also by my reliable travel companion, who had once attempted the ascent together with his friend Laurence. Now Loz is extremely handy to have with you on a technical trail when you are only 5 foot and a bit - but as we hadn't, we just admired the giant boulders...
... and rode up to Monsanto on the beaten (paved) track - just like everybody else. The boys had already arrived and sorted the accommodation for bikes and riders
We stayed in the Casa de David, owned by Estela, an old friend of the Three Stooges, who runs a B&B and a successful art gallery in Monsanto.
Our room was delightfully boutique-ish...
... and I was to share it not only with my Possu baby but also with Timpolino...
Well, it's been a few years since I last sampled the pleasures of spending the night with two men, so I didn't really mind...
Have a closer look at this sculpture and see what it is made from
While the others headed straight for the bar, I immersed myself in the charms of the 'most Portuguese village in Portugal'
The town clings to the slopes
The houses embrace the big boulders - literally!
The earliest traces of man found on this hill date from the early Stone Age
A truly magical place
If you want to know more about Monsanto just zoom in...
While dreamily walking around, I suddenly spotted a familiar van - Seamus had obviously made it back to Freixo on the poorly DRZ, picked up his rally bike and driven over to spend another evening with us. Now parking is a bit of an issue in the steep narrow streets of Monsanto, but we found a suitable space by the miradouro and went to join the others in the Taverna Lusitana.
The lads were already in high spirits
I took a few more photos
If you get bored you can stop looking - but I just couldn't get enough of this beautiful place
Estela had recommended the restaurant Petiscos e Granitos...
... where she joined us for dinner...
... and she even brought her mum
83 years, lively and alert, charming and witty; the rock on which the whole family is built - she can make a palace out of scraps, said Estela lovingly - she's the one who held everything together during the family's (and Portugal's...) eventful past. Senhora Estela Sr. still makes ornaments and helps her daughter in the art gallery; a really awe-inspiring lady.
Filled with lasting impressions, visions of history long gone, samples of great local cuisine and a few cups of vinho tinto we went home. It was one of those days that we will remember for a long time...
To be continued
Great report Pumpy.
Yep that looks fooked
Great report many thanks to Matt and Ela for the great write up & photos also Steve for the videos
"All good things must come to an end"
Wed 9th Oct
Not much more of a tale to tell from me but wanted to conclude my ramblings.
After GFJ tried to drink his two carafes of wine back at our chalet we managed to salvage a couple of drops for the rest of us.
I forgot to write about the lady grape pickers in the back of pick ups waving to me as we drove by on the way back to the camp site .
After a day out on the trails with myself in just her body armour Ela had developed a severe case of Vaffles on her arms. Once translated she had sun tan marks that looked like waffles due to the mesh on her armour.
We awoke and got ready for a relatively early off from the camp site packing the night before is always to be recommended.
On our way to Braganca we promptly headed to a wholesaler to stock on fine Portuguese wine, spirits and anything else that looked alcoholic. The vans sagging slightly we got separated as Possu was desperate for fuel but carried on our Northward journey.
Possu was stopped by the Spanish Traffic Police at a checkpoint over the border but after they saw me he saluted us and indicated we could go on our way. Possu promptly repaid the favour by nearly running him over.
We carried on along Spanish A Roads I was amazed by Ela's interest in the "Casa de putas" (Houses of ill repute) she was pointing them out to me while they were still in the far distance mind you I didn't have my contact lenses in.
As usual on a journey we chatted away Ela telling us she was glad that the van had manual window winders in case we went off the road into a lake. I was glad of her advice but asked Possu to simply keep all 4 wheels on tarmac.
We met up with the others at a petrol station for a spot of breakfast before heading off. We were slightly behind as Ela went shopping for a couple of hours in the service station shop!
After some good driving by Possu we arrived in Santander. Nice and early seeing a familiar van and trailer up in front.
We headed off for a coffee and all opted to do different things. We ambled around town and having kept ferrets as pets before I was interested in the shop.
WE bought some food and had a picnic on the quayside there were a few other bikes there and we watched the vehicles be unloaded.
Ela climbed onto her throne and we boarded the ferry.
I was very interested in the scantily clad magicians something I had never been too interested in before, not having my contact in I had to move forward to get a better look. A few pints and we headed for bed.
Up in the morning and we breakfasted on leftovers from last nights picnic.
It was a case of killing time until we got back into Plymouth. Ela had taught me a trick about pretending you had under arm hair when you find something funny, I was put in my place and told that it actually meant someone was tickling you there.
We said our goodbyes and headed back to the van to disembark. A pretty miserable day but we cleared customs and were on our way back to Oxford.
Having helped make my holiday Ela and Possu had no more jokes to share, so we carried on the A38 out of Plymouth.
Possu innocently said "Look at that orange British sports car is it a Stag ?"
I peered out on the side window and said "Spitfire!"
There is no truth in the rumour that it took us until Oxford to coax Ela out of the foot well.
Back to Oxford a quick van swap and back to my folks in Worcester ready for a trip to Poole for my sisters 40th was my next mission but that is another story.
Thanks for reading
Thanks to Ela and Possu for taking me and keeping me in check during the journey. I really enjoyed my days of riding with a Ela her sometimes different perspective on things adds another dimension to the group.
GFJ always the gentleman had his first full trip away I have sneaking suspicion he will be back.
Jimmy despite not being a committed trail rider Jimmy's mountain bike skills and fitness stood him in good stead. Oh and he was great craic in the bar as well.
The Oirish Seamus and Daithi always cheerful whatever the odds Daithi's enthusiasm was infectious, I know they will back on some trip somehwere although Daithi may opt for the ground floor after the lift incident.
Uncle Rick a shame his holiday was cut short I now been on quite a few trail riding holidays and he never lets you down, is always ready for a beer and will make sure the wine is OK before we toss it down our necks.
Finally Timpo the catalyst for this trip and of many for me.
I thank you all.
Before I sign off a few top tips from myself :
Do check your bike over change oil and filters, brake pads etc. its false economy not to replace stuff. New tyres that you know will get you through a trip are also worthwhile and save you losing riding time getting them replaced.
Its better to replace than to take loads of spare cables etc. a simple repair kit will suffice. Decent breakdown cover to get you back to the vans or home is a better bet.
Make sure you have ridden your bike with luggage before. It might look great parked outside Starbucks but can you handle it when the going gets tough.
You don't need a milling machine in one pannier and a lathe in the other zip ties will solve most problems and are far lighter.
It rains even in hot countries so make sure you take the appropriate clothing.
Try and interact with the locals you will get far more from your trip attempting to speak a bit of the Lingo when ordering things goes a long way.
If you do end up in private property or have hassle its often easier to apologise blame the sat nav (Thanks Loz) and get the fluck out of there works for me anyway.
You don't need a track line to follow, make your own up getting correct mapping on you sat nav and it opens up a whole new world of opportunities.
Not all people in Portugal smile as much as Paulo he is the exception but once you break the ice most are very accommodating and helpful.
Your on holiday so do what makes you happy and let everyone else do the same.
C'mon mate!! I'm blushing
Seriously, I don't laugh that much, I just get happy to see the relieve on your faces when I show up and you realize I can save you from the claws of Timpo the Merciless... No more bag of chips and a coke for lunch...
Again, great writing skills from you and Ela!
Just spent the last 2 hours reading your RR!
After meeting you all in Cepo Verde and picking my bike (the big orange pig that T. kindly brought), when returning to Bragança it rained heavily and got soaked. Soaked with a smirk! Glad my contact had a drying machine. The next morning was returning to Lisbon, and got a lovely 500km ride under heavy rain... kept thinking how much fun you guys would have!
Glad you had a great time!
Fantastic ride reports, thanks Ela and Matt, I've read and re-read both your reports and it's like it was mere weeks ago we were there....
Thanks to all the Anthill mob, Timpo, Pumpy, MuddyMatt, Famous, Possu, GFJ, Jimmy, and RickA for a fantastic week of trails and Beer, special thanks to Timpo for bringing us on such a fantastic spin and for having the the patience to help me strip my bike down to get the water out of the engine, this after he'd specifically told me not to fall into the water, sorry mate.
Epic and I want to go back as soon as possible.
You came all the way to Portugal to eat... pizza? :huh
Yeah but it's good pizza though
We just had to ride around to find the best looking pizza waitresses
It's a tough job but somebody has to do it