Waiting for the CP train from Porto to Fungalvaz. A ragged man gave us advice on which platform to stand on, before he completely disappeared from the train station. Slightly tinted windows bathe sepia light in the train carriage. They’re not too busy, carriages populated by silent unnamed NPC characters in a video game. Trains were always on time and the guards helpful. It’s a relaxing way to get around here. Chlo dropped her bike off the train onto the platform and punctured immediately on the platform edge.
We cycled from Fungalvaz to the first campsite of this leg: camping redondo (English). On the way went through Tomar. Great roads, viaduct, satsumas.
Day 2 and we were properly into the riding. It felt great to be away from the coast, away from the city. Descending dodging a storm, over Albufeira de Castelo do Bode. We took the N2 as far as Vila de reí – expecting a legendary cycle route but finding a grim dual carriageway. Truck horns blared us off the road. Sidestepped our way to Abrantes with low hopes for the campsite, we thought it was just a play park. Parque Tejo turned out great – a science park cum architectural campsite. We had kebab dinner. Tried to eat at a good lookin’ chicken place but it was closed.
The following morning I ran to the top of the highest hill I could see. Chlo had a lie in. Set our course for Montargil vía last night’s closed piri piri Chicken place, sat down by a main road and lunched in the best chicken we’ve ever had. Planned a ‘mostly’ off road route, but couldn’t take a few of the paths due to artillery, also unsure of the hunting rules. Discovered acres of cork and olive forests. Tapped it out on road, long day and we felt the first chill of cold. Arrived to empty campsite.
Morning view over Abrantes. We camped by the river on the right hand side of the bridge. Parque Tejo. Quarries of Portugal Do not enter – army training grounds. The first cork oak plantations we saw. Dead straight roads through Alentejo. The numbers indicate the year that this was harvested – probably 2011
Morning. Headed up hill into Montargil village and made breakfast of eggs and fruit whilst sat in an unfinished sports ground. Coffee and toilet paper issues. Soon up onto sandy trails and we were riding off road for the whole day, perfect riding and great conditions. Our happy place. Big dog and wild boar prints.
Finally! Dirt roads. Getting higher out of Montargil. Occasional washboard surfaces. Long descents into the unknown on the Alentejo plateau towards Coruche. These roads are mostly used for the hunt. Tricky rutted sections. We only saw this sort of rock formation once. Boar. The first building we saw for the whole day.
Here we picked up the Ecovia11 cycle trail. It’s an off-road cycle route between Lisboa and Badajoz. The trail is a network of double track used for farming and hunting, mostly sand over hard pack but with some sections of grass. It’s badly way marked so some GPS is recommended. We didn’t see another cyclist or walker for the entire time we followed it. Bikes with 35mm+ tyres are OK. We started in lovely Coruche, enjoying the winding trail and cork/olive/rice agriculture.
Our journey on the Ecovia11 took us to Herdade do Moinho Novo, a fancy farm stay with an animal rescue. Splashed out on a highly disappointing massage.
Sort of Acer in peak colours. Maple. Owls made of Cork. Owls are the Nicklin family symbol. Long abandoned. Chlo riding the grassy section of Ecovia11 More washboard sand. Getting tired now. Emu up close. Strikingly ‘dinosaur-like’, granted we haven’t seen dinosaurs. Or have we? Lodge for the night. Too fancy really.
Our final stop before Lisboa was Joao’s place. An odd arrangement of furnishings and animals, but charming and incredibly relaxing bar the perpetual cockerel. From here it was a short ride to Lisbon via a ferry.