REACH FOR THE STARS

Sera da Estrela, Por­tu­gal, 10-days

Motorcycle News (UK) - - 2016 Missions Spring Edition -

The view from the top would have taken my breath away – if I had any left af­ter the ride up. It’s not of­ten that you get to ride to the very top of a moun­tain, but that’s what I’d done. Not just any moun­tain, ei­ther. I parked my bike on the sum­mit of Torre, the high­est peak in Por­tu­gal and took a good look around. The ex­pe­ri­ence is sim­ply stag­ger­ing.

The Serra da Estrela – the moun­tain of the star – is a com­pact moun­tain range that rises on the bor­der be­tween Spain and Por­tu­gal.

The big draw is the N339 that climbs from the small city of Covilha, go­ing straight up and over Torre in an ex­plo­sion of hair­pins, be­fore de­scend­ing in broad, steep swoops to the town of Seia. This is the so-called Por­tuguese Stelvio and, like the Ital­ian pass it’s named af­ter, it is a road that’s worth the trip. Mostly be­cause the roads that lead here are all as­tound­ing.

From the mo­ment you roll off the San­tander ferry, you’re sur­rounded by bril­liant roads. Through the Pi­cos de Europa moun­tains, across the wide-screen plains of Leon and over the bor­der into Por­tu­gal I found mile af­ter mile of im­mac­u­late tar­mac that was as rich in bril­liant bends as it was empty of traf­fic.

And then I reached the Serra da Estrela. The first road I found was the N232 – 20 beau­ti­ful miles of broad, wide turns climb­ing up the moun­tain fol­lowed by a dizzy­ing dozen hair­pins drop­ping down the other side. It was great – but it was only the be­gin­ning. The M501, N230, N338… every­where I went, the roads got bet­ter, the views got big­ger and my smile got broader.

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