Por­tu­gal

Adventure - - WOMEN IN ACTION>>> - With Ruth Jillings

I am no hard core cy­clist. I have never done round Taupo or any of the other road cy­clist rites of pas­sage and I don’t kick my day off at 5am for bunch rides to stay cy­cle fit, but for years I have dreamt of do­ing an over­seas bike tour. Last month only a year and a bit af­ter my 50th birth­day I got my wish. I have just re­turned from a ride in the Por­tuguese Al­garve.

I was on a 13 day guided tour which had 9 days of rid­ing an av­er­age of 63kms per day to­talling around 600kms. I went with my hus­band and an­other cou­ple who are strong rid­ers and vet­er­ans of four over­seas cy­cle tours. We chose a small Por­tuguese com­pany to sup­port lo­cal busi­ness https://www.por­tu­gal­bike.com/.

The tour took us along the South­ern coast of Por­tu­gal be­gin­ning in the fancy fish­ing vil­lage of Ses­im­bra and end­ing in the his­toric es­tu­ary town of Tavira. Along the way we went through sev­eral Na­tional Parks, dis­cov­ered that storks are real and hang about in gi­ant nests (I thought they only ex­isted in fairy tales as baby de­liv­ery mer­chants), nearly got blown off our bikes in the south­west­ern­most point of South­ern Europe at Cape St. Vi­cente, rode through peace­ful cork forests (more ig­no­rance, I never knew that cork re­ally does grow on trees) toured a win­ery, ate buck­ets of seafood, drank many Por­tuguese wines, stayed in a pink palace as well as a me­dieval cas­tle com­plete with a crypt un­der­neath with Ro­man ru­ins and arte­facts on dis­play from the iron age in­clud­ing some from the third mil­len­nium BC! (If you are in­ter­ested this is the Al­cacer do Sol Cas­tle and in a weird note our bikes had a re­li­gious ex­pe­ri­ence when we stored them overnight in the lovely at­tached chapel.)

I can whole­heart­edly rec­om­mend cy­cle tour­ing. It gives you a more per­sonal look at a coun­try and for me the com­bi­na­tion of ad­ven­ture with a bit of lux­ury was a life high­light. I want to do it again and again all around the world. As a bike tour vir­gin, I learnt a lot. Let me give you my re­flec­tions if you are think­ing of plan­ning a trip.

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