Day 16 – Fermeselle to Vila Nova de Foz Coa

Fermeselle was a real find. It feels like a little village built on one of the sides of the Duoro valley. It’s built of granite and has tiny, compact narrow streets. I could imagine that you’d really drop out there in just a few days. I stayed in a “casa rural” which according to google translator is a cottage. Some cottage! I stopped in La Casa de Regidor – great host and highly recommended. 

My host last night pointed me in the right direction and soon I was heading to the dam at Bemposta which is the crossing point between Spain and Portugal. It was a great surface and I descended quickly to the river below. I felt really emotional as I  went down the hill as I knew I was about to complete the Spanish leg of my adventure and hit my destination country. The valley is just stunning – breath takingly beautiful. I stopped on the way down to take a few pictures and also on the dam. The sense of emotional was massive as I saw the “Portugal” sign and j couldn’t hold back the tears of joy. I know it’s not the objective but somehow it felt such a massive Milestone. Portugal is a special place for me – I’ve been coming for 38 years now. Strangely it felt like coming home. 

The climb out from the dam is a big one. Quite tough but I’ve developed a mantra on this trip “never get off”. I haven’t got off on a climb yet and I wasn’t  about to start now. Before long I was at the top and at Bemposta. Ringing wet with sweat but I was up there. The scenery was fantastic and the roads quiet. I don’t think that I saw a car for the first 20kms out of Bemposta 

I’ve mentioned  before now that so many people have gone out Of their way to help me on this trip. At the end I will make a point of mentioning them all in a separate post – but for now I’d like to tell you about Pedro Rocha. I’ve not met Pedro. I found him by chance whilst research the Portuguesse leg one day. Pedro runs a bike tours company called Live. Love. Ride. I asked him for help validating my planned route and Pedro used his detailed knowledge of the area and terrain to put me straight. He has planned, routed and sent me the Garmin routes for the next 3 days. He’s also helped plan out ALL of the routes south from Porto. 

He’s taken late night panic calls and early morning screams for help – often when the Garmin wouldn’t play ball.  Pedro has done this for no reward and I am extremely grateful. Pedro’s vision is to show people what Portugal has to offer road and mountain bike cyclists which from what I’ve seen today is fantastic.  I can’t imagine why people prefer the Alps and such like. I highly recommend it and will be coming back – but not this year!!!!!

The routes were that quiet that there was an absence of coffee stops so my first one wasn’t until the near half way point. It was getting hot and water low but out if nowhere appeared a petrol station and restaurant. The family that owned it were sitting down to lunch – sardines. I had coffee and 2 orange sumol and got my head together. They finished lunch and I ordered a cheese sandwich. Average but by now I’d have eaten a dead dog. 

Refreshed I pushed on found a super market after a couple of hours and had 2 more Orange sumol (Portuguese fanta) and then started my descent down to the river. A most amazing road to ride – just fantastic. See if you can pick out the road on the photo. 

The penalty was the N102 up from the river to Vila Nova de Foz Coa. Just brutal but I didn’t get off. The place I’d booked was out of town – about 6kms out – down quite a bit which is a real pisser as I’ve got to come up it again tomorrow. But what a place! A Quinta or farm that grows grapes and olives for olive oil. Lovely family that didn’t speak any English so I called On Emma in the Algarve to interpret. The husband took me into the village tonight so that I could get a pizza. One of the best Tuna pizza’s I’ve had (but no soft egg Seb!!!).

So a great first day in Portugal and another tough one again tomorrow. Can I manage to climb higher than Ben Nevis again?

Resende here I come! Nick would joined me on day one And two is meeting me in Porto on the 24th so just two more days alone. 

I just hope it’s not as hot tomorrow. 109f or 43c at its height – at least I’ll lose my gut!!

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2 thoughts on “Day 16 – Fermeselle to Vila Nova de Foz Coa

  1. I suppose 5,000 ft of climbing, 43 degrees and 7.5hrs in the saddle is becoming a standard day for you, to all us fat cyclists back home that is a day of torture and 2 weeks rest. A phenomenal effort. Now looking forward to the documentary and the film!

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