The Quinta that I stopped at was just great. Out of town and down the hill but really welcoming and a great place to stay, the owners provided beer on arrival after I’d stopped at a friends bar for refreshment and directions. They washed all my kit and for the first time in a few days my kit smelt decent again – the dead fox smell that had haunted me for a few days had gone.
I knew I had a 7km climb to start the day but the location of the farm turned that into 11kms. I’ll admit it was a crawl but he scenery lakes your mind off things. The day before it had been really hot – if the Garmin is to believed it peaked at 107. On some of the descents my tyres felt like I was riding on jelly. I wasn’t sure whether this was the heat or the fact that my tyres needed air. I obviously carry a pump but these are often for emergencies i.e. you get a puncture and it gets you home – but I’m a long way from home and had no idea where the next bike shop was.
Having got back to the planned route, I joined the N222. this road became my companion for the best part of a day and a half in the end – I only left it on Thursday lunchtime. I must work out how long I was on it for but the last kilometre post that I recall was 52km. I suspect I joined it at about 184km.
I descended sheepishly from the climb and as I started to climb again I came across an iron mongers; a real open all hours affair – if you recall Ronnie Barker in it. I walked in “Falo Ingles” I said to the lad behind the counter. “more or less was his reply”. Result I thought. I asked him if he had a pump. He then produced one of those old fashioned car pumps – the sort you push up and down with your foot. “Are you taking the piss?” was my first reaction. I’m standing there dressed in ringing wet cycling kit and you want to sell me a pump? I could only assume that blokes turning up in lycra costumes on a sunny summers day was normal in those parts. My reticence to use my own pump was that some times you get air hissing out of the pump and I just couldn’t afford a net loss of air. I really needed a track pump that would put me right.
The lad started yelling out “Pie”, “Pie” which was a little confusing. I resisted the temptation to say no “pump you twat”. With that a wee man emerged – more Ronnie Corbet than Ronnie Barker – clearly the father. He had a knowing look and they found an adapter that went into the car tyre pump and with that Pie applied the nozzle, son put a towel on the foot pump so as not to damage it thus ensuring that it could still be sold. I lent over the handle bars holding the bike. As soon as pie put on the nozzle I knew there was a problem. All you could hear was the hiss of air escaping my already low tyres. “no senhor” I said. We tried again and as the hiss increased so did the sons attempt at getting air in. To make matters worse as I leant over the bars I touched the garmin and ended the ride on the thing but luckily I didn’t lose the data. I said my thanks through gritted teeth an carried on. To be fair it wasn’t thier fault – just another couple of people doing their best to help. The next bit of road was another climb so it wasn’t as bad with the tyres but it was one of Pedro’s little killers. I stopped at the top and got as much air in as I could which immediately felt better (I did the tyres too!!).
The scenery is just stunning. The reviews amazing and different around each corner. If you followed the photos on twitter you must have got really fed up but it was just some of the most interesting countryside that I’ve ridden and such a contrast to the straight 15-20km roads that I’d ridden in Spain, where nothing really changed for ages. The other thing that had changed was the wildlife. In Spain these huge hawks or eagles would keep circling above you. I imagined them waiting for me to run out of water, fall off my bike and peck my eyes out – as vultures did in the old cowboys films. I can only assume that the Portuguese had eaten all the hawks as I didn’t see any. What I did see was loads of lizards that sun bathed on the roads and scurried away as I approached. I had lunch in Sao Joao da Pesquira and after a short climb followed a fantastic descent to the river below. On the short climb I saw something that I’m sure I’ll remember for a long. In the early afternoon heat two old boys had taken to the bus shelter to escape the sun – both had fallen asleep on their walking sticks. No stress and pressure in their lives!!
At river level things change. Tourism comes to the fore. There are some swish places and lots going on. I stopped at a swish place who tried to put the stinking fox in the corner – they clearly weren’t used to stinking clientele. I sat in the middle.
I knocked the Garmin again for fear of dropping in in the river – ride 2 ended, got back on a cracked on. The staff at the last place said it would take 2 to 2.5 hours to get to Resende and they were right. It might sound odd but you don’t mind when its like it is in the Duoro. You just ride on but the ride from the river to Resende turned out to be the longest of the day. Big climb up followed by an up and down descent – as odd as that sounds.
I stayed at the Duoro Park Hotel – still on the N222. A great peaceful place by a quiet marina. Another great place if you want to drop out and less than 2 hours on the train from Porto. I had a couple of beers, got changed and went to the marina. It was quiet but I was encouraged to drink with the owner and his pals (I thought it was rude to refuse). They introduced me to a guy from Belfast who’d had his boat there for two years. Needless to say it was good fun and I slept well as a consequence.
The Duoro continues to amaze me – its just a great region.
I’m now in Porto and will write up Day 18 (23-07-15) later.
Nick joins me tomorrow. He lands at 10 so we should be in the pub by 12!!!