The early night did us good but the legs were stiff as we set off. Thankfully the morning fog had started to lift as we made our way down the N120 again into Aljezur itself. Nick needed Ibufren gel for a troublesome knee so we stopped at a pharmacy. I dived into the coffee shop at the Bomberios (fire station) and had a great coffee. Something called a Pingadoo – either that or I was asking for something ridiculous every time we stopped yesterday.
As soon as we got back on the bikes the hill started. It spiked straight up from the off getting up to 10% gradient. It stayed like that winding up the hill for about 10 kms. It was hot too and the previous nights beers soon came dripping out. At the top of the first steep bit my clothes were ringing wet. It was a lovely steep climb and you got some great views – and it was quiet with very few cars. After 10km we had climbed about 600m elevation. The route then seemed to flatten a wee bit as we went round the hill. We got the first glimpses of the more sunny south coast and then started the gradual uphill climb to Monchique. We had lunch and the two cans of Sumol and set off for the summit at Foia. It’s about 8-9kms further on and is relentless. As I searched for more gears that weren’t there I looked down at the Garmin and the gradient reached 13% – I suspect it went above that.
Nicks Ibufren had clearly been purchased from a man called Lance. It must have had a special ingredient or two as he shot up to Foia like a rat up a drain pipe. I maintained the tourist pace but eventually we were both at the top. It’s the highest point in the Algarve at around 900 m. You can see the south coast and the towns and cities clearly but the west coast still had a cloak of mist around it. Looking West you could see the hills that we had come over. It’s a really pretty place – well with a visit. The views are stunning and the apple cake that I had on the top was first class.
The descent was fast. About an hour up and less than 10 minutes back down to Monchique. We went out the opposite way to we came in up into the hills the other side. We then turned off right towards Silves into what is some of the nicest countryside that I’ve seen south of Porto. Quiet countryside – picture postcard stuff and probably less than 20kms from the coast but a side of the Algarve that most visitors to the Algarve never see. It was a great ride towards Silves.
At Silves we headed straight into the first bar that we came to. 8 bottles went in world record pace as we reflected on one of the best days since leaving Porto. Just a brilliant, classic day in the saddle and an appropriate final full day. The beer and the cycling made us hungry so after a snooze we went into Silves. Nothing much to shout about in Silves apart from a medieval castle which appears to attract the crowds at various times of the year. All very nice – but when you’ve got to eat who cares about the castle!! We had a good meal and then chatted about the last week – recalling the meals and the hotels. We couldn’t remember all the coffee stops – there were just too many. There was quite a lot to talk and slur about but we managed to push out the conversation out until about 3 am, helped along for about 30 minutes by watching the worst karaoke singers in the world. We played pool for a bit – but the balls kept moving. Clearly It was time for bed and as a consequence we had a late start to the morning and our departure from Silves.
It was a great days cycling and we phoned Pedro to thank him – thankfully not at 3 am though.