Statistics from the ride

So, I finished the ride 3 days ago. Since then its been a period of rest and relaxation although the meaning of relaxation has yet to get through to Seb. If i’m having a quiet 5 minutes in the pool, he’ll appear from no where to shouts of “having a nice relax are we Dad” followed by a bombing in the pool – Peter Kay – John Smith beer advert style.

Its given me time to have a look at some of the stats from the ride which may be interesting to some of you. I believe that the final distance is correct but I’m sure there are bits that I have missed because I forgot to press start on the Garmin. My Garmin problems and frustrations have been well documented so some of the data is from Nicks device. So here we go:

Distance covered:         2687km’s – a little less than I anticipated

Meters climbed:            25,528m – 1,000m short of climbing Mount Everest 3 times over. Surprisingly, the biggest single day was actually the trip to Lisbon where the accumulated meters were 1,889m.

Calories burnt:              122,895

Longest day:                 184km – 10 hours and 2 minutes riding!

Top speed:                    64.9 km/ph

Visits to the website:     7,903  and from the following countries:

UK, Portugal, Spain, USA, Switzerland, UAE, Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Italy, Slovakia, France, Greece, New Zealand, Czech Republic, Turkey, Morocco, Ireland, Saudi Arabia, Iceland, Poland, Belgium and Malta.

I’m sure that other stats will become available but an interesting first reflection.

Next post will be lessons learnt!


Day 27 – Silves to Balaia

So the final day of my challenge had arrived. A deliberately short day so that the boys and H could see me arrive (the landed late on the 31st). 

We only had about 35km to do by the handicap of a hangover and a 3am finish made it seem a lot longer. We both consumed a full bottle of water in about the first 15 minutes. It was a strange feeling knowing that the adventure/challenge was coming to an end. I’ve been lucky to go so many different places and see how many of our European neighbours live in reality. I also need to return to reality – but before I do, I turned to Garmin for one final time for the route in to Barbs. It didn’t let us down picking out mainly quiet lanes as we got ever closer. In Ferrairas we were passed by a local cyclist who we chatted to a traffic lights. We were discussing how good Foia was. 

We stopped for a quick coffee before pressing on to Barbs. 

As we arrived down the track I saw Seb first. They’d made a bamboo arch for us to cycle through and a red and white tape for us to burst through. The flags of the 4 countries were on display and a Heineken was on hand to reach the parts that other beers could reach ( if I remember the saying correctly). 

Aunty Barb – who administered the wine that set me off in this course in the first place, H, Lou, Seb, Dad, Emma (my Portuguese interpreter who I called upon when I was stuck) and Mia – my youngest follower – were all there. 

A fitting end to the ride. 

Donations now stand at £7,222 against my goal of £10,000. Thanks to everyone who has supported me and donated generously. I will get round to thanking you all if I haven’t done so already. 

If you haven’t donated yet – don’t be shy – click on the following link. Don’t put it off until another day – do it now before something else gets in the way. CLICK HERE TO DONATE

I’ll write a few more blogs on my thoughts and reflections and to also share some stats with you over the next few days. I’ll share two stats with you now though. My clothes are hanging off me. I left England weighing about 92.5kgs. No surprise really – I’ve cycled every day for the last 27 days apart from 2 rest days. My shape has changed quite a bit. So what do I weigh now? ……91kgs. 1.5 kgs is all I’ve lost. Can’t bloody well believe it!!!

The 2nd stat – one that I didn’t want to tempt fate with until now is that I’ve not had a single puncture!!!

Don’t forget the donations CLICK HERE TO DONATE

Many thanks


Day 26 Aljezur to Silves

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. 

Day 25 – Sines to Alzejur

Sines was a funny little place. Quaint in parts, an old castle and nice beach. As we came into Sines the night befor, we crossed what was like a superhighway of huge pipes. We couldn’t work out what it was but later we were told it was gas and oil.  On our way out of town we came across where the think the pipes went – a huge great refinery or plant. By now we had taken a wrong turn and we were in the middle of an industrial estate. A very unglamorous start to the day. 

It had been foggy by the hotel. We waited for our clothes to be dried by the hotel as they hadn’t dried over night so we were hardly rushing to get on our way. As we headed back to the coast from the industrial estate we came back to the fog. It’s a shame because we could really see what looked like really nice beaches again. Not just long and sandy. These were rocky and quite dramatic. Along this stretch were numerius surf schools. A Dutch family who were cycling from Setubal to Faro and were in the hotel were making their way along the coast and we kept seeing them. At Porto Covo we turned left towards the route the N120. There is an absence of Tarmac roads here – at least roads that go anywhere. The N120 seems to be the old road south and we quickly pick up signs to Lagos. 

The road is a busy one. Many Portuguese cars with roof racks and surfboards on. You got the impression that some were getting a quick get away before the August migration from the north starts on Saturday (1st August).  It wasn’t therefore a road where you could ride side by side chatting. It’s was a means to end so we just got on with it and covered 20 or so miles through a national park until a cafe/restaurant appeared. 

The restaurant was quite full. All Portuguese. A hand written menu that was largely unreadable. Sopa de Dia stood out which was great followed by fried fish with rice and beans. Great meal to fuel us on. It was hot when we came out of the restaurant and back on to the N120. It didn’t seem as busy but the road was still a means to an end. There were a couple of towns along the way. At one point a lorry laden with bark from Cork Oaks passed me. Shortly after I saw it in a yard with tons of the stuff. I’d always seen the oaks across the algarve minus their bark but I’d never seen it in such quantities. A big descent followed and we had drinks at the bottom. Back on, the road climbed up and before long we were at Rogil on the outskirts of Aljezur and our destination for the evening. 

I have to say that I’m tired. By 9.30 last night I needed my bed. I could hardly keep my eyes open. Today is the big final day. Our Alpe du Heuz stage of this years tour. 100kms over the mountains of Monchique and onto Silves. The Mountains are the highest point of the Algarve and on a clear day you can see both the south and west coasts. It’s foggy currently and it’s been raining overnight. I left my shoes outside last night for airing (couldn’t stand the smell in the room). This morning they are full of water and the balcony is soaking. Don’t get too excited about the room having a balcony – all you can see is the traffic on the N120!

So a great last day is in store if only I can encourage my legs to bend first. Should be a good day for pictures if the fog lifts!

Day 24 – Lisbon to Sines

Arriving late into Lisbon gave us a challenge. I needed to get to the bike shop in Benfica to buy the Garmin that Pedro had sourced. By the time I got back and we were ready to go It was 11.15. We made our way to the Entrecampos Station to get out of Lisbon safely. Progress through the city is painfully slow. Traffic, traffic lights, buses and one way systems. It also doesn’t help that you don’t know where you are going. We arrived at the station just as the train we wanted just left. To be fair we didn’t check the timetable so it was one of those things. We were faced with an hours wait so coffee and Pastel de Nata was required!

On the train we had a decision to make. Get out at the city limits only or sneak in a few extra kilometres on the train. Time was pushing on and we still had a ferry to get. I decided that we would stay on to Setubal which with hindsight proved to be the right decision. By the time we got off the ferry it was just after 3pm and we still had about 80km to do. 

Troia looked really pretty. Some great little beaches and coastline. It’s like a narrow finger of land that is low lying with beaches either side. Periodically there were cars seemingly abandoned at the roadside only for there to be a little track to the beach beyond dunes. They must have been really deserted. As the ground was flat we covered it pretty quickly until we headed up to the first bit of high ground where the views were great. You could see setubal in the distance. 

It was getting late and we just wanted to get there after the exploits of the previous day (which it turns out was one of my biggest climbing days). We could see a nice straight piece of road as our way in. It turned out to be a semi closed motorway. We got on it and raced along it as fast as we could. Only 3 cars came on long the road in the 10k that we were on it. Having chanced our arm for long enough, we got off and found the old road in to Sines. 

Garmin took us straight to the hotel. We had a couple of beers, washed the kit and went out. Sines is an old town that appears to have been built around an old castle. The hotel bar maid told us about a local food festival by the beach and recommended that we tried the local squid fritters. They were excellent and we nibbled our way through the other treats on offer. 

A good day albeit that we rightly used the train to get out of Lisbon

We head down the coast again today in the direction of Aljezur. It’s foggy outside – let’s hope it clears soon. 

3 days to go!!!

Day 23 – Peniche to Lisbon

Last night ended later than planned as we couldn’t get a taxi anywhere. By the time we did it was 1am. Far too late for the ride ahead of us. 

It was an uneventful start as we pushed down the coast. There was a coolness to the air though and before long it clouded over. The coast line got more and more dramatic as we approached an area branded “world surf resort” or something similar. By the time we stopped for a bite to eat at about 1pm we had to sit inside – it just wasn’t that warm but strangely away from the coastal breeze if was still humid. The restaurant didn’t do snacks so no food there

To the south we could see the hills of the Sinta and Cascais national park. Our route took us up there so we needed food before the climb. Pizza! Great find just at the right time. We rode through sea fog to the pizza place – when we came out the fog had cleared and we were right by the beach and it’s crashing waves. 

We pushed on up the climb. It’s the highest point around are you get great view from a point on the coast – unfortunately the sea fog had returned so you couldn’t see anything. But we were only about 25 miles from Lisbon at this point. Almost there. We started the descent and then it hit us. The worst wind ever. At one point our speed reduced to just walking pace and we were descending. There were drainage ditches at the side of the road. Gusts pushed me towards them and then towards the middle of the road. It’s the most unsafe that I have felt on the trip so far. I’ll admit to being scared and vulnerable. I stopped – I’d had enough of that. We concluded that it would be worse by the coast – which was to be our route in. 

We decided to enter the hotel address in central Lisbon and ride what the Garmin put in front of us – just 20 miles. By now we were in greater Lisbons rush hour. Traffic everywhere.  The Garmin routed us up every hill and through every suburb centre some of which you wouldn’t have wanted to stop in a car let alone on a bike. We came through Benfica and could see the football stadium. We picked up speed on a few of the cycle tracks but it was dangerous. You had to have eyes everywhere. Eventually though we arrived at the hotel which is in a great area of town and on one of Lisbons main streets. 

As well fell off our bikes at check in, Pedro arrived. We quickly showered and went out. We had a really good night, chatting about everything, his business Live. Love. Ride and all that they do – which is far more than just bike tours. It was great to see his passion for his business, his country and all that Portugal has to offer. Pedro is in England in September so we will hopefully meet up again. He’s done so much to help me – I really can’t thank him enough. 

So first thing today is to get my Garmin sorted out. It was too late by the time we arrived last night – we are then going to jump in the train to the edge of the city and ride from there. Safety first – it’s just not worth the hassle. We’ll soon be in the open countryside again!

Day 22 – Figueria de Foz to Peniche

The previous night finished well with a big pot of seafood and rice. Good food for the ride today. 

We set off from our excellent hotel having tried to buy a replacement Garmin without success. We headed over this huge bridge that spanned the estuary. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to get a snap or two. The road over the bridge was a really busy road with a cycle track to the side. As we came off the bridge the cycle path ended and we were left at the mercy of the traffic. We dived off into the quiet roads of a small town but before long we were out the other side and back on the N109 

The N109 was bad. One of the worst roads that I have had to ride. Thundering traffic and lots of it. Fast lorries and cars just not what I’d ride at home let alone in a foreign country. It’s interesting how you get to know someone through their routing decisions. Pedro would have put us on this road if it wasn’t absolutely necessary or it was for a purpose. There didn’t seem any alternative for the first 10 miles or so. It was just uninteresting and busy.  A couple of prostitutes plied their trade on the road side and were unsuccessful in soliciting the attention of the two english cyclists and about 20 or 30 lorries that they waved at as we approached and passed them. Daisy Duke shorts (gents – if you remember the Dukes of Hazard) were just not doing it for the lorry drivers at 10.30 in the morning. 

I’d been looking at the map on the Garmin whilst I’d had my head down and had decided that we were coming off the road at the first sensible opportunity. We made our way through a small village and out the other side. To our luck it appeared tha a freshly laid cycle route had been put in. We estimated less than a year old. It went in exactly the direction we wanted. Furthermore it was deserted – as was the road to its side. The red Tarmac just went on and on through pine forests. We past a lovely lake that was very tempting but we passed by. It was getting time for a bite to eat. I could see some sort of beach side village so we headed there. It appeared to be in the middle of nowhere. 

Jackpot! It was fab. Great beach and a tidy looking spot. We selected a beach cafe and dived in for lunch. It was just perfect. Refuelled we headed on and out of the village. As we left we could see the straight coast line ahead going on for miles in the direction that we were heading. We left the village and as we pulled out on to the route, ahead of us was one straight road. We measured it. 9 miles without a hint of a bend – oh and a smooth cycle track too. It was just great as we made our way through the pine Forrest that hugged the sand dunes. We got occasional glimpses of the deserted beaches but we just didn’t have time to stop. 

The waves got bigger as we approached Nazare. We’d been told about the huge waves at this place but all you could see was surfers waiting for the “big one” only to have had a disappointing wait. We stopped for coffee and to take some snaps and then pushed on. All day it had been relatively flat but it started getting more lumpy as we progressed south. Straight after Nazare we headed Uo to a ridge that ran parallel with the Coast. The views were just stunning – you felt as though you could see the horizon curve as you looked out to sea. Worth every effort to get up there. Eventually our route was to put us back in the N109 – which I refused to do, so we made it around the lagoon at Foz de Arelou (wrong spelling) and through the quiter but hilly country roads to Piniche. It was about 8.15 by the time we arrived at the hotel. It’s a new place that has only been opened for just 25 days. 

We sat stinking at the bar – two dead foxes in Lycra. We had a couple of pints each and were then offered a welcome drink – they’d forgotten. “Have what you want as long as it’s port” was the message. We had port, quickly showered and changed and headed into the town for food. By now it was dark so I can’t tell you much about it. All in all a great day. 92 miles following the golden sandy beaches down Portugals west coast. Just perfect. 

Day 21 – Aveiro to Figuerio de Foz

The day started well after an early night. The hotel was like faulty towers. A real throw back with odd decor. Last night was cold – really cold and I had to wear my “fleece”. You couldn’t sit outside for long.

After breakfast I set off through the centre of Aveiro, along the canals and past the salt fields that we came across the day before. We were soon back on the planned route heading south. For quite sometime we followed the shore of the inland water that we’d followed the previous afternoon. After about 20km the Garmin beeped – which often means that I’d gone off course. This time it wasn’t for that – it was showing that the battery on the unit was low. This was really odd as it had been in charge all night. I knew that I could could wait another half hour or so but before long we came across a restaurant/bar and stopped. The place was very much a locals bar. It had a chicken grill at the front – some old chap stuck in a shed sized place grilling chicken.

I headed inside to find some power. I put in the regular lead and nothing happened. I tried the spare – nothing. I headed back to the bike to get all my cables. Through a process of elimination I established that the socket was fine, the adaptor was fine and so was the cable. I tried all the kit on Nicks Garmin and bingo – it charged. The only thing it could be was my Garmin. It was buggered. I just couldn’t get any power into it. My eyes through the 4 countries this far was about to give up the ghost. I felt sick. How was I going to navigate? I still have 5 days of the trip left. What about all the data – showing how far I’d cycled etc? It was an awful feeling – like I’d lost my right hand.

Thank goodness Nick was here and had his. Without it I’d be stuck. All I could think about was what would have happened if I was in the Duoro or the middle of Spain. I’d have been lost, in trouble and potentially in danger.

Whilst all this had been going on a German cyclist had turned up. He was doing it the hard way. Firstly by camping and secondly by heading north straight into the prevailing northerly winds. He was working his way from Lisbon as far as he could get in Portugal and Spain in 6 weeks. Nick had been chatting to him while I was pulling my hair out. Nick went to the bar and Stefan came to chat to me. He was holding a 10 euro note. He asked me to put it towards the funds as his wife was in remission from breast cancer. Something like that just snaps you back in to the reality of life. I can get another Garmin somehow.

We pressed on. The roads were uneventful really. Flat and residential and we cracked on at a fair pace. Before long we were on the N109 which was quite busy and got busier as we approached Figueria de Foz. Its a town built on an estuary. We made our way to the hotel – a great little family run place. The chief – the mother has done our washing and we headed to the beach to soak our legs. At the beach there was just one problem – we couldn’t see the sea. Its just like Weston Super Mare – about a mile away. Luckily after about 100m was a beach bar where we parked ourselves for the rest of the afternoon. A couple of Super Bocks later and the world is rosy.

I’ve written to Garmin – 3 working day turnaround. I’ll try and get a new device before we leave in the morning. Its a big day of over 130 Kms. I’m lost without it

Day 20 – Porto to Aveiro

You couldn’t get a more contrasting day to my last 3 on the bike. Over those days I climbed 4478 meters more than the combined height of Ben Nevis, Scarfell Pike and Snowdon – the 3 biggest peaks in Scotland, England and Wales which total 3407m . It was a constant up hill battle but one that I really enjoyed and wouldn’t have had it any other way. 

Our route from Porto has been supplied by the guys at Live. Love. Ride click on the hyper link to find out more about them. What I’ve learnt over the last 3 weeks is that you don’t have to rigidly stick to plans if you believe their is a sensible alternative. The route took me via the central and famous Luis Bridge in Porto and along the beautiful old port area. Unfortunately it meant going over lots of cobbles – which I don’t enjoy. I spoke to the guys at the hotel ad they told be of a little ferry that crossed the Duoro not far from the hotel so I got that instead. That was a nice start to the day! Having started I came through a bustling market (it was Saturday morning) but before long I was following the sandy coast line. Any hint of a hill was nothing more than an incline and that’s how it stayed all morning. 

The coast was on my right all day. Lots of people were around on bikes or running – they are clearly a fit bunch in these parts but how lovely to be able to cycle out of Porto on a Saturday morning – have coffee at a beach side cafe and then pootle back. 

The terrain wasn’t the only thing that was massively different – the temperatures were too. In the Duoro it was really hot – high 30’s peaking at 43c. I’d describe this as perfect cycling weather but as an idea I had my top zipped up all day  – in the Duoro it was in zipped from start to finish. 

(More to follow later)