Back on the road

This blog has taken a back seat recently due to a combination of things like work, illness, major bike maintenance and Christmas interfering with my cycling!

However, this weekend was the Carnaval holiday (taken very seriously in Portugal). We took the opportunity to head north to our old haunts in the Viseu area – and finally ride the now-completed Ecopista do Dao.

Start of the Ecopista at Santa Comba Dao

We’d done the original 8km out of Viseu many times before and bits of the full route while it was being constructed. Now, however, the whole route is sealed and (more or less) open for riding.

It’s a beautiful ride, looping and twisting through gorgeous countryside between Viseu and Tondela then dropping down to the Dao valley and following the river.

We were determined to ride to the end and back (82km from our start point) but really wanted a morning coffee. Maybe there’d be a cafe at Tondela, we thought. No, nothing to be seen – and the old railway station is nowhere near the town. Nevermind, we said, there’s bound to be something when we get to Santa Comba Dao…

We had to laugh when we got to the end of the Ecopista. In true Portuguese style, it just… ends. One moment, lovely blue tarmac, the next dirt.

Ahead was a track going into some fields, while a dirt path led to the right paralleling the modern railway. A sign said there was a station down the path but nothing to say how far away it was.

We also had one major obstacle to negotiate. Halfway between Tondela and Santa Comba there were safety barriers across a bridge. Some of the metal gratings on the bridge deck were missing. Again – typical Portugal – there were no signs to warn you the bridge was closed and no diversion.

Still, there was enough bridge that we could lift our bikes over the barriers and get across safely!

Ecopista Do Dao

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4 thoughts on “Back on the road

  1. I’m planning a trip there, and I got interested in how to get from from Santa Comba Dão to the Ecopista. Looking at the place via Google Earth and Panoramio photos, I saw that there is a foot bridge next to the autopista bridge.

    http://www.panoramio.com/photo/9698724

    However, on some photos, the foot bridge was partially or completely submersed under water. The aerial photo at Google Earth shows that the river is high, and you can see the grayish rectangle where the stair are, but the bridge itself is probably under water.

    What was the state of the river when you arrived there?

    • Hi. I wasn’t aware of the footbridge. I’ve driven over the road bridge quite a few times and never noticed it. (The road bridge is also undergoing major work at the moment).
      My advice would be to follow the CM1564 from Santa Comba Dao to Granjal (this follows the northwest bank of the river on the opposite side from the ecopista). Then follow the Rua da Capela towards Trexeido. There’s a turning to the right just before Trexeido that takes you down to the old station and the ecopista – but I think this is a dirt road. Alternatively, continue into Trexeido and head east on the Av da Liberdade and then turn right on the Lugar Povoa de João Dias. I’m pretty sure this is sealed and will also take you to the old station.
      Trexeido Station is about 5km from the start of the ecopista so you can backtrack if you want to do the whole thing! Hope this helps.

  2. That mirrors our experience in October. We followed the gravel path to the railway station at Santa Comba, but from there it was impossible to get to the town without riding on the autopista, where bikes were clearly prohibited. As you say, typical Portugal.
    Thanks for this!

    • Glad we didn’t bother following the track then! Hopefully, they might sort this out in time – I did notice that some of the old station buildings are still being renovated, looks like some will have toilets and water fountains in the future.

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