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.
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!