Open Roads

Open fields, olives, cork oaks and whitewashed farm buildings - typical Alentejo scenery

Open fields, olives, cork oaks and whitewashed farm buildings – typical Alentejo scenery

If you like wide open spaces, roads that stretch off into the distance… and not too much traffic, then the Alentejo has got to be one of the best parts of Portugal for cycling.

Lemon trees, sunshine and old houses in an Evora backstreet

Lemon trees, sunshine and old houses in an Evora backstreet

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been giving the Pedal Portugal site a major overhaul – finally getting round to doing proper write-ups for more of my touring routes.

It’s been an erratic process as I’ve got to fit this in around work that actually pays me money. Plus going out for the odd bike ride, working on the garden etc.

Anyway. I got back to the Alentejo yesterday and have now rewritten the page for the section from Vila Nova to Evora, which is the third stage of my Algarve to Lisbon route.

My wife and I did this ride back in February 2005 and we loved the way the rolling landscape of the Alentejo seemed to fly beneath our wheels. We’d arrived in Portugal after riding down through France and around the coast of Spain – and clocked up some of our best daily average speeds of a whole year of touring while in the Alentejo.

The gentle inclines and declines made it easy to keep up a steady pace and the quiet roads made cycling there a joy.

Beja and Évora also provided great places to stop and soak up some of the region’s culture – from dining on roast kid in a Beja restaurant to visiting the ‘Chapel of Bones’ in Évora where the very walls are made up of human skulls!

There’s one downside to these towns I do remember though. After riding over 100km in a day, your nether regions do end up feeling slightly tender – which made the rough granite cobbles lining the streets most unwelcome. Cobbles may add to the picturesque charm of Portuguese towns but they’re a so-and-so for riding on, particularly at the end of a long day!

The central square in the World Heritage town of Evora

The central square in the World Heritage town of Evora

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