Unknown Roads

One of the great joys of cycling is that there are always new roads to explore. Even in an area or country you think you know well, an unfamiliar turn can lead to a previously undiscovered ride.

I’ve explored a lot of Portugal: on my solo bike and our tandem, on foot and in cars. But there are still chunks of the country that are – so far – only lines on a map.

The perfect place to be after a good day's ride?

The perfect place to be after a good day’s ride?

I was recently contacted by Jackie Green who asked me to add her campsite to the list of sites in the Directory.

Campo Figuiera is in a hamlet in the district of Figueiro dos Vinhos, a small town in central Portugal. It’s roughly halfway between Coimbra to the north and Tomar to the south but that’s not an area I know well so I asked Jackie if she could give Pedal Portual visitors a bit of an insight.

Moving at a different pace - life can be less hurried in rural Portugal

Moving at a different pace – life can be less hurried in rural Portugal

Jackie told me her neck of the woods offers a variety of options for cyclists. She said: “Whether you’re a keen cyclist or enjoy the occasional bike ride at the weekend, this area is great for cycling. The roads are very quiet – flat, undulating or mountains whatever you fancy.” Off-roaders can also explore miles of rural tracks without seeing a sealed road all day.

There are also various cycling-related events in the area. “At the end of June we have our local triathlon at Pedrogao Grande – this is in a beautiful spot for any one who want to compete or to go and watch.

“In October there is the big Skyroad-Grandfondo* (see below) just near us in the Lousã Mountains. This attracts cyclists from all over Europe and is a great day out to go a cheer the racers on.”

Bicycles are optional

Bicycles are optional

Even closer to home, Jackie says there’s a BMX track set out in local woods. Bicycles are available to hire from the campsite – or for those wanting a change, kayak trips are possible on some of the local lakes.

But if you just want to escape to nature (and find a pleasant place to camp!), central Portugal offers rolling hills and impressive valleys, historic places to visit, olive groves, cork trees and miles of beautiful countryside strewn with vineyards.

Sounds a delight. I’ll have to add it to my list… unless anyone wants to tempt me with an alternative suggestion?

*Note: The SkyRoad-GrandFondo began in 2012 with the Aldeias do Xisto (Schist Villages) sportive and attracted 1,000 riders last year. There are three SkyRoad events this year – including one in the Serra da Estrela on July 19th and the 168km Lousã event on October 11th.

According to the event website: “The scenery chosen for this event are the Lousã and Açor mountains, in the centre of Portugal on very quiet roads with low car traffic, but with excellent conditions and fantastic landscapes. A challenging course, marked by aerial roads, showing the centre of Portugal as a great destination for cycling and cycle tourism.”

For those wanting a slightly less stressful option, the 95km MedioFondo only involves 2,000m of ascent – as opposed to 4,100m for the GrandFondo.

Sealed roads are only one of the options

Sealed roads are only one of the choices available in Portugal

 

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