Ready To Ride

An empty road in the Beira Alta

Enjoying an empty road in the Beira Alta

So what do you fancy? Cycling through remote villages that look as if they haven’t changed in centuries, blasting across the Alentejo plains to get to the Algarve or pottering up the coast of Portugal?

After several months of work, I’ve at long last completed my overhaul of the Touring Routes pages – which include all of the above options plus more.

There’s even a new map on the summary page so it’s easy to see at a glance (roughly) where each route goes:

The overhaul has involved revising all the routes sketched out when I first dreamt up this site back in 2011. At the time, I came up with various ideas for longer rides but with didn’t get much beyond putting a basic map together for some of them.

Looking out from the battlements at Penamacor

Looking out from the battlements at Penamacor

I’ve now redone each one and made sure that as well as a map, you’ve got details on the distances involved, ideas for overnight stops, suggestions for side-trips and options to lengthen/shorten the ride and – most importantly – advice on any big hills, busy roads or other things to watch out for.

I wouldn’t claim any of them are perfect but hopefully they’ll make a good starting point for whatever you want to see/do while cycling through Portugal.

One thing I’m really pleased about is that as part of the general overhaul I’ve finally completed (for the time being), my Border Castles Tour.

I reckon for anyone who likes wild scenery, historic towns, empty roads… oh, and lots of castles, this has got to be an absolute winner.

As I explain in the introduction, I haven’t yet ridden all of this route myself. However, I’ve probably travelled at least 80% of the roads involved either by bike or car and I’m completely confident this would make a wonderful cycle tour.

To make things easier, I’ve divided the ride into two sections – one covering the northern Alentejo and the other the Beiras. Starting from Evora, with it’s World Heritage architecture, the two parts cover a combined distance of about 550km, ending in Vila Nova de Foz Côa, base for another World Heritage site – this time one of Europe’s biggest centres of palaeolithic rock art.

Among the many sites along the way are nine mediaeval castles (more if you do the detours suggested), plus two important fortresses from the Peninsula War and a tiny village that was an important Roman city but abandoned in the 15th century due – so the story goes – to a plague of rats!

At the moment there are only two sections to this tour but I plan to extend it in the future. In the autumn, I’m planning a trip to northern Portugal. Hopefully I can then add another section covering Tras-os-Montes and the Minho. Until then, I’ll keep dreaming…

The ancient city now known as Idanha-a-Velha

The ancient city now known as Idanha-a-Velha

 

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