Sunshine, the sounds of cicadas and birdsong, the smell of hawthorn blossom and cistus bushes, carpets of wildflowers…today’s ride was like the best of spring and summer rolled into one.
Combine all of the above with almost traffic-free roads and you might begin to appreciate why I just adore cycling in Portugal’s Alentejo at this time of year.
Today was a rest day on the current guided tour – we’re seven days into the first Border Castles trip, staying for a couple of nights at a former convent on the edge of the lovely town of Castelo de Vide.
This morning most of us hopped in the van to drive up to the hilltop village of Marvão with its fabulous castle (although Dan and Bruce did ride there – on a 40km route that included around 330m of climbing).
In the afternoon Carolyn and I hopped on our bikes to head north from Castelo de Vide. We rode together to see the menhir at Meada (picture above) through some lovely lanes surrounded by cork oaks and swathes of flowers.
After looking at the big rock, we said farewell and I continued on a bit further north and then round to the west before turning for home. Apart from the cobbles in one village, the roads were wonderful: excellent surface and hardly any cars. The only slightly worrying thing was the fact that I seemed to be continuing to lose height, which could mean only one thing: plenty of climbing to get back home.
On the other hand, with the scenery I was riding through, I didn’t really care! The last few km back up to the convent were fairly hard work. But at least I knew there would be a glass or two of wine ready when I got there.