It looks like Pedal Portugal is going to be very busy in 2020. We’ve got six cycle tours happening (our maximum) and they’re almost all fully booked.
So, I’ve also worked out our tour schedule for 2021 for anyone wanting to plan that far ahead. Full details are on the relevant pages but here’s a summary of the spaces still available this year and our plan for the following 12 months:
2020 – final places
- 27th Sept-8th Oct – Eastern Frontier – 12 days / €1,460 ***two places available***
- 18th-29th Oct – Border Castles – 12 days / €1,420 ***two places available***
2021 – new dates
- 14th-25th March – Southern Explorer – 12 days / €1,495
- 18th-29th April – Border Castles – 12 days / €1,525
- 9th-20th May – Eastern Frontier – 12 days / €1,625
- 26th September-8th October – Historic Heartland – 13 days / €1,685
- 17th-28th October – Border Castles – 12 days / €1,495
Our year ahead
We fly out to Portugal tomorrow (hurrah!) ready for our first two tours of the year – then we’ve got a short break at Easter before the next two.
Those four tours are all fully booked and take us through to the end of May, after which it’s normally getting too hot to do any serious riding.
Our first trip will be the Southern Explorer, which now ends in Carvoeiro rather than Lagos. We do change things around from time to time. Partly because we always like to see if we can improve our tours in any way – whether it’s better hotels, quieter roads or more interesting scenery. And partly because it gives me an excuse to try out something new!
We’re then doing our Border Castles route, which remains our most popular tour for now. We following that after Easter with two tours on our new Historic Heartland trip, which Carolyn and I tested out last year. That tour pretty much does a diagonal across the middle of Portugal, taking in a real range of landscapes as well as some real cultural highlights like Coimbra and Tomar.
Then in the autumn (or fall to you North Americans), we’ve got another two trips going ahead – Eastern Frontier followed by Border Castles. At the moment, there are two places left on each of those.
Our Eastern Frontier route is definitely our toughest, with longer distances than the other tours and a lot of climbing on most days. But the reward is the scenery. We take these tours through some of the wildest and – for me at least – most beautiful parts of Portugal. We’re also visiting parts of the country that see very few other tourists compared with the better known parts. And they’re not exactly densely populated in the first place.
We’ve also changed the first part of that route, now going further north before we loop around and start heading south down the border with Spain. One reason for the change is so that we can go up as far as the Douro valley. Also, by finishing in Elvas it removes a bit of overlap with a couple of other tours.
One of the lovely things about this year is about half of our riders will be returning customers. That was something we hadn’t even really thought about when we started offering our guided tours but I think it’s one of the biggest compliments we can get when people come back for a second (or even third and fourth!) trip with us.
I’m not going to bother writing too much about our plans for 2021 as the details are all in the schedule above.
The main change is that we’ve parked our Algarve Coast & Country tour for the time being. The Algarve is a great place to escape the winter but there’s better cycling in other parts of Portugal. Plus, we did that route once on our own and three times with groups in 2019 so we’re happy to give it a rest!
We’ve also switched around the timing of the Eastern Frontier and the Historic Heartland tours. I’ve done the Eastern Frontier route three times in the autumn but I’ve never done it in spring and I’d love to see what the landscape looks like in May.
Other than that, we’re only planning five tours for 2021. That’s partly because of how Easter falls that year but also it’s so we’re not personally doing too many trips. We never want to reach the point where our tours become a job. We need to keep it fresh and exciting so we can share our enthusiasm with our riders. Which I guess is why so many come back!
Below is a (fairly random) collection of some of my favourite images and memories from last year’s tours: