Pedalling Portugal 2018: The Introduction

"You’re crazy” the BnB owner said. We were cycling through the interior. “But the Portuguese coast is beautiful.

In late August!!! “Most people do this in April or October

Heading south to north. “It’s normal to go from north to south. You are doing it the hard way.”

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Everything about our route seemed wrong. The timing, the direction, the conditions. But we were trying to squeeze every last hour out of Rich’s annual leave which meant flying into Faro and then cycling through the centre of Portugal at the hottest time of year.

We had read good things about the N2, the longest continual road which winds its way through the middle of Portugal, from Chaves near the Spanish border to Faro on the south coast. You can even pay good money to join a bike tour. Clearly not in August though.

This time we decided to rent bikes rather than bring our own. We had used Bikeiberia a few years ago in northern Spain. They can deliver the bikes to your first hotel and collect them from your final destination. We had memories of the bikes being nothing special, but doing the job.

With chammy cream packed, Garmin routes uploaded and hotels booked we made it through a final Friday at work before heading to Manchester Airport for the 2030 bank holiday weekend Ryanair flight to the Algarve.

Errors number 1 and number 2 right there.

Penultimate Friday in August at Manchester airport is mayhem.

Ryanair on the penultimate Friday in August is beyond mayhem.

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After a joke of an emergency evacuation of T3 (after ten mins of queuing we still hadn’t made it through an emergency exit,) a holiday beer and an actual emergency KFC (it makes me want to vomit writing that) AND a total Ryanair nightmare, we eventually took off after midnight.

We finally checked into our hotel in faro at 0345. Perfect preparation for six days of cycle touring.

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Notes to self. Actually cook the pizza you brought especially for a Friday evening flight, rather than leave it in the freezer. Never, ever, ever fly Ryanair.