Drawing Closer

Feeling great from my night on the mountain side I started back downhill to find the road I was on yesterday. At this point I had lost all faith in the crap-nav for route suggestions, but credit where credit’s due – it found me a great camping spot.

I pushed my bike down over the same rocks, gravity aiding in making it feel more treacherous, to the gravel path where I could jump on the saddle and zip down to sweet, sweet tarmac. The hillside was not ready for me to leave just yet though and decided to pop my rear tyre. Thanks, Hill.

Recovering from my rocky start I made my way back to the path and headed around the longer but much easier way to Lamego. Along the mountain road, outside a house that stood almost alone on this rather isolated route, I saw a sign for home-made Port wine or ‘Porto’. As I was in the region from where this drink originates I couldn’t help but venture in and pick up a filled-in-front-of-my-eyes bottle of 22 year old Port, sat in its cask since 1994.

Along with the bottle I was given a small glass to enjoy. It was sweet but spicy and it had a kick, great fuel for my favourite pass-time – peddling.

I arrived on the outskirts of Lamego a couple hours and a tough climb later. I had only ridden 12 miles today (20 KM) but I cycled past a campsite with a dog and that was the end of that. Before two in the afternoon I was sat with glass of Porto in one hand, and a lazy dog’s head in the other.

My afternoon was spent on campsite chores and cycle maintenance rather than exploring the city. Lamego’s historic centre and their famed ”stairway to heaven” (which I will remind you to google later) would have been well worth the visit. A therapeutic afternoon of campsite life was good enough for me though.

Before 10 AM the next day, I was clear of Lamego and passing through a small town nestled in a valley. A valley which I had just descended into with great speed and a big grin. I passed a large group of guys on scooters, monkey bikes and small motorcycles while they were stopped at the roadside. A short while later they would overtake me, beeping and cheering, only for me to catch up to them again a short while later. It was 11 in the morning and they had a roadside party complete with food, music and beer. I was ushered me over to join in, an off-duty policeman handed me a beer and we had a very broken bilingual conversation about things with two wheels. It was great fun. You can watch snippets of the exchange below:

A lot of the bikes were hand restored barn finds. They had been rescued from years of rust and neglect to be turned into shiny, noisy fun.

They made their rather loud exit and zoomed up the hill at a speed that almost made me envious. Once the last exhaust note had dissipated amongst the surroundings I was left with the familiar soundtrack of the various squeaks and rattles my bicycle had developed.

A solid three hour ride later I arrived at a lake. The cool breeze off the water paired with shade from the trees made for a very pleasant afternoon. I cooked myself some lunch on the shore and found a comfy place to watch the world go by.

I debated camping there until I became restless at around six o’clock and hopped back on the saddle. I’m not quite sure where the burst of energy came from but I rode right into the evening covering another 18 miles (30 KM).

Stopping with just enough time to pour some wine to watch the sunset, I found myself an empty field to camp in. Once again I would sleep without a tent under the stars and what a starry sky it was. There was little to no light pollution and I was lucky enough to see numerous shooting stars.

I would sleep well that night.

P.S. Don’t forget to google Lamego’s stairway to heaven!

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