Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Sintra-Ericeira-Torres Vedras.

Trip dist: 74 km. Trip time: 6 hrs, 19 min. Tot dist: 110 km.

(Cliky here or on picture above for movie)

Note to self: Just because a road looks inviting, with all the pretty trees and quaint views and is all downhill, wishing it were the correct road doesn't make it so.

Note to self #2: Don't so easily trust the directions of friendly-looking little old men.

Started day off on schedule by 10:30 a.m. after stopping by a nearby Pastelaria to buy a sandwich for the road. In the downtown, veered off to where directions seemed to indicate Ericeira, following the flow of most of traffic onto a fairly large and pleasant-looking road. Satisfactorily noted it was all downhill (Sintra is atop a mountain, and Ericeira is on the beach, so makes sense, right?), and settled in for a relaxing, enjoyable ride....until the names of the towns I was passing started to sound familiar from that morning's map check....and not in a good way.

Turns out, I had taken a road perpendicular to the road I was supposed to be on. By the time I realized this, I had already coasted 10 kms downhill and what was worse, there was no easy way to try to cut an hypotenuse (confirmed, too, after asking two or three different people). So, back uphill to Sintra. Took about an hour and a half to get back for a total time waste of 2 hours, let alone the energy drain. Blech!

Anyway, at around 12:30 I was back in Sintra, exactly where I started, but this time I took the correct road, and reached Ericeira at around 3 p.m.ish, through 25 kms of rolling hills, a bit reminiscent of biking through Tuscany (i.e. moderately strenuous), only not quite as pretty (too many brick and tile factories along the way).

Along the coast from Ericeira to San Lourenço there are a lot of steep ups and downs, again, a very tough ride, and made me worry whether I'd be able to reach Torres Vedras on time, due to Subsumption Rule#1, also better known as: "Under no circumstances do you bike after sunset." Luckily, after San Lourenço the road was rather flat (O.K., no, it wasn't, it was slightly uphill, but with a very gentle gradient, which after the 35 or so kms of horrible climbs and descents that seemed too short to match, was flat enough for me).

Got to Torres Vedras at about quarter to seven (trip time, including unintended, 19 km "scenic detour", about 6.5 hrs), after which I ate and promptly collapsed into bed.

Tomorrow: North to Caldas da Rainha, and Nazarè if time permits.

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