Eurovelo 1 Portugal

I think I've mentioned it before but I find maps showing long routes crossing continents particularly attractive.  I've got a map showing all the Eurovelo routes and its constantly triggering ideas for the next cycling adventure.  You do have to be careful though - not only are these routes massive - they often don't exist.

If you go to the Eurovelo website you'll find all the Eurovelo routes are graded according to progress towards full certification. Green routes have made it, yellow routes are nearly there and are supposed to have signs, and there are three levels of red, from planning through to developed. After cycling Eurovelo 1, which is graded yellow, from Porto all the way down the Atlantic coast and through the Algarve to the Spanish border, I've learnt that the designation has to be treated with a pinch of salt.
The team

Cycling the whole of the Eurovelo 1 would be an epic undertaking. It's called the Atlantic Route and as well as the Portuguese coast, travels along the west coast of France, the SW of the UK, the west coast of Ireland, across Scotland and along the west coast of Norway. On the Iberian Peninsula, the Atlantic Route is oddly configured and instead of starting somewhere near Gibraltar and heading west around the Atlantic coast, starts at the northern end of Portugal, heads south and then has to cross Spain to reconnect with the Atlantic on the French coast. The route through Spain is brilliant, I cycled a great chunk of it on the Ruta Vía de la Plata, but it's definitely not a coastal route.
Tide's in - near Perniche

I started my trip in mid-May 2017 in Porto and it took 17 days to cycle the 1200kms to the Spanish border. After cycling alone to Lisbon, my wife Christine joined me and we cycled all the way to Seville before taking a short break. From there we continued along the Ruta Vía de la Plata to the north coast.
San Pedro de Moel
Although I can thank my Eurovelo map for the inspiration, the fact that I was cycling the Eurovelo 1 didn't add much to the experience.  I downloaded the route from the official Portuguese Eurovelo website and according to the designation the route was supposed to be signed.  Well it was wasn't, at least the route I was following wasn't, and at times it took me to places where I should have been on a mountain bike. When you don't see any signs and the surface doesn't feel right you soon start to lose confidence in the route and question whether the route you downloaded was the right one.  It was, but I don't think it gets used that much - if it did the mistakes would have ironed out.
The Eel Fishing Fleet

Despite the frustrations, I enjoyed cycling through Portugal.  The weather was a massive bonus. Apart from one wet windy day when we sheltered in Sagres, where apparently it's always windy, we enjoyed perfect weather and given that the roads (and tracks) were nearly always quiet, it was stress-free relaxed cycling.  Like all coastal routes, there are a few ups and downs but, apart from the distance, this is not a challenging cycle ride.
If you like fish

Finding accommodation was very straightforward.  The holiday season hadn't really started so it was cheap and plentiful.  There were plenty of places to stop and refuel and the food was good particularly if you like fish.

Porto and Lisbon, the only two towns of any size on the route, are cycling friendly and getting through Lisbon and to and from the airport to pick up Christine, proved very straightforward. I particularly liked Porto, a place I'd definitely like to visit again.
Cycling along empty roads

It is a coastal cycle ride but don't expect to see the sea all the time.  For long stretches, the sea is frustratingly close but out of sight often on the other side of a sand dune or behind endless pine trees.

It is, of course, difficult not to compare our cycling trip in Portugal with the one we did next, the Ruta Vía de la Plata, in Spain.  The big difference was the places visited on each trip.  In Portugal, we were cycling from one little seaside town to the next.  They were nice places to stop but not really memorable.
Catching the ferry to Spain

When I think about all the trips I've done, the places I've walked or cycled through - they break down into three groups.  There are trips I wish I hadn't bothered to do (there are hardly any); trips I enjoyed but don't need to do again; and, trips and can't wait to go back to. Cycling through Portugal was good, I'm glad I did it but I won't be rushing to do it again.

If you want to see how the trip went - warts and all  - then follow the links below and read the daily diary entries.

Day 1 - The Big Iberian Tour - Porto
Day 2 The Big Iberian Tour - Aveira
Day 3 The Big Iberian Tour - Figueira da Foz
Day 4 The Big Iberian Tour - San Pedro de Moel
Day 5 - The Big Iberian Tour - Foz do Arelho
Day 6 The Big Iberian Tour - Perniche
Day 7 The Big Iberian Tour - Santa Cruz
Day 8  The Big Iberian Tour - Praia das Maçás
Day 9 The Big Iberian Tour - Cascais
Day 10 - The Big Iberian Trip - Sesimbra
Day 11 The Big Iberian Trip - Near the back of beyond
Day 12 - The Big Iberian Trip - Vila Nova de Milfontes
Day 13 The Big Iberian Trip - Odeciexe
Day 14 - The Big Iberian Trip - Sagres
Days 15 and 16, The Big Iberian Trip - Lagos
Day 17 - The Big Iberian Trip - Tavira




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