The Return of the Goat Track!

We got off to an early start from our little cabin in Lagos. It was a lovely stay in a top spot. We got on the road at 8:20 hoping to beat most of the morning commuter traffic, knowing that we’d have to navigate the city centre before getting onto our cycle route. We powered up the hill and into the first roundabout. Steve went through, traffic was coming my way, so I had to stop. Then, a lady driver, who was already in the roundabout and had right of way, actually stopped and let me in. Like I’ve been saying, the people we’ve come across here are just the bees knees for politeness and niceness. So with a slightly wobbly wave and a smile, I powered on through the roundabout and into the city. We successfully made it down to the marina and onto the esplanade where we’d been yesterday and cycled along in the brilliant sunshine, with the blue water glinting and the boats heading out for a morning of fishing. It was an absolutely beautiful day, warm and clear blue sky. Picture perfect.

The Lagos esplanade...our journey begins
The Lagos esplanade…our journey begins

Our intended destination today was Portimao, a fairly easy ride of about 35km. We rode into its outskirts at about 10:30, having made good time and stopped at Decathlon, a huge outdoor store, for Steve to look for some needed items. Unable to find what was needed, we saw a sign for a Jumbo. You little ripper! Jumbo is the same enormous, aircraft hangar sized supermarket / everything store that we’d found in Lisbon. We set off there and found it was located in a huge shopping mall, so we wheeled the bikes into the front entrance and I waited with them by the window in the sun, while Steve went off to do his shopping. When Steve got back it was my turn to go in and get some food supplies. This is an awesome store! It’s huge and amazing! I power-walked the length and breadth of it trying to find this and that. I even worked out how to use to self-serve barcode producing machine for the produce. So with my bananas successfully weighed and stuck with a barcode by yours truly, I knew we wouldn’t have the same problem as last time, with our produce being put through the checkout naked of their required sticker. Successfully stocked up, we slung the extra bag over Steve’s rear rack pack and off we went in search of a spot for morning tea. This little journey meant riding through the city and through several busy roundabouts. Man…! What a rush! We were in and out of traffic, roundabout-ing to the right, roundabout-ing to the the left, zip, zip went the cars around us, on we went round and straight and round and left and right…Phew! We made it through and found a park bench to have a quick snack. One thing I really wish I had is a set of indicator lights! Being able to put my blinkers on when I want to turn would be so good! As we’ve already established, I have supreme balance on the bike! So…trying to ride with one hand, while sticking the other one out to indicate and continuing to hold that position and ride around the bend of a roundabout, one handed, is a recipe for disaster! So far, I haven’t come a cropper, but I don’t feel stable! This is where I can do nothing but thank and applaud the drivers here. They are phenomenal. They have been so respectful and courteous and careful and  generous in their behaviour towards us, it’s just been amazing and I thank them wholeheartedly. They let us in when they don’t have to. They give us a wide berth when we swerve a little accidentally. They stop for us to cross at pedestrian crossings, even when we have the little red man flashing and the traffic has right of way, they stop anyway and let us across. They have just been kind and brilliant. Thank you one and all! Snack time over, we set off to the next little town of Ferragudo, where our campsite awaited. I was looking forward to it, because it was nice and early, which would give us some exploring time and it was now 25C and had been a hot ride up some hills and riding into the sun, so a shower and a bit of roaming for the rest of the day on such a beautiful day, sounded just perfect.

Ferragudo, just outside Portimao

P1040810 As we were heading to the campsite, we’d slogged up some big hills, then came to a long downhill. I stopped and pulled over. “Why are you stopping?” asked Steve. “Because before I head down a long downhill, I want to be absolutely sure we’re heading the right way, so we don’t have to turn around and then slog back up this hill!” We’d been following signs to the Campismo and Steve checked the map again anyway. “Yes, this is the right way,” came Steve’s assurance. So down we zoomed, before having to slog up another hill, at the top of which sat our destination camp. When we arrived and Steve went up to reception, we discovered it was a private campsite for members of the Lisbon Camping Club, not a public one that hires out tent pitches and cabins. They said we could stay anyway and pitch the tent, but as Steve went off to investigate, he returned with a shake of the head. Nowhere suitable to put up a tent and, being a private campsite, no other option as far as getting a cabin or anything else. So we stopped to recalculate. Do we head back into Portimao and try for a hotel, or do we keep going and stop at the next town. “Well, it’s still fairly early,” I said, “no point going 10km back the way we came, only to have to come this way again tomorrow, let’s keep going if the next town’s not too far.” We consulted the map and the next biggish town was only 12km away, an easy distance, so we set off (back up that big long hill, we had just zoomed down a short time earlier!). Before too long, we entered Lagoa and stopped for lunch at a picnic table by the side of the road. Ever the optimist, I said to Steve, “Should we stop, or is that wasting time when we don’t have a definite place to stay and we’ve done this before and stopped for lunch only to find ourselves riding late, trying to find somewhere to stay. Should we get to where we’re going first?” “We might need to consult the map over lunch,” replied Steve. So we stopped for a quick bite, sitting in the warm sun and consulted the “points of interest” on the iPad map of Lagoa, to try and find somewhere to stay. Zip. Zero. Not a thing to be found. Are you sensing what I’m sensing? A bit of deja vu here? Just when we think all’s well and we have our campsite all set and we’re making good time, all of a sudden our accommodation plans go haywire and we find ourselves in desperation territory again! Yep, I was feeling a bit of that too! The map told us that the next town was only about 13km away, it had a campsite, so we were set and headed off. IMG_2035     P1040814 We’d been riding along the Eurovelo, which is a series of designated cycle routes around Europe. The roads we’d been on had a cycling icon on them to guide us and while not having a specific cycle path as such, we could stay out of the way of traffic pretty well. So as we set off to get to the next town, with our definite campsite location, we headed back onto the Eurovelo to take us there. We headed along the road and came to a junction. One way was along a sealed road and to the left was a gravel road. “We need to go along the gravel road” said Steve. Sure enough, there was our little cycling sign, to guide us along this road. Trying not to swerve and crash in the gravel, on we went. Thankfully the gravel road soon ended and we were back on the tarmac again. Not for long. Another section of dirt road came upon us and this was…steep…rocky…gravel…potholed…slippery…THE GOAT TRACK WAS BACK! Steve got off. I got off and we pushed. Steve got to the top of the steep, rocky hill, remounted and pedalled off. I trudged on, heaving that bike and all its load, slipping and sliding on the gravel, huffing and puffing in the heat, pushing for all I was worth. I eventually got to the top, got back on the bike, pedalled off, with a bit of a swerve and wobble in the thick gravel and eventually caught up to Steve. “This isn’t worth it!” I stated with a tone of frustration. “If this is how we’re going to spend the rest of the ride today and it’s already 3:00, it’s not worth it, if we have to push the bikes for another hour!”  Nevertheless, we continued on, getting to short stretches of sealed road, only to then be faced with more gravel and rocks and more pushing of the bikes up tracks. Finally…eventually…at last…we came to a junction. Straight ahead was the continuation of the Eurovelo in all its gravelled glory and to the left was a short road taking us onto the main road, that would run us straight into the town we were heading for. We cut our losses and headed for the main road. A short 15 minutes later, we arrived in the town and after turning and weaving through a series of roundabouts, we arrived at our campismo. So here we are in Armacao de Pera, 56km later, a bit hot and bothered after some accommodation let downs, a lot of hills, a warm day and a #@!*%* goat track! Things were soon put right though, with a cup of tea. We’ve pitched the tent under a gum tree, in a very full and busy campsite, (although we’re the only tent here), surrounded by caravan after caravan of British voices. So another somewhat trying day, but made less so by the fact it was such a lovely day weather wise, no grey skies or wind or rain to make the challenges even ore challenging.

We have arrived!
We have arrived!

As we were riding along, we passed a cyclist who I thought served us up a healthy dose of perspective. He was a wheelchair cyclist in a low slung racing style chair, but not the design we see Kurt Fearnley or Louise Sauvage using, or what we see at the Olympics, where the rider is powering the chair by pushing on the wheels. No, the design of this one, was the type that had the pedals over the front wheel, so the rider was bending forward and turning the pedals with his hands, to power the chair. How tough is that! For all the hard climbs we’ve had and for all the tough rides we’ve endured, it would be nothing compared to climbing those hills in that chair. There was one super tough, strong and fit athlete! I smiled and waved and he gave a wave back. Perspective. Get over the things I find tough. Perspective! We’re not quite sure where we’ll head tomorrow, but before we leave, we will have a destination in mind, of that I am sure! It will have a road leading to it. It will have a campsite, of the public variety and it will be located fairly and squarely on a reliable map! What are the chances do you reckon? We shall see! At least the sun might be shining. Power to the pedal! Epilogue: We are now sitting in the camp restaurant (the wifi zone) to post our blogs and there is a group of line dancing campers on the dance floor! There they are in their pastels, Hawaiian shirts and shorts with shiny belts, heel tapping their sandals, eyes fixed to the floor with a look of absolute concentration on their faces. Tap…clap…clap..turn…tap…tap…jump…turn…clap…knee lift…heel flick…clap… It’s brilliant! I need to stop typing so I can applaud! They look fantastic!

2 thoughts on “The Return of the Goat Track!

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  1. WOW! What a day!! I love reading how courteous and friendly the locals are and I remain amazed at how well you handle the challenges and unexpected hurdles along the way 🙂 you’re such a gifted writer; your account allows me to imagine what it must feel like to reach an intended destination for rest, only to find you have yet another hill to climb 🙂 this is just FASCINATING!! Stay safe and continue to ENJOY!

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    1. Thank you Donna! The locals sure have been amazing, just lovely all the way. It’s being in a friendly place and now some beautiful weather that helps get through challenging days like that one. A little rest from the hills for a day would be nice though! Thanks for staying along for the ride with me!

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