21 June 2010

Travessia de Portugal-part 18

Here is the picture.

Not much left to report. We had to get up at 4:30 to catch a taxi at 5 to make our 7:30 AM flight. I will say that checking the bike box with KLM was a freaking dream compared to when we left Seattle and had to deal with Delta… We simply walked up to the counter, told them we needed to check our bike and they charged us 55 Euro. Compare that to the $500 we paid going the other way; doesn't it just make you sick? Why the airlines can't pull their collective heads out is a mystery to me.

This ride will forever be a part of me. Having ridden the route twice I am amazed at how much I remembered from the first time. Almost every day we would ride past some small feature and I would blurt out, "I remember this from the race!" You can't do something like this and not be changed forever. Judging by Shelley's lunch selection in the Schiphol airport on our way home that goes for her as well. 
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Bread, meat paste and beer. Sometimes it's the simple things.

20 June 2010

Travessia de Portugal-part 17

Here are all the pictures.

Ah… the day-after blues, the physical relief and the drive back to the big city.

After sleeping in I boxed up the bike. We don't have any pictures or movies of this but as I was trying to box it up outside of the hotel the wind was really blowing. After thrice retrieving objects from the underground parking garage where the wind was blowing them Shelley suggested we just move down to the garage… Genius. Once down there we were able to finish up without interruption.

Breakfast was yet another example of how the organizers go all out to make your experience special. By now most of the clients had left. They invited those few clients that remained INTO THEIR HOTEL ROOM where we had bread, butter, jam, cheese, cold cuts, cereal, yogurt, juice, tea and coffee. I mean c'mon, where else can you get this kind of service? Nowhere, that was rhetorical.

19 June 2010

Travessia de Portugal-part 16

Here are all the pictures.
Here is the ride profile.
Here is the official newsletter.

Today was all about sticking together, savoring the moment and taking pictures. Usually there were more or less two groups and even though people might start with one everyone kinda rode at their own tempo but today we regrouped several times and no one was pushing the pace.

There was a mechanical this morning but it was not us! Thank goodness. And it was resolved relatively quickly.

In fairly short order we finally got see the Atlantic ocean.  
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18 June 2010

Travessia de Portugal-part 15

Here are all the pictures.
Here is the ride profile.
Here is the official newsletter.

Today we transitioned away from the interior and rode to the coast. We started with a roaring descent on paved roads from the hotel (as they always seem to be located on the top of a hill) and then it was dirt, pavement, dirt, pavement all the time with more and more white sand on the ground the closer we got to the ocean.

Today we climbed the hardest rideable hill on the tour – up to Portela da Brejeira. Since there was not much in the way of cafes on the route today the staff met us at the base of the climb so we could top off our CamelBaks.

Rest stop.

17 June 2010

Travessia de Portugal-part 14

Here are all the pictures.
Here is the ride profile.
Here is the official newsletter.

In the morning we spent a lot of time riding through orchards. It was pretty easy going except for the parts where the earth was soft and had been turned up from the farm machinery and our tires sunk in. Kind of like riding in sand only not quite as bad. Thankfully these sections did not last long.

What did last long was the following section through wide open plains. Aside from the grass there was almost zero vegetation!

Seems like forever.

Note the trail – at times we were riding along a path that was not visible from 10' away. We would come up to an intersection, see the main path go right and invariably we would turn left.

16 June 2010

Travessia de Portugal-part 13

Here are all the pictures.
Here is the ride profile.
Here is the official newsletter.
Distance – 66 km
Moving time – 3:46
Stopped time – 1:47
Moving avg – 17.6 kph
Overall avg – 11.9 kph
Total ascent – 2460 feet

I rolled the bike out of the hotel to oil the chains, that much went fine. When I spun the rear wheel to see if it needed truing I discovered two more broken spokes! Crap. Time to again remove the cassette, remove the brake rotor, replace the spokes and kinda, sorta true the wheel. This is getting a little discouraging. We have four more rides to go and I really want to finish! Thanks to Shelley for being so patient and helpful and supportive while I was frustrated.

We were treated to a spectacular view from a new bridge that spanned the river. Under this automobile bridge you could see the old train bridge that this tour used to use to cross this river.

Bridges.

15 June 2010

Travessia de Portugal-part 12

Here are all the pictures.
Here is the ride profile.
Here is the official newsletter.
Distance – 77 km
Moving time – 3:37
Stopped time – 39 min
Moving avg – 21.2 kph
Overall avg – 17.9 kph
Total ascent – 2248 feet

FAST, that's what today was. We started by descending Monseraz (65 kph!) and then blasting down 20 km of paved road. Most of today was on pavement and what wasn't was almost all on very firm, wide dirt roads. And it was flat; meaning we never had to use the small chainring.

14 June 2010

Travessia de Portugal-part 11

Here are all the pictures.
Here is the ride profile.
Here is the official newsletter.
Distance – 104 km

At this point you will notice that I sometimes ran out of energy to download the GPS data every day after our ride was complete… The ride profiles are mostly correct so they will have to suffice.

Today we met Mario Silva for the first time. He planned on riding the last few days of the tour entirely on his unicycle! Just like tandeming, the unicycle community is a niche group and they have all kinds of stuff no one has heard about; like hubs with internal gears. Mario was riding on his 29" bike with a two-speed hub to facilitate going faster on the flats and on pavement. And to his credit he flew! He got maybe a 20 minute head start on us in the morning and it took us almost two hours to catch him.

Half wheel team.

13 June 2010

Travessia de Portugal-part 10

Here are all the pictures.
Here is the ride profile.
Here is the official newsletter.
Distance – 87 km
Moving time – 5:43
Stopped time – 2:32
Moving avg – 15.2 kph
Overall avg – 10.5 kph
Total ascent – 4026 feet

Leaving the hotel today you immediately climb up a big hill on a looong cobble road. At least it's 'new' cobles and not Roman cobbles but we still had to walk a significant portion. It was just too steep and too early in the day.

ASIDE – on steep climbs with a hard surface our 6" (150 mm) fork makes the front end kind of floppy and it's hard to maintain a straight line. Add in the jarring of the cobbles and we have to walk a few more climbs than you would on a single I'm learning.

12 June 2010

Travessia de Portugal-part 9

Here are all the pictures.
Here is the ride profile.
Here is the official newsletter.
Distance – 97 km
Moving time – 6:19
Stopped time – 1:46
Moving avg – 15.3 kph
Overall avg – 11.0 kph
Total ascent – 4769 feet

I thought Today was very close to an actual stage from the TransPortugal race, stage three to be exact. Then I was reminded by a current client on the tour who was also a former staff person on the race that we had managed to add about 50 km to this day. Time heals all wounds and all that.

11 June 2010

Travessia de Portugal-part 8

Here are all the pictures.
Here is the ride profile.
Here is the official newsletter.
Distance – 77 km
Moving time – 5:31
Stopped time – 1:54
Moving avg – 13.9 kph
Overall avg – 10.3 kph
Total ascent – 3798 feet

Just one hill of note today at roughly half way through but JESUS was it tough... Oh yeah, our fist mechanical of the day was a failed rear tire. 
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10 June 2010

Travessia de Portugal-part 7

Here are all the pictures.
Here is the ride profile.
Here is the official newsletter.
Distance – 87 km
Moving time – 7:05
Stopped time – 1:03
Moving avg – 12.2 kph
Total ascent – 4886 feet

Five river crossings!

We rolled out of the hotel at 8:30 (earlier than normal) which meant we had to eat at 7 and of course get up at 6. Not so fun. But the day went well and aside from one mechanical problem (of course) we both did the best we have so far on this trip.

09 June 2010

Travessia de Portugal-part 6

Here are all the pictures.
Here is the ride profile.
Here is the official newsletter.
Distance – 54 km
Moving time – 3:04
Stopped time – 43:16
Moving avg – 16.9 kph
Overall avg – 13.7 kph
Total ascent – 1561 feet

"This stage can be hard or it can be easy..." was how Antonio began the briefing last night. Today was the shortest and flattest stage so everyone was urged to take it easy and 'recover' as there would not be another stage like this again.  Oh yeah, and tomorrow was hard.

08 June 2010

Travessia de Portugal-part 5

Here are all the pictures.
Here is the ride profile.
Here is the official newsletter.
Distance – 74 km
Moving time – 5:44
stopped time – 2:23
Moving avg – 12.9 kph
Overall avg – 9.1 kph
Total ascent – 5030 feet

After installing a new cassette we rolled out and right away the road went straight up. First the paved street steepens and steepens and then you turn left onto a gravel road and it really pitches up. Ouch! Not the ideal warm-up. The next bit was okay, quite scenic actually. We rolled around a plateau for a while and stopped at a scenic vulture feeding site (no shit!).
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07 June 2010

Travessia de Portugal-part 4

Here are all the pictures.
Here is the ride profile.
Here is the official newsletter.
Distance – 67 km
Moving time – 4:44
Stopped time – 1:42
Moving avg – 14.2 kph
Overall avg – 10.4 kph
Total ascent – 3664 feet

A relatively easy day today and after yesterday it was most welcome. We started out on dirt roads that rolled very gently for about 15 km and then came our first major obstacle. A Roman coble road. And by 'road' I mean the Roman's kind of pilled massive stones up along the route and called it good. It was a climb and so as we were still pretty much all together everyone prepped by shifting to their small ring and gave it a go. We lasted about 80 m? The total length was 800 m. Then our rear tire spun and we dabbed. I did not know a tandem could spin the rear tire so easily... Everyone lined up to give this stretch a try, it was like the skills test of the trip. And some did pretty well, it was fun to cheer each other on. 
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06 June 2010

Travessia de Portugal-part 3

Here are all the pictures.
Here is the ride profile.
Here is the official newsletter.
Distance – 80 km
Moving time – 6:18
Stopped time – 1:44
Moving avg – 12.8 kph
Overall avg – 10.0 kph
Total ascent – 5765 feet

The passenger van that carried us to the start was now converted to the luggage van. Out came the seats and in went the duffel bags. 
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The stage today was supposed to be 77 km but it turned out to be more like 80... hose last three km are kind of heartbreaking when you are really, really, really ready to see the finish. Day 1 will do that to you.

05 June 2010

Travessia de Portugal-part 2

Here are all the pictures.

We got picked up by the event organizers at 9:00 AM, went to pick up some other clients and then headed out for the five hour drive from Lisbon to Braganca where the ride was going to start. Two coffee stops and a lunch stop (let the daily ice cream routine begin now!) later we arrived at the hotel and all the clients got to unpacking and building bikes.

Everyone was kind of giving our bike the eye and I must say, it looked great! Here it is in all it's pre-ride glory. 
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As usual there were all kinds of fancy bikes in attendance. One of the staff had a single speed, one of the clients had carbon wheels and the Antonio (the organizer) had a Rohloff hub with 14 speeds. Nice. 
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Build it, test ride it, attend the briefing about tomorrow's stage and hit the sheets.

04 June 2010

Travessia de Portugal-part 1

Where should I begin? How about with some links.

The Event: http://www.travessiadeportugal.com/indexEng.htm
The Organizers: CICLONATUR

And how about with some terminology.

Little Princess – Granny Gear
Flat – To quote the organizer there is 'flat' and there is 'Portuguese flat', we rarely encountered the former.
Roman Cobbles – Here in America a cobble stone is essentially a brick. In modern Portuguese streets a cobble is about half that size. Back in the Roman days a cobble was a f'n huge block of granite that was roughly hewn so that it almost appeared to be flat if viewed from a very great distance. We rode on several (and walked on several more out of necessity) Roman cobbled roads.
Breakfast – Bread, butter, cheese, cold slices of ham and jam, 200 mg yogurts, fruit, fruit juice and coffee. Can't forget the coffee. Sometimes we were treated to eggs, sausages and various other forms of warm ham.
Lunch – Sandwiches made with above bread, butter, cheese, ham and jam. Often supplemented by more sandwiches from cafes, ice cream, Coke, ice tea, fruit and pastries.
Dinner – Bread and olives (and sometimes cheese) followed by vegetable soup followed by pasta and meat. Sometimes we were treated to boiled vegetables or fish and sometimes we also got rice and salad and we always had wine; several times we had both red and white.
Salad – Green lettuce ornately arranged in a silver metal dish covered in slices of tomato and onion all drenched in olive oil. In all 14 days the standard salad that got served with dinner never once deviated from these four basic ingredients.
Salad Dressing – Olive oil and vinegar; is there anything else…?
Dessert – Custard, sweet rice pudding, fruit, chocolate mouse, cheese cakes, cream cakes, biscuit cakes, chocolate cakes, cookies, flan. OMG there was a lot of good stuff…
Kenda Nevegal – Shit tire. Oops… that comes later.
Mild – Hot.
Hot – Really, really hot.