Carla Alves was one of a mixed group of cyclists who joined our inaugural guided trip along the Guadiana, the river which forms the border between Portugal and Spain. Here is her personal account.
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Day 1 – Vila Real de Santo Antonio to Alcoutim – 46.5km – 633m ascent
An extremely fresh day to say the least. I could have easily been convinced I was in the Antarctic! But stunning scenery, extremely quiet roads, lunch at a really cool traditional cafe, lovely hotel and amazing dinner at a local Portuguese restaurant (with way tooooo much wine ). A great group of 8 riders plus 3 support team members. Lots of banter and truck loads of fun… here’s to the next 3 days
Day 2 – Alcoutim to Mértola – 49km, 866m ascent
A great start to the day with 5 of us doing a quick yoga session, before heading out yonder. No messing about today, with an immediate 150m ascent in the first 4km! A very scenic ride, with lots of hill climbs throughout. Weather felt warmer but a head wind a lot of the time and extremely windy when we reached the summit village, Moinhos de Vento de Cima (says it all!). We crossed over Rio Vascao River leaving the Algarve and into Alentejo. Overnight in a great hotel in a stunning village, Mértola in the Guadiana Valley Natural Park. A big day tomorrow…
Day 3 – Mértola to Sanlucar de Guadiana, Spain – 65km, 987m acsent
A more challenging day today, but so worth it… Started with a quick yoga session again and straight into a steep, long climb out of Mértola. Stopped for coffee in an interesting mining village then made our way out through a mine field and along a stunning track which was once a railway line… loved it! Lunch was at a really cute traditional Spanish cafe on the Guadiana River… We opted for an off road deviation (at the end of the day!), which offered some spectacular views and a couple of challenging climbs – but a great route. Overall an absolutely amazing day with great team banter throughout. Such a great group full of fun (and stories )
Day 4 – Sanlucar de Guadiana to Ayamonte, Spain – 57km, 863m ascent
In keeping with the trend, we cycled up one hell of a steep, long hill this morning out of the valley, only to be met with some breathtaking views!! This trend continued throughout the day with quite a few seriously steep climbs along the way Today was 99% off road tracks and wound through the mountains and past some stunning valleys and villages.
All in all, I had the most incredible adventure – filled with spectacular scenery, beautiful villages and people, met some awesome new people, thoroughly enjoyed the company of my regular local riders, laughed a lot, ate (way too much) and had enormous amounts of fun. An experience forever cherished…thanks to everyone for making it so special. And a special thanks to Fred, Paul and Marco for arranging everything and delivering way beyond my expectations – you guys rock!