From Segovia to Lisbon we had the option of a 7 or 6 day ride, we opted for the bigger mileage 6 day ride to give us extra time in Lisbon to sort out bikes and other stuff for flying to the US. Another wild camp on the cards as there were no accommodation options as we continued on the plateau amid the mountains we had been riding for a couple of days. I’ve been getting lazy with taking pictures so bug me and I will pick the effort up. We passed through the town of Avila which had a city wall to match Segovia (no pictures) and continued on to an unknown destination. When it got to 9pm and our surroundings were still corn farm fields I began to get a little concerned over finding a prime quiet spot away from the road. A few miles later the trees started picking up, we stopped midway up a hill to check out an area behind some bushes which had some old flattened tracks, turned out to be the local tipping ground. We settled on a thistle riddled patch of grass just of a layby, barely out of traffic view but it was getting late and we would leave early. Always remember to check the ground isn’t moving when trodding through this kind of bush, don’t want to step on any snakes like some of the flattened ones we have been seeing.
Ate breakfast and brushed teeth by the roadside like a pair of bums and breezed along happily to Fleet Foxes. A glorious morning, the kind that reminds me how lucky I am. When your stinking, hungry knowing you have 70+ miles to ride again somedays it can be hard to ‘saviour the moment’. So much happens everyday, long days outside with your eyes taking a million pictures and brain thinking about where the next rest, accommodation, food and drink (all kinds) is coming from, whether that squeek on your bike is going to lead to something serious, lots of uncertainties. Its often the case you don’t appreciate something until its over, so its nice when you do get that happiest feeling of where you are and what your doing that it puts me in a great mood all day and I can just enjoy the ride.
This day was made even better when we met Javier, a local who is an accomplished bicycle tourer, loaded and unloaded he now runs rides for http://www.ibericactc.com. He joined and chatted with us all the way up a climb, took us to a water fountain in a small town to fill our bottles up with the delicious cold water from the surrounding glacial lakes. On the other side of the pass he pulled us over to some cherry trees, the areas local economy, then stopped in a town after and epic descent and bought us some drinks. It was great to have a local guide like Javier, if it wasn’t so hot and he didn’t have to ride back up over the mountain I think he would have joined us all day. He gave us some good route advice which unfortunately we could only follow for a while to Caceres as we didn’t find many camping options online for the rest so ended up sticking to our original planned route. Thanks Javier, I will come back one day and see the rest of the route you told us to take.
It took them a while to pick up but Spanish campgrounds are great. Staying at mostly municipal ones that adjoin the public swimming pools, perfect for a post ride dip to cool off if not to actually swim. The Caceres one in particular was a highlight, each tent spot featured its own small building which housed a personal sink, shower, toilet. It even had table and chairs! Simple pleasures but we are used to sitting on our air mats outside on hardground as our poor tired thighs threaten to cramp up. I was accustomed to wooden benches on each plot whilst camping in the US but these chairs were the first we have had in the whole of Europe.
Since Segovia we have been on the 6 day countdown, something about getting towards the end of a section has triggered a natural reaction to speed up and ‘get there’. After crossing the final border to Portugal we had to deal with a few dog chases guarding the strange mix of orange and tobacco fields. In the town of Elvas we witnessed a local custom that we saw in France in which a post wedding parade consists of 20-30 cars doing laps around town beeping their horns, we road alongside and got big smiles and happy toots, a good place to be. The final approach to Lisbon wasn’t so good, our route would take us North and than descend south towards the city in a zigzag to avoid the major roads, it took us through mostly industrial estates and busy roads still but the end was in sight. 5 weeks since leaving home riding to the ferry then trekking from Belgium through Ardennes to France, into the Alps of Switzerland across the vineyards of southern France, over the Pyrenees towards the heat of Spain and finally beautiful Portugal.
So we are in Lisbon with days to spare, but those days were needed. We spent a full day and lots of walking trying to locate 2 cardboard bike boxes to package our steeds up and 2 big sports holdalls for our panniers. Lisbon is a nice city but we have had so much to do getting gear cleaned, sorted and ready for the USA section of the trip I haven’t taken any pictures, a wiki link will have to suffice http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lisbon. To Boston we go hopefully with a safe flight for luggage and bikes, I cannot believe I am going to be riding my bike across america AGAIN! 😀