I met Barry at the hostel lat night, a Camino Portugues pilgrim from South Africa. He’d purchased new shoes, his feet covered in tape and bandages. “Blisters are just part of the Camino.” He invited me to take pictures of the next couple of days from his Camino guide book.
The Camino changes the traveler demographic. Most of the pilgrims are much older than the typical post-college student crowd. The pilgrims leave early in the morning (6:30 am) to avoid walking in the heat. They all seems to have blisters. They are (of course) all hiking, not travelling by train, bike, or bus.
Weather reports this morning thankfully show temperatures back in the 70s instead of the 90s the past few days. While I started breakfast at 8:00 am, I still had a problem. Apparently I don’t have the energy in the evening to blog, track the day’s expenses, edit yesterday’s blog, check the weather, buy groceries, wander about town, read a book for a while, and figure out where to go tomorrow. I had only generally decided on north (which also hopefully translated to downhill).
Yesterday I hit something and knocked the front wheel out of alignment, making the last couple of km difficult. This morning I fixed that, and also oiled one pedal and the handlebars to make my bicycle sound less like a poodle with a squeaky ball. I decided that heading north and east took me farther from Santander (where I should meet Sam). With concern about getting to Santanger on time, I spent a while this morning reviewing the map, seaching for campgrounds and hostels farther to the north and west. I eventually settled on a route to Viseu, following a river and lake for most of the day up into the mountains. By the time I’d reached a decision, fixed the bicycle, and made a reservation at the hostel in Viseu, I left an hour later than yesterday.
Remember the plan yesterday of cycling farther into Coimbra to be closer to my destination the next day? The change in direction meant cycling past the campground from the day before. Using the GPS to navigate out of the city, I climbed up to the top (ok, more walking that cycling), only to realize I’d been navigated to the shortest path, and a goat path (for relatively nimble goats) lay ahead of me. Sigh. By the end of the first hour, I’d cycled only 10 km outside of town. Farther than yesterday, but an hour later in the day as well.
I hate OSMAnd+.
For the next 20 km, I followed the old highway, now supplanted by a super highway. Light traffic, and great vistas of the river and lake lay spread before me.
Fortunes turned shortly thereafter as the super highway merged with the old highway (and prohibited bicycles) leaving me navigating killometer by kilometer on twisting, steep mountain roads. By the time I arrived in Vimiero, I’d cycled only 50 km by 2:00 pm. 50 km remained in front of me, on exhausting roads. Reviewing the GPS, OSMAnd+ suggested a route on what appeared a cycle path. Further review showed a path leading deep into the mountains, following a remote course for 20 km before returning to the highway.
I’m about done with bushwacking my way across Portugal, one reason I decided against continuing to follow the Camino Portugues. A long day lay ahead, with not a lot of tolerance for hours at 6 kph. Still, a remote cycle path tempts me. Following the course laid out by the GPS, OSMAnd+ leads me into a train station, down the platform (with many signs prohibiting cycling), to view with dismay a gravel rut down the side of the hill. Leaving the bicycle at the time, I climbed down the hill, and deemed the dirt track tolerable (if barely). Resolving to turn back should the trail decline in the next short distance, sliding my way down the hill with the bicycle, I set off. Around the next corner I encountered …
I’d discovered the a rails-to-trails path, the Ecopista do Dao, leading 18 km into the mountains before returning to the highway. No idea why they painted the trail blue. Eventually the color changed to green, and finally red. 18 km of fantastic bicycle path, leading deeper and deeper into the mountains. Trees formed grottos of cool shadows. I could hear the roar of the river below (and once spotted rafters) with new vistas around every turn.
Again approaching the highway, 30 km still remained between myself and Viseu. I dreaded another 30 km of steep climbing at the end of the day, as I’d likely not get to the hostel until late. Reviewing my options I realized not only did the Ecopista do Dao continue, but that it finished in Viseu, ending only a couple of kilometers from the hostel! Of the 105 km today, 47.5 km on a rails-to-trails path leading to my destination. Visiu incudes a cycle path through the city. Bicycle path in Viseu lead me to within 500 m of the hostel, newly-renovated.
I love OSMAnd+.
On my last trans-Europe tour, Wayne wondered where the vipers were. Found one today, asleep on the trail. I stopped to chivy him off the trail. While doing so I saved him from the next two cyclists zipping past, swerving wildly around us.
The last three days I’ve cycled 300 km, yesterday breaking my distance record for this trip of 97 km, and then again today to 105 km.Viseu doesn’t have enough here to keep me for a day, but I think I’ll explore a bit in the morning if I can find a slightly closer destination.