It's colder than yesterday. Taking the subway and bus would be faster and warmer... Coffee is ready. I'll ride. And this time I won't forget the gloves.
What route should I choose? The longer, calmer and with the best views or, the faster, shorter and guerrila style city crossing? I have time today so I'll take the longer. 16 Km by the sea shore and after by the river Douro.
To finish the commute, there´s a 500m 9º climb to kick out the remaining cold that I had. Last time I tried to trick this climb, I ended up climbing some stairs carrying my bike.
At the end of the day I returned home taking the shorter route. It’s faster and, in a bike unfriendly city like Porto, with more adrenaline. I cross the city and the traffic is chaotic, but I don’t get stuck, I’m always moving.
Last year I changed my daily bike. Although I’m not a fan of the term “hybrid”, the truth is that this new bike allows me to ride in wider range of terrains.
I gave my road bike the day off and started to check some non paved roads.
Since increasingly fewer people use trains in Portugal, some of the abandoned lines were converted in “Ecovias”: basically the rails are removed and, in some cases, they’re paved. The others remain as gravel routes.
It’s 09:20, it’s 5ºc and it rained all night. I’ll find lots of mud and I’m still with these 35c almost slick tires.
At first, the silence, the wood smells and constant eminence of falling were my road partners in this small trip. Later on, I started to be overtaken by the lycra style Sunday riders on their full suspension bikes with fat tires. “Don’t worry”, I think to myself “I’ve ordered more appropriate tyres for these trips”.
I stop at a bridge and take one of the sandwiches I’ve made at home. The tea I made is still warm.
I knew this route would pass very close to a Romanesque church built around the XII century: “Igreja de São Pedro de Rates”. Being a historic period that I always liked, it was a mandatory stop.
The kilometres ticked by. You can’t help but feel some nostalgia when crossing the old train station buildings. “Pare Escute Olhe” (Stop Listen Look). We can still read in some of the warning signs by the train lines that still resist time.
Somewhere ahead, I take a detour to climb “Monte de São Félix”. A little more than 1 Km with an average of 9º. But the view up there pays off. Time for a snack with a view. From here one can see the Atlantic.
I ride towards the sea. Then I’ll go south to start my return, always with the sea on my right side. I first reach Póvoa de Varzim. A city with deep roots in fishery.
As I ride, the sun starts to set and shadows become longer.
One final stop in Vila do Conde for a coffee before the last stretch that will take me home.
This trip is way too small when compared to the ones I read all the time. But each ride you do, is the the first step to a longer one.