Day 3: Sines to Carrapateria, Portugal

Looking at the Atlantic Ocean from the bridge over Rio Mira

Well, today I learned that Autoroute 'knows' a lot of roads in Portugal that don't exist. It used them to find a, shorter than real, route to Sagres from Sines. that 'route' is over 15 miles shorter. I was planning to ride to Sagres today, but after 75 miles with 2500 feet of climbing - yesterday's ride was 78 miles with 1500 feet of climbing, I decided I had done enough and that it wasn't worth the pain to ride the remaining 15+ miles today.

I made that decision when I saw a Pension sign as I rode, up hill, through Carrapateria. This is a small town located quite close to, but not on, the ocean north of Sagres. I could tell it was near the ocean by the cooler temperature and by the big sand dune west of town. I'm staying at a 22 Euro per night place that is quite nice and has a lovely courtyard where I was able to do some needed work on my bike. My room does not have its own bathroom or shower and breakfast is not included in the 22 E price, but it is still quite a bargain. There is a restaurant next door, 90% of whose customers seem to come from this place. I went over there earlier and had, for 12 Euro, a nice supper; rice with octopus, half a liter of wine and a cafe grande. I needed that large espresso in order to be able to walk back to my room!

Leaving Sines on IC4, near where I was passed by a huge bus.

The most exciting riding of the day occurred as I was leaving Sines. I was riding, with a strong crosswind on a road with a narrow shoulder. A large, double decker, tour bus passed me, with oncoming traffic, so he filled the lane. It was not easy keeping control of my bike as I went from a strong crosswind pushing me off the road to being sucked towards that bus less than two feet away. That !#@#$! driver should have his license revoked! That, fortunately, was the only bad driving I had to deal with today.

My ride, south from Sines on IC4, was made harder by the wind and, later, by some of the bumpiest paved road I've every ridden. As I rode further south the land got hillier, so today was windier, hillier, and most of he roads were rougher, than yesterday. I am riding 700x37 Conti tires and I have both a suspension stem (Softride) and a suspension seatpost (Tamer). Even with all that, I got beat up yesterday and, even more so, today. I put on the Tamer seatpost because I had heard the roads here were rough. I'm glad I did: I can even ride cobblestone streets in relative comfort.

The bumpy road going to Porto Cove, you can see the cobblestones where the pavement is missing.

IC4 looked like this for about 15 km

I left IC4 to ride to Porto Cove about five mile south of Sines. I wanted to see the ocean where it wasn't an industrial port like Sines, and I wanted to get some expresso and a snack. It was a few extra kilometers on a road that was pavement applied over cobblestones (bumpy!), but Porto Cove is beautiful and well worth the ride.

This is a view of the ocean from the road to Porto Cove

And here is a bit of the town of Porto Cove

And looking south at waves breaking on the rocks in the cove

And looking north - that is Sines in the distance

When I got back on NC-4, it was narrow, with no shoulder, rough, and busy. It briefly became wide with great shoulders as it crossed the river Mira - There is a super view from the bridge looking out the mouth of that river! - then, for the next ten miles, was narrow with broken pavement, no shoulders, and high speed traffic. There were also big trucks. Not for the faint hearted, but also not very dangerous because the drivers were, mostly, quite considerate. Still, it is a thrill to be bouncing along at 10 mph on a rough potholed road and have cars pass you at speeds of 80 mph a few feet away! Only a few of the cars, and none of the big trucks, were driving at those unsafe speeds.

I stopped for lunch at Odemira where IC4 joins N268. N268 is a much better road from there to where IC4 splits off again to go to Lagos and 268 continues toward Sagres. Some of that section was great road. It looked, and felt, like a road through Tuscanny, only with drier air and no smog . It was also almost as hilly as Tuscanny!

A flat section of 268 after IC4 has headed for Lagos

Roman ruins above Aljezur

The ride today was both prettier and more challenging than the ride yesterday. The Algarve - this region of Portugal - is quite beautiful. It is also windy and the roads are, at best, quite inconsistent. I continue to enjoy being in Portugal, even though this part of the country is culturally quite different from Lisbon.
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