Coimbra to Oliveira del Azemeis

A bicycle sculpture in one of the many towns I rode through today

Another hard, short. day - 55 miles with half a mile of climbing, headwinds and some really unpleasnt riding through construction. This day started and ended well, but much of the middle was not good riding. I think I've been running on empty since the start of this tour and I haven't been able to recover to a normal touring state. Maybe tonight will help.

I had hoped to reach Porto today, but stopped about 25 miles short. I stopped because my stomach was very upset and I was exhausted. Part of my problem was my own fault. When I stopped for lunch at a cafe/restaurant, I got the meat version of the plate of the day which turned out to be very good, but very heavy and, of course, I had to eat it all! Then when I faced big climbs, headwinds, and high temperatures, my digestive systme was unable to handle that heavy meal.

Looking back from half way up the last major hill I climbed on IC-2 today

These ridges are 500 to 600 feet higher than the valleys in between. I've just ridden over the ridge you see and am headed up the next ridge. after rding over it, I stopped for a beer. I could have continued on after using the bathroom at a place where I got the beer, but, instead I rode back up the ridge I had just climbed and found a fancy residential on top of a nearby hill. It is called Albergaria Do Campo and rates itself as four star. The room and the service really are four star, but some of the maintenance issues aren't ;-}. My airconditioner leaks water into the room and my door key is very difficult to get out of the lock, but that is minor compared to the fact that they fixed supper just for me ;-}. I expect this night will, even with that supper, be cheaper than last night. Hopefully I'll get more sleep too! I stayed up too late and got up too early this morning in order to get my weboages and images upload. If the wireless had been a little better, I wouldn't have had to work so hard to get (almost) all of my images backed up on a computer at my university, but the service tended to drop out ever few hours.

Once again where I am not allowed, getting out of Coimbra on IC2

I headed back across the river - this time on a legal bridge - and found IC-2 heading for Porto. I followed it and, although I did not see a no bicyles sign, it quickly became autoroute like. Since I didn't know any other option and, except at entrances and, especially, exits it was safe, good riding, I stayed on it. It was signed to connect to a real autoroute and I figured, correctly, that it would become legal to bicycle after that connection. After about 10 km, I was legal and didn't have to deal with traffic exiting at 100 kph!

The first two hours of riding was good. There was a lot of traffic but the shoulder was great and I was able to average 12.5 mph. I actually had a tailwind - a first for this tour - on part of that section. I stopped for lunch after 25 miles and it was very good, but, as I mentioned, I over ate. This would not have been such a problem if the hills and the headwind hadn't picked up right after lunch.

After lunch, getting hillier and windier

Climbing with guard rail and passing lane
Unfortuately some of the later,steeper, climbs did not have passing lanes

After lunch, riding became a struggle. I stopped again for dessert in Agueda and, after a particlauly nasty hill north of there, stopped to rest in the shade for fifteen minutes. A while later i hit the construction.

Several towns had construction of sidewalks, but one was a real mess. They had cut the sides of the narrow highway in order to put in fancy curbs. The curbs were quite high - higher thna my pannier bottoms abd the pavement was cut away around drains and other stuff at its edge. Traffic was very heavy with lots of trucks and riding, dodging the holes while avoiding the trucks, was not fun! What was left of the pavement was also very rough, so I bouncing along, dodging the holes, etc... My suspension stem and seatpost got a real workout and my tired body still got a beating.

Then I climbed another, even bigger, ridge and realized I needed to stop because I was running out of water and I needed a toilet. There was no sign of a place to stay, but there was a bar - icecream place that I was able to get to. The bathroom and the beer helped. Then, hoping there would be a place to stay, I climbed back up the ridge on a small road. Part way up I saw a sign for a hotel, and, folowing the sign on up to the top of a nearby hill, I found this, excellent, place.

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