12.692 km ridden in Spain and Portugal again.
(36.171 km in total)
Catarina and Joao hosted me in their house in February 2020. Since then, they started a new project, far away from the city, which I call "the Ultimate Nature Hideout". It is just the beginning of their dream, but with infinite potential.
Below a little challenge. Yellow thick lines are the National Roadbook trails - www.ecovias.pt - 2019 edition with some sections from 2020.
Having a little more time than expected, I'm on my way to max out Portugal by cycling the most sections possible.
Although I avoid going the same road twice, sometimes they are so close to each other, that only by zooming in you can find your way in this maze.
Almost one year ago, when cycling through the French Riviera, I spotted Google car with a camera on top. Every couple of weeks I checked for the update and 9 months later, THERE IT IS.
In case of unpredicted changes, below you can see the screenshot:
Oh man, what a ride it was! It had everything.
From the soap opera style drama to the worldwide pandemic.
From the deep hole of doubt to the peak of physical and mental abilities.
Unorthodox decisions leading to unpredictable outcomes.
Usually, when someone asks me about the problems, my answer is short:
THERE ARE NO PROBLEMS, ONLY NEW OPPORTUNITIES.
How come? I've noticed that with a proper mindset, every issue will, sooner rather than later, yield to the creativity and cleverness of a human being, resulting not only in finding the temporary solution, but often opening the door for the fresh ideas, that would never be considered otherwise.
For example, technicalities. I carry basic tools and some small replacement parts with me, but for the major maintenance I usually gather all needed equipment at my friend's place, and the package is later sent to me anywhere. The idea is to catch it "on the fly", so deliver it to the place, where I will be exactly at the given day.
I already had a friendly place in Ovar, so I decided to ship everything there. The local authorities decided to put the whole town under quarantine, even before the official lockdown, as the only town in the whole Portugal. What are the odds, right? I needed to postpone the pickup and decided to cycle a bit more in the south, but later the whole country went into emergency mode. When the situation stabilized a bit, I was able to cycle within Portugal, but not to leave the country. I dealt with the situation by finding myself additional challenge, which in turn, required me to finish southern and central parts before going north. All of it resulted in more than 5.000 km delay. To avoid major failures, I replace the crucial components every 12.000 - 15.000 km. This time it was more than 20.000 km and the difference was more than visible. There were weeks when every single day I encountered a different failure. Although I have more than 10 years of experience with cycling, the machine was able to surprise me on a daily basis. Noises that I've never heard before, elements that I considered indestructible, snapping like twigs, snowball effects when one dysfunctional element damages another one. This was the time when my mind had to work harder than the legs. But, resourcefulnes backed up with quantities of tape and straps got me going. Once, when the rear hub got stuck, I went to the service point, but they had nothing to replace it with. I asked them to remove the part and, surprisingly, the hub was working without it... for the next 10 days. Finally, I got to Ovar and was able to ruin the weekend for Fernando Paciencia :)
How was the lockdown in Portugal? Preety good, actually. When thinking about my other possibilities, I was glad to stop there. With a good weather, not bad prices, cool people and liberal authorities, it felt almost not restricted. One thing that I could fully appreciate only after leaving Portugal was unity. The collective effort. When it was time to keep the distance, everybody was doing it. When it was advised to stay at home, people tried their best to limit outdoor activities. While having citizens cooperating, the goverment doesn't need to force so strict limitations, and it didn't. I noticed a huge difference in that matter between Portugal and Spain. In Spain there were overreactionists mixed with ignorants (or idiots, you may call them), In that case, no safety measures will be efficient, when you have 50 people with masks and 20 without, sitting next to each other. Spain with more restrictions, that were hurting mostly people like me (no access to water fountains, closed kitchens in hostels, no take away sections in the shops), was less successful at dealing with the outbreak, because of lack of collective effort. So, in such situations, mentality comes first. I don't really understand this, because Spanish drivers are, among German and Scandinavian drivers, the most polite and educated in dealing with the cyclists on the road, although for sure not everybody in Spain is doing sports. The proof exists, it is possible to teach the whole nation what to do. Why not in that case?
The water quality in Spain is a topic for a completely different conversation. Even before the pandemic, I couldn't tell if I was drinking water or baby shampoo. My personal opinion is, that you cannot expect the nation to deal with a health crisis, not giving them good water. Water is the base, especially when it comes to health and performance.
I remember celebrating 10.000 km done (in total) on this journey like it was yesterday. And now, it is 10.000 km in Portugal alone. I'm slowly getting to the point, where my elevation difference (350 km +) becomes of the same magnitude as a standard bicycle trip done during vacation. Also, when crossing Spain to Barcelona, I did one day above 200 km (there were only 7 days like this one before), best week of 1.186 km (PB is 1.209 km) and best month of 3.949 km (PB is 4.284 km). No signs of slowing down and the biggest challenge of this year is coming to an end. Good predictions for the next update.