Here are some hard lessons learned:
- The EV1 Portugal coastal route is fiction. There are a few signs heading west from Faro, but some of it on steep unsealed roads very dangerous using touring bikes with panniers, suitable for mountain bike only.
On the west coast the supposed route goes through sand dunes and steps – it is impossible even on a motorbike, it is strictly hiking only. Do not attempt it. On day 4 north of Aljezur we abandoned the ‘official’ route and re-planned the remainder.
- Cobbles. Look good: tiring in a car, a killer day after day on a bike.
- Potholes. Portuguese roads are the worst of any developed country we’ve ever been in – and that’s a lot of countries. Apparently the motorways are good. But they’re toll roads, so the trucks use the smaller roads. We spent too much time on busy roads having been forced off our planned route by cobbles/potholes/dead ends.
- No cycling. Just for fun, the EV1 promotions show bikes on boardwalks. These are generally prohibited for cycling. Perhaps we’re supposed to ignore that.
- Atlantic weather. In May, great cycling weather in the Algarve, mid 20s, sunny. But almost the entire Atlantic coast was wet and cool/cold in June. We were soaked to the skin several times. Also a few days of northerly winds. To be fair, that’s expected, and easily fixed by riding north to south.
- Do you really want to ride the Portuguese coast? The roads are much better in Spain, and there are thousands of great ‘green routes’ in France. We only came across proper bike paths near Porto, and upriver from Caminha.
- Portuguese drivers are very considerate to cyclists, even better than the French.
- Pastelarias. The best pastries and bread in the world. Still need work on the coffee.
- Cheap. Wow, so cheap for food, wine, accommodation.
- Lovely people. On several occasions when we arrived soaked and dripping we were welcomed in and our washing/drying done for free.
- Fish. Delicious grilled fish.
- Quiet. Get away from airports and cities, and there’s great coastline, particularly in the south west.
- Did I mention Pastéis de Belém? Portuguese tarts everywhere are fabulous, and the original are the best.