Madrid 2 Lisbon: Day 3 - Casas de Cáceres (ESP) > Ponte de Sôr (POR)
Today I would cross the border between Spain and Portugal and inch closer to the finish line. Like the day before, I didn’t really have a goal for today and was happy to finish at Castelo de Vide, Ponte de Sor or Montargil. Started slow in the morning and it took me a few good kms to wake up properly and get things going. The last Spanish towns before crossing the border were far in between and there was hardly anything to look at during the ride, yet I was super excited with crossing the border and that gave me some good motivation to push harder on the pedals.
I was riding pass Herreruela when I spotted some road bikes at a petrol station, thought it would be a god idea to get some food and have a chat with some local cyclists. In talks to them, a slightly different route from the one I had initially planned was suggested and it sound very appealing, as it would add a few more hills but take me on quieter and prettier roads than the ones I plotted for this ride.
Somewhere along the way, my best friend from back home planned to meet me at Ponte de Sor later in the day to have dinner with me, catch up and see me off the next day. I now had a goal for the day that would have me clock nearly 200kms.
I eventually reached the border and got overwhelmed by a “job half done” sensation. Was now time to push hard and get this ride done!
One thing that caught me by surprise was the gigantic contrast between road sharing mentality and road surface once I crossed the border. Back in Spain, I always felt safe, every car was giving me ample berth when overtaking and did not mind having to slow down if conditions were not ideal to overtake. In Portugal though, I had some very close brushes with cars and trucks who would not understand how fragile a guy on a push bike really is. Even the road surface changed dramatically from Spain to Portugal. Before, I always had a wide shoulder that I could comfortably ride on, the roads were super smooth and fast rolling. I was now riding on roads with no shoulder, badly cracked at the edges and some roads felt like centuries old. However, I was now riding in more scenic places, surrounded by forests and much greener sights. An almost fair trade off in my eyes.
After getting through the last mountain on my way to Lisbon, I got to Portalegre where a huge rainfall made me lose my bearings for a while and go down this busy road. I stopped soon after to hide away from the rain and regroup on my whereabouts and where to turn next. Once I realised the mistake, I turned back around and joined the right road after another uphill battle. I was now riding on a road very much similar to a highway, welcomed by a wide shoulder and cars driving significantly faster. Made my last stop of the day in Alter do Chao, for food, water and ice-cream (yes, it was another hot day). There I met another fellow BikePacker that was about to finish a perimeter ride around Portugal, having done it on a Fat Bike. He’s got some really good photos from his trip. Check his Instagram page here!
The last 30kms to Ponte de Sor flew by, fresh in the legs and super excited to see my mate. We had a nice dinner and some wine, good chat about life and what’s been going on back home, and stayed at a nice hotel for the night.
The next day I would reach Lisbon and had planned to meet dad along the way and ride with him the last few kms of this trip.