Day 40 - Olives and blossoms

21 January 2022

Packed before breakfast. A good night's sleep. Breakfast provided. Not a buffet. I prefer the hamper. I eat a quarter of what I do on the buffet and it is a better ride. 70 km today. We set out just after 9.00 am. Stunning day.

The first 25 km are on a busy road. Traffic tearing past. Noisy. You chew up the distance fast but it isn’t much fun. We turn off onto a single-lane quiet road. It is a postcard. Olive trees forever. Black pigs guarded by Rafeiro do Alentejo. Rolling hills. No traffic.

We ride side by side and chat the entire way. Stopping to take pictures. We take our time. The last 15 km are back on a state road. The pictures don’t do it justice. This is why you ride and not drive.

“The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see.” ― G.K. Chesterton

The road comes to an end at Ferreira do Alentejo. Time for lunch. We cruise around the village looking for a suitable place for lunch. Tasca Do Caixinha. The cook is grilling over charcoal on the street. We order chicken and cuttlefish. Local cheese. Wine. We have standardised on the one litre jug.

The food takes 45 minutes. The cuttlefish looks impressive. It turns out they don’t remove cuttlebone. Or the guts. Just throw it on the grill as is. Shell is not impressed. I see the look on her face and offer her the chicken. We had finished the wine so the cuttlefish was not so bad. The ink and gizzards were a bit much. If I had the choice, I would have gone for the chicken which was delicious.

Some hills and a lazy 12 km and we hit Ervidel. We are staying in an old merchant hostel built in 1876. It is very cool. Shower. Head out for some milk and something sweet to eat.

You don’t think about hills when you drive a car. If you get a steep hill, you might drop back a gear, even two. You don’t notice every change in incline. On the bike you feel them. The slightest incline and you are pushing harder. You drop a gear and the speed drops. Two gears you really notice. A hill that would not require a gear change might be four or six gears on the bike. You are either out of the saddle and pushing, or down in low gears doing 5 km/h. When you plan a ride, hills matter.

70 km today. A good ride through some stunning farmland. I am exhausted. We have another big ride tomorrow. Most of my colleagues are heading back to work around now. We have four or five months left on our journey. It is hard to imagine heading back to work.

“Of all the featherless beasts, only man, chained by his self-imposed slavery to the clock, denies the elemental fire and proceeds as best he can about his business, suffering quietly, martyr to his madness. Much to learn.” ― Edward Abbey

Today’s ride -


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