Day 25 - Stunning
6 January 2022
Up early. Last night's pasta leftovers for breakfast. Open the window. Rain. It is what it is. Load up. Full rain kit. I don’t care that it is raining. I want to leave this place. It smells like stale urine.
We use Komoot as our GPS. It has had its moments. But the current issues are impressive. The Euro Velo 1 runs the entire length of the Portuguese coast. The Euro Velo 1 is a cycleway. Punch a trip into Komoot on the Portuguese coast and you get roads. Cycling software that ignores a cycleway. Genius. We import the map from the Euro Velo website. Works pretty well.
After an hour of rain, it clears. The ride is incredible. Hugging the coastline all morning. The seas are rough, 5 - 6 m swell. Pounding. The ocean soothes the spirit. The sound calms. I don’t need to swim in her. I don’t need the sand. The sound of waves crashing resonates with my brain.
“Hark, now hear the sailors cry,
Smell the sea, and feel the sky,
Let your soul & spirit fly, into the mystic. ― Van Morrison
Carreço for a coffee. After pulling off the wet weather gear I was riding in tights. I had two choices. Shove socks down there. Put some shorts on. As I was pulling the shorts out of the pannier the bike fell on me. My rear pack fell on the road. I knew this even though Shell pointed it out. I got angry. She took pictures of me struggling and sent them to me via text.
Great riding. The coast reminds me of Australia at times. Until you cruise past an ancient structure. We roll on to Viana do Castelo for lunch. I am always hungry. Constantly. When I ride I am even worse. We cruise through town and find a place full of locals. O Cantinho Chave D’ouro. There is sopa do dia. We take one each. There is a meat dish. There is a seafood dish. That is all. One of each.
A glass of red wine. A glass of white wine. The soup is delicious. The glass of wine is actually a jug. A jug of white. A jug of red. I am thinking of the 25 km ride ahead. I will be fine.
The food is delicious. The meat is veal. It has a white wine sauce with pieces of what I think are hotdogs. Shell has the seafood. It is similar to the Spanish paella. The bill, wine included, is €9.
We head out for the last 25 km. I am a little wobbly if I am honest. We ride on through a road section and after a few kilometers, we are back on the beach. The Euro Velo is excellent. We coast along, take a break to watch the sun over the ocean.
An incredible day's ride. 55 km almost entirely along the ocean. We sit on the beach and Shell says to me ‘this is the best day of my life’. I can’t argue, it is for me as well.
I sit there thinking about the decisions we have made over the last decade. Moving to Melbourne. Moving to Malaysia. Going to Uni at 44. Taking on this ride. Starting in Cambodia next year. Up until a decade ago, I was dreaming of this stuff. Making up reasons why I could not do them. Then I met Shell. She is fearless. With her I am fearless.
“The danger of civilization, of course, is that you will piss away your life on nonsense” - Jim Harrison
Sitting on the beach I realise I am utterly stress-free. My mind is empty. My body fatigued, but relaxed. Work is months away. The world seems a universe away. Is this is what the mindfulness gurus call ‘in the moment’?
We roll through Esposende. Cross the Cávado river and into Fão where we have a place to stay. It is a lovely spot that does not smell of urine. I am trying to talk Shell into coming to a place the locals say is cheap and sells massive steak. I am very hungry. Shell is not.
Porto tomorrow. 55 km. Can't wait.