We knew the hardships, burning muscles, musty clothes, and rough conditions that lied ahead of us when we started the trip. Myself, I tend to get anxious easily, I need to know exactly where I’m going, need to know where I am staying, how safe it is, and have a general plan. Obviously “what the hell am I doing?” popped into my mind as Keagan and I were on a half cobblestone/half sandy “road” in the middle of the forest, and we had to make it 30 miles through the bumpy, sliding, and agonizing hell that we called the “scenic route.” It didn't matter, because we were in Peniche, and we had to get to Nazare, once we set a goal for the day, we are sticking to it.
It is unreal, the fact that these forest, filled with pine, ferns, and sand dunes are directly hugging the coast, when it looks and smells like salty Big Bear in California. Getting out and stopping at a cafe for a surprise pastry and espresso, just giving a smile and “Bom Dia”(good day) to the confused and strange looks every single person gives us. I don’t blame them though, because living in a very small town in Portugal, because seeing two skinny Americans kids in tight spandex is probably the last thing they would expect in their quaint little town.
Three old Portuguese women I think were too confused to let us pass by, and in broken English asked where we are from and what the hell we were doing. It took a while then one of them understood a little, and like the last few Portuguese people we met, they said, ”you Americans are crazy.” Again I am sorry for keeping that a “thing.”
Besides that opinion, they all gave us a big smile, and a pat on the back, seeming ecstatic this was the way we chose to see Portugal. Leaving that all behind, the forest roads became our enemy. After that day, when we see a road cutting 20 miles in the forest, it’s usually not worth the misery the cracks will bring.
Stopping for a break, trying to shake some blood back into our numb hands, red and raw from the bike jumping over the uneven surface, we did what we promised to do every time we are fed-up and tired, just laugh. Nothing is wrong at all, ever. All of the bumps, the thunder, the rain, the flat tires, the rubbing brakes, the missing screws.
Nothing has been getting us down because at the end of the day, when camp is set, and we ride into some small town just happy at our adventure. We sit down alone in a small restaurant, point our fingers at some jumble of letters that we think might be chicken, make our overused gesture for a “large” beer and stare at the coast.
Sitting there with our revitalizing nectar, we look down the coast, and in the orange haze of the sunset, we can see the point where at 6 that morning, Keagan was kicking my tent to pack up and start riding.
For me that is the most rewarding thing about the trip, to look back at a minuscule point in the horizon, then down at by chicken legs with an already obscene bronze/white tan-line border, and just say “hey, good job guys.”