Our last night in Portugal consisted of the consistent thunderstorms we have been graced with throughout the ride. Rain, thunder, lightening, the works. We awoke to the sound of rain splattering off our 5 Owls Solo Shelters and we decided to curl up in our sleeping bags for another hour until the showers subsided.
On paper, our last ride in Portugal looked like a cake walk compared to what we had already done thus far on the trip: 20 miles to the ferry in Caminha, quick ferry ride across the Rio Miño and the Spain/Portugal border to Guarda, and then another 20 miles to our campsite in Baiona (Bayona), Spain.
All we could hope for was that the rain would stop and our good friend, Mr. Sunshine, would show his face again and lead us on our way into Spain.
Our day consisted of the following:
. Searching for bike paths that were supposed to run parallel to the main highway but were nowhere to be found
. A ferry undergoing maintenance that will not be running again until December
. 15 mile detour up the Rio Miño to the first bridge that would allow us to cross the boarder into Spain
. Rolling hills and 20-30 mph headwinds all the way back down the Rio Lima to the coast
. And then one of the most scenic and beautiful bike paths I have ever ridden.
Instead of the easy 40 mile ride along the coast of northern Portugal and Spain, the elements were not on our side. The ride ended up being about 55 miles, 30 of which were pain-staking through torrential downpours and insane headwinds, but the last 25 miles turned it into one of the best rides of my life.
We finally found the bike path we had heard so much about. It ran parallel to the coast, weaving through small fishing villages, vineyards, churches, and gardens. It was a mix between paved trails and compacted dirt from the day's rain, with no need to worry about being hit by a huge semi-truck veering around the corner behind us. Instead it was salty air and smooth trails. Everything we saw as we pedaled along the the coast, made us forget about the grueling ride we had just endured.
It became one of those rides that a cyclist always remembers and hopes to visit again. The winding paths along sheer cliffs, through tight colorful streets in unexpected villages. Looking back on the detour and confusion of losing our way, we found none of it mattered, and our fatigue faded away as the wind pushed us along the path to the next sandy spot to pitch the tent.