After a competitive enduro racing season, I thought in moving forward I'd create a new scene in order to do something different in the off season. At the end of the year I wanted to do something different and have an adventure, grow friendships and explore different surroundings. I chose to do the Historic way of the Rota Vicentina - a route that presents an itinerary filled with several historic centuries.
For this adventure, I invited my friends, Gonçalo Henriques (A MTB Fan), and João Martins (MTB fan and photographer). The trip was a three day mountain bike adventure that travelled on the Historic way of Rota Vicentina, SW Portugal with 230 kms between Santiago do Cacém to the most occidental European point, São Vicente Cape, Sagres.
Located in the south west of Portugal, Alentejo and Vicentina Coast is the best preserved coastal area of southern Europe. A true pearl, kept and tended by its local inhabitants and by surprising natural values. It captures the hearts of more and more nature lovers and fans of active and sustainable tourism.Day One: Santiago do Cacém > São Luis - 65Kms / 1137D+ / 15.4Kms/h / 4h12m
The beginning of this mountain bike journey started in Santiago do Cacém mother church, Portugal, and ran through the main towns and villages in a rural itinerary filled with several centuries of history. Comprised mainly of rural trails, this is a classic Grand Route (GR), fully accessible to hikers and mountain bikers, with stretches of cork tree forests, mountain ranges, valleys, rivers and creeks, it is a true journey through time, local culture and nature trails.
After the official start and several kms, we had a single, panoramic view over the Mother Church, Santiago castle and the Sines coast. We found huge trees, old houses in ruins, dogs with a unique nice kindness, and of course, the smell of the earth gave us a sensation of freedom that even nowadays I can not explain.
The ride was so intense that after the first 20 km we stopped in the one and only coffee and groceries store in Vale Seco village, and for a brief moment I could just say - "My God, this is amazing!"
Returning to the adventure and curiously, a few km in front we found a different kind of ground with dust and rocks. For the first day our goal of the day was 65 km to São Luis. The track was so incredible and hard, but after we faced the last mountain of the day we got an incredible view over Sines, Porto Covo, the sea and the great São Luís town.
One of the best parts of this adventure on the first day was definitely the last 10 km to São Luis, where of course we had a lot of fun.
As soon we arrived in São Luís, we had to pedal 1km to our new hotel of the day, Hotel Corte da Preguiça, where we washed our bikes and clothes and rested our legs in the swimming pool.DAY 2: São Luis > Aljezur - 81Kms / 1187D+ / 16.5Kms/h / 4h54m
After the incredible rest which will stay marked in our memories, we left with the owner's sympathy and kindness, something I cannot forget despite an adventure like this one, it's also very important to have a comfortable place to help us rest. At 8:30 am and after the breakfast we began our ride for the second day, an 81 km ride between São Luís and Aljezur. Here the trail was almost down all the way so the adrenaline was always on the red line.
At this stage and early in the morning, we had the pleasure of finding a friendly scouts group of the Santiago do Cacém that wished us a good trail ride smiling and waving.
We already knew that we were going to have a different path that naturally became an even more beautiful line when we crossed the emblematic Mira River, one of the most beautiful rivers in Portugal.
Here once more we realized that nature has no secrets and its beauty has no boundaries. We argue about geography and we had the pleasure of seeing the Rio Mira that walked us along till the Odemira's exit through several river drains. From Odemira to São Teotónio there are many river drains that guide us, it was cool to stop to refresh from head to toe in the heat.We had lunch stop for two hours and set off on a trail heading to Odeceixe beach.
These trails are inhospitable and nature is always present and well preserved, however half way and around 16:45, we started hear moto sounds. It was not so long before we faced four friends enjoying their amazing enduro rides. Was really funny I have to say.
We had a chat there and we took a photograph for the good memories, it was all very fun. In Odeceixe beach, the feeling was amazing, you could feel the perfect harmony between the smells of the earth and the sea beside us.
Arriving in the town, we found a lovely waterfront where we recharged for the last time with some friendly villagers. Here we had friendly words with them before setting off on the 14 km to Aljezur city.
This last few km were very important and highly relaxing with the southeast views, and for many km the Rio Mira water channel allowed us a breathtaking overview from sierra spring and the Atlantic west.
Here we saw the most amazing sunset that was along with us till Aljezur center. There we were staying at the Amazigh Hostel, a different hostel from all the others, with luxury rooms and a private bathroom. It was another perfect day done!DAY 3: Aljezur > Cabo de São Vicente - 81Kms / 1200D+ / 17Kms/h / 4h39m
The last day was the cherry on the top of the cake, we woke up once more at 8:30 am and set out all heading to the main goal.
We said goodbye to some friends and got out of town once more at Aljezur Mother Church heading to Arrifana beach, I confess that I was anxious to find sandy ground to enjoy on my FatBike.
On this day I personally recommend the detour for a brief visit to Arrifana beach since it is very splendid and relaxing. After stopping at the beach we came back doing the 2.5 km backwards and it's here we found the most beautiful and technical mountain bike trail on Canal's beach.
We arrived at Carrapateira beach where we were going to have lunch and decided last minute to do the run/mtb trail da Carrapateira, a 10 km circular trail that I strongly advise! After lunch and all ready to go towards the final destination, the Vila do Bispo river gave us the beauty of this adventure, the sandy ground had a big role however nothing difficult for my FatBike.
We arrived at the quiet Vila do Bispo village and with only 14 km to go till the finish line, it was 16h45 and to 'feel alive', an expression I use, we accelerated a little bit when we saw the sunset, unbelievably beautiful that sensitized me until the last kilometre.
As soon we arrived it was too special because we made for the first time this adventure that crossed the south of Portugal util the most occidental European point, São Vicente Cape, Sagres.
My friend Gonçalo Henriques was as always, an amazing partner but I'm also happy for my dude João Martins, a diabetic guy who showed that he has zero limitations with high motivation during this three-day mountain bike adventure.
In total we did 230 kms accumulated with 3.524D+ in 13H45M.
My Berg Cycles Vostok weights 12,5Kgs, and mount Cranks SRAM XX1 30T | Cassette XX1 42/10 | Hubs Tune FatKing | Rims Nextie Carbon Dragon | Brakes SRAM Guide RSC | Handlebar, SeatPost and Stem TRUVATIV NOIR T40 | Suspension Rock Shox Bluto 100mm | Tires Vee tire co
Photos: João Martins ( 24M
More about SW Portugal: Historic Way - Rota Vicentina