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Portugal N2 Trip - 2022

Portugal N2 Trip - 2022

Day 1 - Saturday


Cracking start despite the adjustment to new bikes (in most cases better bikes) - lovely route 107km on a very busy route. Team work into the wind was excellent. Two long stops in amazing villages. Muro was a gem and great views. One great moment after leaving muro, we came on a stream running over the road- only it was much deeper than we thought and we all got soaked. Clare discovered her new cleats are not waterproof 😁😁. Deirdre Byrne guided us to Alaro and a fab restaurant for a well earned lunch. Roads not great from Alaro to campanet. One funny moment to share. Martin called out walker ahead but there was no walker - just a cyclist who had just passed us out. Lots of slagging from the crew ensued about what did he eat etc. shortly afterwards we did come across a walker, to which Martin shouted "I told you there was a walker ahead" 😁😁


A trusty 10 set off in the Blue group from Chaves after a hearty breakfast and sorting our bikes… with a rebel in Liam T at the front and Clarke the Texan cowboy as our guide at the back we were in safe hands! The temperature was just perfect and no breeze to speak of so we headed off through little villages and towns on Northern Portugal, meandering through stunning vineyards in the Douro valley with the smell of wine in the air! Incredible views and an overall stunning day!

For 14 of us the toughest climb of the day was a trip into the hills to our hotel in Peso a Regau leaving the rest of our crew to enjoy cold beverages in town! A 17% incline was debated over dinner but the views from our vineyard hotel were worth the climb!


Day one of the Tour de Portugal started at the ungodly hour of 6.30 with bike fitting and breakfast.  We scored an early KoM with a record three hours of pfaffing about and photos before finally hitting the road out of Cheves at 9.40.

The blacks, now rebranded as reds consisted of Mark C, John T, Martin OG, Tom Mac, Thomas D, Daragh G, Paul M and myself. We were ably led by the svelte Spanish u23 cycling international Tomas. After a cautious start,  Martin blew the doors off on the first climb of the day with a blistering pace. We regrouped at the top and stayed together for the remainder of the day, passing through fantastic scenery,  slopes covered in vineyards and olive groves. Both climbs and descents were civilised and a fresh tailwind assisted on the flats. A cold beer and a cooling swim in the hotel pool were welcome in Peso da Regua overlooking the majestic Douro river.

So day one was a nice introduction to cycling in Portugal and a pleasant taster for the harder days ahead..

Day 2 - Sunday


After a fantastic first stage the previous day, Day 2’s stage was where Group 1 really “gelled” as team, working hard under the expert eye of spin leader, John O’Kane, and our wonderful Échappée guide, Andrea.

It was a long spin from Peso A Regua (which literally translates to “weights and measures” to Tondela, a distance of 110km with 1860m of climbing (the most of all six days). Working as a team, Ciara, Lelia, Michele, Rosemary, John, Kevin, Tom and Mike started and finished together, supporting each other throughout the day.

A special shout-out and thanks to Andrea for her encouragement when we needed it. All in all it was a very tough and challenging stage, but super enjoyable with amazing scenery. After a cycle (moving) time of almost six hours, everyone was delighted to see Tondela, and to rest for Day 3’s adventures!


Day2 of the N2 trip started very quietly for the yellow group . The majority of us having discovered super bock the previous evening. We had a new recruit on trial in Pat Walsh and a man down in Andrew to even things up. The route for the day was feared but we figured we had a plan that would get us there. Safety in numbers and no talking for the first hour was the motto and sure enough we navigated the 800m climb to coffee stop 1 was navigated without fuss. A round of meir de leit and some fancy cakes from an excellent pasteleria had us ready for the road again.

You would think that every thing having worked so well in the morning we would continue our plan to lunch. Rather than sticking with the program we decided to attack all the climbs as individuals and the route being what it was ended up fairly shattered, tired and emotional by our lunch stop. Luckily Fiona and the guys from echapee were on hand to provide us with a pizza lunch. A further round of coffees lifted spirits and we were ready for the off again.


The Sabbath day began with a Feast of the Ascension.  The long ascending climb out of Peso de Regua up a not insignificant 1000m climb up the 30km Col de Lamido tested the red crew to the max.  While a steady, solid pace was maintained throughout we did lose another crewman who dropped back to a slower group. It was a welcome break in Castro Darie where Fiona and James met us with welcome refreshments.

The road to the lunch stop in Viseu was very lumpy and the cobbled climb into the town caused some of the crew to question the sanity of this adventure.  A leisurely lunch returned some of the smiles (think Snickers ad) and the shortish run in to the hotel meant the afternoon pain was minimal.

The crew revived with beer and a bracing dip in the outdoor pool.

So the group have changed from the Hateful 8 to the Magnificent 7. Hopefully we will still have the same number by the time we get to Faro!

Day 3 - Monday


Tour de Portugal stage 3. Tondela ti Pedrogao Grande

Day three of the tour could be called the 'Scenic Day'. It began with a relatively flat 44km spin in beautiful Autumn sunshine to the first coffee stop. The group took a break to marvel at the Barragem do Coico dam before stopping for a quick coffee.  

From there the terrain got much tougher and the scenery more grand as we proceeded up the Col de Gois accompanied by a techno soundtrack to the lunch stop at the very top of the climb.  As usual Fiona and James had a great lunch for the struggling tourists.

After lunch was a relatively straightforward spin until we reached the Cabral Dam. From there it was a torturous climb to the hotel in Pecrogoa Grande. The route was lined with frescos of the Stations of the cross, and certainly many of the crew felt crucified on the way up. 

Tired legs were again soothed by a dip in the pool, the spa, a few Super Bock and the promise of an easier day tomorrow.

Day 4 - Tuesday


Starting out from the clouds in Pedragao Grande the Blacks/Reds managed to keep hold of all cyclists that started previous day. The first 10 km were lumpy as the group managed to find their legs. Weaving through sleepy Portugal, it felt as if we had the roads to ourselves, passing the blue group along the way, who were nice and friendly. The whites were even more friendly, as their spin Leader Andreas provided Tom McC with a much needed push up one of the hills at about the 30km mark. Mark's saddle needed adjusting at the top of said hill, and we were off again.  A long and fast descent into food stop one, was most enjoyable way to finish section 1 with the yellows already waiting for us. Nearly 700m climbing was done and everyone in good form. A view of a monument marking the middle of Portugal was visible at the stop.

Section 2, was a case of finding the hare, as the yellows set out a few minutes before us. A dropped chain stopped us briefly, but it was lovely taking in scenery of some weaving roadways, and it still felt as if Portugal had not woken up. From 58Km to 65km we hit some hills, but nothing that this group cant handle!  A bit of competitive edge set in as we caught the yellows before food section 2, feeling more like a wednesday night spin as we picked up the pace. After James and Fiona made some customised sandwiches, and the coffee shop opened to allow some of the team get their routing fix, the 3rd part of the day was ahead of us. Flat and fast, but the team were very disciplined holding a steady average on route. The obligatory ice cream stop just a few Km from home was a lovely way to round off the day as we arrived in to Ponte de Sor

Day 5 - Wednesday


Martin 'the Pirate Pantani' O'Gara had his bandana on, and decided that the cobblestone classic on day 5 between Ponte De Sor and Beja was the day to attack. Relentless attacks proved fruitless and as the peloton reeled him in and as we passed aerodromes, the aptly named village of Cansado (portugese for Tired Out) summed up emotions. The first food stop after 67km marked 500km since day 1 in Chaves. Not too Shabby. We passed the blues and whites just before this, as Tomás told us tales of how his director sportif of old, spurred him on mid race. Seemed to work on us also!

We rolled out after coffee as Mark Courtney still tried to figure out Right from Left, but gets a pass based on 4 hours of sleep. Our average somehow went up over the next section towards lunch, despite climbing, spurred on no doubt By Joe blasting out Hot Chip, Over and over and over and over again on his speaker.

As the heat went up, the serious riders started to show their true colours. Tomas Duffy removed not only gilet, but arm warms and under armour, to get ready for the inevitable sprint finish. The heat was intense but so was the racing, until the obligatory ice cream stop with 25km to go, of course! Tom McCarthy reckoned there was rum in his tiramisu ice cream which would obviously sabotage his chances in a sprint finish. As we passed olive trees, John's chain started making weird noises, a lack of oil would surely count him out of the reckoning. The excuses were coming in thick and fast.

The last 15km was on busy roads, so the pace was upped, but only to a sensible 40kph average. A bunch sprint ensued into Beja. Photo finish, a dead heat, it was just to close to call, and debated over a cold Sagres beer outside the hotel.

Day 6 - Thursday


Lots of tired minds and bodies as we set out from Beja for the final leg of this amazing adventure. Everyone seemed quiet, despite Joe and John's attempts to get a Beatles medley going. A distinct lack of backing singers put paid to those efforts. One thing was for sure, the long and winding road this wasn't, as we cycled straight straight straight against tough winds, to our first coffee stop at C. Verde. At this stage some were hallucinating and thought it stood for Cape Verde, but we hadn't quite got that far south. It was Castro Verde, even if it did have a feel of Limerick, with a horse and cart parked up in the street.

Spirits lifted as set back out on the middle section, and the beat box tunes were resurrected, although Tom was getting a little giddy, even before the gels were consumed.
Those smiles quickly abated for all, as one long last climb reminded all of the huge efforts put in this week. Tomás our guide coaxed our weary limbs to the swings at the summit. This was a more exotic location than the swings in Sophie's, but everyone was as tired and emotional as you'd expect if you visit that location of a Saturday night in Dublin.

Almost home now as we consume one final lunch from the amazing Échappée Portugal team and mostly descended downhill to our final location in Faro. The busy roundabout providing the perfect location for some classic photos. 738km in 6 days. Not too shabby.