My Lucky Find by Keith Wawman
As you all know my love of travel and sun, you will know how pleased I was to recive Easyjet's latest offers online in January. After looking through them I found Faro in Portugal from Gatwick for £63.83 including tax and cycle (£30 now). I was surprised at finding an apartment for £12 per night (could be £6 per person). I quickly made a booking for 21 nights.
My last time for visiting the Algarve area of Portugal was 40 years ago. So there will be lots of changes. Several new motorways opened three years ago, not showing on my old map so I bought a new updated one. Bike dismantled in bag, I arrived in Faro on 28th February the transfer transport was there. Always wonder as this was booked online. It was approximately 40 km to Albufeira. Note no time change from UK.
My apartment room had a sea view and a balcony with the sun all day although of course I wouldn't be there all the day. Downside - there was no lift, so on arrival had to drag my 29kg bike bag up a winding stair think of Laurel and Hardy and the piano. When I stopped on a bend and let go of the bag it slid down a small flight of stairs once or twice. (Promise: I did just make it in time to go to bed!)
Cycle now fit to ride. I decided to explore the local area, starting with a walk up Cardiac Hill (local name I'm told as Albufeira is built on a hill). But soon forgotten as it was 20C and wonderful sunshine (shorts and shirt sleeves). This made a good start for my visit.
In my 21 days I managed to ride along most ot the Algarve Coast, visiting Sargre and Cape St. Vincent, the most westerly point in Europe, Lagos, and Portimao all to the west of Albufeira. I visited the many beaches with interesting rock formations. I must admit I did cheat a bit by riding one way some days and finding the local train very cheap as a senior citizen. By the way Albufeira station is 8 miles out of town and a hilly return ride.
To the East visited Vilamoura marina, the largest in Europe, created in 1970s. It is 3km from Qurtera (very up market). I visited my friend Dickie Wiseman where he has lived on his boat for the last 25 years (and his cycle!). He rides three times a week for approximately 75 miles each time. And as you can guess he has lots of old cycling friends visiting. I ran into some from Sussex DA. Dickie and I once cycled around Wales covering 950 plus miles in six days we couldn't do it now! He gave me lots of information on finding lanes around (maps were not good on lanes). After catching up with all the news I sampled his home made fruit cake made from a recipe found in Cycling Weekly. Good it was made in his microwave.
Also visited inland to Loule, Querenca and Alte, an old village with all cobbled streets. I got very wet on this very hilly ride and the weather changed. Took one picture and got even more wet from a gargoyle. The roads were running like a stream. It cleared up in the afternoon and you would never believe it had been any different. I was very pleased I went for this ride.
The next trip inland a few days later turned out very windy this time and overcast a ride to Silvest Castle, and look round, then on to Monchique, looking at the local spring water and bottling plant. Then I did my only mountain climb up to the highest point in the Algarve pity it was overcast and blowing a gale at the top. On my return via Silves (smashed!) I cooked an 8oz. steak and veg followed by lots of strawberries and cream, washed down with wine.
In between riding, and spread out over several days I took individual coach trips to Seville (time change one hour), to Lisbon, travelling over the longest bridge in Europe, to Evora where I met a Brazilian cyclist on a cycle that cost him £2,000. Then to Fatima which was a bit too far and too much about myths, but lots of history. The last trip was to a local market (which made five coach trips).
Not a large mileage completed for the length of time away, but I did quite a lot of walking on beaches, in villages and exploring historical monuments, and a few hills as well. Out of the time I was away there were only four days of showers, most days were sunny but there was some wind as well. Out of season it was very quiet in towns and villages. I did most of my own cooking dinners, all breakfasts and packed lunches. I did some scrumping for oranges which made it more exciting. Bought some strawberries by the roadside, 2 Euros for 2 kilograms, and I did manage to get them back to my apartment without too much damage. I only met up with three couples on package deals, all others had booked online. Travellers I met were from Canada, Holland and Germany, also a few British. Total cost of this trip all included was £505.
Changes I found on this visit increase in orange groves, decline in local fishing, modern five-star hotels, more tourism, locals in new modern cars. Still poor wages, paving and small roads in bad repair. Education has not caught up. Still some street begging. Most of the hotels were self catering apartments. Lots of supermarkets and old-fashioned shops. I think it was well worth the visit. Now I'm back in the cold and rain!
The 300,000 Miles Club
It’s that time again - and this is how former members of Croydon Section fared in last year's results:
1st Chris Davies is still first! and his success merited a mention in our Presiderifs message in the latest Cycle Touring. His grand total is 857,490 miles. He rode 10,000 miles plus for the 50th consecutive year. As he was born in Portsmouth he decided to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Nelson's victory at Trafalgar by riding from Cape Trafalgar to Trafalgar Square in London. He covered 1,370 miles in 17 days. He spent 68 days abroad in total including a fortnight's ride from Le Havre to Bilbao, rode home from a YHA meeting in Devon via Brittany and Normandy and chased "Le Tour" down to the Loire valley.
7th John Fisher's grand total was 475,777 miles. The write up on his performance says "I didn't fall off and am getting my confidence and enthusiasm back". He tried racing again on March 17th and felt "as weak as a kitten!"
11th Neville Chanin had only 107 days outside the UK last year. He had 7 trips abroad including seeing stages of his 46th Tour de France, the GP Plouay and Duo Normand, as well as the Semaine Federale at Oleron St. Marie in the Pyrenees. All these activities contributed to his grand total of 597,378 miles.
12th Sue Swetman's grand total was 567,280 miles. She rode with Pete in Mallorca and France. They had a longer trip to Wales to follow some Sustrans routes. They also went walking in Madeira and Sussex.
15th Peter Crofts had a better year now that he and Anita have settled into their Shropshire location. He took CTC tours to Sri Lanka, the Pyrenees, Austria and China. Once again he attended the Semaine Federale in France. His grand total was 526,929 miles.
48th And the piece de resistance? Pete Swetman gathered up 368,048 miles and he rode much the same as Sue, but with the addition of 16 visits to the osteopath and three sessions in the local cardiology unit! I do hope, as will everyone else, that the treatments have improved his performance and made him feel a lot better. We all wish him all the best and look forward to the next bulletin!
How I Was Forced Into Becoming a Motorist! by Paul Coan
A change of employment at the beginning of 2006 marked the end of commuting by cycle for almost 30 years, with a daily round trip of between 15 and 20 miles per day. This daily trip has been replaced by a drive of 90 miles not ideal, but one has to keep the wolf from the door!
A consulation of the map to possibly incorporate a combined car/bike journey indicated that there were no roads on which one would have wanted to cycle on, owing to traffic speeds and/or volume. Additionally, no attempt had been made to provide a road environment in which one would have felt safe cycling, although many junctions had those signs offering cyclists the opportunity to become pedestrians and walk across slip roads with traffic at virtually motorway speeds, if one had not already become road kill at that point.
These observations suggest moreover that it is not the case that cyclists are incorporated into the road network, because planners do acknowledge the existence of cyclists but choose to ignore their needs. The problem appears to be more fundamental. There is a basic disregard for any form of transport other than the car and we are all pushed into becoming motorists by default. Cycling provision is provided grudgingly in many cases by non cycling planners to meet minimum legal requirements, or as a token to satisfy local groups, witness shared pedestrian paths and pointless cycle lanes.
I really miss that hour's exercise every weekday which leaves you warm, awake, and invigorated much to the amusement and amazement of work colleagues. The regular commute also kept you fairly fit without the need for weekend cycling and the need to visit a gym.
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