6,233km down: 55km to go
It was a very quiet camp site last night, but I still managed to wake up at 2am and stay awake for a couple of hours. “Oh well” I thought “At least it is the second to last night in the tent, and its not raining”.
I know I have probably bored you all to tears with my running commentary on the toilet facilities where we stay. However as I have talked about the other countries I can’t not mention the Portuguese facility. So I walk in and the first thing I see is a squat toilet, no paper but a hose, and no hand rail to lever up and down! Thankfully I went to the next cubicle and there is a toilet bowl, though once again no seat and no paper. In comparison to the squat toilet it is not so bad, apart from the fact they don’t really flush. You push the button and about a teaspoon on water comes trickling out, so not the cleanest. There was no soap which is par for the course. The showers are full of empty shampoo bottles, toilet paper (I don’t even want to imagine why that was in there) and hair. I felt like I needed a shower after the shower, ugghh! The camp site was well lit though so no problem finding your way to the facilities in the dark.
There was no rain over night and as we have moved back an hour since coming into Portugal it was light this morning when we had breakfast. When we got the instructions for the day – YAY!!!! No tenting tonight, we are staying in hotel, hurray! Yahoo! A bed etc.
Tonight we will get our tour tops so we can wear them into Lisbon tomorrow. The ride tomorrow is going to be short about 50k, of which 35k is a convoy. We will have a celebration when we get there with photos etc. Then we’ll have a break to pack up bikes, get changed etc and then our last dinner together.
Even while today riding it did not seem real, but tonight it is starting to sink in. Especially as I have spent the past hour writing thank you cards for the TDA crew. They are all amazing people and I am going to miss them. I have been challenged on many levels on this trip and they have been supportive and encouraging all the way.
Today was 104k which makes our total so far 6,233k, so we have definitely done the distance on the shirt which is 6226k, phew I won’t feel like a fraud when I wear it. Today was not so challenging, a few climbs but nothing significant. There were two gravel roads, one about 4k and one about 10k. A couple of the riders are not happy when we ride on gravel because they have thin road bike tyres, but hey, it says clearly in the tour information we will go off road onto gravel and dirt roads.
We had one highway we had to go along that did not have much of a shoulder, and there were trucks, so it was a bit hairy. The Portuguese drivers are not as relaxed and bike friendly as their Italian and Spanish counterparts. We discovered this within about 5k of entering the country, when two cars cut us off at a roundabout.
So we were wary of the traffic, but mostly it was pretty good, only a couple of cars got a bit close. At the lunch stop Esther made us laugh, she had flagged the stop with the usual orange tape, but had also written last lunch with the tape (tomorrow we have a packed lunch).
Last Lunch Stop
Today at about 20k we were rushed by a couple of guard dogs. The gate to the yard they were minding was open, and all of a sudden out they came! I concentrated on not making eye contact and not moving my legs as it was a slight downhill, so I just glided through, and they let us go. They got pretty close to Daniel, with one being on each side of him, and he could feel the cold of their noses on his buttocks, but once he stopped pedalling they let him glide through. Carol was the last rider through and she was bitten on the leg, whether it was because she was yelling and kicking out at them, or they had just had enough, who knows but I will maintain the same gliding strategy in future.
We saw lots more calves and lambs today, so it is clearly a planned strategy, not accidental. Also saw a field full of white herons, it had been watered and they were down on the ground.
We got to the hotel about 2pm. I needed to dry out my tent as it was wet from dew from last night. I went into the park across the road, and got a few curious looks from locals, wondering no doubt exactly what I was up to sitting on the grass with my tent in two layers spread out in front of me.
Tonight we are having dinner in the restaurant. When we arrived we had to make a choice – fish or chicken. I chose the fish as it comes with corn bread which I am very partial to. I hope I don’t get food envy when looking at the chicken.
Hotel Vila in Benavente