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Author Topic: Off-roading in Portugal  (Read 202 times)

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Offline Vaufi

Off-roading in Portugal
« on: March 17, 2020, 05:05:28 pm »
Since we're battling with the Corona virus - and I suppose Africa will follow suit - I suppose all who have planned a trip to Europe will have to wait for quite a while until borders will be open again for travellers  :o

So I'll try to compensate this with a RR on an off-road trip in Portugal last year. Since most dirt roads in central Europe are closed for public vehicles Touratech has done some research on backroads in several European countries. More information here: https://www.adventurecountrytracks.com/about/

Portugal, May 2019
Munich 2018. At the Motorbike show Touratech (TT) offers flyers about off-road tracks in Portugal titled „Adventure Country Tracks“ (ACT ). Definitely something of interest, so I grab one of them to take a closer look.
Some months later, while leafing the TT parts catalogue, this flyer pops up again and this time I check the web site of ACT. Mhhh, very interesting! Apparently some TT guys and Portuguese locals have explored the back-roads for a logical route north to south through the mountains along the Portuguese-Spanish border. Clearly off the beaten track! A video trailer on the web does the rest, and I decide to have a go at it. My friend Bodo, who accompanied me in Southern Africa back in 2006, immediately votes to join in.
The main handicap (besides our age – Bodo is 81 and I'm 71) is the weight of our bikes. His is a 1150 ADV (275 kg) and my fully kitted R80GS weighs around 250 kg. So, after selling my trusty Beemer in exchange for a 200 kg F650GS twin, Bodo decides to get a small twin as well.
A week after Easter we load the bikes on a trailer and buzz off southwards. The time was perfect. After the first warm Spring days the weather had turned cold again in Munich with rain and snow. Whereas in Portugal the weather forecast predicted pleasant temperatures around 20 – 30°C. Perfect bike weather!
Of course trailering the bikes is much more comfortable than riding down through cold and rainy Germany and France. As expected, only when crossing the border to Spain did the rain stop.
Fortunately we can leave the VW bus and trailer on a campsite in northern Portugal. So the next morning sees us off on the ACT trail.
Only when we pause to wonder
do we go beyond the limits of our little lives.
(Rod McKuen)
 
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Offline Vaufi

Re: Off-roading in Portugal
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2020, 05:08:04 pm »
The little town of Bragança is the starting point of the first leg. 180 kms of fun, 55% off-road to Torre de Moncorvo. As a start the route leads through the Bragança castle. Unlike in Germany, all vehicles are allowed right inside the castle precincts. No mass tourism.

The piste begins immediately out of town. The warm temperatures and the first fresh, light-green foliage is just great for the soul!
Only when we pause to wonder
do we go beyond the limits of our little lives.
(Rod McKuen)
 

Offline Vaufi

Re: Off-roading in Portugal
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2020, 05:11:57 pm »
Lonely tracks lead into the mountains. The northern parts of Portugal are quite mountainous, which adds to the appeal of the landscape. We're all alone on the track. Even for the sheep it is too early. After a truly fantastic ride I arrive late in the afternoon in Torre de Moncorvo. During the trip Bodo had changed to tarmac after he had dropped his bike – unfortunately on his ankle. He had enquired about a room, but the little hotel was fully booked. A group of bikers from Stuttgart was faster than us. But fortunately we were on terms easily and they moved together, so that we could get one of their rooms.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2020, 03:03:12 pm by Vaufi »
Only when we pause to wonder
do we go beyond the limits of our little lives.
(Rod McKuen)
 

Offline Vaufi

Re: Off-roading in Portugal
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2020, 05:17:33 pm »
On the second day (255 kms, 55% off-road) the piste dropped in steep twisties down to the Douro river and on the other side in just as steep hairpin bends upwards into the mountains. Bodo managed the downhill part, but dropped the bike again in a tight uphill bend. Unfortunately once more on his sore ankle.... The same happened to one of the other blokes. So the two of them decided to stay on tarmac for the rest of the trip.
The other guys were much faster than I was. Understandable – they were much younger and were riding the latest 1200GS's and one KTM twin ADV. My suspension was totally inadequate, so I had to take it easy in the worst parts of the trail. But all in all the little twin did its job. Actually by this time I rued my decision to buy the cheaper 650 twin instead of the F800GS. Same engine, but a hell of a difference regarding the suspension and ground clearance.
ow and then I met the other bikers en route. For a while I could keep up with them, but they were too fast for me. And I didn't feel like swallowing dust  ;o)
Some time later I met two Brits, who were also doing the ACT. But one of the bikes was fitted with rather street-orientated tyres, which made it difficult to manage the rough and muddy parts of the track. At the end of the day I met them again at the campsite in the Estrella mountains. By this time they had decided to give up the ACT. Too tough....
Only when we pause to wonder
do we go beyond the limits of our little lives.
(Rod McKuen)
 

Offline Fudge

Re: Off-roading in Portugal
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2020, 05:22:20 pm »
 :happy1:
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Honda XR600R
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Offline jaybiker

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Re: Off-roading in Portugal
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2020, 05:27:56 pm »
 :sip: :thumleft:
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Offline Crossed-up

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Re: Off-roading in Portugal
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2020, 05:52:56 pm »
Great stuff! Looks like the ride of one's dreams!
 

Offline Vaufi

Re: Off-roading in Portugal
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2020, 06:14:11 pm »
Great stuff! Looks like the ride of one's dreams!
At least for us  :biggrin:  Normally we have to travel far to find proper dirt roads open to the public. So we often trailer the bilkes down to Albania or across Austria to Romania.

Actually the latest route published on the ACT site is a 1,200km ride in southern Italy. We had planned to do that in April/May, but due to Corona this is out of bounds for now  ???

Anyway here's some more about Portugal.

The third leg (235 kms, 40% off-road) lead mainly through the Estrella mountains. This region is famous for the gigantic rocks and boulders lying around. Another speciality are the curvy roads.
The tarmac offers perfect grip and traffic is nigh zero.
As soon as you leave the higher altitudes behind you, the landscape is covered with spring flowers in full bloom. At the end of the third day we arrive at the Tejo river, which is the largest river in Portugal. It divides the country in the mountainous and cooler north and the warmer south.
Right next to the river is the little „Alamal River Club“ hotel.
Only when we pause to wonder
do we go beyond the limits of our little lives.
(Rod McKuen)
 

Offline Vaufi

Re: Off-roading in Portugal
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2020, 06:18:45 pm »
The next day starts immediately with an off-road piste (285 kms, 40% dirt). The trail leads through pastures and cork oaks. After a turn-off, just as had I picked up speed, a deep hole appears, hidden behind a big bump. Jeez! Mentally I see myself flying across the handle-bars. Somehow I could jerk the bike upwards, but the contents of my top-case is scattered all over the countryside.
Every now and then the route goes through quaint little villages, some with a castle. This castle allows vehicles to pass the tow-bridge, to enters the precincts. Inside the cathedral: The Beauty and the Beast:
On the left “Miss” Mary and on the picture below the horny devil, peeping from under the table-cloth  ;o)
Only when we pause to wonder
do we go beyond the limits of our little lives.
(Rod McKuen)
 

Offline Vaufi

Re: Off-roading in Portugal
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2020, 06:23:03 pm »
Pastoral landscape, isn't it? But you can also see devastated landscapes like this mining area. What surprised me was that the water didn't seem poisonous, because water insects could be seen whizzing around. The rest of the day took us through seemingly untouched landscape. Here and there an abandoned hut, ancient water pumps or windmills not in use anymore, derelict farm houses.
Only when we pause to wonder
do we go beyond the limits of our little lives.
(Rod McKuen)
 

Offline Vaufi

Re: Off-roading in Portugal
« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2020, 06:27:08 pm »
What fascinated me most were the garden-like blooming landscapes. Very interesting were the perfectly stacked walls. No cement.
The fifth and last leg (245 kms, 65% off-road) was winding through the coastal mountains down to the Algarve.
This part was just as much enduro adventure, with its steep descents, hairpins, rough climbs, bouncing rear wheel. But all in all it was just up and down in a never changing landscape. The wonderful variety of the past days was missing.
To make things worse I detected a cut in my rear tyre, far away from civilisation. Shit! To make things worse: My puncture kit was years old, the plugs had turned hard and the glue wasn't as soft as it should have been. Anyway, I managed to plug it somehow, and started my little compressor. After a minute it stopped. Puzzled I waited for some minutes and tried to find another solution. But here in the Bundus there was no reception for my cell phone. So I retried the compressor – and again it worked for a short time. Apparently the bike electronics switched off the plug after a time. So, waiting and pumping for quite a while there was enough air in the tyre to get to me the next petrol station.
As usual in such cases it was Saturday afternoon. No tyre repairs... I managed the rest of the leg on tarmac and arrived at the hotel by late afternoon. Fortunately I am member of the German AA, with an extension for foreign European countries. So I phoned the road-side assistance and had my bike picked up and brought to a bike workshop, where I could pick it up on Monday.
Only when we pause to wonder
do we go beyond the limits of our little lives.
(Rod McKuen)
 

Offline Blou Zebu

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Re: Off-roading in Portugal
« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2020, 06:27:35 pm »
Thanks!
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DR650SE 2006 Ek en die Dominee gaan orals!

Let me know if youre ever in Madagascar.
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Offline Vaufi

Re: Off-roading in Portugal
« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2020, 06:34:04 pm »
Glad to contribute to this great board! I got lots of information from here when I planned my rides in southern Africa, so here is some info for riders visiting Europe  8)

To finish the story: On the way back to our campsite in the northern Portugal, to load our bikes on the trailer, I got really pissed off. Accidentely I filled up with diesel, so after a few hundred meters the engine spluttered and died. We had the bike dropped at a hotel where Bodo took a days rest. His foot was still sore and swollen. So I rode his bike, picked up the VW bus and returned to our hotel.
The next day found us travelling back home. By midnight we reached the Spanish/French border, where we caught a nap in our camper. Some time later some bastard broke in and tried to ransack the camper. Fortunately Bodo woke up because of the noise of the door locking system. The thief of course was gone by the time we managed to climb out of our sleeping bags...
The result of the trip: A f*cked door lock and worse, Bodo had to go to hospital – his foot was broken, and I'm trying to get rid of the diesel in my GS.
None-the-less, we had a fantastic time and enjoyed ourselves immensely   :ricky:

Cheers, Hans
Only when we pause to wonder
do we go beyond the limits of our little lives.
(Rod McKuen)
 
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Offline lpj

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Re: Off-roading in Portugal
« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2020, 06:40:12 pm »
Thanks for sharing Hans  :thumleft:
 

Offline tulips

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Re: Off-roading in Portugal
« Reply #14 on: March 17, 2020, 07:13:25 pm »
Thank you for sharing
 In 86 we spent a bit of time there and NW Spain and would love to go back sometime
Some of the passes are steep, we had a little Citroen 2CV6   4 up and on occasion 2 of us had to hike up or walk
Beautiful countryside and friendly people  :thumleft:
Very funny Mr Geller can i please get my bike back
 

Offline jaybiker

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Re: Off-roading in Portugal
« Reply #15 on: March 17, 2020, 07:42:32 pm »
Thanks for a terrific report that reminded me somewhat of a trip along the Spanish/French border, the Pyrenees, that I took with some companions back in the (Rolling) stone age.

Lots of rocky mountain passes, but we were two on Bultacos, one on a Honda XL125, and one on a hired Honda CB200 road bike!  :o
Succumb not to the erosion of those born of unconsecrated union.
 

Offline Vaufi

Re: Off-roading in Portugal
« Reply #16 on: March 18, 2020, 12:19:05 am »
Thank you for sharing
 In 86 we spent a bit of time there and NW Spain and would love to go back sometime
Some of the passes are steep, we had a little Citroen 2CV6   4 up and on occasion 2 of us had to hike up or walk
Beautiful countryside and friendly people  :thumleft:
That's a good one  :laughing4: :laughing4: :laughing4:

Thanks for a terrific report that reminded me somewhat of a trip along the Spanish/French border, the Pyrenees, that I took with some companions back in the (Rolling) stone age.

Lots of rocky mountain passes, but we were two on Bultacos, one on a Honda XL125, and one on a hired Honda CB200 road bike!  :o
Yep, the Pyrenees are a terrific biking region  8)  And not far away are the Picos de Europa  :ricky:
Only when we pause to wonder
do we go beyond the limits of our little lives.
(Rod McKuen)
 
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