Fly to Portugal’s Algarve and ride home…
Starting in Portugal’s Algarve, this northbound leg of our Grand Tour offers a shorter trip for those unable to travel for 3-weeks. You can either make your own way to the start, or have us transport your bike while you fly in (see the Logistics tab below).
Leaving the coast behind, we’re soon onto some gentle forest trails before the going gets tight ‘n’ twisty as we drop to the valley floor and a couple of water splashes. The climb out crosses the Serra de Monchique at the the Algarve’s highest point at Fóia, where we’re afforded a stunning last look across the Mediterranean before we descend through eucalyptus forests en-route to the wild Atlantic coast. Turning inland we cross the garden of Portugal as we head for the rugged hills of the Serra da Lousã and Serra Açor; home to the Schist villages – so named after the stone with which they are built. Our ridgeline route feels like the backbone of Portugal with extraordinary views both east and west; just remember to look where you’re going!
The descent to Vide is one you’re unlikely to forget 😉. But our time in the valley is short lived as we’re soon climbing into the mountains of the Serra da Estrella National Park. A more gentle day follows as we wind our way through the heart of the Douro Valley wine region, where the terraced hillsides are home to some of the world’s best port-wines.
Leaving Portugal we cross some of Galicia’s most spectacular scenery, starting with a 20-mile trail across the Massif Galacio-Leonés; topping out at 1767m and conjuring up a few surprises along the way. Another descent to remember drops us into the valley of the Rio Sil at the foot of the Cordillera Cantabrica. The ride across the mountain range may be on tarmac, but it’s the stuff motorcycle dreams are made of 😃
Our last day is a rather special one, taking in the only legally rideable trail through the Picos de Europa National Park. Plenty to reminisce about during our last nights dinner in Bilbao.
Dirt roads: Distance vs Time
It’s easy to look at the percentage of dirt roads on a particular tour and to think it’s either too little or too much.
One thing that comes up regularly in our customer feedback is that neither distance nor percentage (of dirt roads) accurately portray the actual riding on the day. On a day of 50% dirt for example, your time on the dirt will account for 70-80% of your riding time (pending the nature of the terrain) and therefore feel much more than the 50% by distance. This generally leads to a feeling of having ridden much more dirt than you have.
To get an idea of the terrain, head over to the Big Sky Riders YouTube Channel for some helmetcam footage.