Today we did 60km, got very muddy and visited a castle!
The descent from Santarém was slippery and technical. On wet, well worn stones at quite a steep gradient. We quickly had to get off and walk because it just wasn’t possible to control the bike with the weight. Once we got back to the river plain things were pretty smooth again. That is until the corn fields.
We managed to get lost in the field somehow so we had to backtrack. It was soft but manageable. After which the path led us back to the road we had been on originally. The next time we went off pavement it was onto a great quality gravel road, which of course I commented on after which turned to slushy mud freshly softened by the irrigator (incidentally I have now ridden through 2 irrigators, sure hope that was just water). Mud was getting stuck in my fenders until my wheels stopped turning and I fell sideways while unclipping.
This is my non-muddy side as I clean out the mud jamming my wheels.
We decided no more corn fields. Which was easy enough as the rest of the day was road intermixed with pavé and some gravel.
Golegã was our 30km point and the end of the stage, but we wanted to push on towards Castelo Almourol.The ride to the castle started off as rolling hills but then the last section was very hard work. Thankfully it wasn’t for nothing because the boat turned up and we were able to visit the islet. Got some of those looks as we locked up our bikes that say “what are you, nuts?”
Except for the first 500m getting back wasn’t nearly so difficult but given the prospect of the last town for 20km, two more climbs and it already being 4pm we decided to stop at a pensión on the highway, who gave us basically the same rate as the albergue the night before. Unfortunately the dinner options in town were a little limited for veg*ns, the shops were closed and no cooking facilities so we fell back to the backup plan.
Tomorrow the plan is to finish this stage and do the next stage. Around 50km all up, but probably sticking to paved roads instead of corn fields, which should also avoid the crests of a few of the climbs.