Biking Through Portugal

The Village of Castelo Novo

In a new travel article on GoNOMAD, writer Matthew Kadey writes about biking through the heartland of Portugal and the different towns and people he comes into contact with. Here’s a selection from the article.

I’ve been invited here to Portugal’s cultural heartland by local Grand Rota experts Pedro Pedrosa and Pedro Carvalho to experience for myself why there are rumblings that this circuit is destined to become one of Europe’s epic multi-day mountain bike adventures.

A few hours of riding from our launch point, Castelo Novo –- a small village adorned by granite two-story houses and winding mazy avenues where the seasoned denizens clap as we race by — and I’m rapidly becoming smitten by Europe’s most western nation.

Fresh-picked figs and blackberries are quelling my hunger pangs, the tract is generally flat, sprinkled with the occasional kamikaze downhill, and oak and cork trees provide relief from the humming sun.

Portugal produces about half the world’s output of commercial cork and, although it can be harvested every nine years, it takes up to 40 for the bark to become commercially viable. Needless to say, this is not a get-rich-quick scheme.

“That bridge has a two thousand year warranty,” jocular Pedro P. proclaims as I finish pedaling over a bumpy Roman bridge heading out of Idanha-a-Velha, a remote former Roman stronghold founded one century before Christ that’s pleasantly set amongst olive groves and parched plains and once unceremoniously vacated due to a plague of rats.

He then makes a pronunciamento: “The climb into Monsanto is perhaps the route’s most arduous.”

Read the rest of Kadey’s article at