From October 15 to October 26, we were part of a guided cycle tour in the Alentejo region of Portugal. The tour was operated by Pedal Portugal (pedalportugal.com) which is run by Huw and Carolyn Thomas—both wonderful hosts and guides. This particular ride (the couple offer four other rides in Portugal) was called The Border Castle Tour, and it lived up to its description as having “some of the best terrain for cycling anywhere in Portugal.”
The ride passed through beautiful rolling countryside that offered an ever-changing landscape of megaliths, medieval and Moorish castles and Roman ruins. Because the Alentejo is one of the least populated regions of Portugal, there was little traffic and the roads were all very good. The rides varied in distance from 45 to 75km and there were two rest days (or optional cycling days if you preferred) built into the schedule.
A typical day began with breakfast, riding at 9:00am, a coffee break in mid-morning, a picnic lunch on the road provided by Huw and Carolyn (next year included in the tour cost), completion of the ride by 2:00 or 3:00pm and an arranged group dinner. Because the Portuguese eat dinner late, the evening meal was always at 7:00 or 7:30pm.
The food and lodging were all first rate (the Alentejo is one of the main wine producing areas of Portugal) and we stayed in a variety of accommodation ranging from comfortable country homes to a convent converted into a 4-star hotel. For us, the tour was as much a cultural and culinary tour of a region rich in history and great dining as it was a very enjoyable ride.