I could tell you that Lisbon is the sister city to San Francisco, but it would appear that I just did. Lisbon has a bridge that looks remarkably like the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s the same color and has some mighty fine buttress work, suspension and everything. But that’s here in Portugal and not California, so I’m pretty sure they’re different — just sibling’esque.
I’ll skip telling you about the flight over here from California to Portugal because it was rather uneventful. Laura not sleeping a wink for the entire 18 hour journey while I had no fewer than a half dozen naps was quite the contrast. I reckon it was as refreshing for me as it was annoying for her. Regardless of whether I was well rested or Laura was not, we arrived to this…
At which point, Laura hit the hammock and life was once again a return to normal.
I’ve been to Portugal twice before. Both were cycling related, both were trips to the southern tip of Portugal in the town of Faro. Both were the Cervelo TestTeam training camps, both were in February, and both were extremely soggy.
I’m checking in with you now from inGamba’s #DonkeyWeek Portugal. I could go deep into the story of the original donkeys, but I’ll skip that. You just need to end up on an inGamba trip and find out for yourself. I will tell you that this trip is much like a training camp, except everything I mentioned above about those previous two trips is now the polar opposite. The weather is stunning, we’re basically doing a tour of Portugal, and the support team in place here is as professional as professional gets with inGamba.
Plus, rather than cabbage and starvation for lunch which is the recommended diet of any pro team’s training camp, this is our idea of a mid-ride snack. Shoes off, feet up, a smattering of baked goods, coffee, Coke, sparkling water… and for those game enough, deliciously refreshing and novel miniature 6oz beers.
I digress. Let’s talk camp.
Day one was stunning and we went for a short spin. The red and green of the Portuguese flag accented in white and gold is pretty much this picture from day one, setting the tone. Kind of like a Christmas tree in April.
We rode to João’s favorite little beach hamlet, which was quite the spectacular setting. There are about a dozen little apartments, two cafes, and a beach that’s no more than 20 meters long. You get there from a long, steep one-way road descending down to a cul-de-sac adjacent to the water, which made for ensuing hilarity when the line of cars drove down bumper to bumper, looped around, and came back to the line of cars itself at which point there was complete and total stalemate traffic jam. We deftly navigated away from that and drank coffee by the water.
On day two, we had to hop a ferry after a quick spin to continue the 157km ride.
Then the rest of the day pretty much looked like this. Oh, craziest thing ever goes on over here: cars love cyclists. They’ll literally drive behind you for a half hour on end before scooting by the group and waving happily.
Days pass by looking like this. You know, Ted and João pulling along Portuguese national champion Manuel Cardozo or gold medal winning Mr. Ventoux Eros Poli.
I raced Paris Roubaix a time or four. I never raced Italy’s Strade Bianchi. Here is Portugal’s take on the combination of both complete with inGamba support.
It’s been flawless weather, although at the end of yesterday it was so unseasonably hot for early April that I wanted to do this all day
By the end I looked like this. Turns out, I sweat in shapes. Today was the heart.
We’ve had a lot of major life changing moments throughout the week. For example we figured out why this happens
(He made it, by the way.)
We have inGamba’s Creative Director in-residence, Jim Merithew on the ride. His creative genius is much like this photo, taken through the rear window and out the back of the lead car. The natural vignette, if you will.
He caught this image. I’ll have you know, we did not create this graffiti. Promise.
And then each day we end up with the support of the hardest working, unofficial Portuguese national team — inGamba Tours — to ensue the Mangia Beve Bici lifestyle. It’s a slice of heaven here, so even if it’s just the week, I’ll take it.