Two weeks ago I headed to Cascais under the guise of visiting my sister. I needed the cover story so I could feed my addiction. It is always those closest who you take advantage of when feeding a habit.
Finding A Supply
The first thing I had to do was secure a good supply of carbon with SPD pedals. At the beginning, finding a dealer was difficult as there was almost no merchandise left in the town. But after 3 days I tracked down a Brazilian, called Daniel, and he hooked me up with his best stuff. I managed to get a 10 day supply.
Spinning up some hills
Around Cascais there are some superb cycling options. The national park just to the north of the town has a number of category 2 and category 3 climbs, and most of them are close enough to a cafe to fuel up on caffeine and sugar for the return journey.
One thing not shown on Strava is the wind, and this close to the Atlantic coast there are times when it can almost blow you off the bike, or be directly pushing against you as you try to climb a hill. This really forces you into that aerodynamic tuck.
What feels fantastic is when passing Praia do Guincho and you get sand blasted. It really adds to the occasion too, especially the way it gets inside your sunglasses. Such exfoliation, much free, who needs a spa?
You have to lie to yourself about the benefits at times!
One very nice thing is that the coast roads are very sparsely used by traffic. A few tourists and the odd bus, but you don't encounter anyone on their daily commute filled with the rage and murderous intent that seeing a cyclist on the way home from work seems to cause so many people. You feel safe most of the time, and probably all of the time if you take it easy on the descents.
Depending on the locals you come across you can get different kinds of motivation. 2 guys in their 30s showed me a few short cuts and told me about some other nice routes in the area while working in a pace line for a few kms.
Then on one of the hardest climbs two kids about 16 or 17, out on a training ride, kitted out in Colagno gear, with snazzy bikes, and Garmin 810s started taunting me and then tried to drop me. They eventually did drop me, but I was really putting the boot down to keep up with them. There is no better way to push yourself to your limits, and it was all in good sport.
I'm getting a power metre though. I don't want to be dropped again.
I stayed at the Ljmonade hostel and that worked out perfectly. I was able to store the bike in a common room and not worry about it when I was out and about. As every addict knows, you got to stash your gear in a safe place.
Also, the breakfast is pretty good, and with 2 kitchens there is plenty of space to prepare your own food should you need to carb up before some big days in the saddle.
Bike Flu Contamination
One minor problem I may have left in my wake is another bike addict. Molly highly impressed me by joining in on a spin up to Cabo Do Roca using a fairly battered mountain bike and smashing out a good time. The old adage spinners are winners was employed and the gradient didn't matter too much once there were more gears.
Just take the hit, breath deeply, let your body take over, and relax into the sensation flowing through your muscles!
Spin, spin, spin and enjoy the results.