David Rosa, Portuguese Olympic Cross Country athlete and current national champion, shares with us his choices on the best places to go cycling in Portugal, whether on the road or trails!
We have asked David Rosa, TROPIX
athlete and portuguese national XCO champion for a zillion times and the first athlete to represent Portugal in that discipline in the Olympic games, what were his favourite places to ride in his home country, Portugal.
There are few people to have ridden as many miles as he has in portuguese trails and we wanted to ask him a few questions in order to pick his brain, get to know new areas and places to ride our bikes and share it with you. Here are David's choices for training on the road and on his mountain bike, in Portugal!
THREE FAVOURITE AREAS TO GO CROSS-COUNTRY MOUNTAIN BIKING IN PORTUGAL?
Sintra is one of the most beautiful places to ride a bike, even more so on a mountain bike. It's filled with techical trails with lots of roots, some downhill sections as well with some jumps but if you want something not so technical you have it also. You have 20 minute climbs to train longer intervals and in the recovery fase you can mix it up with technical downhills, providing a perfect training sesson. You can ride for 3h there without noticing it, just having fun on the bike. In the winter is not that cold as in the rest of the country, and foggy mornings are common, adding some mystic to the whole place.
I really like my hometown, in Fátima. It's a religious city, with a huge sanctuary, very near to Serra D'Aire (1h from Lisbon). It's at the platau of the Serra d'Aire, so I usually say we're the "Highlanders". The trails are rocky and mostly untamed: no artificial sections, just plain old mountain biking, with lots of climbing, bringing an awesome atmosphere the the whole ride and you feel at peace mentally, switching "off". 50km on those trails provide a good beating on the body, trust me.
Gerês is in my opinion one the the most beautiful places in Portugal. It's in the northern part of the country, with big mountains all around, rivers, waterfalls, river beaches, etc.. I really can't describe how beautiful it is. Bonus: the food is top notch.
THREE FAVOURITE AREAS TO GO ROAD CYCLING IN PORTUGAL:
#1 SERRA DA ESTRELA
Serra da Estrela is the biggest mountain in Portugal, with its peak at 2000m. The air quality is perfect (with medicinal purposes in fact), with lots of roads that lead to the top, with low traffic. You'll climb a lot around there of course, but the views are rewarding and it's perfect for training camps and a general "switch off" the work routine. The local gastronomy is very good also, I advise the "Taberna do Laranjinha" in Covilhã to eat after a big ride (it's owned by a cyclist). Your energy levels will be fully loaded to the next day after eating there, trust me. https://www.strava.com/activities/614614273
Once again, Fátima! I have an anual ride called "A Chacina" ("The Slaughter"), it's roughly 130/140km passing through the heart of the Serra d'Aire with a lot of climbing involved, the name says it all. If you want more of a flat ride, you also have the "Volta das Praias" (Tour of the Beaches), which passes by a number a beaches, through the "Estrada Atlântica" (Atlantic Road), perfect for base training. https://www.strava.com/activities/455041140
Algarve is really good for winter training, not just because of the temperature itself, but because of the low humidity and a lot of sunny days. The roads are perfect and you have a lot of cool places to ride. https://www.strava.com/activities/470515932