Welcome to Ritchey Ambassador Local Rides - a series on the Ritchey Blog where Ritchey ambassadors from around the world give us a little glimpse into their favorite local rides – what they've ridden a lot during pandemic lockdowns. This post is from our friend Ryan Le Garrec, a film maker from France who currently calls Portugal home. This ride highlights Ryan's experience of riding Ericeira-Santa Cruz-Mafra-Sintra-Ericeira - about 180km with around 3000 meters of climbing. Check out Ryan's web site for a taste of his work.
There is no place like home, and yet home can turn into a jail, i was stuck, concrete walls, nowhere to go, nowhere to look, no crack in the wall, i don’t ride to get fit, i ride for the adventure, the break away, the escape plans, the poetry so the home trainer was not gonna cut it.
Lockdown, to me, it really meant lockdown and my body started shivering cold sweats, am after the long rides, i don’t care for no k.o.m., i like crossing borders, i like rides that end up elsewhere, not back home so lockdown was tricky, Hell actually.
We broke out, we moved out, we relocated our family in the country side, the golden coast, my golden coast. Ericeira. Santo Isidoro. There i could cope with the idea of loops, i knew that place very little but i knew it was not a city and it wouldn’t take long to be immersed in Nature, free, immense and relieved.
I must be the only guy here that is not a surfer. Ericeira region, famous for all its surf spots but me, am more into villages with names such as Ventosa, Soltaria, Colaria, Encarnacion, Chaos. Poetic bus stops and town signs haiku.
My love for this place, It’s in the lush hills, inland, a bit further, the gravel tracks and single tracks, the fancy fresh asphalt , the rough broken tarmac, the villages, the vineyards, the fields and the wild coast.
Lush is an understatement, these hills make green sound limited. Riding them can be demanding tho’, green, steep and windy too, i cry a bit sometimes. I had to stop smoking and drinking in the middle of this lockdown thing, it’s good for my health but even better for my rides.
Am trapped in the middle of these hills and the only exit there is is an ocean with massive waves, there’s no getting around it, I’ll surf a bit later, when am old and tired.
There is a mist in the mornings, patches of fog, suspended clouds, sometimes it comes from the ocean, sometimes it lingers in the trees, no one can tell you when but there’s an end to it, usually a bit before midday. You ride from cloud to cloud, hopping between the lights and shades, catching glimpses of these landscapes. And then it opens up and warms you up.
I can’t understand how this place has remained under the radar as a cycling heaven, it’s not just the riding, it’s everything, the coffee stops and the locals, the pastries and the smiles, it really has the lot. Portugal is a diamond rock at the bottom of that tree you passed a million times. Look up, look down, even when locked down, it needs your loving, it deserves it, but it won’t ask for it, it’s humble and hidden, reserved and generous, warm and discreet. Portugal.