Braga was cool and damp as I left. Better watch out for slippy roads. As today’s mission was to ride the infamous N-222 (one of the worlds best roads apparently), I head straight for it just east of Porto via the toll motorway.
Approaching the toll barriers there are cars on my left. They are not slowing and are just going straight through. I think it must be one of those number plate systems and they will charge accordingly the chosen exit point. I too carry on at speed. As I get closer I see a barrier. Holy cow!! At least my ABS seems to work. It transpires the cars of the left have a ‘season ticket’ while I was going via the pay on the day toll booth. Close!! I press the button and grab the barcoded ticket.
“There are few things as thrilling as accelerating past breathtaking countryside views, and now we know where to find the most thrilling stretch of tarmac possible.
The N-222 road from Peso de Regua to Pinhao in Portugal has been awarded the prestigious honour “
I start on the ‘222’ at Castelo de Paiva, and go 166km to Vila Nova de Foz Cao. Not just the 17 miles reported above. It is quite varied with the only consistent thing being literally hundreds of corners. None of it boring. A few break points going through towns etc. which are a most welcome rest. It is tough. Very tough. Basically it is like riding the best corners of the cat and fiddle road, joined to together with very few straight stretches between for 100 miles.
The run from Regua to Pinhao was good, although, to be honest I cannot actually remember seeing the turn off to Pinhao. Although it changed in style the whole thing to Vila Nova de Foz was just brilliant. Not sure why the article narrowed it to that particular section. Maybe because it is that section that is full of wine makers which you can visit, hence the journalist responsible had additional motivations to visit?
After stopping for a drink, food or fuel , within 30 minutes of riding again and my mouth is dry. I was not riding particularly fast either. I can’t. I am not a brave / good enough rider.
The views are stunning. If I stopped to take a picture of all the amazing views I would still be there now.
I will not bore myself with details of particular sections of corners etc., And to be honest I have no idea where I was half the time. The angle through which the corners take me makes it impossible to maintain any sense of direction.
Looking down at the satnav app is not possible either as there are so few straight parts to have the chance to take your eye off the road for a second.
It is difficult to comprehend that this road just evolved over time to become what it is without the creators being petrol heads.
I get to the end, pullover and put my hotel address in to Google maps. Time a for a rest for an hour. A nice relaxing ride. Until the last half hour or so it seems. The N-221 to Freixo de Espada à Cinta is an amazing road in places, particularly the last 10km or so. Silky smooth, tight but fast corners. I cannot relax.
I arrive at my hotel. A beautiful guest house type place. I think the owner is Russian. Her accent is not Portuguese for sure. I will ask at before I leave. (Do people with Russian accents immediately fill you with a sneaking suspicion that they are a trained assassin for the KGB, or is that just me?)
The town is dead. After trying to find somewhere to eat I concede and buy crisps from the small supermarket.
I am exhausted. My mood, for the first time this week turns negative. Tired, missing home and in need of a proper cuppa tea. I start thinking about my many stresses. I should have scheduled a day of rest. Tomorrow should be more relaxed. 2 hours to Salamanca. Hoping they have a bath in the hotel room.
It is only 7.30pm. I lie on the bed (a beautiful 4 poster with a firm mattress) to exercise my aching hip. I am gone. Next thing, I wake up and it’s 11.30pm. It is deadly quiet.
I become aware of a low level tinnitus like noise in my ears. I have worn ear plugs all day to try and alleviate such issues.