39km Paradanta to Pião
Attention cyclists: the town of Covilhã can be dangerous to your health! After a morning hiding under our tarp in the Serra da Gardunha mountains, waiting for the rain to stop, and then a few hours spent online in the town of Fundão, we had not expected such a tough end to the day as we approached Covilhã. This is definitely not a town to be tackled late in the afternoon, as you will find at least 10km (maybe more, we lost count) of switchbacks and a road that barely drops below a 10 percent grade as you make your way to the nearest campground. Wow, we were sweating and nearly dropped down on our knees when the campsite of Pião finally appeared in front of us. We have tackled a few mountains since September, but rarely do the roads go up with such ferocity over such a long stretch. Only the hope of some beautiful scenery in the Serra da Estrela mountains and glacial valley kept us going. A slap-up meal of rice, chorizo (can you eat too many processed pig products in Portugal? we say no!!) and broccoli, washed down with an emergency bottle of red wine hidding in our panniers helped to set things right. A hot shower was the final icing on the cake before we slid into our tent to sleep very well indeed.