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Bike Trip in a Foreign Country

Old 06-25-22, 01:12 PM
  #1  
m2244
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Bike Trip in a Foreign Country

Hello,

I'm thinking about doing a ride in Portugal this fall and since I've never explicitly traveled for a ride like this, I have a few questions for anyone with experience in this area.

1. Is it possible to camp along the way or do I need to find designated areas and/or rentals?
2. I was thinking about renting a bike but getting the bike back to the rental shop could be pricey. Are there any other ways to handle this?

Honestly, I don't really know where to start, any advice would be appreciated.
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Old 06-25-22, 01:38 PM
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Bike Forums includes a 'Touring' forum. If you don't get the responses you're looking for ere, I suggest asking for help there.
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Old 06-25-22, 02:37 PM
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m2244
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Bike Trip in a Foreign County

Hello,

I'm thinking about doing a ride in Portugal this fall and since I've never explicitly traveled for a ride like this, I have a few questions for anyone with experience in this area.

1. Is it possible to camp along the way or do I need to find designated areas and/or rentals?
2. I was thinking about renting a bike but getting the bike back to the rental shop could be pricey. Are there any other ways to handle this?

Honestly, I don't really know where to start, any advice would be appreciated.
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Old 06-25-22, 04:58 PM
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For overseas tours I now use a folding bike. These can be folded small enough to transport easily by air or rail, and can carry your gear. There are numerous places to camp in Portugal and Spain, but occasion I have spent the night inside or next to a abandoned buildings or barns. About half the time I have found myself invited by locals to dinner and to stay the night at their homes. The people you can meet are just as interesting as the scenery on long tours if you are willing to stop and chat.
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Old 06-25-22, 05:06 PM
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I researched Portugal a bit.
Check the weather in Faro, the Algarve region.
I have heard that the most English language city is Porto. But not a problem communicating in any city.

Really depends on what you want most from the trip. Miles or sights? Flat or mountains?

There is a BF member living in the Algarve region (well, probably more than one) that is a serious cyclist. Check forum names = Algarve-something. In his area, excellent bike rentals are possible. Camping is possible in many areas, but that was not my direction. I was looking for a southern location with day rides and a northerly spot for same. Faro to Porto rail for xfer between 2 locations.

Google cycling in Portugal and go from there. I found an 'official' internet site showing cycling routes, distances and level of difficulty in the southern region. Everything from the southwest tip on the Atlantic to the Spanish border - coastal and inland routes. Maybe from a regional tourist agency. Quite useful. It had lots of links, but no pop-up ads (that's why I think it was a govt funded site). I assume such routes are fully documented for other regions in the country. I should have saved the link as a favorite.

Last edited by Wildwood; 06-25-22 at 05:12 PM.
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Old 06-26-22, 05:41 PM
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Have you decided on how long you want to tour for?
Are you a seasoned bike tourist?
I do not have ant specific numbers, but believe that A) It might be difficult to find a rental bike that would easily fit into your criteria for a touring bike.
B) Probably would not take very long before the rental bike will be expensive. C) Super big hassle piecing together a touring bike overseas, I like to be able to hit the ground all set up, as apposed to the stress of "putting something together".
I have seen some you tube videos, where they say camping in Portugal is fine.
I went to Italy with a boxed touring bike this spring. Let me know if you have other question(s).
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Old 06-27-22, 02:27 PM
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America is the only country in the world where if you camp on private land someone will show up and kick you off, wave a gun in your face. Canada is a bit better than America. Anywhere else in the world you can camp anywhere you want and nobody gives a ****.

Bring your own bike from home.
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Old 06-27-22, 03:48 PM
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Steve B.
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Have you considered joining up with a tour group and company that organizes and guides people on such trips ?. Darren Alf, also known as the Bicycle Touring Pro, did a multi-day supported and guided tour on the Portuguese Silver Coast about 2 years ago. The YT on it is here -
. The touring company provided bikes as needed. This might be an option for you.
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Old 06-28-22, 08:29 AM
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Go to crazyguyonabike.com: Bicycle Touring: A place for bicycle tourists and their journals

There are hundreds of journals that will get you going. Learn how to say ďI am lostĒ. Then start pedaling.



QUOTE=m224422553868]Hello,

I'm thinking about doing a ride in Portugal this fall and since I've never explicitly traveled for a ride like this, I have a few questions for anyone with experience in this area.

1. Is it possible to camp along the way or do I need to find designated areas and/or rentals?
2. I was thinking about renting a bike but getting the bike back to the rental shop could be pricey. Are there any other ways to handle this?

Honestly, I don't really know where to start, any advice would be appreciated.[/QUOTE]
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Old 06-28-22, 05:53 PM
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When I went to Portugal a few years back I used a company which shipped the bike to whatever lodging youíll be using, although if you arenít staying in the same place or returning to the same lodging that may be a challenge. But thatís a possibility. I canít speak to camping because my parents are from Portugal so Iíve either stayed at our family home or hotels but lodging is pretty reasonably priced esp as you go to less touristy places. If you search for Ďpousadasí youíll find a lot of converted old buildings repurposed for lodging.

As for places to go, Iím a bit biased but the north is a bit of an underrated cycling destination. But for inspiration Iíd find the courses of the following gran fondos: Serra da Estrela, GerÍs, BraganÁa, Porto.

best of luck! Maybe someday Iíll move there and start my cyclo tourism spot but thatís at least a decade away lol
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Old 06-28-22, 09:05 PM
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I've done several long-distance tours (600 - 2000 miles) in several countries, but not Portugal. I've done lots of Spain, France (esp the southwest), Britain, Germany, Italy, Scandinavia, and the US; Here's some of what I've learned.


A Bob trailer (Google it) can be towed using a race bike... more aero than bags, and at the end of the day about the same weight (race bike lighter, more hand positions. I used 28mm tires). Bike handling is better too.

I found that camping for three days and a hotel for one, repeat, works very well.

Camping is available (as in all over the place) over most of the continent.

Many camping guides can be bought, and good maps mark them.

The campsites have most of the facilities you'd want.

The campsites are usually more than 50% tents. Usually the sites are grassy, near interesting places, and you'll find people from all over the continent camping ( mostly car camping, very very rarely will you find a huge RV, mostly very small trailers (caravans)), usually as a family. August is the worst time, as that's when the school vacations are... everyone travels then, so the roads are clogged and the tourist-related things cost more. Avoid places you've heard of... everyone else has, and you'll wind up seeing a building surrounded by thousands of tourists. Ask the locals where to eat (never eat in the middle of a tourist town). Ask the locals where to visit... you'll see some great things.

Try to go on your own... there are no compromises to be made, the only people you'll talk to are locals, you'll experience much more of the culture, and you are as free as the wind.

Don't take cooking stuff... it's heavy and you'll find yourself eating mostly at cheap and good restaurants/cafes anyway.

Eat a good breakfast.

Take days off regularly for lots of reasons.

I fly my bike and trailer. I take them as excess baggage. Check airline policies about bikes.

You won't see as many people touring with bikes as you'd think.

Learn some of the language ( please, thank you, where's the toilet, no, yes, can you help me. You'll be passing through many places where English is not commonly spoken).

Check that your health insurance will cover you.

Take few clothes, two sets of cycling clothes, and some concentrated detergent.

A battery to charge your phone (you'll be using its map probably), and buy a Portuguese SIM card for it (usually, you can get them at the airport, but overpriced, cheaper in towns)

Download maps onto your phone before you leave.

Make your bike look cheap.

Take a sewing kit, spare glasses, a small absorbent towel, a good headlight for your head (camping), and a very light and well-made sleeping bag (but not a sub-zero one)

You'll have a blast, lots of unexpected things, stories you'll tell for the rest of your life.... so don't be tooooo careful with money.

Go with half a plan, not a whole one, to allow you to be adventurous.

If you've never toured before, you'll find that you can ride way further in a day than you imagine.

Um... I'm sure there's more....

Oh, and don't expect the US... bone up on Portuguese modern customs so you don't offend. Europeans like Americans a lot, but aren't too fond of American politics. Europeans generally view middle-of-the-road US politics as right-wing. Europeans do talk about politics and religion with each other and to strangers. Join in, but don't be Uncle Sam, or a religious blowhard. And the US isn't number one in most respects, despite what Americans (who've never travelled) say :-)

Have a great trip (it will be).
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Old 06-28-22, 09:18 PM
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Old 06-29-22, 07:27 AM
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All good info. My first country on my first bike tour was P. That was in '98. Hated P. and after a week there took a train to Spain. That said, in many aspects it's changed and I'm sure in some it hasn't. All responses here have good suggestions and info. You have to do some research and come up with an outline of a plan so we can help you better.
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Old 07-05-22, 01:09 PM
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My wife and I started a 3-month tour from Lisbon. We spent a few days is Lisbon, then riding to Evora, before heading east toward Valencia. It only took about 200 miles to ride across the country, but we took our time and did some exploring. I really enjoyed Portugal. The people were friendly, the small towns interesting, and the country is beautiful. We want to go back and spend more time there.

I think it would be difficult to "wild" camp in may areas, and it is prohibited in certain areas. There is no need to wild camp. There are nice inexpensive campgrounds scattered throughout the country. If in doubt ask. You don't want to be "that ugly American" Our reputation is bad enough without trying to make it worse.

Serpa's municipal campground--I told my wife,"that if the kitchens in the cafes are half as clean as the bathrooms in the campgrounds there is nothing to worry about."




Waiting for the campground office to open. Remember that not much happens in southern Portugal between 1 pm and 4 pm. It does get warm!


A international team map drawing session. You don't need to know the language, the word or some version of Camping is universal. This was pre-smartphone days.






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Old 07-05-22, 05:50 PM
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Originally Posted by travelinhobo View Post
All good info. My first country on my first bike tour was P. That was in '98. Hated P. and after a week there took a train to Spain. That said, in many aspects it's changed and I'm sure in some it hasn't. All responses here have good suggestions and info. You have to do some research and come up with an outline of a plan so we can help you better.
Why did you hate Portugal? If you're going to make a statement like that, you should explain why. I've toured in Portugal and found virtually nothing to hate. The countryside is pretty, people are friendly, and the cities of Lisbon & Porto are lovely. My favorite region for biking was the Douro valley east of Porto. I didn't go to the Algarve tourist area in the south.

I don't think wild camping would work well in Portugal. I brought my own bike so can't help regarding renting a bike there.
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