Thursday, 13 March 2014

Lagos to Olhao

Still enthusiastic about trying to follow the Ecovia and the Eurovelo 1 route we did our best and set out to find the Ecovia in Lagos. This first bit leaving Lagos could potentially be lovely, along the beach, off the road but there is no sign posting what so ever. Not for bicycles, not for cars, not for anyone. We ended up cycling in a big circle for one hour and went on the N125 in the end which the Ecovia puts you on anyway at Odiaxere. So you might aswell go on the main road from the start. With its hard shoulder it's not too bad until you get to Portimao where it all of a sudden turns into a motorway, with our favorite sign that no humans, donkeys or bicycles ar allowed. There is the old road that takes you into Portimao and after that, if you find the bridge to cross the river you will find the blue line...      
... and all is good. There is a Portimao Cycling Action Group forming, so the hopes are up!
From Portimao it's a lovely ride, following the blue line into Ferragudo and some country lanes after there.
A few obstacles to tackle...
.... but all in all it's possible to follow the route and you get a nice view cycling into Armacao de Pera, which is surprisingly characterful with a nice seafront an old fishing village and beautiful sinsets. And there is a campsite.
In Armacao you can end up cycling in circles again if you carry on following the blue line. So we advise to take the direction to Alcantarilla and Albufeira and you should find the blue line again. More coutrylanes, a beautiful boardwalk with birdwatching opportunities until....

.... until you hit a massive carpark and lots and lots of beige buildings which are the Mercedes Benz World Training Centre. Here off course everything goes terribly wrong, the bicycle route disappears, again no sign posts for anywhere and many a Mercedes minivan and sportscar driving around going back and forth from Faro Airport. From there onwards to Faro it's pretty grim. A few fancy cycle lanes in Vilamoura, to take you from the hotel to the golf course but that's about it.
This graffiti is the nearest thing we found that looks like a bicycle and sums up how we felt.
And here is one of the maps - or is it street art too!?

Things don't get any better until you get to Olhao.

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