No question, my posts might look the same and you might think that I just live the perfect van and bike life every day. But this dream is often different from the reality...
April 2018: I'm lying on the floor. Full of dirt. I try to catch my breath, stay calm and not lose consciousness. That was a hard impact! One of the ugliest falls I've ever had. But I was lucky - I didn't hit my face on the rocks and somehow made it to the right side of my body before flying 12 metres over the bars after a brutal impact. Everything hurt like hell. Especially my upper body... At this moment Seb comes to take care of me and also our guide Marco tries to help.
I don't want to talk, I just need a moment to sort myself out and get back on my feet. Breathing is difficult, my leg is shaking and my hand doesn't feel good either. The heavy rain returns, I need to get off this mountain quickly and back to my van, back to civilisation to see a doctor. I don't know what's wrong, but I feel like I've been beaten up by an MMA fighter. I manage to roll down the rest of the slippery path and get to the car. I lie down in the back seat and try to hang on as Seb drives the Syncro over the rough 4×4 tracks back to Terras the Bouro and straight to Braga hospital.
The doctors didn't seem very interested and made me wait while I was still shaking and breathing heavily.... After an hour I got up and went to a private hospital - at least to have X-rays taken and to check that I had no internal bleeding. Fortunately, no organs were damaged and I had no broken ribs. Just a broken wrist and a bruised diaphragm from the heavy impact that shook all my organs.
Well, this is not how I had imagined the beginning of my road trip through Portugal. Too much excitement, too much fun on these heavily flooded trails and too much speed.... I didn't see it coming, but these things happen sometimes. Going back to Germany was not an option, so with the help of our guide Marco from In Nature and the guys from WeRide, I was able to leave my car and bikes in Portugal to recover and return as soon as possible.
May 2018: Exactly 6 weeks later I was back to find my van loaded, clean and in perfect condition - just like my bikes. Marco took great care of my babies. What a great guy! To get the trip back on track with some relaxing rides and surfing along the stunning Algarve coast, I headed south....
A visit to Portugal has been on my to-do list for many years, but I just never managed to make it happen. Last year that changed when I was on my way back from Morocco. I was staying with my wife and kids on the cliffs directly above the sea, overlooking one of the best surf spots I've ever been to. Every day I would go down to the beach and surf for a couple of hours.
The kids played all day long and just enjoyed stumbling around in these huge sandpits. While I sat in the water waiting for the next waves, I imagined riding my bike down this endless, rugged coastline. I imagined that there must be a lot to ride there, but I had no idea what I had already missed then.... Luckily, I met my friend Luis Pedro, who is an exceptionally good surfer and cyclist: he took me on a bike ride along the coast - further than even my van could manage.
About halfway along the coast, I rolled into Lisbon and it felt pretty damn good. Being the city person that I am, I immediately liked the atmosphere, as it reminded me of Prague, the city where I was born - with the big difference that the sea and brilliant horse riding are right on the doorstep: There are many hidden paths in the forests of Sintra. You'd expect the forest to be crowded at weekends because it's so close to the city, but it's not. It is surprisingly empty and it is easy to get lost in the jungle. The paths are something special. It's incredible the lines that have been built here and how much fun they are. If you end the day on the beach and catch a few waves, there's not much else to dream about.
And then there is Portugal's north. The place where I had my accident and wanted to take revenge. When we got back there, it was burning like hell. The heat and the drought caused bush fires everywhere. We moved deeper into the mountains, completely away from any civilisation, and found some of the most beautiful trails in Europe. I still can't believe how good it is to ride there and with what dedication the locals put so much work into such a large trail network.
This road trip exceeded all expectations - not only because of the high quality of the landscapes and riding areas, but especially because of the great people we met along the way. Thank you to everyone at WeRide.pt for all your help and perfect times guiding us. We will definitely be back in this perfect Syncronicles country.