Tour Day 4: Leiria to Coimbra

There are three chainrings on most bikes these days, and the second, middle, ring usually gets almost all the work. It’s the go-to ring when things are flat.

Yesterday was a day with very little second chainring usage.

For those not clicking on the Strava embed (apologies that I’ve not yet figured how to show the map/visual/info without the need for a click), yesterday’s ride from Leiria to Coimbra was exactly a metric century. Bonus points if you can spot the wrong turn I made that ensured reaching 100 kilometers.

That metric century consisted of something between “rollers,” as the term is known in U.S. cycling, and GDMFs (see previous posts for explanation of this term). Just steep enough to warrant my bike’s rather excellent “granny gear,” and then downhill enough to catch one’s breath as they switch to the third, downhill, chainring.

Shampoo, rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat, catch breath, switch, rinse, repeat.

It was also a complicated route from a “best ride” standpoint, one helped immensely by the Tourists’ Office in Leiria. After searching for a good map of central Portugal, a very nice Office staffer gave me such a map, as well as advice that was a friendly mix of good, wrong, and very wrong.

Getting out of, and into, cities is always the bike tourer’s bane, and it took a few wrong turns to finally make a fairly innocuous wrong choice on a highway out of town. That road paralleled the “right” choice, and I discovered later was probably the better option, as it was far less busy than N109.

I eventually hit N109, wrong turn included, and N109 became another road, and another road, and a short illegal dash on a major highway, and, right at 100 km, the river Mandego River and Coimbra. I arrived to find the town in full tourist frenzy (or at least the June version of it, prior to the real hordes of July), staggered my way up the impossibly steep Rua de Quebra-Costas, and home for the night.

Today is a much shorter ride back to the coast at Praia de Mira, so I had time this morning to visit the University and take a few photos of tourists taking photos.



IMG_2160I prefer to think it a statue of Falstaff, but it’s a Joao or Alfonso numbered something, instead.


IMG_2146A former director of the University of Coimbra Library.


IMG_2142I had read Coimbra is “steeper/hillier than Lisboa.” That’s some statement, but one that proved to be accurate. No, I did not ride up this part of Rua de Quebra-Costas.


IMG_2137A beautiful early evening along the river


IMG_2133Enough of this spectacular beauty! Time to get on the bike and ride back to the beach.

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