April Musings

WORDS Gilly Gratelely

Hi, Gilly here. What fantastic biking weather! I hope you are all getting out and enjoying the beautiful spring conditions. The rain has refreshed some of the dustier tracks and I love riding through the muddy puddles, channelling my inner child, I know!

Inspired by a recent incident when my mate got her second flat before we had even hit the trails, this month I thought I would chat through the contents of my rucksack and muse over the benefits of having lots of kit (a sweaty back) and being self-sufficient, versus the travel light and hope for the best option! Before I go on, I would like to give a shout out to the lovely Italian guy that recently stopped to help us change a tube. It turns out he was a really keen cyclist and couldn’t help himself getting stuck in.

So what’s in your rucksack?

Whether I’m wearing it, carrying it in my pack or strapping it on the bike, I have divided my gear (for a regular three to four-hour ride) into essential and good-to-have lists. 

Essential: In my world, you shouldn’t leave home without your helmet, gloves, glasses, padded shorts, water, snacks, identification, map, phone, money, spare innertube, compact pump, tyre levers and bike lock. My thinking is if you get into trouble, you can always secure your bike and get a taxi home or to your car.

Good-to-have: I always carry sunscreen, lip balm, insect repellent, multi-tool, chain master link, GPS tracker, basic first aid kit, wet wipes and tissues. In the winter, I also carry a raincoat, spare socks, plastic zip lock bags (to keep my phone dry or put wet clothes into) and a set of small rechargeable lights.

Expert riders and those with the technical know-how to manage repairs might also take chain lube, additional tools and spare parts. 

Another riding buddy of mine, Leslie, also carries zip ties and duct tape, and I jest you not, on one recent ride, we stopped and helped a walker repair his shoe with the duct tape.

I know this seems like a list of expedition gear, but most items are compact and light and mine stay on my bike or in my pack ready. Nothing needs to be fancy, just practical. If you are off the beaten track, I would always recommend riding with others. Ride prepared or be prepared for a potentially long hike home! 

Above all, have fun and stay safe.

Share your biking experiences and pictures with me at bikinginthealgarve@gmail.com

This month’s route is Rota Vincentina

Again, inspired by a sign that I must have passed a million times and only recently noticed, this month I will be looking at routes and rides along the Rota Vincentina – a historic walking trail, which since 2019 has included a network of dedicated cycling routes for mountain and touring bikes. 

There is a long-distance route that links Lisbon and Faro airports, broken down into five daily routes of approx. 100kms, which looks perfect for cycling holidays. And for those looking to explore the Alentejo, there are also 38 circular routes concentrated around Odemira. They are organised into four levels of difficulty and marked in the same way as the BTT routes we previously covered.

The Rota also includes the Fisherman’s Trail, a 230km route from Porto Covo on the west coast to Lagos, covering a mixture of footpaths, gravel roads and beaches. 

I’ve dropped a link to their website below, where you can click through the interactive map to datasheets for all the circular and long routes. They also have an online store where you can purchase maps and guidebooks.



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