WORDS Gilly Grateley

Hi, Gilly here. I’m lucky to ride out with some great girls who I have cycled with for two to three years now. We have explored the trails together, laughed together, sang together(!) and formed great friendships. We see other girls out on the roads and routes, and it feels good to have an active female cycling community in our area. But did you lovely ladies know there is a Women’s National Cycling Community in Portugal? 

I only recently found out when one of our readers got in touch to share her details and photographs from a recent group ride – massive thanks to Jana for getting in touch and enlightening me.

Jana is part of the Fuga Rosa Cycling Community, which was founded in 2016 by an avid cyclist, Monica Faisca. Originally from the Algarve but now living in Lisbon, Monica started the community in order to hook up with other women cyclists. It is based online and has a presence on Facebook, Instagram and Strava. It is open to all women cyclists living in Portugal, amateur and professional, regardless of cycling discipline, geographical location, age, nationality etc. 

Monica estimates there are approximately 2,300 women connected to the community who are encouraged to use the space to share stories, find routes and find other women to cycle with. She strives to continually grow the community to show the Cycling Federations and Sponsors that women’s cycling exists in Portugal and is big enough to be supported and invested in at a competitive level – so how about we get behind the effort girls? I’ve connected on Facebook and hope you will too.

It was through the local sports community that Jana, who lives in the North but was in Lagos last winter, hooked up with other like-minded women to cycle as part of an international team in the Fuga Rosa non-stop relay event, held recently on International Women’s Day. Along with other teams and cyclists from all over the country, the girls from Lagos and Luz took it in turns to cycle the famous N2 route, completing the 738kms in 38 and a half hours. Jana said it was a huge effort to get themselves organised in a short space of time, but the motivation and friendship got them through it. The pictures are a testament to their efforts and achievements – respect to you all.

Always happy to hear from the local cycling community about rides, routes and initiatives – you can contact me at:

bikinginthealgarve@gmail.com

Until next month, stay safe and have fun!

Route N2

Inspired by my chats with the ladies of Fuga Rosa this month, I have taken a closer look at what the N2 has to offer.

The Rota Estrada Nacional 2 is the longest road in Portugal. Stretching 738kms from milestone 0 in Chaves near the northern border to Faro in the south, it is known as Portugal’s Route 66. 

Yes, yes, yes, road! You heard me right, and before now, I have only considered this route as one for road cyclists, but on closer inspection, I can see the appeal for touring– be that on a road, off-road, hybrid or e-bike.

This is an internationally known tourism route, and I can see why. It takes travellers through 11 districts, 35 municipalities, over mountains, across rivers and through contrasting landscapes. Seen as a challenge to complete the route from the top of the country to the bottom, those brave or hardy enough can expect to immerse themselves in history and tradition. 

You will undoubtedly need stamina for this one. Still, if speed isn’t your priority, it looks like a great holiday opportunity and offers a unique way to explore the country’s rural and varied interior. 

As the N2 cuts through cities, towns and villages, there are opportunities to enjoy endless thermal springs, Roman bridges, palaces, castles, cathedrals, heritage sites, museums, monuments, vineyards, wetlands, agricultural plains, forests, reservoirs, panoramic views – the list goes on and doesn’t even include the gastronomic offerings. 

As usual, I have dropped a link below to the website. You can purchase maps and guides from tourist information offices. There are loads of resources, accommodation recommendations, first-hand accounts and guided tour operators online, and (my favourite bit) along the route you can get an N2 passport stamped at designated places – a fun way to make sure you get the most out of this epic route.

www.rotan2.pt