Teachers from Brooke Weston tackled mountainous terrain and arduous cycling during a recent trip to Portugal. Mr Shorrock, Mr Clasper, Mr Cowley and Mr Houghton flew to Porto, then cycled 95 miles to their accommodation, encountering a mountain which meant they had a solid climb for 20 miles to reach the top. The descent that followed, in the dark on pot-holed roads was an experience that none of them are likely to forget!
They stayed at Vila Real and cycled 260 miles in four days, 110 of which were covered during the final day as they rode to the airport to catch their plane. Trip computers calculated that over the four days they climbed 24,000 feet, with Mr Cowley clocking a top speed of 45.1mph and burning 5,661 calories in the first day alone!
He said: ‘The Douro valley was absolutely stunning. The most interesting day was in the Parque Natural da Serra do Alvao where we just went straight up the mountain, that was hideous, then descended and went back up it on a slightly different route.’
Difficulties on the trip included a buckled wheel, a broken pannier rack and the problems posed by cobbled roads, as well as the detritus and rocks washed down during a particularly heavy thunderstorm. But the team managed to overcome them all and enjoy the trip.
Mr Shorrock said: ‘It was harder than the Sierra Nevada, the trip that we had cycled previously, but the Douro valley was amazing. We had a really good laugh.The first day was really hard as we cycled 70 miles, then suddenly we had a 20 mile climb that we didn’t know was going to be there, the road was in shocking condition with potholes.’
Mr Clasper, who hit a top speed of 48.7mph, said: ‘On the first day it was relentless. We were carrying stuff on the back of our bikes so they were heavier and the weather was so hot, dry and windless. During our last trip we were touring whereas this time we had accommodation to keep returning to which was set in a bowl shaped hollow with a two hour climb out in any direction!’
Mr Houghton added: ‘I wasn’t sure what to expect as it was my first trip out; it was enjoyable if tiring, and we’ll probably get maps with contour lines next time!’