- Elizabeth Cameron-Smith
Day 32 - Leiria to Castelo Branco, Portugal
Updated: May 20, 2019
"This was without any doubt the hardest day I have had on this trip so far.
THREE kilometers of vertical climbing and 165 km in the saddle.
A beautiful day to cycle in but a very tough cycle and towards the end of this day I faded- mainly because of poor nutrition and a lack of water."
- Grant - voice note message
Grant left Leiria just after 8 am after a hearty breakfast and only got into Castelo Branco at 11.30 pm. A very long day on the bike.
As he was leaving Leiria, Grant got lost- the maze of roads was confusing ,even for the GPS. Three kind cyclists came to Grant's rescue on this beautifully warm Sunday morning.They showed him the way out of Leiria and rode with him for almost 25 km, providing company and happy banter as they enjoyed the ride together.
One of them, a pediatric psychologist spoke about the difficulties around his work, the influence of media on children and his work with autistic children in particular. An amazing encounter and very serendipitous too, as Grant explained the mission and purpose of his ride and told him about what it is we are trying to achieve.
They followed a stunning pathway out of town through beautiful countryside and the cycling mates eventually headed off and Grant knew that he had to head East which would take him to Castelo Branco - but there were no major routes going that way, so to avoid zig zagging in and out on roads he decided to just go in the direction of Castelo Branco in the shortest way possible , which meant that he had to traverse through country that had no inhabitants or very small towns -some which existed on the map but when he came upon them were all boarded up and deserted.
I think that Grant tried to underplay how difficult this day was but afterwards when we spoke and on his voice recording of the day, it became clear that it was in fact a lot tougher than he let on initially.
"The route....to stay it was challenging would be a misrepresentation...it was extremely difficult and just so hard"
-Grant - voice note
After leaving Ferreira do Zêzere, Crazybikeguy came across the most amazingly scenic dam area which he said made all the effort of getting there totally worthwhile!
The climbs after that were super tough and because the conditions were so warm and because of the route challenges ( no towns and no places to stop) he eventually ran out of water - he had depleted the 9 liters he was carrying.
His cellphone was so hot that it eventually switched off -leaving him without a navigation tool!
( Grant has a Garmin that he also uses for navigation but having a phone is critical as he uses this to access updated map information.)
He found a very small convenience store in a very small town where people were gathered outside chatting and obviously looking at Crazybikeguy a little strangely too.... He managed to get a warm bottle of Seven up which he mixed with the little water left in his water pack as there was no water for sale and he also put his phone in the ice cream freezer for it to cool down - which elicited a great deal of laughing from the bystanders.
He then sat for a while to wait for it to cool down....and kept checking on it while all the people watched this strange guy checking on his phone in the freezer.
The sun had begun to go down when he reached the top of the mountain - the photos he took of the wind turbine up there are just spectacular....giving us a surreal view of the terrain he had tackled to get there.
He left to do the final stretch- reaching Castelo Branco in darkness.
" By the time I got to Castelo Branco, I was....I was just broken.I don't think I have ever been as destroyed as I was when I got there. It was a very very tough day. By the time I unpacked and got myself sorted it was 2.30am. I decided to have a rest day to recover."
- Grant Voice note
Our mission.Their future.
"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear"