Paul’s been out of the office on a recce to explore new trails for our mountain biking in the Azores activity holidays on Sao Miguel; his quest to discover some new routes for you to ride on your holidays! Here’s his diary so far…
Sunday – Lagoa do Fogo
Our day began with an hour of fettling at Bike Stop, the bike shop in Ponta Delgada that’s supplying our bikes for the week. Once we´d tweaked shock pressures, tyre pressures and bar setups (all the nerdy stuff), the bikes were loaded onto the trailer, we were loaded into the minibus and off we went.
Our guides, Andre and Antonio gave us a nice briefing on the day´s riding to come as we drove along the winding road that hugs the south coast, before heading inland for the long climb up towards the fire lake. Thankfully, our drive was cutting out most of the tarmac climb to give us more time off-road (my preference)!
The early morning cloud had burnt away by the time we reached our start point. For the first hour, we pedalled through fairly familiar territory, on fire roads through a farmed forest, before dipping off onto singlet rack that brought us out high above Lagoa do Fogo.
From here, Antonio pointed out our first descent of the day, a precarious looking ridge track taking us right down to the lake shore. It was saddles down from hereon in, negotiating gullies and potholes where recent rains had eroded away parts of the trail.
Lunch was an excellent home cooked chicken and pasta salad, with plenty of fruit available – although the highlight had to be Andre´s home made chocolate cake.
With enough energy on-board for the afternoon, the second half of our ride began with us following the stone levada that channels water down from Lagoa do Fogo down to the villages in the south coast.
Sticking with our intended route, we eventually found the trail blocked by some recent felling in the forest. This was when Antonio’s local knowledge proved invaluable and he offered us three alternative routes: we opted for a not often ridden descent which was quite overgrown but all the better for that feeling that we were riding secret locals trails.
Our ride ended in the village of Agua de Pau with a cold beer and the knowledge that we had more of the same coming tomorrow in Sete Cidades.
Monday – Sete Cidades
Okay, more of the same might have been optimistic with regards to the weather. The blue skies of yesterday had been replaced by grey skies and a forecast for rain. However, Andre and Antonio proved to be excellent guides once again, quickly adapting our planned route for one more suited to the conditions.
We set off from the base of the great creator at Sete Cidades with a steep, loose climb called the ´3 kilometre climb´ that zig-zags up the crater wall. I was quickly regretting that big breakfast I’d had a the hotel, but it wasn’t too long before we crest the summit and arrived at the King’s View.
The rain had gradually been getting heavy the higher we climbed, so we took in the shell of the Monte Palace, the abandoned hotel that overlooks the volcano. Well, maybe more to the point that it doesn’t overlook anything as it´s often shrouded in cloud, which was ultimately the cause of it´s closing.
After a quick explore, we headed west circumnavigating the creator, and gradually descending into the village of Sete Cidades itself.
Lunch was another amazing home cooked dish consisting of cod and chick peas with a paprika sauce, and delicious orange cup cakes baked by Andre´s wife Beatriz – all served on the shore of Lagoa Verde.
In the afternoon, we explored the base of the creator and the second of Sete Cidades´ two lakes, Lagoa Azul. This was a welcome change of pace from the morning’s more strenuous climb and descents, and a chance to enjoy the stunning scenery (even on a cloudy day).
The forecast looks pretty good for the rest of the week, so we might return to Sete Cidades Friday – there are some purpose built downhill tracks that it would be nice to try out.
Today (Tuesday) is a rest day and chance to relax in Ponta Delgada before we head towards the east end of the island. Wednesday we´ll be riding trails in and around Furnas and Ribeira Quinte, and Thursday is a full day of downhills and uplifts in Faial de Terra.
More tales to follow soon…!
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At Archipelago Choice, our small friendly team of island holiday specialists has been organising tailor-made holidays to the Azores since 1998 and more recently to Cape Verde, Saõ Tomé and Príncipe. Over this time we have developed the most comprehensive, flexible and fairly priced holidays to these beautiful islands.
All the holidays we organise are put together with great care using our extensive knowledge of the islands and our experience of travelling around them. We try very hard to give the most choice and flexibility possible combining activities, accommodation and island hopping so we put together holidays that best suit our clients.
So whether you want to go whale watching, walking, canyoning, kite surfing or just relaxing on the beach, you can be sure our team of island holiday specialists will be able to help.
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