August 15, 2015
Today was one of the most spectacular rides yet. We coasted down into the Douro river valley for 21 km through terraced vineyards, almond and olive orchards. This is the upper Alto Douro, above the demarcated growing area for port wine and off the tourist radar. In our descent to the Douro we saw only three vehicles: a car, a farm truck, and a motorcycle coasting with its engine off. The tourist pace changed dramatically when we arrived at Barca D’Alva, where there were three river cruise boats moored.
We knew in advance the rest of our day would involve a great deal of climbing, but our host told us we could take a short cut which would allow us to miss some of the climbing and cut our ride by 20 kms. The farm track was not on any of our electronic maps except via Michelin, but when we stopped at the first and only house we were assured that the road did go through. The climbs were steep but we were rewarded with wonderful views of the Douro. On route we found a few fig trees with ripe fruit. When Gord spied the first one he said, “we better stop here for a few minutes,” and then transformed into a fig eating machine. They were so good and just what we needed to make our final climb up to Vila Nova De Foz Coa.