It is no exaggeration to say that here in the Algarve we have one of the best mountain biking areas in the world right on our doorstep. I am referring of course to the fabulous Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vincentina covering 130,000 hectares and extending 110km up the west coast from Vila do Bispo to just below Sines. Paraiso Jardim is a great starting point to explore this gem on two wheels. One only has to cross the road and hit the trails which combine everything from groomed stone chippings to red runs though forests with steep climbs and downhills.
Within half an hour you can visit remote bays, pine and eucalyptus scented forests, fields of wild flowers in spring, panoramas along the crests of hills and seascapes that take your breath away. Riding along a remote beach just after sunrise has to be right up there on the list of life’s great experiences. Just by keeping to the coast, even in summer it is cool enough to ride for several hours or more.
It was Ernest Hemingway who said: ‘It’s by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them’. If Hemingway had toured the Parque Natural he would have probably added that the bicycle enables one to reach parts that only expert drivers of 4wd vehicles can reach. Also he would have found that a modern mountain bike takes the sting out of hill climbing!
In case you have visions of youths with strapping thighs cruising effortlessly over rugged paths, there is something here for everyone and we regularly have guests who are 60 and over and are new recruits to mountain biking. It certainly beats jogging, walking and golf hands down. Think more of skiing sitting down with as much excitement as you feel you can handle at only a fraction of the cost of visiting the alps.
We have mapped out trails you can explore for yourself complete with café stops in beautiful villages along the way. You can also join us on regular runs with groups of local expat residents with transport for drop offs and collections should you want to venture further into the fabulous Parque Natural up the west coast..