Fresh cherries and skinny dipping in streams, Kate Dwyer reminisces over her Brake the Cycle tour that all began with a book.
It all started when I decided to read the awe-inspiring book 'Full Tilt’ by travel writer Dervla Murphy. The books is an account of the author's solo cycle ride from Dublin to New Delhi in 1963. The minute I finished the book I swapped my beautiful high-nelly two-wheeler for a slick road bike. My new goal: to complete a cross country cycle somewhere, ANYWHERE! I just needed to find some like-minded cyclists who wanted to do the same.
As fate would have it I met Joe (Brake the Cycle founder) at Project Bona Fide (an amazing permaculture project on the volcanic Ometepe Island in Nicaragua, a couple of years previously) and recalled him telling me about his amazing organisation when we met there volunteering. I got in touch straight away.
There were so many amazing tours to choose from, but the Lisbon to Seville tour just ticked all the boxes for me. PORTUGAL HERE WE COME!
From the minute I landed in Lisbon I felt as if I was in safe hands. I was a bit nervous joining a bunch of strangers but they turned out to be some of the most amazing people I've ever met. We sat down to a delicious vegan family meal and got to know each other on the first day. We discussed the route and the various eco-villages we were visiting, and prepared for our exciting journey that started the following day.
We rose early and fashioned our Lycra and helmets. We fueled up on porridge with all of the most delicious toppings you could think of: Cacao nibs, poppy seeds, and honey washing it down with some earthy coffee. Once our bikes were in check we went on our way. It was a gorgeous day for it, with the sun splitting the stones. There were some challenging hills but the views of the ocean and the downhill jaunt to the beach made it all worthwhile. We jumped in the ocean and afterwards feasted on our lunch and bought some cheeky ice-creams.
It was so lovely getting to know everyone while pedaling alongside them. Everyday brought everyone a little closer. What I loved about the Lisbon to Seville cycle was the ever changing landscapes. Some parts of Portugal felt like we were on the African plains. It then suddenly changed to rolling green fields and forests of cork trees. We saw a bird of prey hover over, and catch a snake. It was incredible. All of our campsites were so beautiful and surrounded by trees. I loved camping every night and cooking and eating with everyone.
My favourite memories from the whole experience include: buying deliciously fresh cherries and seeing who could spit their seed the furthest; gliding down the Spanish hills feeling like I was flying, singing Moulin Rouge ballads while tackling tough hills, second breakfast; Louis' playlists, the sunset while cycling into Los Portales in Spain; skinny dipping in remote streams, the quaint villages and generous locals who pulled out all the stops for us, the thrill of rolling into Seville and the salsa dancing we did that night.
I could go on forever about the week we spent cruising along together. I learned so much about so many different aspects of life while on the road and at the various eco-villages. I will take the lessons learned with me everywhere.
If you are reading this and are unsure whether you could do a tour, I can guarantee you hundred percent can. All you need is a ‘can do’ attitude and the Brake the Cylce crew will help you to the end. I can't thank everyone enough for inspiring me and making that week one of the best experiences of my life.
Kate Dwyer rode with us on our 2017 Lisbon to Seville tour. She’s back on the road and now exploring New Zealand.
Lisbon to Seville whet your whistle? You can see exactly were we're staying by downloading our itinerary. We'd also recommend checking out our Andalusian Adventure, from Seville looping around to Cordoba, we'll be taking in the best this beautiful region has to offer.