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RAD TRAVELS – Porto to Bordeaux

Tour de Skandinavia. Tour D’Iceland. Tour D’Espana. Tour D’Italia. And now from Porto to Bordeaux.  9 stages. 1.400 kilometers and 24.000 meters of altitude. 17 friends. Three of us have never been on tour with us before. 2 special guests. Moritz // U-Lock Justice Crew from Dresden and Eike // Fixedpott from Berlin. And John who joined the RAD PACK only last year. He never rode a mountain before, can you believe that?

While Tami and Jan are in London to ride the RED HOOK CRIT we are on our annual grand tour. Why we do this? Because travelling on our bikes is just T-H-E best way to explore a country. Fast enough to see a lot. Slow enough to enjoy the most beautiful landscapes.

Porto – Bordeaux // Stage 1
Porto – Geres
120km and 1.900m altitude

Well, Porto was a fucking blast. Axel, Ingo, Ben, Mo and Tritop already started last week to ride our tour bus from Hamburg to Porto. They stopped at CANYON in Koblenz to pick up some more tour bikes and then they enjoyed a perfect road trip with rides in France, Spain and Portugal. But that was just a very small taste of what will be ahead of us.

So we met with all the other 12 dudes in Porto yesterday, took our bikes for an easy spin in this awesome (!) city (get there if you can!!! No joke it’s unreal), got some nice food and then we went to bed way too late to get up today at 8am to start the first stage.

Only 120k and 2000m of altitude ahead of us. Sounded easy but… Axel and John had some minor crashes. We had 6 flats. It took us forever to finally roll and to be honest the first 100k kinda sucked. Well, the sun was shining, how bad can it be but Portugal just wasn’t too nice to us and treat us not with too much respect. It just gave us a hard time. Did anyone ever call Porto the Roubaix of Western Europe? It is! We rode at least 20k of cobbles today. And we’re not the biggest fans. Anyone ever was?

As always in cycling if you endure the pain and suffer enough you get rewarded with the best you can get. And we got it. A 15,8 kilometer ascent with 600m of altitude proved to be the first tough challenge of the tour. Everyony was pretty much riding his tempo (well except for Jo, Max, Ben, John, Fritz, Mo and Eike who made it a race (Ben won and took the KOM on this last mountain). We passed wild horses, some smaller waterfalls, a huge dam and just the most stunning nature.

Our campsite is just sitting here under some trees. It took us only minutes to set up the camp with our amazing Heimplanet tents. And everyone just seems overwhelmed that this is really starting again. Life is just better in Bib shorts.

Porto – Bordeaux // Stage 2
Geres – Meiraos

203k. 4000m of altitude. The queen of all stages.
Well… we made it. 12 hours in the saddle. 203km. Almost 4.000 meters of altitude. We barely made it into the camp before dawn. We “woke up” at 7, started at 9. All 16 riders were psyched to ride the longest and toughest stage of all 9. The plan was to make a big break at 120k and a few shorters ones along the road. That worked out pretty well. We hit Spain after 30k or so and it was just unreal to see that not many years ago there was an actual border between Portugal and Spain. This is now gone and we were able to pass the now empty gate easily.

In the end nothing too crazy happened and we can let the amazing pics from Carlos Fernandez Laser speak for themselves. The only thing that stood out was the magic experience riding in the most beautiful landscapes you can imagine. Spain is just green colourful and heartwarming. We know that sounds cheezy but this country just has it all. Perfect roads and so many nice people along the way. And it’s cheap too. 17 coffee and some cake: 17€.

No crashes, just 1-2 flats and sunshine made this the perfect sufferfest. We gotta sleep now. Sorry for beeing not too exciting today. 203k and 4000m of altitude just hurt. It’s the plain truth.

Porto – Bordeaux // Stage 3
Seoane de Courel – Sena de Luna.
155.8km. 2.594m of altitude.

Today’s stage 3 was another tough one. The day after the queen of stages with 200k and 4.000m of altitude. Waking up with only a couple hours of sleep felt more than terrible but we gotta make it to Bordeaux one way or another, right? The night was cold too and the breakfast light and then again we hit the road.

After 30k we already had more than 1.000m of altitude, so the hardest climbs already behind us. Just 30k more or less flat and still a nasty 100(k) ascent ahead of us. But we made it and arrived at the most beautiful campsite. The last 50k or so we had a great battle among ourselves. Everyone fought hard to win this stage. Funny thing though: Axel already took the crown (he broke away while no one was watching, speeding behind the team bus) so everyone just fought hard to get to 2nd place. A day like this is why we cycle. The whole crew working together, fighting, climbing and just having the best days of our year on the bike.

 

Porto – Bordeaux // Stage 4
Sena de Luna – Prada de Valdeon
168,7km. 2.600meters of altitude

This feeling when you’re riding into the sky. This feeling when you feel the rain but it ain’t that. Just the clouds. You’re cold. You’re fighting your way up. More than you can bare. But you have to make it. And then suddenly you are above the rain. Above the clouds. The sun is out and it warms your skin. And then you’re going down with up to 100km/h. Well, that pretty much sums it all up.

We started the day in the mountains. First thing you see is your friends. Your bikes. Some tents. Having breakfast with your best friends. The sun is shining. You spend 10 hours in the saddle. The group split up and found itself again soon for an amazing Tapas break.

We could go on forever but now we’re just here, again in the sky. More than 1.200m above sea level. Tomorrow we’re going down to the beach…

Porto – Bordeaux // Stage 5
Prada de Valdeon – San Vicente
105,7km. 1.559 meters of altitude

“Rest Day”. Well, we climbed 1.000m and from then on almost 80k downhill with an average speed of 40km/h. We ended on the beach in San Vicente. Some of us went surfing, some others took a nap right in the sand. A day with only 1500 meters of altitude seriously felt easy. And the best part was chasing ourselves towards the beach.

Right now we’re having breakfast with the sea breaze blowing in our faces. Today there’s another rest day with just 120k… and again we’re landing on the beach.

Porto – Bordeaux // Stage 6
San Vicente – Orinon
120,9km. 1.459 meters of altitude

The 2nd “Rest Day” of the tour with “only” 120k to go. A few took it more serious and spend the day in the tour bus. The rest kicked it pretty hard. Leaving our beautiful campsite in San Vicente and riding to the next beach in Orinon. The group split after the lunch break and half of the crew made a race out of this stage. Maybe not the best idea for the rest day but worth the fun for sure! Tomorrow it’s getting serious again…

 

Porto – Bordeaux // Stage 7
Orinon – San Sebastian
170,2km. 3.036meters of altitude

This feeling when you’re dead. A climb with more than 40%. The heat. The length of the track, combined with more than 3.000m of altitude. More than 10 hours in the saddle. Sorry but we gotta keep this short. Only Carlos Fernandez Laser’s photo gallery…

Porto – Bordeaux // Stage 8
San Sebastian – Prechacq-les-Bains
170,1km. 2.338 meters of altitude

This moment when your Di2 is empty and you’re on your own. You don’t really know where team bus is to pick you up. So you need two friends to push you more than 30k through a beautiful France… This sums it all up pretty much.

We started the day pretty wet. And believe us when we say: Camping sucks when it rains. Your stuff just don’t get dry. You start a fucking 170k and 2.300m of altitude tour in pouring rain. Breakfast more or less in the van or not at all. Since there is no dry place to sit. Well, it is how it always is: if you endure the pain, if you help each other out – than it will most likely pay off! And it surely did. We got so much sun. We got an amazing route with very few cars and once again we stuck together and gave it all out for the finale 40k or so (average speed of around 40km/h).

Unfortunately it was already the second to last stage. Tomorrow is gonna be a flat 150k one. And we’re all looking forward to it…

Porto – Bordeaux // Final Stage
Prechacq-les-Bains – Bordeaux
150,3km. 457 meters of altitude

This is it. We’re here. Safe & Sound! Everyone is in Bordeaux. No one’s hurt. 1.365 kilometers and 22.218 meters of altitude. In 9 days. 9 stages full of climbing and endless roads. Loads of sun. Some rain. Wind was most likely ok. We can’t complain. We’re more than dead. But happy to have made this. To ride with 17 friends from Porto to Bordeaux. Our 5th grand tour. 2 weeks of crazy cycling (friends would ask us all the time why we’re not spending some holidays together… without the suffering).

Thanks for following us and thanks to our partners for making this happen! Canyon Bikes, Oakley, ABUS, Gore Bike Wear. Selle San Marco, Clif Bar, DT Swiss, Aurora and Heimplanet. Without you this would not have been possible.

Thanks as well to our friend and amazing photographer Carlos Fernandez Laser. Love you!

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