The 15th of August 2014, the long awaited day had finally arrived.As we had dinner late the night before and we had to get up at 3:00 am, I only slept 1 hour and a half. Full of anxiety, was getting difficult to fall asleep but I finally could. I woke up with very loud music outside, it was strange to wake up that way but then we found out that there was a local festival going on.

Soon after waking up, I received a call from Basílio Nunes saying that they were arriving soon at our meeting point. I then went to wake up the boys and get them ready to go, we had just half an hour. We finally got ready and went all together down the hill towards the train station where a group of 15 people were waiting for us. Upon reaching the train station I felt at home since my father and uncle were there to greet me and my brother. Few minutes passed after 4 am when we started our journey to Vilar Formoso, the place where we would start our journey.

Greeting my uncle Basílio. Photo by Paulo Bola (Pabol)

Arriving at the border, it was time to prepare the bikes and everything we needed (gels, water, etc).The guys were excited at this point and ready to ride.

Sergio Sarabando removing bikes from the van. Photo by Filipe Bola Photography

Then we took beautiful pictures to later remember, both on the Portuguese and on the Spanish side. Before we left, we were all drinking a coffee on the Spanish side. It was around 5:50 am when we left towards Gafanha da Nazaré.

Proud of being Portuguese. Photo by Filipe Bola Photography

 

On the Spanish side with both flags. Photo by Filipe Bola Photography

My father came forward with Patrick’s car who in the meantime had decided to do the last stage of the trip by cycling with us.The journey had not started the best way for my dad because, if I had not seen him, he would have entered the highway and from there on we’d have lost him, luckily he saw the error in time and then we peacefully followed our path under extreme darkness and cold.

The first few minutes were quite encouraging, everyone was very happy to be there and enthusiastic.We started with a long descent but after a fairly steep climb.The sun began to rise and at that time we noticed that Patrick was in trouble, the bike he was using was not the best suited for that journey and shortly after he had to give up.

First troubles with the bikes. Photo by Paulo Bola (Pabol)

The march continued towards Gafanha and Ricardo still had some problems with the bike.As Sergio Sarabando had “jumped” to the supporting car, Ricardo tried to ride Sérgio’s race bike but with little effect.

André Santos in the pole position. Photo by Filipe Bola Photography

The march continued towards the high mountains of the region where we were rewarded with beautiful landscapes.

Beautiful! Photo by Filipe Bola Photography

At around 10, the sun was already high in the sky and it was already very hot. After 4 hours of riding and under intense heat, the first of us started to feel it, me being one of them.These and other factors have caused many cyclists to get a rest in the support car.

We left the Guard towards Viseu under intense heat.We had intended to have lunch after passing Viseu but that did not happen.This right away conditioned our arrival time as at lunch we noticed that it would be practically impossible to arrive at the expected time. The goal then was to try to arrive in Gafanha before sunset, for that we needed to get much faster.

It was getting hot. Photo by Filipe Bola Photography

We had lunch in Viseu and shortly after we started eating, we could see that the guys were tired and it would be difficult to take them out of the chair and make them pedaling again.We had a relatively long lunch which did not help.

A selfie with 5 liters of beer. Photo by Filipe Bola Photography

When we restarted pedaling, we had clearly stated that we would have to increase the pace so we could get to our destination not far from the scheduled time.Resumed under 30 degrees of temperature with a smaller group of cyclists.The group began to reduce after hard climbs and fast pace.When we were about 75 kms from the destination, we were only 4 cyclists. Near Vouzela things started to get interesting, Ulisses Santos started a fairly high pace which allowed us to get very fast and hence save a lot of time.

Ulisses setting the pace. Photo by Filipe Bola Photography

Ahead of us was coming my friend Emanuel Costa in a motorbike, this whole scenario made it look like we were in a real competition, actually somewhere in Vouzela we were applauded by the locals, at this time I felt famous, but only for 5 seconds.The march continued and I was suffering from my feet, it happened many times during the trip but especially on days of intense heat.

This massage was just what I needed at that point. Photo by Filipe Bola Photography

We finally reached Albergaria, the place where we were all going to meet again so we could make the last 20 kms altogether.At this point the heart and the emotions began to tighten.It seemed unreal to be just 20 kms away from finishing a 2’200 kms journey.

Here we entered the Gafanha and at this point Icould smell the sea.I was surprised by a group of friends, organized by my dear friend Mariana Carlos, who was waiting for me nearby the church. Iwas 1 km away to arrive at Jardim Oudinot.

Before we got to the Jardim Oudinot, we went twice around the roundabout. When I was about to arrive, in the last 100 meters, all cyclists opened up in two rows and I passed through.

100 meters from arriving. Photo by Filipe Bola Photography

When I realized I was there and the goal was reached, I suddenly lose control of my emotions and let myself into the moment.I finally arrived and right away I laid down on my handlebars crying like a baby.That moment meant a lot!Under loud applauses I was right away hugged by the wife of my godfather and then by my mother.

I did it!!!!! Photo by Filipe Bola Photography

Following were moments of great emotion.I had arrived in Gafanha and the feeling of accomplishment was huge.

An emotional hug! Photo by Filipe Bola Photography

 

I can’t describe this photo! Photo by Filipe Bola Photography

 

She never let me down. I am very proud of her! Photo by Filipe Bola Photography

 

 

A picture to later remember. Photo by Filipe Bola Photography

 

Special thanks to all these warriors who did this last day with me, from the left to the right: Emanuel Lages (putozão), André Santos, Tiago Lopes, Basílio Nunes, Daniel Vareta, Ulisses Santos, Senhor Ulisses Vareta (em baixo), Sérgio Sarabando, Ricardo Paiva, Cótimos Nunes and Varela. Missing Paulo Bola (pabol), Albino Vareta, Patrick Nunes, Paulo Gafanha and Fábio. Photo by Filipe Bola Photography.

 

Great picture by the boat/museum Santo André. Photo by Filipe Bola Photography

 

It was time to see friends, family and take care of my body because I had no voice when I arrived (I got a bit sick in Spain).2’200 kms completed and I was back to the place I love. Mission accomplished!