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Portugal - Algarve
Ok, so it's a little further afield than Surrey Hills / Aston, but should anyone fancy either a proper sunny riding holiday, or escaping for a day out whilst on a family break then this could be for you. I've just come back from a week away with The Mountain Bike in Lagos, Portugal. I've got a comedy Mickey Mouse suntan, dust in every crevice and I need a holiday to recover. Here's what went down.

We (GF and I) flew into Faro airport, the transfer to Lagos is about 90mins by bus, we've not got bikes with us as we're hiring and all runs smoothly despite the bus having a mega delay for some reason. I get to listen to a drunk Yorkshire man say 'fanny' repeatedly, so all is not lost. Eventually we reach Lagos and are collected by Jim, our host / trail guide / trail builder extrordinaire who escorts us to the Pension, a bit like a B&B (where you have to make your own breakfast - a 'B' maybe) The landlady speaks no English, but some Spanish with a funny accent thrown in seems to do the trick and we're sorted out with an immaculately clean little room, which I immediately mess up before passing out in my shoes.

The following morning brings heat, so much heat. I sweat my way to the shop to get bread and juice, it's only 8am and I'm boiling. Back at the pension, we get kitted up to ride. Knee, shin and elbow pads on and Clotilde (?) the landlady is looking at us like we're Martians. Actually she's seen it all before, having run biker's accommodation for years, but I'm sure she thinks we're a pair of mentals.

Jim furnishes us with brand spanking new Saracen Ariels, 140mm Full Sus All Mountain bikes, they prove capable and confident in all of the riding that we do over the following week, be it XC or very rough and rocky trail riding. This first day of riding brings a beautiful clifftop route with lots of very techy rock sections, I manage to clatter my big ring on a rock lip, but the big ring's just a toothy bash guard anyway, right? There's some tough climbs today, and these, combined with the heat, really sap my energy. As we head inland after lunch the temperature still rises, my mouth's drier than Gandhi's flipflop and I've guzzled 2 litres of water already. After returning the bikes to their lockup it's time for a wander to the beach with some Port before dinner.

Tuesday is shuttle day on Monchique mountain, 10k of downwards (not Downhill) trails. Rocks and boulders await, the top section of the run is littered with granite (?) very rough but also grippy, even with the Saracen's Conti tyres which don't appear to be up to the job to begin with. Weirdly though, the tyres hold up throughout the week, with me putting one pinch flat in them after a particularly spirited / foolhardy line choice. One section we ride today was initially a challenge to ride without pedalling when new, as the trail has bedded in, and the weather being as hot and dry as it is, the current challenge is to ride it without braking. We manage 4 or 5 runs in the day, 40k of riding with my saddle dropped and minimal pedalling!

resim     <--- Dark at noon in the dense woodland section.

Day three (or four, in Portuguese, as they count Sunday as the first day of the week) brings another XC blast, dry and dusty inland riding with a couple of lads who happen to live within 30 miles of us back home. Again the heat is tough and I've soon drained my camelbak.

On Thursday we opt for more shuttles, this time on Picota Mountain, a tougher, more technical run this time, in parts very steep and with demanding, non-rollable drops. (There is always a chicken run, and Jim points out the upcoming trail features diligently) It's here on Picota that I cause my only injury of the week, sliding gracefully into a tree and bruising my shoulder. We encounter incredible lava rock formations, one forms a wall ride that provides a fair challenge, and one that I fail utterly first time. 2500m of descending was done today.

resim    <--- Yes, the trees were all sloping, no MBUK camera tilt here, oh no...

Our final day dawns, and it's a gentle (we're both feeling a bit knackered) trip to a private set of small dirt jumps. Neither have ever rode jumps before and, despite these being small tabletops and not doubles, it shows. We're now on an old Orange Missile, one brake and not much else, but it's short wheelbase fits the close packed jumps and with time and practice we're both getting 'Sick Air'.

resim    <--- In your face, Pilgrim.

As well as the best biking in Portugal, Lagos has lovely beaches, excellent restaurants, shops and bars. I didn't really sample the nightlife as I was knackered from riding and it's not my thing right now, but if you want it, then it's there. The accommodation was simple but immaculate and very quiet. Jim can also offer tuition / skills courses, we didn't do any as such, but he is an excellent trail guide and I'd suggest his demeanour lends itself well to patient teaching.

resim     <---  Jim

Check out <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href=""></a><!-- m --> or the facebook page for more info.
Keep it foolish...
Excellent review. It had me Lol'ing several times as most of your post's do Wink Sounds really good, glad you both had a good time. Well done on the drop in the first pic, it looks quite big.
First drop pic is about 4' or so, but as the landing is on a transition then it's considerably bigger by the time you've landed. And bigger still when I'm describing it on the Internet. That's the ariel I'm on, ditch the big ring, slightly wider bars and more butch tyres and it's be a very good bike indeed, it even felt fairly light. In GF's pic she's riding a hardtail, it's a Kingdom Bikes Foia, designed by Jim. It's an awesome machine, GF rode it for the whole day on Thurs, despite it being a touch large. She got quite attached to it.



<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href=""></a><!-- m -->

EDIT: Made drop bigger, added pics and link
Keep it foolish...
what was the costing like? including bike hire?
Price info clicky

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Also can a mod amend my shoddy spelling of Algarve in  the title please?
Keep it foolish...
looks awesome and good prices too.
would love to do something like this, one day..
Nice of them to leave the other lever on the Orange just not connected to anything!
2010 Canyon Aeroad 9.0 SL
2014 Specialized Epic Marathon
Thanks for spending the time on the review and a great job youv'e done to Smile have always looked at spain, portugal or tenerife for a spot of winter riding to get a brake from the mud and this has made my mind up by showing there is some great riding with excellent guilds out there. Thanks again dude great photos to, thought jim was you for a minute and you had got some tatoos and a greek gods sun tan Big Grin
Great write up Mike and thanks for doing so. I have been to that area many times on golfing holidays and it really would be a nice family holiday with activities mixed in,like you say great beaches and horse riding and I should imagine kite surfing etc. as well.

Eating out prices didn't use to be too bad if you stayed away from the bright lights. Sardines in season are awesome and of course Piri piri chicken. Sagres beer is good as well Wink

muito obrigado
I didn't mention it in the first post above, but as Uphill says above, if you happen to be in the area on a family holiday then take your helmet (actually they can supply them too) because as well as full-on riding holidays, Jim also caters for day trips, whether they be uplifts or XC.

Don't be put off be put off by the 'uplift' tag, it's downwards trail riding, though there's some proper gnarly DH if you prefer.
Keep it foolish...

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