This is a compilation video illustrating the best parts of a 4 day cycling tour on a circuit around Portugal’s mid-Atlantic coast region, which I did with a good friend of mine. The place of departure Caldas da Rainha, which was also the destination.On the way down the coastline, we dropped in at Porto Novo, Ericeira and Guincho. When we reached the very popular coastal holiday destination of Cascais, we headed north back towards Caldas via an inland route that took us through the famous Sintra, as well as a visit to the spectacular Mafra Palace.
The weather was absolutely stunning, the food was superb, and to have the company of a good friend along for this tour was the proverbial icing on the cake. I hope that you’re able to capture even a fraction of what we felt on this ride, at being able to see such amazing places, both natural and man-made. For me, the absolute highlight was experiencing the simply magical, awe-inspiring sunset at Praia do Guincho.
I also hope you like the special cycling song that Pedro and I wrote, Snarky Puppy Roadkill.’, inspired by the many short, but rather sharp uphills enroute.
Going down, going down, going down it means uphill, Snarky puppy roadkill!
Upon waking on one particular, and rather dreary, mid-autumn day (in 2017), I was hit with an undeniably powerful compulsion to ride my bike from my home in Turku, Finland to Portugal, my other home-away-from-home. But why?
Well, to put a long story short, I had reached the end of a significant phase in my life, and I was sans any clue as to what I was supposed to do next. In other words, my newly found status in the world was not something that I’d planned on. However, after examining (and re-examining many times!) all the signs that had been there during the past few years, but maybe hidden in plain view, the end of that path was as inevitable as the night following the day. In hindsight, there had been plenty of time to prepare for the transition, but I simply had not. Instead, I had favoured putting the associated, very painful issues on ice, so to speak. As a result, when reality finally came knocking, I was left staring forward into virtual emptiness.
On that fateful fall morning, my heart had decided that now was the time to begin filling the gaping wound with an epic effort of endurance, one as much mental as physical. Though I was not at all sure what was to come, my hope was that it would grace me with the chance for me to heal, and to become whole again. So, after only a two week long period of preparation, I set-out on my 4220km long journey of self-discovery, which would see me reach my destination of Viana do Castelo after 55 days on the road.
During this long roll, I saw amazing places, and I was also blessed to meet so many wonderful people, who helped me keep moving forwards, literally and figuratively; and in ways that I simply can’t clearly describe in words.. I fought against the environmental elements as Europe headed into winter. Safe to safe, I was challenged on the daily, and I suffered. However, when I finally learned how to work with the weather and my surroundings,, I began to smile and laugh a lot, almost like a maniac, at just how amazing it felt to be alive and to experience everything that I was putting myself through; and that was the point, all of this was because of my own decisions – ultimate freedom of choice. At times, the rush of joy was so wonderful that I could barely contain it. On occasion, I also wept deeply, both in happiness and sadness, as the many past experiences, memories and emotions – the good, bad and ugly – bubbled up to the surface of my awareness as a result of the relentless daily physical ground as I worked my way south to (hopefully) a new and better life.
This entire journey is made up of 5 distinct phases, to which I have given the following names: Penance, The Escape, The Escape, Journeyman, Buen Camino, and Homecoming. Each has its own theme and story to tell about my journey of awakening and understanding – or, perhaps more exactly, my rebirth; and for each, I have also created separate, more detailed videos.
I hope you enjoy this Life on the Run ‘Best of Cycling Tours’ compilation video of my Finland to Portugal cycling tour, and that it may inspire you to also get out there and explore this amazing world … and to provide a vehicle for your own personal healing, should that be something you need, just as I did.
The final day is here! On this 7th day, I would be arriving at my destination in Santiago de Compostela. It would be a relatively short stage of just 27km, but this time I would be walking in relentless rain the entire time. However, it didn’t bother me in the slightest! In fact, it actually added to the depth of the thoughts and emotions that seemed to rise to the surface, and which would gift me with the lessons I would need to move on with my life, after having it very painfully turned on its head a year earlier.
As I made my way down the final laneways, forest paths and, finally, the streets of Santiago de Compostela to reach the famous cathedral, the end point of essentially all the caminos (except for the Camino Finisterre), I tried my best to simply flow with my feelings in solitude, although I had a few opportunities to exchange understanding glances with other pilgrims, who were also completing their journeys, as well as a few words and smiles with at a local café with a few Galicians during my (extremely enjoyable!), final camino cerveja and snack break.
For my final words to seal off this pilgrimage, this personal journey of self-discovery and healing, I would quote the words from my favourite band as a teenager, but the meaning of which only now I can fully understand and appreciate.
Upon us all, a little rain must fall.
‘The Rain Song’ – Led Zeppelin
The meaning of our lives are often defined by the meanings of our problems. When you understand that none of us can avoid the various trials and tribulations of life, then learning to love the ‘rain’ will make all the difference in learning to understand and accept all that which we are required to face in exchange for the supremely precious gift of conscious existence and awareness.
More about the camino:
The Camino Portuguese de Santiago, or Portuguese Way, is a Christian pilgrimage trail of about 245km that starts at the cathedral in Porto, Portugal and ends at its architectural namesake in Santiago de Compostela in Spain, but it isn’t just for the dogmatically inclined. It’s also traversed by people of all backgrounds and for all kinds of different reasons, though commonly in connection with personal growth However, regardless of the multitude of possible personal life or spiritual perspectives, it’s also simply an absolutely magnificent and interesting, scenic week-long walk!