Cycling the Atlantic coast of Europe from north to south during the summer of 2017. View the archive, the route so far, or donate to MSF.

Meeting David

By Stuart Lowe on

Whilst sitting in the youth hostel reception I was told off by a Dutchman who was sharing my dormitory for not having said much to him. He generalised to me not being interactive. Who cares that I'd had a couple of conversations, in French, with the French people in the dormitory? Who cares that I have had conversations with almost everyone I've met for the past 115 days? Who cares that I may just want a chance to rest after 11300 km of cycling? Not actively having a conversation with him meant I am some kind of recluse.

I set off late because of expecting a shorter ride as I was going to stay with a friend of a friend before Faro. But I hadn't heard back from them in a few days so I suspected they might be busy with other stuff and I'd be imposing.


Roads turning into no bike roads is really annoying.

Not long after setting off I met another cyclist going the same way as me; we both got a bit lost in the one way system in Odiáxere. His name was David and he was from Barcelona. He had been cycling EuroVelo 1 along the coast of Portugal. We rode together on the understanding that we could go our separate ways if we felt like it. We went to a Lidl to get food and, comically, bought almost the same things. We sat outside on the ground eating and talking. It is funny how much you find in common with people doing big bike trips. So we rode on together. David passed his 1000 km milestone.

David crossed his 1000 km mark

A combination of not hearing back, worrying about how far I still had to cycle before my flight, and good company meant I took a decision. I decided to ride onwards with my new friend. We covered a good distance considering the late start. We passed beyond Faro. So, hopefully, I should get beyond Huelva tomorrow. That should keep me ahead of my rough schedule based on not having a proper route.

Tonight David and I visited a supermarket and bought lots of food and some beers. Then headed to a campsite (€4.20).

Looking towards the most southerly point of mainland Portugal. You needed to take a ferry there and back.

Arriving at the campsite at sunset

We gorged on pasta, bread, fruit, chocolate salami, and biscuits. We chatted into the night about bike trips, life, running, people and lots more.

It feels so comfortable talking to other people who've ridden by themselves. It was similar with Siri in Scotland and Sander in Norway. There is so much common experience but, also, I think having chosen to ride a long way alone means you share some similar outlooks. A huge part of these bike trips are the people you meet along the way. There is so much warmth, friendship, generosity, and shared humanity. (From all the people you meet, not just those on bikes)

David, my riding companion for the day

David had a good phrase today: on a bike trip you see the in-between.