Journal > Guest opinion: the perfect cycling vacation in Portugal

Guest opinion: the perfect cycling vacation in Portugal

July 6th, 2015 - Colin O'Brien

We’re all about the love at inGamba. We think of our technical partners as friends rather than just sponsors, and we think of our guests as part of the family. Every trip we do, people hit it off and form lasting bonds but even for us, this April was a particularly amorous month because we had not one, but two successful wedding proposals.

Jay Butler popped the big question to Kerri Shelly on our Portugal Randonée.  And after a week of some memorable rides in the southern Iberian Peninsula – and probably a few unforgettable, nervous seconds down on one knee – we caught up with him to see what he thought of the inGamba experience.

“It is just plain unfair that we had to leave and return to our, not, InGamba lives!  Oh, the humanity!” joked Jay from back Stateside. “From top to bottom, front to back, the inGamba staff made this trip the single best experience that Kerri and I have ever had together.  We can’t begin to convey how much we enjoyed our time.  Portugal was magical, the hotels were awe-inspiring (and courage inducing too!), the riding, well, it was just fantastic.

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“It was beautiful, scenic, challenging but not too challenging … The rides were a treasure.  Hey, I even learned – kinda, in a Fred sort of way – how to motor pace!  How cool is that!”

Obviously, travelling with us is about more than just the bike. The road certainly reveals plenty about each of our destinations’ unique character, but to get the full experience you need to discover truly local food and dive into the local wine culture.

Jay put it simply: “The food, the food.  Where to begin. Simple, yet complex.  Tasty and clean.  A perfect juxtaposition between fish, pork and beef in every meal.  Each one’s best features brought out by the preparation, the presentation and the variety of each region.

“I will admit with some embarrassment that I was not really expecting too much from the wines. I’ve never been a huge fan of Portuguese wine. I am not proud to admit it, but I was (a fool) mistaken.  But no longer. We are among the converted!  Bright, clean, sharp and very subtle, the selections were terrific. Everything from the local house wine to the top end bottles were really a delight to experience.”

The inGamba crew also prides itself on knowing the best places to stay wherever we go. Whether that’s downtown Portugal or a small hilltop village in Alentejo, we’ve got the best quarters, guaranteed.

“The hotels were top notch and were lots for fun,” says Jay. “Each unique and each showcasing the charm of Portugal.  We are so glad we followed your recommendation and stayed at the Palacio Belmonte both before and after the trip. It was a pure hedonistic delight. We were both so appreciative of the upgrade in our room and revelled in how unique and special the property was.  We were pampered and feted like Princelings!  It’s nice being a Princeling!

“The standard of service and support inGamba set and then successfully delivered on are beyond compare.  The attention to detail, the devotion, and the genuine desire to serve from everyone, every day, makes the team so very special.  Kerri and I deeply appreciate everyone’s contributions and steadfast efforts to make every day unique and memorable.

“It might not be fair to call out any one action or any one person, because everyone was exemplary.  Oh what the heck, who am I kidding,  Here goes!  Helder and Xico,  excellent and perfect bikes, every day, without fail.  Clean and tuned to perfection.  Everything ticked and tied to a Pro’s specification.  I remember watching Xico pick small insignificant grit out of the tubular tires one afternoon, making sure every tire was perfect and without flaw.

“Jose, Nate, and Nuno working tirelessly every day, long into the night, to make sure that everything was perfect with the rooms, the food, the arrangements and our general mental well-being.

“Raul, Jose and Roque with their masterful massages and Raul’s wonderful treats. Oh, those wonderful treats!  Biscuits with marmalade! Yum! Our legs and psyches were well adjusted throughout the trip, always ready to take on the next hill or roller. Also a special note of thanks to Nate and Raul who were so kind with a timely gentle shove, a friendly wheel and an uncanny ability to find exactly the right pace to make the ride fun and enjoyable for everyone or just you, if that is what you needed.

“Kerri and I made a small decision and a small announcement during our trip with with inGamba this year.  Besides being very relieved she said “yes”, the occasion was made even more special because of where and with whom we decided to do it.  Portugal is great because of its own attributes, but it will hold a special place in our hearts and minds because of the proposal.  But even more importantly was the close group of special people that we choose to do it with.  The delight and generosity you and the team showed will also make the event very dear in our memories.  We’ve already begun scoping out the calendar and dreaming how/where we can do the next trip.  Who can say, Dolomites maybe?”

 

InGambaTour

Colin O'Brien

Connect:
colinobrien101@gmail.com

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